YOSEMITE, Calif. – A Yosemite National Park ranger has shared a heartfelt, heartbreaking story about a young bear that was struck and killed by a vehicle and her grieving mother that spent hours by her side hoping to wake her up.
“From behind me there’s a deep toned but soft sounding grunt. I immediately know what it is. It’s a vocalization, the kind sows (female bears) make to call to their cubs,” the ranger shared in a Facebook post on Friday, along with a powerfully moving photo of the bear standing over her cub, which the ranger estimated was just months old.
“This bear is the mom, and she never left her cub,” the ranger continued.
In a Facebook post on July 16, 2021, a Yosemite park ranger shared a moving account of responding to a dead bear cub and learning it was hit by a vehicle. The ranger said that the mother had been by its side for hours trying to wake her cub. (Yosemite National Park)
The post began with the ranger acknowledging how common bear killings were and how hardened rangers’ hearts have become to these calls, due to the frequency of these events. Vehicle-bear collisions have been identified as one of the leading causes of death for black bears in Yosemite.
“‘Bear hit by vehicle, dead on the side of the road.’ Sadly, it’s become routine,” the ranger wrote.
The post went on to explain the process of going into the “routine” of responding to the call, which had come in some five hours earlier.
Once on scene, the ranger went through the steps of taking care of what was expected to be the latest in a string of similar cases.
“My job here is easy, really: find the bear, move its body far away from the road to prevent any other animals from getting hit while scavenging on it, fill out a report, and collect samples and measurements for research,” the post said. “Then I’m off on my way again with another number to add to the total of bears hit by vehicles this year—data we hope will help prevent future collisions. Pretty callous,” the ranger wrote, adding, “However, the reality behind each of these numbers is not.”
To the ranger, this case would prove to be a painful reminder that each killed bear logged into the system was more than just a number, more than just data as part of a report.
The ranger surveyed the scene, inspecting the surroundings, looking for the usual signs and scanning the road for blood that might reveal where the animal’s body was.
“I try to remember how many times I’ve done this now and, truthfully, I don’t know,” the writer pondered, while going through the motions, and noted, “This is not what any of us signs up for, but it’s a part of the job nonetheless.”
And then a clue caught the ranger’s eyes: a vehicle part, presumably something that was once a section of an undercarriage. The training and vast experience prompted the ranger to the next move, to search the immediate area for a bear’s still body.
Two San Francisco brothers claim highline record at Yosemite
Two brothers from San Francisco say they have set a record for the longest highline ever walked in both Yosemite National Park and California. Earlier this month, they and a group of friends spent nearly a week stringing a single, 2,800-foot-long line from Taft Point west across a series of gulleys that plunge 1,600 feet. Highlining is high-altitude slacklining, in which a narrow strip of strong, nylon webbing — usually an inch wide and a few millimeters thick — is strung between two anchor points and serves as a kind of balance beam.
“I turn my gaze from the car part down the embankment on the side of the road and there it is,” the post explained.
What the ranger found next, prompted a pause as the animal was much smaller than expected. “A cub,” the ranger shared, describing the discovery. “Its tiny light brown body laying just feet from me and the road, nearly invisible to every passerby. It’s a new cub—couldn’t be much more than six months old, now balled up and lifeless under a small pine tree.”
This call may have hit the ranger a little harder than the others, as the lifeless body was so small. “For a moment I lose track of time as I stand there staring at its tiny body,” the writer explained, noting it didn’t take long to snap out of it and remember what needed to be done next. “…the sound of more cars whizzing by reminds me of my place and my role. I let out a deep sigh and continue on with my task.”
But first, the ranger explained of being compelled to place the small cub in a different location before getting to the “task” of the job.
“I pick up the cub—it couldn’t be much more than 25 pounds—and begin carrying it off into the woods. I have no certain destination; I’m just walking until I can no longer hear the hiss of the road behind me,” the writer recounted. “The least I can do is find it a nice place to be laid. I lay it down in the grass protected by one of the nearby logs and sit back on the log opposite of it, slightly relieved that it looks far more in place now than when I found it earlier.”
As the ranger started getting to work, there in the quiet of the woods came a sudden and startling sound of a snapping stick. The ranger looked up to find a dark figure, its dark eyes staring back.
“It’s another bear. Surprised, I stand up quickly and the bear runs off into the brush,” the ranger wrote, noting that the animal took a moment to look back once more before leaving completely.
The bear did eventually get out of sight, prompting the ranger to chalk it up to being just a coincidence and speculate that the bear might have been looking for food or perhaps the area was a common crossing for others of its kind.
But within minutes, the ranger would know that it was not just a coincidence, that the bear had intentionally and with purpose found her way there, seeking and hoping for only one thing. And the animal would return as part of that pursuit. The scene that unfolded was a powerful reminder of the important work Yosemite rangers and other conservationists do to try and protect the iconic park and its inhabitants.
When the bear returned, the ranger would be notified of her presence by the sad, heart-wrenching sound that she made as she called for her cub.
“I turn and look in its direction and there she is, the same bear from before intently staring back at me. It’s no coincidence. I can feel the callousness drain from my body,” the writer recalled. “My heart sinks. It’s been nearly six hours and she still hasn’t given up on her cub. I can just imagine how many times she darted back and forth on that road in attempts to wake it.”
The ranger detailed the emotional scene, explaining how the mother’s calls to her cub continue, “sounding more pained each time.” The ranger watched on saying it was impossible not to hope that in some miraculous event, the cub would wake up and respond back to her mama. “…but of course, nothing,” the writer shared. “Now here I am, standing between a grieving mother and her child. I feel like a monster.”
And the ranger decided it was time to leave. “I get up, quickly pack my bag, and get out of there… even though my task is not done.”
But before leaving the mother bear and her dead cub, the park worker took out a camera to document the grim scene, with hopes of turning this moment into one that would educate visitors to the park and teach them that this moment could have been prevented.
“Every year we report the number of bears that get hit by vehicles, but numbers don’t always paint a picture,” the writer shared. “I want people to see what I saw: the sad reality behind each of these numbers.”
And the ranger made an urgent call to those who came to the park to take in the majestic world it had to offer.
“So please, remember this,” the ranger pleaded, “we are all just visitors in the home of countless animals and it is up to us to follow the rules that protect them. Go the speed limit, drive alertly, and look out for wildlife. Protecting Yosemite’s black bears is something we can all do.”
File of bear crossing the road.
Visitors to Yosemite National Park can learn more about how to prevent vehicle-bear collisions by clicking here.
Target: Vanessa Kauffman, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Specialist for National Wildlife Refuge System, Migratory Birds, Endangered Species Act, Public Lands, and Wolves
Goal: Investigate cause of unknown affliction sickening and killing songbirds.
The bird world is dealing with its own deadly outbreak. The U.S. Geological Survey has warned of an alarming rise of wild bird deaths attributed to a mystery illness. Afflicted birds exhibit symptoms such as swollen, crusty eyes, disorientation, an inability to fly, and eventual death. Presently, scientists can only try to mitigate the disease’s spread. In a nod to social distancing, they are encouraging people in mid-Atlantic states (where the clusters of deaths are centered) to take down bird feeders, bird baths, or any other devices that attract large groups of birds.
Several potential causes have been suggested, including infectious disease, pesticide poisoning, the lingering effects of an avian salmonella outbreak, and even the emergence of cicadas that may carry a dangerous fungus. No definitive answers have been discovered, however. In the meantime, blue jays, European starlings, and other wild songbirds continue to fall victim across Maryland, Virginia, West Virginia, Ohio, Delaware, Pennsylvania, and possibly more states.
Various state wildlife services have begun investigations. Sign the petition below to urge the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service to launch a similar comprehensive initiative that seeks a cause and, more importantly, a solution to this ongoing threat.
Dear Ms. Kauffman,
The avian population recently dealt with a serious salmonella outbreak, and this dangerous illness eventually killed seven humans as well. This incident, as well as the public health turmoil currently engulfing the globe, demonstrates in full that we cannot ignore grave threats to the living beings with whom we share this planet. We are all interconnected.
Therefore, the even more alarming epidemic taking place within mid-Atlantic songbirds should be of urgent concern not just to conservation groups in the affected states but to the country as a whole. Scientists studying the often-fatal condition that renders birds immobile and potentially blind are at a loss. They could use the expertise and abundant resources of this federal agency in solving a perplexing mystery. The stakes are high for these birds and potentially far beyond.
