Leading flea-control products have been found to be filled with toxic PFAS ‘forever chemicals’*. This, according to new laboratory test results posted today by Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility. More specifically, the report found that popular pet flea collars and treatments contain high levels of toxic PFAS chemicals.
Popular flea and tick products were sent to a certified lab, which found that:
Frontline Plus for Dogs, a popular topical flea and tick product, contains 2,390 parts per trillion (ppt) of four different PFAS, including GenX. Frontline is a liquid pesticide applied between the pets’ shoulder blades once a month; it spreads throughout the skin and fur.
Seresto flea and tick collars contain 250 ppt of a long-chain PFAS. Seresto is a plastic band impregnated with insecticides and other ingredients that are released over time and coat an animal’s fur.
Why this is a problem
“One major concern is that people can be exposed to these products though their skin by petting and playing with their pets. And children face even greater risk through their frequent hand-to-mouth behavior.
A recent study found dogs and cats are highly exposed to PFAS and often exposed to concentrations well above the minimum risk level identified for humans.
The troubling findings regarding PFAS in flea-control products comes after documents obtained from the EPA revealed the agency has received more than 75,000 complaints linking the Seresto flea collar to harms ranging from skin irritation to nearly 1,700 pet deaths. Yet the agency has taken no action in response to the reports such as recalling the product or issuing a nationwide warning to the public of its potential dangers.
The Center for Biological Diversity filed a formal legal petition last month urging the EPA to cancel the registration of the Seresto collar, which is also linked to nearly 1,000 incidents of harm to humans.” (source)
*PFAS (per-and polyfluoroalkyl substances) are often referred to as “forever chemicals” because they do not break down and can accumulate in the human body, animals and the environment. They are associated with a variety of ailments, including suppressed immune function, altered gut microbiome, thyroid disease, testicular and kidney cancers, and liver damage. In addition to groundwater and drinking water, PFAS chemicals can be found in a wide variety of products including food packaging, nonstick cookware, bake ware and other products, cleaning products, firefighting foams, electronics, including laptop computers and smartphones, sporting equipment, waterproof and stain-proof items including carpets and upholstery, and much more. (source)
5pm 6/30/21: Calling all storm spotters and weather enthusiasts! If you see any trees down, hail, or flash flooding from the storms today, please let us know on any of our social media pages. #PAwxpic.twitter.com/j0LPKjTyxL
June 13, 2021 — Freshpet Inc. of Secaucus, New Jersey, is recalling a single lot of Freshpet Dog Food due to potential contamination with Salmonella bacteria.
The following defective dog food is being recalled:
Freshpet Select Small Dog Bite Size Beef and Egg Recipe
Package size: 1 pound bags
Sell by date: 10/30/2021
Sell by date, along with UPC code and lot code, can be found on the bottom and back of each bag. Product images are posted below.
No other Freshpet products or lot codes are impacted by this recall.
What Caused the Recall?
Workers at Freshpet discovered a single lot of dog food that was contaminated with Salmonella bacteria… and had designated it for destruction.
However, the contaminated product was accidentally shipped to retailers in limited geographic markets between June 7 to June 10, 2021.
Where Was the Product Sold?
The recalled products may have been sold at: Publix in Florida, South Carolina, and Georgia. It was also distributed at limited Target locations in Arizona and Southern California.
Most of the product was intercepted at retailer distribution warehouses and not delivered to retail stores.
According to the company, “Freshpet has received no reports of illness, injury, or adverse reaction to date, and has issued this recall because of our deep commitment to the safety of our pet parents and their dogs.”
Salmonella can affect animals eating the product and there is risk to humans from handling contaminated products, especially if they have not thoroughly washed their hands after having contact with the products or any surfaces exposed to these products.
Healthy people infected with Salmonella should monitor themselves for some or all of the following symptoms: nausea, vomiting, diarrhea or bloody diarrhea, abdominal cramping and fever.
Rarely, Salmonella can result in more serious ailments, including arterial infections, endocarditis, arthritis, muscle pain, eye irritation, and urinary tract symptoms.
Consumers exhibiting these signs after having contact with this product should contact their healthcare providers.
Dogs with Salmonella infections may be lethargic and have diarrhea or bloody diarrhea, fever, and vomiting.
Some dogs will have only decreased appetite, fever and abdominal pain.
Infected but otherwise healthy dogs can be carriers and infect other animals or humans.
