The Last Four Huba Lions… EXTINCTION IS FOREVER

 

 https://twitter.com/LIONLOVERS5/status/1384955403411275781?s=03

Five elephants are feared dead after Kenya fires ‘started by British soldiers cooking’

By Mark Nicol Defence Editor For The Daily Mail 22:00 25 Mar 2021, updated 22:43 25 Mar 2021

www.dailymail.co.uk

  • Five elephants, including a calf, have reportedly been killed in the fires started by UK soldiers in Kenya
  • The fires continued to rage over 8,000 acres of the Lolldaiga training area 
  • The fire reportedly started when troops cooking a meal on a camping stove accidentally set light to dry grass

Five elephants, including a calf, have reportedly been killed in fires started by UK soldiers in Kenya, prompting an investigation by the British Army.

Officials confirmed the probe last night as the most recent of the fires continued to rage over 8,000 acres of the Lolldaiga training area.

All military exercises have been suspended while an emergency operation to put out the huge blaze continues.

Hundreds of UK troops are being deployed to fight the fire, beating back the flames on the dry scrubland. Huge blaze: The fire seen beyond military vehicles in the 8,000 acres of the Lolldaiga training area, near Nanyuki, Kenya

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Last night British and Kenyan army helicopters were pouring hundreds of tons of water on to the blaze. UK military vehicles were on standby to evacuate those living nearby.

Four adult elephants are feared to have perished in the flames on Wednesday night. They were trapped inside an area surrounded by electric fencing, which had been erected to prevent them wandering into area where British troops practice warfighting, according to local reports.

Defence chiefs are investigating the cause of the fire, which reportedly started on Wednesday when troops cooking a meal on a camping stove accidentally set light to dry grass.

The fire spread quickly but no British soldiers were injured, according to official defence sources.

A baby elephant is said to have been killed in a separate fire on a military training area in Kenya last week.African elephants similar to those who have reportedly died A British solder posted on Snapchat about a fire

In this incident Royal Military Police officers apparently set off a flare in a bid to disperse a herd of elephants. But the flare is said to have set light to a bush, trapping a calf.

The Ministry of Defence declined to comment on the reported deaths of the elephants. More than 1,000 British troops are currently taking part in military exercises in Kenya. Some have vented their frustration about the fires on social media.

One soldier wrote in a message sent via social media site Snapchat: ‘Two months in Kenya later and we’ve only got eight days left. Been good, caused a fire, killed an elephant and feel terrible about it but hey-ho, when in Rome.’ This post is believed to refer to last week’s inferno rather than the fire which is still ablaze.

The Ministry of Defence said last night: ‘We can confirm there has been a fire during a UK-led exercise in Kenya and that investigations are ongoing.

‘All personnel have been accounted for and now our priority is to urgently assist the local community if they have been impacted. We are putting our resources into containing the fire and are working closely with the Kenyan authorities to manage the situation.

‘The exercise has been paused while conditions on the ground can be fully assessed.’ It comes as both species of the African elephant were yesterday classed as endangered for the first time, according a ‘red list’ of at-risk animals by the International Union for Conservation of Nature.

Most British troops on exercise in Kenya are from the 2nd Battalion, the Mercian Regiment (2 Mercs). Last week Army chiefs announced it will be axed as part of the Government’s Integrated Review of defence and security.

There are 230 military personnel permanently based in Kenya to train visiting UK troops and Kenyan forces. Most are part of the British Army Training Unit Kenya (BATUK).

https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-9404073/amp/Five-elephants-feared-dead-Kenya-fires-started-British-soldiers-cooking.html?__twitter_impression=true

Petition: Protect gray wolves from extinction!

338,125 SUPPORTERS 340,000 GOAL
Gray wolves will be thrust back onto the brink of extinction if the U.S. Department of the Interior’s Fish and Wildlife Service’s proposition is allowed to stand.

The Department intends to delist gray wolves in the contiguous 48 states from the Endangered Species Act, removing the crucial protections they currently have under the law.

This political move jeopardizes wolves nationwide and would pave the way for trophy hunting of wolves in states where the ESA currently protects them, such as Michigan, Minnesota, Wisconsin and Oregon. Further, it hinders the possibility of wolves returning to other states where there is suitable habitat.