Please focus the agency’s efforts on this developing crisis as soon as possible.
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.
Carmita Paredes started this petition to Counties and States Congresmen
Every day around the country many dogs are killed in shelters, just because they need space. In fact approximately 3 million dogs and cats die each year. Precious dogs that can still have many years to live and have a lot of love to offer. Euthanasia should be reserved only for animals who are suffering or are too aggressive to safely reside in our communities. But animals that die are so loving, and their trusting faces are just asking for love and companionship. This is barbaric. Let’s do something about this cruel practice. Let’s put a stop to this unnecessary murdering. We can educate the public about spaying and neutering, about adopting instead of buying, about population control. People need to be aware of how many loving dogs are killed in USA, just because the shelters lack space and funding. But stopping the shelters from euthanizing animals is not enough to save them. Others will find a way to get rid of what they perceive to be an unwanted pet. And unscrupulous breeders are off the hook. We must do more…
We need more shelters, so there would be enough spaces for every dog, and we need NO KILL SHELTERS. Shelters should be a temporary transition place for animals. The term shelter means to protect, not to kill. and the animals should be taken care of until they are adopted. This can be achievable. We can help getting the communities involved too, to donate and help, to serve as volunteers, to “sponsor a pet” in the shelter. Even if you can’t adopt a pet, we might be able to help there, we can advocate to get him/her adopted, we can volunteer at the shelter, we can provide funding. The shelters can be encouraged to provide a once a month “sale” to the dogs that have being there longer, for people to get them cheaper or free. We can help with better advertising of animals put up for adoption. Sometimes people don’t have the money to adopt in a particular moment, but they can still offer a loving home to a dog. Instead of killing them, give them for free to someone suitable that will love them and offer a home. The rescue groups do the impossible to bring back to life animals they find abused, neglected, and to the brink of dying, many times thanks to private funding to help with vet expenses. They also advertise and advocate daily for pets in shelters that are at risk of getting euthanized. But in the end many don’t get to go to loving homes. In those high killing shelters, if someone doesn’t rush in a short period of time to adopt these poor dogs or cats that have suffered so much, that have overcome so much, at the end, after all that effort, they will get killed. They are the unwanted, the forgotten, yet beautiful pets that all they need is more time to find a loving home. This is senseless, unfair, and tragic. There is no excuse that they are murdering healthy, previously owned, neglected, abused dogs and cats or highly adoptable. While we are disgusted by events like the Yulin festival in China, we let millions of our own animals die every day, every year. Let’s do something. Let’s be better. Let’s save them.
Let us advocate for only NO KILL SHELTERS unless the animal is suffering or violent. And more importantly, let’s treat the root of the problem: lobby for laws that are effective in reducing unplanned births and shelter intakes by developing low-cost or free sterilization programs for dogs and cats, laws that limit the number of animals bred for profit, laws that promote responsible pet ownership like contracts, laws for pet stores to carry only shelter pets and providing better education for pet owners. And finally, please get out there and help out. Together we can make a change. Their lives matter. Every animal deserves a chance to get their forever home. Some may take longer than others, but there should not be a time limit on life.
You may have heard about the recent issue and concern around birds all of a sudden dying in the DC area. Current recommendations include removing bird feeders in the area to help reduce the risk of disease spread. Keeping pets safely contained is key too.https://t.co/LOGuhPCczD
Abusive barbaric CAMEL weight lifting competitions are being held in Pakistan on an annual basis. Camels are forced to lift tons and tons of heavy bricks and sacks so that their owners can win monetary cash prizes at the end of these atrocious so called competitions!
PETA director Elisa Allen said: ‘If anyone wishes to enter a weight-lifting contest, they should train and have to go at it, but leave the animals out of it.
‘Camels are intelligent, sensitive individuals, and treating them as living cranes for human amusement adds to the many types of abuse, including their eventual slaughter.
Sheezada ( camel) lifted 1.7tons to win the contest, the equivalent of a small car
we request Imran Khan and Government of Pakistan to ban such competitions and strictly enforce the law so that such merciless brutal events are not arranged illegally
How many millions of innocent dairy cows and calves must be beaten, dragged, punched, and exploited before Big Dairy changes its cruel practices?
All animals should be free from hunger and thirst; discomfort; pain, injury and disease; fear and distress; and free to express normal behavior. Cows and calves at industrialized dairy farms have none of these freedoms.
JOIN US: Sign our new grassroots petition to demand an end to the extreme cruelty toward animals at Fair Oaks Farms and promoted by Big Dairy.
Together, we can bring about change and justice for the Big Dairy victims tortured and abused every day.
Sign this critical petition, and we will send your name along with thousands of others to Fair Oaks Farm and National Dairy Council so that we can make a more significant impact on your behalf.
Dogs could be heard barking from the rows of cages that lines the farm. On the other side of the yard, more exotic animals like civets, racoon dogs and minks were also locked up in tiny containers.
Men used a broom-shaped tool with two probes at the front to electrocute a dog with white fur, immediately sending it falling paralysed to the ground. It struggled to get up and its body twitched. The procedure was repeated several times to more of the dogs, pushing them against the cage before stunning them.
As the animals lay unconscious, they were placed on a stone platform, an apparent signal they were ready to be butchered. In other photos, dead animals were piled up on the ground, with their furs peeled from their bodies.
The bloodied remains of these animals were left on the ground. It is not clear how much protection the men who killed these animals were wearing, but it is clear from the images that there were no attempts to cover up the bloodied remains with anything. It is likely that they may just be left on the ground while more animals would be killed.
These are details from a fur farm investigation in China conducted by the Humane Society International (HSI), which is calling on the British government to ban import of furs following the publication of a World Health Organisation (WHO) report, suggesting wildlife farming could be a potential breeding ground for Covid-19.
It is hard to estimate the actual number of animals at the fur farm visited by HSI, but there appeared to be dozens if not hundreds kept at the site. According to HSI’s estimation, China is home to the largest fur producing industry worldwide, rearing 14 million foxes, 13.5 million raccoon dogs and 11.6 million mink in 2019.
Conservationists have been calling for a more complete ban on wildlife farming around the world, including China. “The WHO’s investigation of the origin of the Covid-19 pandemic was a hugely important step to zero in on the likely sources of the pandemic and the source of future zoonotic spillovers,” said Peter Li, China policy specialist at Humane Society International and associate professor of East Asian politics at the University of Houston-Downtown.
Stop The Illegal Wildlife Trade
We are working with conservation charities Space for Giants and Freeland to protect wildlife at risk from poachers due to the conservation funding crisis caused by Covid-19. Help is desperately needed to support wildlife rangers, local communities and law enforcement personnel to prevent wildlife crime. Donate to help Stop the Illegal Wildlife Trade HERE
Experts from WHO found in their report wildlife farming played a crucial role in introducing the coronavirus to humans. While Chinese experts claimed that the report’s findings vindicate Beijing’s decision to ban trade of wild animals for human consumption, the WHO report found wildlife farms are still allowed to legally operate for the purpose of fulfilling demands from traditional Chinese medicine and fur trade.
“China’s wildlife operation has four other components that are still operating: farming for fur, for traditional Chinese medicine, for display and pets, and for laboratory use,” Prof Li told the Independent. “These four remaining operations are gigantic in scale, holding tens of millions of animals in crowded and intensive farms. This is a mode of production that is an ideal breeding ground for animal epidemics and potentially for zoonotic spillovers.”
Another loophole that Prof Li points out is the inclusion of 12 wild animals in China’s latest National Catalogue of Livestock and Poultry Genetic Resources, which allows these animals to be farmed and processed for food.
“[While] the Chinese government took one of the boldest steps by shutting down the wildlife breeding for the exotic food market, it can do more to shut down all remaining commercial wildlife operations,” he said.
In the report, WHO experts suggest further checks into farms as a possible source of the virus. They named minks and rabbits as animals that are at risk of becoming infected with Covid.
“The increasing number of animals shown to be susceptible to SARS-CoV-2 includes animals that are farmed in sufficient densities to allow potential for enzootic circulation,” the report said.
“High-density farming is common in many places across the world and includes many livestock species as well as farmed wildlife. There was a large network of domesticated wild animal farms, supplying farmed wildlife,” the report added.
The Independent’s Stop the Illegal Wildlife Trade campaign, which was launched last year, seeks an international effort to clamp down on poaching and the illegal trade of wild animals, which remains one of the greatest threats to biodiversity in the future.