If your dog has consumed the recalled product and has these symptoms, please contact your veterinarian.
What to Do?
If pet parents have products matching the description above, they should stop feeding it to their dogs and dispose of it immediately.
Consumers are asked to call the company if you have any of the recalled product in your possession.
Pet parents who have questions or would like to report adverse reactions should call 1-866-789-3737, Monday through Friday, 9 am to 9 pm ET and Saturday through Sunday, 9 am to 1 pm ET… or visit www.freshpet.com.
PETITION TARGET: Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer
American horses bound for slaughter often endure a grueling journey to international kill floors before they’re hustled into chutes, butchered, and sold as meat.
As part of this cruel and deadly pipeline, the United States ships horses to Canada and Mexico, where it is legal to butcher them for human consumption.
Every week, hundreds of horses are sent to Mexican slaughterhouses, according to official USDA export reports.Over 6,800 have been sent to slaughter in the last six months alone. This number doesn’t include the horses sent to Canada who suffer the same horrible fate.
Americans have increasingly spoken out about the grisly demise of these iconic animals, but the United States is still sending innocent horses to slaughter, despite a temporary ban on killing these precious animals for meat. But there’s new hope for these wild horses.
The Save America’s Forgotten Equines (SAFE) Act would ban the live export of horses to Mexican and Canadian slaughterhouses for sales overseas. This bipartisan bill — sponsored by Rep. Vern Buchanan (R-Fla.) and Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.) — would also permanently ban the slaughter of horses for human consumption in the United States.
We must end this senseless killing.
Sign the petition urging Congress to support and pass the SAFE Act to permanently ban transporting, killing, and eating horse meat in the United States.
More than 30 legislators have sent a letter to Interior Secretary Deb Haaland demanding a thorough review of the Bureau of Land Management(BLM)’s Adoption Incentive Program for wild horses and burros to ensure the iconic animals won’t continue to be sent by adopters to slaughter, in violation of the agency’s adoption agreement.
The BLM founded the adoption program, which offers a $1,000 incentive to people approved to adopt a wild horse from a gather operation, to find good homes for the animals.
But a New York Times exposé found the agency was allowing individuals with backgrounds involving horse slaughter to adopt, and that numerous adopters had sold their rescued animals to slaughterhouses or middlemen after pocketing the taxpayer-funded stipends. The exposé also quoted an agency spokesperson saying those adopters would be allowed to adopt again.
Following the shocking report, more than 30 House legislators led by Sen. Dianne Feinstein (Calif.) sent Haaland a letter, denouncing the gruesome loopholes and demanding a thorough investigation and review of practices.
Haaland, during her previous time in Congress, has backed legislation protecting wild horses and burros.
AWHC’s Executive Director Suzanne Roy said the nonprofit will not sit idly by while untold numbers of federally protected wild horses and burros are sent to slaughter through a taxpayer-subsidized incentive program.
“We are prepared to take the battle over the BLM’s Adoption Incentive Program to federal court if the Interior Department continues to delay action to protect these iconic animals and abide by the congressional prohibition on wild horse and burro slaughter,” Roy said in a statement.
Nonprofit Friends of Animals also recently filed a lawsuit in U.S. District Court in Colorado, according to the Denver Post. The lawsuit also alleges the adoption program is circumventing federal law that forbids the slaughter of wild horses and calls for an immediate, temporary halt to the program so the BLM can conduct a thorough investigation into the program’s outcomes and impact.
Congressional law has protected wild horses and burros since 1971, making it illegal to sell the animals to buyers who intend to slaughter them.
The call to action follows other legislation ramping up attention and protections for equines, including the Save America’s Forgotten Equines Act currently before lawmakers.
More than 7,500 wild horses and burros have been adopted through the incentive program since 2019, according to the BLM. The federal agency has roundups scheduled through June.
If you haven’t already, sign our petition urging the BLM to stop these adoptions that send wild horses to a grisly end.
Agrizzly bear nicknamed Felicia and her two cubs could be killed just for living near a highway in Jackson Hole, Wyo., according to USA Today.
Wildlife Advocate Savannah Rose Burgess said the bear family has no record of acting aggressively, charging, or taking food from humans who have been spotted approaching them. Felicia also caught the attention of award-winning photographer Thomas Mangelsen, who has documented her for more than six years and said she has always been calm and collected.