The last time wolves in Michigan, Minnesota and Wisconsin lost federal ESA protections, nearly 1,500 of them were killed in just three seasons — many were pups. This proposed rule is scientifically unsound and politically motivated. Will you sit by while another species goes extinct?

We need your voice to oppose this misguided proposal. Without opposition, legislators will push this through and put the nation’s gray wolf population at critical risk.

Please join the fight using the form below, and tell the Department of the Interior’s Fish and Wildlife Service that you oppose their proposal to delist gray wolves from the ESA.read petition letter ▾Subject: Please keep gray wolves listed under the ESA

Dear U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service,

I oppose the proposed rule to delist gray wolves in the contiguous 48 states from the Endangered Species Act. Removing ESA protections now would jeopardize the fragile recovery that wolves have only just begun after having been hunted to near-extinction. It would also expose imperiled populations to the horrors of trophy hunting and trapping.

https://www.thepetitionsite.com/takeaction/681/999/623/?TAP=1732

Petition: Don’t Annihilate Entire Colony of Cliff Swallows – ForceChange

forcechange.com

Target: Caroline Mulroney, Minister, Ministry of Transportation Ontario

Goal: Protect the colony of Cliff Swallows under the Argyle Bridge before it is demolished.

The Argyle Bridge in Ontario is home to the largest colony of Cliff Swallows in the area. Yet it is slated for demolition and reconstruction, posing a serious threat to the birds. The new bridge design does not allow the swallows to make nests as they cannot build on a metal structure, putting the 65 current nests and their residents in danger. Animal protection regulations are being blatantly ignored since any colony over eight nests must be protected.

The government is paying $2 million to protect the local mussel population in the water, but refuses to make any changes to help the Cliff Swallows. This is especially negligent since simple solutions, such as coating the metal beams, would allow the swallows to safely nest.

Sign this petition to urge the government to responsibly care for a protected migratory species, and safeguard the Cliff Swallows.

PETITION LETTER:

Dear Honourable Mulroney,

The destruction of the Argyle Bridge also spells destruction for the Cliff Swallows that find homes under its arches. Simple measures can be taken to make the new bridge a suitable habitat for these animals, yet your government is failing to take adequate measures.

The 65 nests under the bridge make perhaps the largest colony in southern Ontario, and it is negligent to ignore the significance of a nest site of this magnitude.

The project is clearly concerned about its environmental impact, as indicated by the vigilance of the mussels in the water, and I urge you to safeguard all animals who are impacted by this construction.

Protect the vulnerable Cliff Swallows under Argyle Bridge.

Sincerely,

Photo Credit: Ingrid Taylar

https://forcechange.com/582036/stop-the-annihilation-of-an-entire-cliff-swallow-colony/

Pattern Energy Makes Significant Contribution to Protect New Mexico’s Imperiled Bird Species

New Mexico landscape

Washington, DC March 3, 2021

Pattern Energy, an independent renewable energy company, entered into an agreement to fund extensive new research by Bird Conservancy of the Rockies to study birds associated with piñon-juniper woodlands in New Mexico.  Pattern Energy’s $80,000 contribution will support scientific monitoring of the potential impacts from management activities on the pinyon jay and other declining birds associated with piñon-juniper woodlands. 

Pattern Energy is developing the Western Spirit Wind Projects, collectively the largest single-phase wind project in the United States, in central New Mexico, where the landscape is typified by a mosaic of piñon-juniper woodlands and savannas.  The contribution comes from financial agreements for four wind energy projects:  Clines Corners Wind Farm LLC, Duran Mesa LLC, Red Cloud Wind LLC, and Tecolote Wind LLC (collectively, the “Western Spirit Wind Projects”).  

“The pinyon jay has suffered an 85% decline in population since the 1960s and is predicted to lose an additional 50% of its population by 2035. This research will be absolutely vital to protecting this vulnerable species and its habitat,” explained Carol Beidleman with Defenders of Wildlife in Santa Fe.  

“Along with the loss of over a million pinyon jays, many other bird species dependent on piñon-juniper woodlands, such as the juniper titmouse, have also declined significantly. The situation is dire, but thanks to strong support from Pattern Energy there will be reliable science to guide land management projects to better protect this vulnerable habitat and the bird species that are dependent on it,” added Beidleman.  