The Independent is working with conservation charities including Space for Giants and Freeland to protect wildlife at risk due to the conservation funding crisis caused by Covid-19. As China began some efforts to curb wildlife consumption in the country following the coronavirus outbreak, the Independent works with its partners to gain more insights about the impact of Beijing’s efforts.
(The Independent )
For Pei Su, the founder of ACTAsia, a nonprofit organisation that works to bring about sustainable social change in China, as some of the wild animals have been re-categorised as “livestock” in China, wildlife trade continues across the country, with many of these trading activities being conducted across different provinces in China.
“It doesn’t matter where the wildlife markets are or where the virus comes from, because the more pressing thing is that China still allows wildlife trade even though the coronavirus pandemic is still happening,” Ms Su told the Independent. “I think that’s where the next zoonotic disease spillover could happen.”
Prof Li pointed out that while there is growing willingness among some lawmakers in China to further restrict the remaining wildlife farming operations, there is still strong resistance from the wildlife business in China.
“The country’s national wildlife management agency is not motivated to shut down the operation, while China’s wildlife protection law, which has long been criticised as ‘a law for the management of wildlife resources’ is yet to be revised,” he said. “The law in its current shape supports wildlife farming. If this is not changed, the Chinese government is unlikely to impose more restrictions on wildlife farming.”
To both Prof Li and Ms Su, the international community should realise that wildlife farming isn’t just a problem in China, but a problem that has been recurring around the world. “Wildlife farming is an unsustainable practice but the whole world still thinks wildlife trade is acceptable,” Ms Su added.
Prof Li believes that while the whole world is asking China to close its massive wildlife animal farming and trade, they need to acknowledge and proactively address the same intensive animal farming of other species around the world. “The international community should encourage China to phase out all the remaining commercial wildlife farming operations,” he said.
“The way to do it’s not to vilify or demonise China, or place unfounded charges at its doorstep. It is time that the international community and all governments recognise the fact that the modern mode of animal exploitation is an ideal environment for the spread, cross infection and mutation of viruses.”
Prof Li says it’s important for the international community to stop politicizing a public health crisis and let scientists reduce zoonotic spillover in the future. “Let’s put short-term political gains of partisan politics behind, and let scientists remove future zoonotic spillovers,” he added.
Apparently, the US Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) under Joe Biden agrees with my conclusion that oil company activities in Alaska pose minimal risk to polar bears (Crockford 2019, 2020, 2021). Although this ruling is not yet final, they have proposed that oil exploration and extraction activities on the North Slope of Alaska can proceed over the next five years.
After noting that no major offshore oil spills have ever taken place in the Alaskan portion of the Beaufort Sea (see map below) and that all spills to date have been on land with no impact on polar bears, the proposed rule in the 200+ page assessment states:
Help Mexican gray wolves by showing your support for translocating the Negrito Mexican gray wolf family to Ladder Ranch, where they can be safe and free! The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USWFS) plans to move the bonded wolf family (M1693, F1728, and their young pups) onto the excellent habitat – away livestock grazing – that Ladder Ranch offers.
Currently, Mexican gray wolves within the wild population are as related to one another as full siblings. The captive population, however, is more genetically diverse. So, to address the genetic bottleneck facing the wild wolf population, the Mexican wolf Recovery Team selects captive wolves for release to capitalize on the remaining genetic potential available in that population.
Since 2016, USFWS excessively reliant on just a single strategy to release captive wolves to the wild – their cross-foster initiative. Cross-fostering is a coordinated event where captive-born pups are introduced into a similar-aged wild litter to be raised by surrogate parents. But cross-fostered pups can only eventually spread their genes to the greater population if they survive to adulthood and have wild pups of their own.
With the translocation of the Negrito pack, USFWS is allowing this family to establish a territory where there will be fewer threats presented by livestock grazing. They are also giving Mexican gray wolf M1693, a cross-foster wolf himself (from 2018) who has unique genetics, a chance to fulfill his potential in aiding in the genetic rescue of endangered subspecies!
Please join us in thanking the USFWS for doing the right thing for this wolf family and ensuring they have a chance to raise their pups in the wild where they belong!
Anyone can submit a comment to USFWS Mexican Wolf Recovery Coordinator Brady McGee, regardless of geographic location! The deadline for public comments is May 24, 2021.
Tell USFWS you support the Ladder Ranch Reserve 2021 Wolf Translocation Plan for the Negrito Pack (M1693, F1728, and their young pups)
Thank them for helping this wolf family return to the wild where they belong! Tell them you support the release of bonded family groups to aid in the genetic rescue of endangered Mexican gray wolves.
Tell them this wolf pack will make a positive genetic contribution to the wild population.
Tell them the Ladder Ranch offers excellent habitat for wolves and will ensure that this young wolf family can thrive in the wild away from human activities and livestock grazing.
Please personalize your message. Nothing is as effective as speaking from the heart!
Support for the Ladder Ranch Translocation Proposal
Dear [Decision Maker], As a lifelong supporter of Endangered Species Act (ESA) and someone who cares deeply for our nation’s wolves, including endangered Mexican gray wolves, I am writing to express my support for the Ladder Ranch Reserve 2021 Wolf Translocation Plan for the Negrito wolf family (M1693, F1728, and their young pups). * Personalize your message
I applaud USFWS for taking these steps, and look forward to cheering USFWS on as you proceed with your full authority to translocate this wolf family onto the excellent habitat – away from livestock grazing – that Ladder Ranch offers.
SAFE says since January, nine dogs have been killed and 395 dogs have been injured, including 54 with broken bones.
“Even one death is one too many. Between the deaths, injuries, and the recent doping scandal involving methamphetamine, we’re seriously concerned about the welfare of dogs in the racing industry,” Appelbe said.
“Grant Robertson needs to act now. Suspend racing and protect these dogs until the review is complete.”
In a statement, CEO of Greyhound Racing New Zealand Glenda Hughes says Sunday’s race “appears to be an outlier”.
“We continue to work on all aspects of our racing to ensure the safety of our dogs. We will be assessing all angles of the race day at Manukau to ascertain if there is any identifiable cause for Sunday as this appears to be an outlier.
“Over the last 4 months, we have had two euthanisations (one of which was Paris End in the Sunday Race) due to race day injuries in over 14873 starts. This is the equivalent of 10 starts per dog.”
Enforcement and funding will be crucial charity warns
The RSPCA has welcomed the Government’s Action Plan for Animal Welfare and urged them to ‘have courage’ in delivering it.
An unprecedented coalition of 50 animal welfare charities called for the UK Government to take a ‘once-in-a-generation opportunity’ to redefine our relationship with animals through a new animal health and welfare strategy and released a green paper – “Act Now For Animals” – setting out the sector’s priorities.
Animal loving personalities including wildlife presenter Chris Packham, DJ Sara Cox, TV personality Angela Rippon, choreographer and TV presenter Arlene Phillips, actress and wildlife campaigner Virginia McKenna and actress Carol Royle added their support in a video:
Chris Sherwood, Chief Executive of the RSPCA today applauded the Government’s plans to take action on more than a dozen animal issues which the public care passionately about, including pet issues: tackling puppy smuggling through changes to import rules, introducing compulsory microchipping for cats, cracking down on pet theft through a new government taskforce and banning remote controlled training e-collars.
Sam Gaines, head of the companion animals department at the RSPCA, said: “The past year has highlighted just how important pets are for so many people and so we are thrilled that the Government plans to take action on issues which offer our pets greater protections.
“We are delighted that the sale and use of equipment designed to cause pain and fear will be banned and puppy and kitten imports will be tackled. Throughout the pandemic we have seen many pet owners understandably concerned about pet theft and so we’re pleased to see a new taskforce being introduced to crackdown on pet thefts.
“We’re also pleased to see the Government introducing compulsory microchipping for cats – should a cat be lost, or become injured, they can easily be reunited with their owner.”
Chris Sherwood, Chief Executive of the RSPCA, said: “These announcements could make a real and lasting difference to animals’ welfare, so we’re pleased the Government is committed to improving animals’ lives in the UK and abroad.
“We can no longer ignore the inextricable link that exists between the way we treat animals, our own health and that of the planet – but to really achieve a step change, it will take courage from right across Government.