But wildlife officials are saying that “human-conditioned behavior” — through no fault of Felicia’s or her family’s– could lead to human-wildlife conflict. They propose relocating or killing the bear family as the only possible solutions.
If park rangers fail to scare the bears off with “targeted hazing operations” — which could include loud noise or rubber bullets — these innocent wild animals could pay with their lives, according to a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) statement.
Killing an entire family of bears who have no history of acting aggressively must not be allowed. Felicia and her cubs must be protected.
Sign this petition urging the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to find an alternative solution for Felicia and her cubs that does not involve killing them.
PETITION TARGET: Dubois County Prosecutor Anthony D. Quinn
A police service K-9 named Odin suffered a gruesome leg fracture when his handler struck him for “not properly focusing” during a training session with other K-9 teams in Dubois County, Ind., according to local authorities.
Odin, a 5-year-old Belgian Malinois who had been with the Indiana Police Department for four years, had to go through surgery for his injury, and he might never return to work.
State Trooper Dustan Rubenacker was charged with striking a law enforcement animal after police determined he had allegedly used “unreasonable discipline” that injured Odin, the Indiana State Police said in a press release. Rubenacker is on paid administrative leave while he awaits a July 6 court date. Meanwhile, an internal investigation is ongoing.
This case follows a series of recent shocking animal abuses committed against police dogs, including an incident in Vacaville, Calif., where Gus the K-9 was punched repeatedly in the face and a scene in Salisbury, N.C., where police dog Zuul was slammed into an SUV.
Violence against animals is inexcusableand should never be used as a training method.
Sign this petition urging Dubois County Prosecutor Anthony D. Quinn to prosecute the perpetrator to the fullest extent of the law, setting the example that animal cruelty will not be tolerated — including among law enforcement.
Analysts predict that President Biden’s American Families Plan would add 21 million Americans to federal benefit programs.
Writing for The Wall Street Journal, Hoover Institution fellows John F. Cogan and Daniel Heil unpacked their recent analysis, which discovered that the Biden administration’s $1.8 trillion omnibus bill would drastically expand the welfare state.
The federal government’s system of entitlements is the largest money-shuffling machine in human history, and President Biden intends to make it a lot bigger… For the first time in U.S. history — except possibly for the pandemic years 2020 and 2021, for which we don’t yet have data — more than half of working-age households would be on the entitlement rolls if the plan were enacted in its current form.
The academics note that families earning six figures would be eligible for generous handouts. Indeed, “most” of President Biden’s spending would benefit middle-income and upper-income households.
Two-parent households with two preschool-age children and incomes up to $130,000 would qualify for federal cash assistance for daycare. Single parents with two preschoolers and incomes up to $113,000 would qualify. And some families with incomes over $200,000 would be eligible for health-insurance subsidies. Other parts of the plan, such as paid leave and free community college, have no income limits at all.
Under the American Families Plan, 57% of all married-couple children would receive handouts, while over 80% of single-parent households would enter the entitlement rolls. Noting that the legislation has a number of “gimmicks” that hide the extent of its revenue proposals, the report forecasts that President Biden’s proposal would add $1 trillion to the federal deficit over the next decade.
Other economists have expressed similar concerns with the American Families Plan. Analysts from the Penn Wharton Budget Model — a nonpartisan think tank at the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School that examines the impacts of major legislation — concluded that the American Families Plan would slow long-term economic growth.
By increasing income taxes for wealthier Americans, introducing $2.3 trillion in federal expenditures, and spending with borrowed money, the legislation would slash output by 0.4% within the next three decades. The bill would also decrease the capital stock — the total amount of machinery, buildings, and other productive equipment in the American economy — by 1.2% over the same period.
In essence, long-term economic growth would be hindered by greater demand for federal debt financing, which would cause investors to direct money into loans for the government rather than ventures in the private sector. Such a phenomenon would restrict innovation and productivity, inhibiting American economic vitality for decades to come.
Democrats now claiming it’s Republicans who want to defund the police is like an arsonist showing up at a fire and blaming the firemen, it’s like the Chinese blaming Americans for the Wuhan virus, and it’s like O.J. saying he's going to help find the real killer.
Special diet: gluten-free, nut-free, soy-free, vegan
What do you get when you combine small red potatoes, olive oil, lemon juice and zest, and fresh oregano? A mouthwatering Greek-inspired vegan potato salad that goes with just about everything! Jump to:
It’s full of Mediterranean flavors yet only requires 4 ingredients (plus salt and pepper) and no mayo.
You can make it in about half an hour.
It pairs well with a variety of other dishes.
Small red potatoes
Lemon (zest and juice)
Salt and pepper
Be sure to zest the lemon before you squeeze out the juice.
For the complete list of ingredients with measurements plus recipe instructions, please see the recipe card at the bottom of this post.
Making this recipe is as simple as cooking the potatoes in a pot of water and whisking the dressing ingredients together.
Simmer sliced potatoes until tender when pierced with a fork.
Spread the cooked potatoes out on a rimmed baking sheet. Drizzle with a mixture of olive oil, lemon juice, and salt and pepper and let them cool. The warm potatoes will absorb the delicious lemony flavor.
Transfer the cooled potatoes to a serving bowl. Fold in the lemon zest and fresh minced oregano, then the potato salad is ready to eat.
Try this salad with your favorite sandwiches or burgers. Or pair it with a few other salads like the following to make it a complete meal:
Leftover potato salad can be covered and refrigerated for up to 3 days. Add a squeeze of lemon before serving to refresh the flavors. This dish does not freeze well.
Can you use yellow potatoes instead of red potatoes?
Yes, yellow potatoes like Yukon Gold, or other thin-skinned yellow or white potatoes can be used in place of red potatoes. On the other hand, russet potatoes are not a good substitute.
Can you use a grater to zest a lemon?
If you don’t have a Microplane or lemon zester, a box grater can be used. Or use a vegetable peeler to remove the yellow outer layer of the lemon and then finely chop it with a knife.
Can you use dried oregano instead of fresh?
If fresh oregano is unavailable, you can substitute 1 teaspoon dried oregano for the 1 tablespoon fresh.
▢ 2 pounds small red potatoes, unpeeled, sliced ¼ -inch thick
▢ ¼ cup olive oil
▢ 2 Tablespoons lemon juice, (reserve lemon zest before juicing)
▢ salt and pepper, to taste
▢ 1 Tablespoon fresh oregano, minced
▢ zest of one lemon
▢ Place the potatoes in a large pot and cover with one inch of water. Add a little salt and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer, uncovered, until the potatoes are tender when pierced with a fork.
▢ Drain the potatoes and spread in a single layer on a rimmed baking sheet lined with parchment paper for easier clean up. It’s okay if the edges of the potatoes overlap a little.
▢ In a small bowl whisk the olive oil, lemon juice, and salt and pepper together. Use a spoon to drizzle the mixture over the potatoes. Allow the potatoes to rest for about 15 minutes until room temperature.
▢ Transfer the potatoes to a serving bowl. Fold in the oregano and lemon zest. Taste and adjust for salt and pepper. Serve right away or cover and refrigerate for later.
Be sure to zest the lemon before you squeeze out the juice.
Yellow potatoes like Yukon Gold, or other thin-skinned yellow or white potatoes can be used in place of red potatoes. However, russet potatoes are not a good substitute.
If fresh oregano is unavailable, you can substitute 1 teaspoon dried oregano for the 1 tablespoon fresh.
Leftover potato salad can be covered and refrigerated for up to 3 days. Add a squeeze of lemon before serving to refresh the flavors.
More Mediterranean salad recipes
Looking for more delicious lettuce-free salads perfect for picnics and potlucks? Try some of these vegan Mediterranean diet favorites:
And for even more delicious vegan recipes, join the Vegan Mediterranean Diet Recipes Facebook Group for support, inspiration, and fun.
The Sonoran desert tortoise is found south and east of the Colorado River, in the central and western parts of Arizona, and into northwestern Mexico. The habitat of this rare reptile is threatened by invasive species, livestock grazing, increased fire risk, housing developments, off-road vehicles, and increased predation facilitated by human activities.
In 2015, WildEarth Guardians and allies challenged the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services’ (USFWS) decision not to protect the Sonoran desert tortoise under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). As a result of that lawsuit, in August 2020 USFWS agreed to reconsider the tortoise for ESA protection.
USFWS must now go back and take a new look at the imperiled animal’s status in Arizona and has 18 months to make a new determination about the status of the species. Sonoran desert tortoise are known for moving slowly, but without full federal ESA protections, they will continue racing toward extinction. Please raise your voice today!