“We urge the Prime Minister to put animal welfare at the heart of policy making and make these announcements just the beginning of an evolving, holistic animal health and welfare strategy.”
Chris added that as well as needing courage, the Government needs to create an Animal Sentience Committee with real teeth to ensure animals are considered in relevant policy making.
He added: “An Animal Sentience Committee is crucial to the success of future legislation; it must be independent, made up of leading animal welfare experts and be able to meaningfully hold ministers to account. It must not be a token gesture.
“We are pleased the Government will be taking action on many of the top welfare issues that we know the public care passionately about and look forward to working with them to identify further opportunities to improve animal welfare.”
The badger cull policy has cost the lives of more than 140,000 badgers since 2013, in the largest destruction of a protected species in living memory. Badgers have been shot across a geographical area stretching from Cornwall to Cumbria at an estimated public cost of over £70m, when the costs of policing, training, monitoring, equipment, and legal defence are taken into account.
Despite the huge cruelty and cost of the badger cull policy, the government has provided no reliable scientific evidence to prove that badger culling is making any significant contribution to lowering bovine tuberculosis (TB) in cattle, in or around the cull zones. The government could kill every badger in England, but bovine TB will remain in cattle herds, since it’s primarily spread from cow to cow.
There are over 9.6m cattle in Britain and we move more cattle in this nation than anywhere else in Europe. The movement of cattle is a key driver for the spread of bovine TB in both cattle and badgers.
For too long, the government and the farming industry have wrongly blamed the badger for the spread of bovine TB in cattle, which has become a dangerous distraction from tackling the root cause of disease in the cattle industry.
However, could growing public recognition over infectious disease control issues, resulting from the Covid-19 pandemic, help to bring respite to the badgers?
Over the past 12 months, all of us have gained an insight into the danger of pandemics and the actions we need to take to stop the spread of Covid-19. R-numbers, testing efficiency, track and trace, biosecurity controls, vaccines, antibodies and herd immunity have all become subjects of discussion in households across the nation.
For those of us who have long opposed the cruel, expensive and ineffective badger cull policy, these discussions resonate for disease control in animals as well as humans.
Like the spread of Covid-19 in the human population, the spread of bovine TB in cattle is largely down to cows being kept inside buildings for extended periods or moved in large numbers across the country.
The Randomised Badger Culling Trial (RBCT), undertaken between 1998 to 2005, cost over £49m and resulted in the death of more than 11,000 badgers in the largest and most complex field research programme ever undertaken on the issue of badgers and the spread of bovine TB to cattle.
The Independent Scientific Group, which reviewed the results of the RBCT, found that the culling of badgers could make no meaningful contribution to lowering bovine TB in cattle, and that like Covid-19 in humans, bovine TB in cattle is most effectively controlled by cattle-focussed measures, including improved testing, track and trace systems, movement and biosecurity controls and vaccination against the disease.
One of the most outspoken critics of the government’s handling of the Covid-19 pandemic is the former chief scientist Sir David King. Through his Independent Sage Committee, he has heavily criticised key aspects of the Covid-19 control strategy, from the timing of lockdowns and the failures in testing and track and trace systems, to movement and border controls.
To a large degree, Sir David has received strong public support for many of the concerns he has raised on the Covid-19 pandemic, but in my opinion there remains a huge inconsistency in his position on the control of disease in humans compared to animals.
As the government chief scientist under Prime Minister Tony Blair, Sir David King challenged the key findings of the Independent Scientific Group which oversaw the Randomised Badger Culling Trial. This helped pave the way for the incoming coalition government in 2010 to plan and implement a badger cull policy which remains in place to this day. I believe he was wrong to do so.
Like Covid-19, bovine TB is a disease spread primarily by aerosol droplet infection when cattle are held indoors for extended periods of time, without any prospect of “social distancing’’.
The most effective way to stop the spread of the disease is to put in place effective testing and track and trace systems for cattle. Biosecurity measures are crucial in stopping the spread of disease on farms, at cattle markets and when cattle are moved. A widespread cattle vaccination programme is the most effective way of building up herd immunity to stop the spread of the disease.
Badgers have been unfairly blamed for spreading bovine TB in cattle, and demonised and destroyed as a result. The government has laid out an exit strategy from badger culling, but tens of thousands of badgers remain under the threat of being shot before this is finally implemented.
The Covid-19 pandemic has caused great human suffering, but it could lead to significant scientific improvements in disease control for both humans and animals. It is now time that the government uses the lessons learned from the pandemic to bring the killing of badgers to an immediate and permanent end.
Let us hope by the time Covid-19 ends, it will also bring a close to the badger cull, one of the darkest chapters in the history of farming and wildlife conservation in Britain.
Virtually every country in the world has a stray dog problem. In fact, the World Health Organization estimates that there are over 200 million stray dogs worldwide.
But for Holland, it’s a different story. That’s because the country recently became the first nation with zero stray dogs.
Holland is making history, and fortunately, they didn’t do it by culling these animals. Instead, its government implemented an effective animal welfare program supported by legislators, public health officials, and animal advocates.Pixabay
The country has dealt with the stray dog dilemma for nearly 200 years—longer than almost any other country. But centuries ago, this wasn’t even a problem.
During the 1800s, dog ownership was a status symbol. Almost every household had at least one dog, if not more. But rabies broke out in Holland in the 1900s, leading thousands of citizens to abandon their canines.
They left them on the streets to fend for themselves out of fear of rabies. This event led to a drastic spike in the number of homeless pets in the country.
After more than 200 years, Dutch officials decided to tackle this issue.
Public health officials, legislators, and animal advocates gathered to come up with solutions to Holland’s growing stray dog population. And they had an ambitious goal—to bring it down to zero.
Their first step was implementing a sterilization program throughout the country. Homeless dogs were multiplying rapidly, and their procreation had to be controlled as soon as possible. Else, the number of strays will only continue to rise.
Within months, they spayed and neutered over 75% of Holland’s stray dogs. This significantly lessened the number of stray puppies being born.
Next, Holland’s officials enforced an animal welfare legislation. The new laws granted all animals, including stray dogs, the right to live a “quality” life.
And to encourage their citizens to take these new laws seriously, anyone who broke them will be subject to $16,000 fines and up to three years in prison. null
The legislation also put a tax hike on store-bought pets to promote pet adoption from shelters and rescues.
A domestic animal task force was also organized to enforce the new laws and ensure that there will always be help available to investigate reports of any individual breaking them. If necessary, the task force was also granted the right to remove any animal in a dangerous living situation.
Next, all strays went through a veterinary check-up where they were brought up to date on their vaccines. This is a necessary step in preventing the spread of contagious diseases such as rabies and parvovirus
Marianne Thieme, the Party for the Animals spokesperson, said:
“Animals — and our entire society — need the animal police. There is a direct link between violence against animals and violence against humans.”
Lastly, Dutch officials campaigned tirelessly across the country to promote pet adoption instead of pet shopping. Doing so decreased the popularity of puppy mills and dog breeders in Holland.
Now, when someone brings a rescued/adopted puppy home, they know they’ve contributed to the nationwide mission of bringing the number of Holland’s stray dogs down to zero. This made the citizens feel included in the fight against pet homelessness.
As of now, over 90% of Holland’s population live with happy and healthy dogs. Because of their cooperation, the entire country managed to save over a million neglected, abused, and homeless dogs.
Holland’s success in eradicating its stray dog population proves that great things can happen when an entire country works towards achieving a common goal. Hopefully, we see the U.S. and other nations follow suit.
Christopher Hope, Charles Hymas 9 hrs ago 9 – 11 minutes
Animals with a backbone will have a legal right to feel happiness and suffering in a Government drive to raise welfare standards in Tuesday’s Queen’s Speech.
An Animal Sentience Bill will enshrine in law that animals are aware of their feelings and emotions, and can experience joy and pleasure, as well as pain and suffering.
“Sentience” will apply to “vertebrate animals – anything with a spinal cord”, Environment secretary George Eustice told The Telegraph in an exclusive interview below.
An existing committee of experts and civil servants in Defra will be tasked with ensuring Government’s policies take into account animal sentience.
Ministers were criticised in 2018 when the duty was not carried across into UK law from the European Union after Brexit.
The Government wants to make the UK a world leader in animal welfare and laws that protect animals form the centrepiece of this week’s Queen’s Speech.
As well as an Animal Sentience Bill, an Animals Abroad Bill will ban the import of trophies from animal hunting. A third measure – a Kept Animals Bill – will stop live animal exports and ban families from keeping primates as pets.