House Democrats have issued a budget proposal that includes a shocking slash to border enforcement, with a billion dollars slashed from Customs and Border Protection (CBP_, among other notable cuts.
Bloomberg Law reported Tuesday that House Democrats are pursuing even deeper cuts to the immigration enforcement budget than the Biden White House, which already proposed a significant reduction in CBP and Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) funding levels.
Bloomberg Law reports that the Democrats want stiff cuts, largely to those departments charged with enforcing border regulations and handling illegal immigration, despite the record number of illegal immigrants encountered by Customs and Border Protection in April and May — jumps over already record levels.
If the draft legislation is passed, the “CBP would get $14.1 billion in net discretionary appropriations, almost a billion dollars less than the current fiscal year and a half-billion dollars less than the White House requested,” per Bloomberg, and the “U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement would get $1.55 million less than fiscal 2021, while U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services would get a $346.7 million increase, which would help address processing backlogs.”
The border wall would face the biggest cut. The measure, Bloomberg said, will “rescind more than $2 billion from prior year appropriations for border barrier construction; it proposes no funding for additional Border Patrol agents or the border wall.”
Border governor, Texas Republican Greg Abbott, has proposed filling the hole left by ending construction on a wall across the southern border by building a Texas “border barrier” on the American side of the Texas-Mexico border. Such a project would, theoretically, allow Texas to bypass restrictions against state authorities enforcing federal law; when an illegal immigrant jumped a Texas border-barrier, the state suggests, Texas officials could arrest that immigrant for trespass and other state-level crimes.
There are some increases in the proposed DHS budget.
“The Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency would get an added $397.4 million,” Bloomberg notes, citing threats to key infrastructure following the Colonial Pipeline hack, and the “Office of Civil Rights and Civil Liberties would get $8.1 million more than fiscal 2021, $3.5 million more than White House requested.”
The GOP is already concerned that CBP is underfunded, particularly in light of an ongoing border crisis. In committee meetings earlier this month, House Republicans “grilled” DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas over what they deemed a critical lack of funding for border protection amidst some of the highest rates of illegal immigration in two decades, per Fox News.
“Mayorkas was testifying at the House Homeland Security Committee about the Fiscal Year (FY) 2022 budget request for DHS, which he said would include $665 million in investments toward modernizing land ports of entry and $47 million to invest in detection capabilities in addition to investments in border surveillance technology,” the outlet reported.
Mayorkas was asked by Ranking Member John Katko, R-N.Y., if the request contains more hiring for more Border Patrol agents.
“It does not, we have vacancies now and we are focused on recruiting and hiring additional personnel,” Mayorkas responded.
Katko followed up by pointing to an “alarming” retirement rate among agents.
“We have a 21-year high in Border Patrol agents being pulled from all over the country to deal with the crisis at the border, and it seems to me it’d be a good time for us to contemplate pushing up Border Patrol,” he said.
CBP had more than 180,000 illegal immigrant encounters at the border last month. June numbers are expected out next week.
The photos, posted to social media by a Miami Herald reporter, show cracks and standing water in hallways of the building’s lower levels.
“There was standing water all over the parking garage,” the contractor reportedly told the Miami newspaper. “He noted cracking concrete and severely corroded rebar under the pool.”
“The contractor visited the condo building last week to put together a bid for a cosmetic restoration of the pool as well as to price out new pool equipment — a small piece of the multimillion-dollar restoration project that just was getting underway at the 40-year-old building,” the outlet noted.
“While he had worked in the industry for decades and had ‘gone in some scary places,” the Herald continued, “he said he was struck by the lack of maintenance in the lower level. The amount of water at Champlain Towers seemed so unusual that the contractor mentioned it to a building staff member, Jose, who was showing him around.”
Jose, the contractor said, thought the damage was from a waterproofing issue. The contractor, though, was concerned about what appeared to be more systemic issues, including pools of standing water and “exposed and corroding rebar,” as well as cracks in the concrete.
An expert noted to the Herald that the damage, shown in the contractor’s photos, was likely not enough to cause the collapse, but that it may represent just a fraction of the deterioration in the building: “If the condition of the beam in the pool guy’s photo is something that was also happening under the building, that is a really major concern.”
A 2018 report, now at the center of the investigation into how the Champlain South Towers collapsed so suddenly last Thursday, leaving at least 11 dead and 150 people missing, documented extensive damage, earlier reports noted, and in a letter to Champlain South Tower residents, the condominium board president specifically referenced corroding rebar and cracking concrete in her plea for a $15 million assessment to cover major repairs.
The board president, Fox News reported Tuesday, “noted that in fall 2018, engineering firm Morabito Consultants was hired to inspect the building, reports said. The engineering report pointed out flaws of the building ahead of work that would be needed for the building to meet 40-year recertification in 2021, documents showed.”
“The report found that the pool deck’s waterproofing had failed and was not sloped to drain water. It also pointed to ‘abundant cracking’ in concrete columns and beams,” Fox continued.
“It does appear to start either at or very near the bottom of the structure,” a consulting engineer who is not affiliated with the search and rescue operation told the New York Times. “It’s not like there’s a failure high and it pancaked down.”
A female resident of the building, who is now missing, reportedly called her husband just ahead of the collapse and reported that the pool had disappeared into a “sinkhole.”
Officials say they are still hopeful that they will find survivors in rubble and that the “search and rescue” operation has not yet turned into a “search and recovery” effort. They are also collecting and preserving items that could serve as evidence in ongoing investigations at both the state and federal levels.
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New outbreak of SARS-CoV-2 on Polish mink farms means 37,000 mink will be culled
According to official information from the General Veterinary Inspectorate, a new SARS-CoV-2 mink farm outbreak has been detected in Poland. This is the second outbreak of coronavirus detected on mink farms in Poland.
The outbreak was detected in two farms which hold a total of 8,000 breeding females and 29,000 young mink, both located at the same address in the Biała-Podlaska district.
The presence of the virus was discovered from the results of laboratory tests carried out at the State Veterinary Institute in Puławy. The samples were collected on June 16, as part of ongoing disease control procedures put in place after the dramatic outbreak of SARS-CoV-2 across European mink farms in 2020.
The inspectorate reported that “all control procedures foreseen in the event of SARS-CoV-2 in mink” had been implemented on the farms where the infection was identified.
The local veterinary inspector confirmed that all mink on these farms, a total of around 37,000 animals, will be culled.
Earlier this year Eurogroup for Animals and the Fur Free Alliance released a scientific statement on public health risks associated with SARS-CoV-2 and intensive mink production, signed by numerous scientists from the fields of virology, infectious diseases, clinical microbiology, veterinary medicine and environmental health.
Despite the mandatory SARS-CoV-2 screening of all European mink farms introduced by the European Commission, in addition to the introduction of more stringent disease prevention methods, this outbreak demonstrates that the risk of continued spread of the virus on fur farms is still extremely high.
We are calling on the European Commission to act immediately to suspend mink farming across the European Union to prevent the spread of SARS-CoV-2, to protect human and animal health.
Wildlife experts in Washington, D.C., and nearby states say they have not identified the cause of recent deaths of many birds in the region, but they are encouraging the public to temporarily cease feeding birds to avoid the potential spread of disease at feeders.
In late May, wildlife managers and rehabbers in Washington D.C., Virginia, Maryland, and West Virginia began receiving reports of sick and dying birds with eye swelling and crusty discharge, as well as neurological signs.
The District of Columbia Department of Energy and Environment, Maryland Department of Natural Resources, West Virginia Division of Natural Resources, Virginia Department of Wildlife Resources, and National Park Service are continuing to work with diagnostic laboratories to investigate the cause of mortality. Those laboratories include the USGS National Wildlife Health Center, the University of Georgia Southeastern Cooperative Wildlife Disease Study, and the University of Pennsylvania Wildlife Futures Program.
A report on the National Wildlife Health Center’s WHISPers site, which summarizes incidents of wildlife illnesses and mortality nationwide, shows 37 dead or sick birds — Common Grackles, Blue Jays, American Robins, and European Starlings — from several counties in Virginia on May 20.
Birds congregating at feeders and baths can transmit disease to one another. Therefore, the state and district agencies recommend that the public in the outbreak area:Advertisement
Cease feeding birds until this wildlife mortality event has concluded;
Clean feeders and bird baths with a 10% bleach solution;
Avoid handling birds, but wear disposable gloves if handling is necessary; and
Keep pets away from sick or dead birds as a standard precaution.
If you encounter sick or dead birds, please contact your state or district wildlife conservation agency. If you must remove dead birds, place them in a sealable plastic bag to dispose with household trash. Additional information will be shared as diagnostic results are received.
Thanks to the U.S. Geological Survey for providing this news.