The Government will also publish an animal welfare strategy which will raise the prospect of banning fur imports, microchipping all domestic cats and calling time on the cruel killing of pigs by gassing them with carbon dioxide.
Animal welfare is not at odds with caring about our rural communities
The Conservative government has certainly come a long way since the party first won power in 2010 on a pledge to offer a free vote on legalising fox hunting, writes Christopher Hope.
This week’s Queen’s Speech will see the Tory government publish draft laws that enshrine in law the right of animals to feel pain, as well as bans on live animal exports, importing hunting trophies and keeping primates as pets.
A separate animal welfare strategy document will set the direction of travel, raising the prospect of banning fur imports, microchipping all cats and calling time on the cruel killing of pigs by gassing them with carbon dioxide.
It is some journey from “hoodie hugging” when David Cameron was leader in the 2000s to “bunny hugging” under Boris Johnson in the 2020s. And it has been witnessed at first hand by George Eustice, a party press officer in the 2000s and now the Environment secretary.
He says: “I don’t really see that there’s an inconsistency between caring about animal welfare, wanting to promote that and believing in rural communities, and the values of the countryside.
“I grew up on a family farm from a sixth generation farming family. I’m somebody who really understands the social capital that exists in our farming communities and rural communities.
“And by having higher standards of animal welfare, there’s nothing at all that is at odds with caring also about rural communities in the countryside.”
For Mr Eustice, who grew up on his family farm with Guinea pigs, rabbits and a rescued Border Collie called Mono, the difference between then and now is that Boris Johnson wants to prioritise animal welfare.
“There were always other priorities. Boris Johnson is the first Prime Minister, probably ever, to mention animal welfare on the steps of Downing Street. We’ve now got an occupant in Number 10 who really just wants to get some of these things done.”
Critics claim that Mr Johnson’s love for animals comes from his fiancee Carrie Symonds, a passionate environmentalist. Mr Eustice says he has not talked to Miss Symonds “directly” about the new animal welfare laws.
He says: “She [Miss Symonds] has long held views on this so there’s no doubt about that – she’s campaigned on animal welfare issues.
“And it’s not as though she’s unique and alone in this. She is a Conservative she’s passionate about animal welfare, as am I, as is the Prime Minister.”
The most eye-catching of this week’s slew of animal welfare laws is an Animal Sentience Bill which will enshrine in law that animals are aware of their feelings and emotions, and have the same capacity to feel joy and pleasure, as well as pain and suffering.
Mr Eustice says: “It would not make fishing illegal – people needn’t worry about that. It is much more than when we design policies, we have to have regard for animal sentience.”
Mr Eustice admits some of the measures – such as the ban on bringing back hunting trophies to the UK and possible restrictions on fur imports – will not affect large numbers.
The ban on keeping primates as pets, for example, is mainly targeted at the small number of people who have marmosets in homes (numbers grew after the Labour government removed restrictions in 2008 on the grounds that they are not dangerous).
But it is all about “sending a signal”. He says: “It sends an important signal around the world and this is something that we want to try and stop.” Many of these changes – such the ban on live animal exports – are made possible by the UK’s exit from the European Union.
“As a self governing country you gain some agility and also the self confidence to make these judgments for yourself.
“And it does show that outside the EU, we can address areas of policy that some might consider, small niche areas of policy, but where you can make laws better or stronger.
Mr Eustice admits that tackling the fall-out from the coronavirus pandemic is the Government’s number one priority.
But he says: “That doesn’t mean you have to stop work on every other front. How you treat animals, and the legislation you have to govern that, is a mark of a civilised society, and we should be constantly looking to improve and refine our legislation in this area.”
It has been a busy week for Mr Eustice who last week had to defuse the row between French fishermen and Jersey’s government over access to their waters which led to the Navy sending in gunboats to ensure no one came to any harm.
Mr Eustice is unrepentant.
“It was an entirely legitimate response to a situation that you couldn’t have predicted what might have come, and it’s better always to have your assets on standby ready to react should they be needed.”
And he is scathing of “disproportionate” threats to cut off Jersey’s power not least because France “would have to intervene in a commercial arrangement between EDF and Jersey”.
He blames the French government for not telling its fishermen that they had to agree to new licensing agreements based on their historic catches with Jersey’s government.
“It appears that some of the French industry hadn’t quite appreciated what the European Commission had agreed in the Trade and Cooperation agreement,” he says.
Jersey has now given the French fishermen until July 1 to ensure their paperwork is in order. Mr Eustice does not rule out sending in the Navy again.
He says: “If the intelligence model – and an algorithm they follow – suggested that there was illegal fishing activity in Jersey waters, then some of those assets would be redeployed into that area to address that.”
Mr Eustice is optimistic about the future of the Union – despite concern about buoyancy of support for the SNP – pointing out that “within Defra, we work very constructively with Scottish Government and with Welsh Government.
His hope is that over time, as Brexit beds in, the calls from independence parties in the devolved administrations will die away.
“They will accrue powers in everything from agriculture and environment to animal welfare policy powers that they never had before the devolved administrations will now again.
“What will happen is over time once the tensions over Brexit heal …, things will bed down the devolved administrations, all of them will realise that they can do things that they could never do as an EU member and the attraction of rejoining the EU will fade.”
Idaho Gov. Brad Little (R) this week signed a measure that would eliminate most limits on hunting wolves in the state.
Under the law, which will take effect in the months ahead, private contractors and hunters in the state will be authorized to kill more than 90 percent of wolves in Idaho. The measure also nearly triples the budget for the state Wolf Depredation Control Board from $110,000 to $300,000.
The bill passed the GOP-dominated state legislature largely along party lines. Under a 2002 conservation agreement, the state is required to allow at least 150 wolves and 15 packs to live in the state. The current number of wolves is estimated at around 1,500. Wolves were delisted from the state’s endangered species list in 2011.
State House Majority Leader Mike Moyle (R), a co-sponsor of the bill, called the measure necessary for preventing wolves from having a detrimental effect on other wildlife in the state.
“We have areas of the state where the wolves are having a real detrimental impact on our wildlife,” he said in April, according to The Associated Press. “They are hurting the herds, elk and deer. This allows the Wolf (Depredation) Control Board and others to control them, also, which we have not done in the past.”
Environmental groups have blasted the decision and called for Little to veto it before he signed it Wednesday.
“Backed by an array of misinformation and fearmongering, the state legislature stepped over experts at the Idaho Fish and Game Department and rushed to pass this horrific wolf-killing bill,” Andrea Zaccardi, a senior attorney at the Center for Biological Diversity, said in a statement.
“And Republican lawmakers have promised that this is just the beginning, even though the new measure would doom 90% of Idaho’s wolves. We’re disappointed that Gov. Little signed such a cruel and ill-conceived bill into law.”
Amanda Wight, program manager of wildlife protection for the Humane Society of the United States, called the bill “a death warrant for hundreds of Idaho’s iconic and beloved wolves.”
“This bill, which has no grounding in science or public values, demonstrates that Idaho can no longer responsibly manage its wolves,” Wight told The Hill in a statement. “The time has come for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to step in and abide by their obligations to review and relist these imperiled animals under the Endangered Species Act now that Idaho is allowing unlimited killing.”
The Idaho Fish and Game Commission has also spoken out against the measure, saying it could undermine the commission’s authority, according to the AP.
A pair of financial companies that were leasing dogs to Massachusetts pet owners will waive the remaining balances owed on dozens of animals, according to the Massachusetts attorney general.
Nevada based companies Credova Financial, LLC and Nextep Holdings, LLC will reportedly forgive $126,000 in balances and give full ownership to dog owners who took out a lease to buy their family pet. Leasing dogs is legal in some states, though Massachusetts, where Thursday’s case was settled, isn’t one of them. Those two companies also agreed to pay $50,000 to the state.
According to the AG’s office, some pet stores allow owners to take out leases to finance a dog, much the same way some people purchase cars. If a payment is missed, the dog can be repossessed. Such loans are said to often come with high finance charges.
In announcing the settlement, attorney General Maura Healey said dog ownership is a big investment for families, both financially and emotionally.
“When the dog is used as collateral in a lease, the end result can be expensive and heartbreaking,” Healey said.
This article is contributed by guest writer, Dawn C.
Everyone loves their pets, and no one ever wants to see them hurt, especially in a fire. So what can one do to protect their pet? The first thing is to make sure you have operational fire extinguishers and smoke detectors. This is not only to protect the pet but also the entire family. The other way to protect your pet is to train them. Socialization and proper training are some of the basic needs your pet requires. Here are the best tips on safety for pets.
About 50,000 pets get affected by fire every year, according to the National Fire Protection Association.Pets cause about 1000 house fires and those are reported cases. Most of these fires are caused by open flames such as candles, fireplaces, or stoves. Here are ways to keep your pets safe from fire or other hazards:
1. Don’t leave an unattended open flame
Pets are mostly nosy, and they don’t understand the risks that fire can cause. Dripped grease or fallen candles can end up becoming a tragic blaze, hence, avoid them when you have pets around. For pets like cats, an ignited candle can be a temptation. You can consider flameless candles.
2. Keep the fireplace secure
A stray spark from a fireplace may burn the entire house. A fireplace is a great place for pets and family to gather, but it’s best to avoid putting fabric items near a fireplace. You can also use a glass fireplace shield to keep the sparks in their place.
Pets can sometimes mistake an electronic cord for a chewing toy. The electric wires can be bound in various creative ways to secure and keep them from being visible. Beginning your pet’s training helps in teaching them good behavior, and not to tamper with cables in the house.
4. Know your pet’s hiding spots
This is essential, especially when you need to evacuate out of your home quickly. Pets mostly hide, especially if they sense danger. You can begin training your pet by crating it in advance to make it easier so that they don’t run when you try pulling them from their crate during any emergency.
5. Rehearse escape routes
Make sure your entire family knows the plan of where to go. If your pet is left behind, it may become exposed to many hazards or get trapped. The American Red Cross informs that it’s essential to decide where you’ll take your pet ahead of time. You can contact a veterinarian to get a list of favorite facilities and kennels. You can also ask for foster care or emergency shelter in a local animal shelter. You can also identify hotels or motels that accept pets.
Another way to ensure itssafety is beginning your pet’s training. It may seem a bit overwhelming at first, especially if it’s a new pet. When you take it step by step, you’ll find it far less hectic. Here are the guidelines on how to get started:
Begin with obedience –Before beginning your pet’s training, you can set a basic foundation. There should be positive reinforcement to lay a great foundation. The method involves giving a pet a reward to encourage it to behave the way you want.
Train your dog in self-control – This technique teaches your pet that nothing comes for free. It needs to earn things like attention, and food through being obedient.
Emergencies tend to happen at any time and can come in a ton of ways. While one may not be able to prevent them from happening, one can prepare their pet and themselves in advance. Training your pet is a way to prevent them from causing or engaging in any danger.
Explore context Environment and Natural Resource Security
A diverse range of mammals once roamed the planet, but this changed quickly and dramatically with the arrival of humans.
Since the rise of humans, wild land mammal biomass has declined by 85%, writes Hannah Ritchie for Our World in Data.
For the first time in human history, we can produce enough food from a smaller land area, making it possible for wild animals to flourish again.
Travel back 100,000 years and the planet was rich with a wide array of wild mammals. Mammoths roamed across North America; lions across Europe; 200-kilogram wombats in Australasia; and the ground sloth lounged around South America.
They’re now gone. Since the rise of humans, several hundred of the world’s largest mammals have gone extinct.
While we often think of ecological damage as a modern problem our impacts date back millennia to the times in which humans lived as hunter-gatherers. Our history with wild animals has been a zero-sum game: either we hunted them to extinction, or we destroyed their habitats with agricultural land. Without these natural habitats to expand into and produce food on, the rise of humans would have been impossible. Humans could only thrive at the expense of wild mammals.
But it doesn’t have to be this way. This century marks a pivotal moment: for the first time in human history there is the opportunity for us to thrive alongside, rather than compete with, the other mammals that we share this planet with.
In this article I want to take a look at how the world’s mammals have changed in the past, and how we can pave a better way forward.
As we’ll see, our long history with the other mammals is really a story about meat. Humans have always, and continue to have, a strong drive to eat meat. For our hunter-gatherer ancestors life was about plotting a hunt against the giant 200-kilogram wombat. This later became a story of how to produce the equivalent of a giant wombat in the field. Now we’re focused on how we can produce this in the lab.
The decline of wild mammals has a long history
To understand how the richness of the mammal kingdom has changed we need a metric that captures a range of different animals and is comparable over time. We could look at their abundance – the number of individuals we have – but this is not ideal. We would be counting every species equally, from a mouse to an elephant and this metric would therefore an ecosystem taken over by the smallest mammals look much richer than one in which bigger mammals roam: if the world’s mouse populations multiplied and multiplied – maybe even to the detriment of other animals – then this abundance metric might suggest that these ecosystems were thriving.
Instead, ecologists often use the metric biomass. This means that each animal is measured in tonnes of carbon, the fundamental building block of life.1 Biomass gives us a measure of the total biological productivity of an ecosystem. It also gives more weight to larger animals at higher levels of the ecological ‘pyramid’: these rely on well-functioning bases below them.
I have reconstructed the long-term estimates of mammal terrestrial biomass from 100,000 BC through to today from various scientific sources.2 This means biomass from marine mammals – mainly whales – is not included. The story of whaling is an important one that I cover separately here. This change in wild land mammals is shown in the chart. When I say ‘wild mammals’ from this point, I’m talking about our metric of biomass.
If we go back to around 100,000 years ago – a time when there were very few early humans and only in Africa – all of the wild land mammals on Earth summed up to around 20 million tonnes of carbon. This is shown as the first column in the chart. The mammoths, and European lions, and ground sloths were all part of this.
By around 10,000 years ago we see a huge decline of wild mammals. This is shown in the second column. It’s hard to give a precise estimate of the size of these losses millennia ago, but they were large: likely in the range of 25% to 50%.3
It wasn’t just that we lost a lot of mammals. It was almost exclusively the world’s largest mammals that vanished. This big decline of mammals is referred to as the Quaternary Megafauna Extinction (QME). The QME led to the extinction of more than 178 of the world’s large mammals (‘megafauna’).
Many researchers have grappled with the question of what caused the QME. Most evidence now points towards humans as the primary driver.4 I look at this evidence in much more detail in a related article. Most of this human impact came through hunting. There might also have been smaller local impacts through fire and other changes to natural landscapes. You can trace the timing of mammal extinctions by following human expansion across the world’s continents. When our ancestors arrived in Europe the European megafauna went extinct; when they arrived in North America the mammoths went extinct; then down to South America, the same.
What’s most shocking is how few humans were responsible for this large-scale destruction of wildlife. There were likely fewer than 5 million peoplein the world. 5 Around half the population of London today.6
A global population half the size of London helped drive tens to hundreds of the world’s largest mammals to extinction. The per capita impact of our hunter-gatherer ancestors was huge.
The romantic idea that our hunter-gatherer ancestors lived in harmony with nature is deeply flawed. Humans have never been ‘in balance’ with nature. Trace the footsteps of these tiny populations of the past and you will find extinction after extinction after extinction.
Hunting to farming: how human populations now compete with wild mammals
We’re now going to fast-forward to our more recent past. By the year 1900, wild mammals had seen another large decline.
By this point, the pressures on wild mammals had shifted. The human population had increased to 1.7 billion people. But the most important change was the introduction of farming and livestock. We see this in the top panel of the chart. This shows the per capita agricultural land use over these millennia – a reflection of how humans got their food.7 Before the agricultural revolution around 10,000 years ago, our food came from hunting and gathering. Agricultural land use was minimal although as we’ve already seen, per capita impacts were still high through hunting. We then see a clear transition point, where agricultural land use begins to rise.
The rise of agriculture had both upsides and downsides for wild mammals. On the one hand, it alleviated some of the direct pressure. Rather than hunting wild mammals we raised our own for meat, milk, or textiles. In this way, the rise of livestock saved wildlife. Crop farming also played a large role in this. The more food humans could produce for themselves, the less they needed to rely on wild meat.
But the rise of agriculture also had a massive downside: the need for agricultural land meant the loss of wild habitats.
The expansion of agriculture over millennia has completely reshaped the global landscape from one of wild habitats, to one dominated by farms. Over the last 10,000 years, we’ve lost one-third of the world’s forests and many grasslands and other wild habitats have been lost too. This obviously came at a large ecological cost: rather than competing with wild mammals directly, our ancestors took over the land that they needed to survive.