We, the nature-loving people of Namibia and like-minded international friends:
Record our utter dismay at the intention of Namibia, Botswana, Zimbabwe and Zambia to re-instate international trade in ivory over the clear objections from the other 14 elephant range countries in Africa;
Are shocked and disappointed at their threat to break away from CITES , should their demand the right to auction off their official ivory stockpiles;
Are dismayed at their strong-arming tactics that are tantamount to political blackmail of CITES , especially after their trade proposal was overwhelmingly rejected at the last COP meeting;
Remind the responsible officials that the past two ivory auctions were a complete failure because the Asian buyers colluded to keep the prices ridiculously low;
Remind them that this led to increased trade and speculation that saw a massive surge in elephant poaching since then;
Object to Namibia’s plans to remove and sell off 170 elephants from their natural habitats in Namibia to Chinese and other buyers for US$5,500 apiece , while an elephant is worth US$1.6 million in eco-tourism opportunities it generates in its life-time;
Object to the continued falsification and gross inflation of Namibia’s resident elephant population data by the Min of Environment, Forestry and Tourism to keep justifying unsustainable levels of trophy hunting ;
Express our deep concern over the true state of our wildlife heritage and key protected species such as elephants, black rhinos, giraffes and other endangered wildlife, the loss of which will destroy our country’s tourism economy which contributes one-third of the national GDP and thousands of direct and indirect job opportunities;
Caution that these reckless actions by Minister Pohamba Shifeta and MEFT management officials amount to wilful acts of environmental and economic despoliation , and are in violation of the legal imperatives imposed by Art. 95 of the Constitution to maintain and protect bio-diversity;
Caution the responsible officials that we reserve the right to hold them liable in their personal capacity for financial losses caused by their reckless mismanagement of a priceless resource.
Background: Namibia’s wildlife is its single-biggest tourism asset, attracting thousands of with visitors flocking from all over the world to see especially iconic big-game species such as elephants, black rhinos, lion, giraffe and other game.
One of the most unique attractions is the opportunity to see elephants in their natural environment outside of the national parks in the surrounding communal areas, managed by the MEFT under the communal conservancy model.
Under this model first implemented in 1996, rural conservancies are granted the right to issue tourism and/or hunting concessions. Because trophy hunting generates large annual fees to the government and the communal conservancies, this led to a proliferation of the hunting conservancy model in rural areas, an approach widely lauded by the WWF as an example of an African conservation success story.
These concessional rights includes elephant trophy hunting rights within the boundaries of the KAZA trans-frontier park, located along the elephants’ seasonal migratory route between the Okavango Delta and the Quito floodplains in Angola.
From 1996 to 1999, the new 500 km-long Trans-Caprivi Highway was constructed across the length of the West Caprivi, further interceding the trans-frontier elephant herd’s seasonal migratory routes.
In late 1999, the Angolan Army used the new highway to launch an attack on their former rebel foes UNITA, using local recruits to conduct a scorched earth campaign along the common border. This influx of weapons triggered a surge in poaching in especially the West Caprivi, with armed gangs running rampant in the area and on one occasion, gunning down an entire herd with automatic weapons in full sight of shocked tourists at a lodge on the opposite Namibian side of the Kavango river border.
From the early 2000s, the over-concentration of elephants in Botswana was becoming evident in Chobe Park as the increase in heavy road traffic and human settlement along the Trans-Caprivi Highway scared away especially breeding herds with small calves.
In order to prevent the spread of bovine lung-disease, Botswana erected a 700km-long game-proof fence along their north-eastern and northern border with Namibia to replace the collapsed old Namibian fence in 2009.
Two 15-km-wide openings were left in the fence on the western and eastern end to allow for the elephants’ seasonal migration, both located opposite elephant hunting concession areas in Namibia.
The combined impact of the Trans-Caprivi Highway and the fence thus stopped any seasonal migration between Botswana, Namibia and Angola, with tracking data showing only the odd bull occasionally crossing the border at those gaps in the fence. This led to the MEFT allowing trophy hunting operators to hunt elephant cows in 2017 to recover their trophy fees paid in advance to the communal conservancies.
By late 2020, elephants have all but disappeared from the West Caprivi and adjacent communal areas. Elsewhere in north-western Namibia, a severe drought and increased poaching has also taken a severe toll, with only an estimated 250 elephants left in the arid Kunene and Erongo regions.