We see this change clearly in the bottom panel of the chart: there was a first stage of wild mammal loss through hunting; then another decline through the loss of habitats to farmland.
This shift in the distribution has continued through to today. We see this in the final column, which gives the breakdown in 2015. Wild mammals saw another large decline in the last century. At the same time the human population increased, and our livestock even more so. This because incomes across the world have increased, meaning more people can afford the meat products that were previously unavailable to them. We dig a bit deeper into this distribution of mammals in a related article.
The past was a zero-sum game; the future doesn’t have to be
Since the rise of humans, wild land mammals have declined by 85%.
As we just saw, this history can be divided into two stages. The pre-agriculture phase where our ancestors were in direct competition with wild mammals. They killed them for their meat. And the post-agriculture phase where the biggest impact was indirect: habitat loss through the expansion of farmland. Our past relationship with wild animals has been a zero-sum game: in one way or another, human success has come at the cost of wild animals.
How do we move forward?
Some people suggest a return to wild hunting as an alternative to modern, intensive farming. A return to our primal roots. This might be sustainable for a few local communities. But we only need to do a simple calculation to see how unfeasible this is at any larger scale. In 2018 the world consumed 210 million tonnes of livestock meat from mammals [we’re only looking at mammals here so I’ve excluded chicken, turkey, goose, and duck meat]. In biomass terms, that’s 31 million tonnes of carbon.8 From our chart above we saw that there are only 3 million tonnes of wild land mammal biomass left in the world. If we relied on this for food, all of the world’s wild mammals would be eaten within a month.9
We cannot go back to this hunter-gatherer way of living. Even a tiny number of people living this lifestyle had a massive negative impact on wildlife. For a population of almost 8 billion it’s simply not an option.
But the alternative of continued growth in livestock consumption is also not sustainable. In the short term, it is saving some wild mammals from hunting. But its environmental costs are high: the expansion of agricultural land is the leading driver of deforestation, it emits large amounts of greenhouse gases, and needs lots of resource inputs.
Thankfully we have options to build a better future. If we can reduce agricultural land – and primarily land use for livestock – we can free up land for wild mammals to return. There are already positive signs that this is possible. In the chart we see the change in per capita agricultural land use from 5,000 years ago to today.10 Land use per person has fallen four-fold. The most dramatic decline has happened in the last 50 years: the amount of agricultural land per person has more than halved since 1960. This was the result of increased crop yields and livestock productivity. Of course, the world population also increased over that time, meaning total agricultural land use continued to grow. But, there might be positive signs: the world may have already passed ‘peak agricultural land’. The UN Food and Agriculture Organization reports a decline in global agricultural land since 2000: falling from 4.9 to 4.8 billion hectares. A very small decline, but signs that we could be at a turning point.
I’ve tried to capture what the future could look like in this final chart. It shows the rise in global agricultural land use over these millennia and the decline in wild biomass that we’ve already seen. But looking to the future, a decline in agricultural land alongside a rise in wild mammals is possible. How can we achieve this?
What’s the World Economic Forum doing about deforestation?
Halting deforestation is essential to avoiding the worst effects of global climate change.
The destruction of forests creates almost as much greenhouse gas emissions as global road travel, and yet it continues at an alarming rate.
In 2012, we brought together more than 150 partners working in Latin America, West Africa, Central Africa and South-East Asia – to establish the Tropical Forest Alliance 2020: a global public-private partnership to facilitate investment in systemic change.
The Alliance, made up of businesses, governments, civil society, indigenous people, communities and international organizations, helps producers, traders and buyers of commodities often blamed for causing deforestation to achieve deforestation-free supply chains. null
Some people are in favor of a switch to traditional plant-based diets: cereals, legumes, fruits, and vegetables. Because the land use of plant-based diets is smaller than meat-based diets this is definitely a sustainable option; those who adopt such diets have a low environmental footprint. But many people in the world just really like meat and for those that can afford it, it’s a central part of their diet. For many of those who can’t aspire to be able to do so; we see this when we look at how meat consumption rises with income.
With new technologies it’s possible to enjoy meat or meat-like products without raising or consuming any animals at all. We can have our cake and eat it; or rather, we can have our meat and keep our animals too. Food production is entering a new phase where we can move meat production from the farm to the lab. The prospects for cultured meat are growing. In 2020, Singapore was the first country to bring lab-grown chicken to the market. And it’s not just lab-grown meat that’s on the rise. A range of alternative products using other technologies such as fermentation or plant-based substitutes are moving forward: Beyond Meat, Quorn and Impossible Foods are a few examples.
The biggest barriers – as with all technologies in their infancy – is going to be scale and affordability. If these products are to make a difference at a global scale we need to be able to produce them in large volumes and at low cost. This is especially true if we want to offer an alternative to the standard ‘wild animal to livestock’ transition for lower-income countries. They have to be cheaper than meat.
It’s going to be a challenge. But it’s an incredibly exciting one. For the first time in human history we could decouple human progress from ecological degradation. The game between humans and wild animals no longer needs to be zero-sum. We can reduce poaching and restore old habitats to allow wild mammals to flourish. Doing so does not have to come at the cost of human wellbeing. We can thrive alongside, rather than compete with, the other mammals that we share this planet with. null Share License and Republishing
By Michael Powell for The Mail on Sunday 01:55 02 May 2021, updated 02:12 02 May 2021
In phone call with undercover investigator, businessman Rob Weir recounted a £2,800 hunting trip
Mr Weir said: ‘There were five of us – one of them was a lady – and we shot 13,000 doves over four days’
Mr Weir owns H. J. Weir Engineering, one of world’s largest manufacturers of industrial laundry machines
He also said: ‘The very first time I went out there I wanted to shoot a baboon. I had a thing about shooting a baboon, I don’t know why but I did’
A millionaire trophy hunter has been caught boasting about helping to kill 13,000 doves and blasting a baboon.
In a phone call with an undercover investigator, businessman Rob Weir recounted a £2,800 hunting trip to Argentina, saying: ‘There were five of us – one of them was a lady – and we shot 13,000 doves over four days.’
He said he had limited himself to 1,500 shells a day, adding: ‘I tell you what, I’d love to go back. What an experience.’ BOASTS: Rob Weir (left), who boasted about helping to kill 13,000 doves and blasting a baboon, poses with a dead buffalo in 2017
Mr Weir, who owns H. J. Weir Engineering, one of the world’s largest manufacturers of industrial laundry machines, said he had also made repeated hunting trips to South Africa over the past seven or eight years.
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‘The very first time I went out there I wanted to shoot a baboon. I had a thing about shooting a baboon, I don’t know why but I did,’ he said.
‘I’ve shot buffalo out there, I’ve shot impala out there, I’ve shot warthogs out there, I’ve shot different gazelle-type animals out there.’ The 68-year-old businessman, who also owns the Weir Rallying motorsports team, made his comments to Eduardo Goncalves (above, at the Mirror Animal Hero awards in 2019) – the author and founder of the Campaign to Ban Trophy Hunting
Approached for a comment, Mr Weir, who has not broken any laws with his hunting activities, said: ‘I’ve got nothing further to say.’
The 68-year-old businessman, who also owns the Weir Rallying motorsports team, made his comments to Eduardo Goncalves, the author and founder of the Campaign to Ban Trophy Hunting.
Mr Goncalves has spent the past year posing as a trophy hunter in order to uncover the industry’s secrets for a forthcoming book.
It comes as pressure grows on the Government to implement its long-promised ban on trophy hunting, a pledge first made in the Queen’s Speech in October 2019 and repeated in the Tory Election manifesto two months later.
Despite an estimated 200 animals being killed by British trophy hunters every year, there is still no official date for introducing the ban, although it is thought it will be mentioned again in next month’s Queen’s Speech.
Campaigners are worried, however, that civil servants may try to water down legislation by including a clause allowing hunters to import trophies if they pay a ‘blood money’ fee to conservation projects.
Last night, a Government spokesman said: ‘The Government takes the conservation of endangered species in the UK and internationally very seriously, which is why we have committed to banning the import of hunting trophies from endangered species – as set out in the Government’s manifesto.’