In 1999 and 2008, the MEFT held two CITES-sanctioned auctions of the best ivory in the official stockpile in misguided attempt to flood and depress the black market demand for ivory and generate income for conservation efforts.
This proved to be an abject failure. The Chinese and Japanese buyers colluded to keep prices low, paying only USD$100 and US$157 per kilogram respectively, and instead of releasing the stocks into the carving markets, drip-fed their new stock at USD$1,500 per kilogram over the following years.
This triggered a 66% surge in elephant poaching and 71% increase in ivory smuggling over the following decade that saw elephant herds decimated in East and central Africa. As result, the African savannah and forest elephant species were declared as endangered and critically-endangered earlier this year.
Meanwhile, the communal conservancy model had started to fail. Due to their tendency to inflate annual game counts and so justify high, cash-generating hunting quotas and a disastrous shoot-and-sell permit system that allowed them to sell off entire herds for cash to local butchers, the once-abundant wildlife in communal areas have all but disappeared.
The elephants’ Appendix I status also thus became an obstacle to the demand from conservancies for ever more cash from elephant hunting due to the limitations it imposed on the number of trophies that may be legally exported.
Because CITES has thus far allowed and facilitated the export of live elephants to Chinese buyers, the MEFT therefore is now resorting to auctioning off entire herds of elephants in order to generate cash to the conservancies, as well as re-open the ivory trade that has historically wiped out over 95% of Africa’s elephant herds over the past 100 years.
This reckless and short-sighted humans-first approach by the Namibian authorities and their colleagues in Botswana, Zambia and Zimbabwe poses a dire threat to the last surviving elephant herds in the KAZA Park.
The MEFT continues to falsely claim that there are 22,000 – 24,000 elephants in Namibia, based on a 1995 base count of 7,000 animals that they claim grew at a biologically improbably and mathematically impossible exponential rate of 3.3% since then.
This fraudulent claims of a huge increase in numbers is immediately obvious from the fact that none of the factors outlined above are in any way reflected in their purported official elephant counts. Claims by Minister Pohamba Shifeta of a rampant rise human-elephant conflict is flatly contradicted by the fact that just one case of human-elephant conflict was reported in 2020.
The official elephant population estimates, inflated by over-counting and systematic inflation of population density factors, are clearly only intended to keep the trophy hunting in business and the ruling party’s rural support base appeased with regular cash hand-outs.
The fact is that Namibia is losing the battle against organised crime and syndicated poaching, with 80% of all rhino poaching since 2005 occurring over the past five years. This largely due to the MEFT’s humans-first conservation policies and poor management of resources, not to mention their obvious ignorance of their own Ministry’s track record in respect of past ivory auctions.
We remind these authorities that they are merely custodians, not the private owners of our common wildlife heritage and that the elephants are not theirs to dispose of as they see fit.
Their plan to resume ivory trading, combined with their poor management, poses a dire threat to the last elephants left in the sub-region and the tourism industry that is an economic mainstay in all four countries involved in this deplorable and reckless attempt to cash in on the elephants for what will likely be one last and final time.
We, the nature-loving people of Namibia and like-minded international friends therefore demand that:
CITES immediately commission an independent audit of all official ivory stockpiles held by Namibia, Botswana, Zambia and Zimbabwe;
CITES demand an independent and verified elephant census in all four countries before granting any further export permits for live elephants;
CITES and the IUCN conduct a full Environmental Impact Assessment on the impact of the Trans-Caprivi highway and the Botswana border fence on the elephants’ seasonal migratory routes and patterns;
CITES and the IUCN require that Namibia and Botswana implement measures to re-establish migratory routes and wildlife corridors across the West Caprivi;
CITES and the IUCN suspend all elephant hunting in the KAZA area until such time that the elephants can freely and without impedance regain access to all their historical range areas within the KAZA Park.
Trapping is a cruel and dangerous activity threatening native wildlife, biodiversity, humans, and companion animals.
Traps are also indiscriminate, which means nearly any animal whose feet touch the ground can trigger them—whether it’s an endangered species like the Mexican gray wolf, a bald eagle, or even a family dog.
WildEarth Guardians is campaigning against the vicious practice of trapping on public lands—both on our own and in coalition with partners. By ending trapping on public lands, we will make public lands safe and enjoyable for recreationists and wildlife, so please raise your voice today and sign our petition.
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