Ken Canning Wolves across the US are again being persecuted under state management. The State of Idaho has adopted legislation that allows for the killing of 90% of the wolves statewide including newborn pups and nursing mothers in their dens. The State of Montana has adopted a bounty system similar to the one that led to the eradication of wolves from the West. The State of Wisconsin opened a hunting season without adequate regulations in place and hundreds of wolves were destroyed within days. Wolves need to regain the protection of the Endangered Species Act NOW! Please take action to restore vital protections to prevent the eradication of wolves from states that are unable or unwilling to manage wolves responsibly.
To: US Interior Secretary Deb Haaland From: [Your Name]
Please Act Now to Save America’s Wolves!
I’m writing to ask you to help save our wolves in the United States. I care deeply about the plight of wolves in our country and wolves across the US are again being persecuted under state authority. The State of Idaho has adopted legislation that allows for the killing of 90% of the wolves statewide including newborn pups and nursing mothers in their dens. The State of Montana has adopted a bounty system similar to the one led to the eradication of wolves from the West. The State of Wisconsin opened a hunting season without adequate regulations in place and hundreds of wolves were destroyed in days. Wolves need to regain the protection of the Endangered Species Act now! Please take action to restore vital protections to prevent the eradication of wolves from states that are unable or unwilling to manage wolves responsibly.
There is no excuse for the persecution of wolves in our country. Wolves are an essential species in helping to maintain healthy elk and deer herds by culling diseased animals and encouraging dispersal of large herds into smaller herds that are more sustainable to their habitat. Livestock losses to wolves remain low – less than 1 percent of cattle in wolf range are lost to wolves – and there are highly effective nonlethal deterrents that can better protect sheep, cattle, and wolves.
These states are changing their state wolf legislation to the point they are no longer sufficient to protect wolves from eradication. You have the ability to restore their protection under the Endangered Species Act before it’s too late. Please take action now. Our nation’s wolves must be protected from this Old West approach that is nothing more than an archaic and brutal campaign to eradicate their numbers.
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, increase fire risk, housing developments, off-road vehicles, habitat fragmentation, 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!
END the suffering of farmed animals in mobile torture chambers
No food, no water, no rest, no room to even move. For up to 28 straight hours, animals are packed into trucks and trailers so tight that millions die in transport every year!
Others suffer terribly, they are injured, bruised, broken, and gored. Then there is the stress. Some animals literally die of heart failure right there on the trucks when it’s more than their poor hearts can take.
This is horrifying and wrong. For too long, Big Ag has been allowed to dictate the rules and prevent any regulations that might relieve some suffering of these animals. It’s time to change that. We have a new Secretary of Transportation, and he needs to hear from YOU!
Tell Sec. Buttigieg it’s time to IMMEDIATELY change the status quo. Update weak and ineffective regulations that promote cruel and inhumane treatment of farmed animals during transport. Let him know how you feel!
Sign our petition: end inhumane farmed animal transport practices NOW!
DENVER— The U.S. District Court of Colorado has ruled that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service violated the law by funding a Colorado Parks and Wildlife plan to kill hundreds of mountain lions and dozens of black bears without properly analyzing the risks to those animals’ populations and the rest of the environment.
In response to a lawsuit brought by conservation groups, the court ruled that the Service violated the National Environmental Policy Act by agreeing to fund the project using federal money without completing its own environmental analysis. Further, the court found the environmental analysis the Service tried to rely upon, completed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, did not adequately analyze the impacts of killing black bears and mountain lions under the plans.
“On behalf of the majority of Coloradans who support coexistence with native carnivores, WildEarth Guardians applauds the court for recognizing the substantial environmental impact that these killing ‘studies’ impose on native wildlife in the state,” said Lindsay Larris, wildlife program director at WildEarth Guardians. “These studies threatened local ecosystems by the extermination of entire populations of bears and lions in these regions, a fact that the Service completely ignored. We hope this ruling ensures that the Service will carefully consider all funding requests for wildlife ‘studies’ long into the future.”
The multi-year plans to kill black bears and mountain lions in the Piceance Basin and Upper Arkansas River areas of Colorado were intended to artificially boost the mule deer population for hunters, where habitat had been degraded by oil and gas drilling. But overwhelming scientific evidence shows that killing native carnivores does not boost prey populations. The killing plans were hatched and approved by Colorado Parks and Wildlife in 2016 and funded by the Service in 2017 despite overwhelming public opposition, and over the objection of leading conservation biologists’ voices.
“This ruling immediately halts the use of taxpayer dollars for the slaughter of Colorado’s mountain lions,” said Andrea Zaccardi, a senior attorney with the Center for Biological Diversity. “I’m so pleased that the court put a stop to this scientifically baseless study that needlessly targeted Colorado’s ecologically important, native carnivores.”
The court agreed that the Fish and Wildlife Service failed to consider the many substantial environmental harms that were likely to result from the plans, such as the harm to the local ecosystem caused by these killings and the suffering and deaths of orphaned cubs and kittens.
“Persecuting bears and mountain lions in this way is not only incredibly cruel to these highly-sentient, social beings who spend years raising their dependent young, but it is also environmentally destructive,” said Laura Smythe, a staff attorney with the Humane Society of the United States. “These inhumane wildlife killing plans left cubs orphaned, who likely died from starvation, dehydration, predation or exposure. Intensive trophy hunting and killing of mountain lions leads to increased conflicts with humans, pets and livestock. The federal government had no business funding this completely unnecessary state-sponsored slaughter.”
The Piceance Basin Plan has been completed but the Upper Arkansas River Plan is ongoing and will be halted as a result of this ruling.
Background: Started in 2017, the Upper Arkansas River Plan was approved to last nine years, during which time Colorado Parks and Wildlife would kill more than 50% of the mountain lion population in the area. Colorado expected the killing of up to 234 mountain lions would cost nearly $4 million, 75 percent of which would be federally funded with taxpayers’ money.
Mountain lions and black bears are critical to their native ecosystems. Mountain lion predation provides food for more bird and mammal scavengers than that of any other predator on the planet. Black bears’ diverse diet of fruits results in broad dispersion of seeds, and their foraging behavior creates disturbances that allow sunlight to reach plants below the forest canopy.
Every 15 minutes, an elephant is killed for its tusks. The entire wild species could go extinct as early as 2025. The ivory market is to blame.
President Obama has a plan. But there are loopholes. Currently, California ivory dealers can still legally sell elephant ivory because of one loophole: intentional mislabeling. Elephant ivory is being passed off as wooly mammoth, cow bone, etc.
The United States and California matter.
After China, the United States is the second largest ivory consumer.
After New York, California — particularly Los Angeles and San Francisco — has the second largest ivory market in the country. California also facilities the international export of ivory.
According to a Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) press release, http://www.nrdc.org/media/2015/150107a.asp investigations revealed that there are 100 ivory vendors and the Bay Area sells 1,200 ivory items.And this isn’t exactly legal ivory.
Los Angeles’ ivory:
— Between 77 – 90 percent of the ivory seen was likely illegal under California law
— Between 47 – 60 percent could have been illegal under federal law
San Francisco’s ivory:
— Roughly 80 percent of the ivory was likely illegal under California law
— 52 percent could have been illegal under federal law
But there’s a way to close the loophole.
San Diego’s Assembly Speaker Toni Atkins has proposed Assembly Bill 96 — the bill would ban all sales of material resembling ivory animals, including: elephants, wooly mammoths, wart hogs and whales. Atkins believes we can save thousands of elephants (and endangered rhinos, for that matter) by closing this loophole and closing the ivory market in California for good.
“He that takes truth for his guide, and duty for his end, may safely trust to God’s providence to lead him aright.” - Blaise Pascal. "There is but one straight course, and that is to seek truth and pursue it steadily" – George Washington letter to Edmund Randolph — 1795. We live in a “post-truth” world. According to the dictionary, “post-truth” means, “relating to or denoting circumstances in which objective facts are less influential in shaping public opinion than appeals to emotion and personal belief.” Simply put, we now live in a culture that seems to value experience and emotion more than truth. Truth will never go away no matter how hard one might wish. Going beyond the MSM idealogical opinion/bias and their low information tabloid reality show news with a distractional superficial focus on entertainment, sensationalism, emotionalism and activist reporting – this blogs goal is to, in some small way, put a plug in the broken dam of truth and save as many as possible from the consequences—temporal and eternal. "The further a society drifts from truth, the more it will hate those who speak it." – George Orwell “There are two ways to be fooled. One is to believe what isn’t true; the other is to refuse to believe what is true.” ― Soren Kierkegaard