“We have learned from years of conducting extensive avian surveys that state and federal agencies, as well as conservation stakeholders, have expressed a lack of robust data on the current status and vulnerabilities of pinyon jays and we wanted to resolve that,” said Adam Cernea Clark of Pattern Energy. “Given the iconic nature of the pinyon jay and its role as a keystone species in a delicate ecosystem, Pattern Energy wants to build our collective understanding of the species and its habitat in New Mexico.”   

Of the iconic landscapes in New Mexico, the most familiar is probably that of the piñon-juniper woodlands.  Covering a significant portion of the state, this habitat has always been important to humans, as a source of firewood and the nutritious piñon “nuts,” but also for birds and other wildlife. Without the pinyon jay, however, there would be few new piñon pines. Theirs is a symbiotic relationship, with this beautiful blue jay being the primary consumer, and disperser, of the seeds. It “caches” or buries the seeds, allowing for more successful germination.  Many other bird species associated with this habitat are therefore dependent on the pinyon jay, just as we are.  

Through a collaboration with Defenders of Wildlife, Audubon Southwest, and The Nature Conservancy of New Mexico, Cernea Clark saw an opportunity to support a new research project focused on piñon-juniper woodlands and their associated bird species in New Mexico.  “What I learned from the conservation community is that the pinyon jay, with its caches of seeds, is the primary means for the piñon pine to expand its distribution,” said Cernea Clark.  “We know that ecosystems themselves are migrating in elevation and latitude in response to climate change and piñon-juniper woodlands need this bird to adapt to a changing climate. Pattern Energy’s mission is to transition the world to renewable energy, which we need to mitigate the intensity of climate change. There is an eloquent parallel in this bird’s role in the environment and the role of renewable projects like the Western Spirit Wind Projects.”

Some threats to the pinyon jay are known. Climate change and drought, accompanied by insect outbreaks, have killed many piñon trees.  But, less is known about how large landscape management projects, such as thinning for wildfire mitigation and clearing for rangeland improvements, affect this rapidly disappearing bird. 

“The National Audubon Society’s 2019 Survival by Degrees Report predicts a range loss in New Mexico for the pinyon jay of 19% (+2.0° C) to 30% (+3.0° C) due to climate change,” according to Jonathan Hayes, executive director of Audubon Southwest, “But we don’t have enough information on the effects of large-scale management of the bird’s habitat.”  

Fortunately, there are many bird conservation partners in New Mexico collaborating to learn more about the status and needs of the pinyon jay and to better understand the threats facing this species and associated birds.  Peggy Darr, co-chair of the New Mexico Avian Conservation Partners (NMACP), helped initiate this research project with the Bird Conservancy of the Rockies to evaluate the response of New Mexico avian Species of Greatest Conservation Need to mechanical thinning treatments in piñon-juniper woodlands.  

It started as a subcommittee of the NMACP, and then partners came on board to help us learn more about how to protect this high-priority species in New Mexico.  In addition to Pattern Energy, Defenders of Wildlife, Audubon Southwest, and The Nature Conservancy of New Mexico, this project partnership includes Santa Fe County, the Bureau of Land Management, State Land Office, Los Alamos National Labs, and U.S. Forest Service.

“Partners in Flight has recently identified the pinyon jay as one of 39 ‘Species on the Brink’ in the U.S. and Canada, and the species most dependent on public lands management,” said Bryan Bird, Defenders of Wildlife Southwest program director. “This new research will be critical to protecting one of New Mexico’s highest priority birds. Pattern Energy is demonstrating that renewable energy and wildlife can co-exist and flourish together.”

Defenders of Wildlife is dedicated to the protection of all native animals and plants in their natural communities. With over 1.8 million members and activists, Defenders of Wildlife is a leading advocate for innovative solutions to safeguard our wildlife heritage for generations to come. For more information, visit defenders.org/newsroom and follow us on Twitter @Defenders.

CONTACT US

1130 17th Street NW
Washington, DC 20036
1-800-385-9712

© 2021 Defenders of Wildlife

https://defenders.org/newsroom/pattern-energy-makes-significant-contribution-protect-new-mexicos-imperiled-bird-species?utm_source=twitter&utm_medium=social&utm_campaign=newsroom-PatternEnergy-030521

Wisconsin Approves February Wolf Hunt

Feb. 16, 2021 12:44PM EST

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sign the petition: Demand Congress and Biden act NOW to undo the damage Trump has caused by utilizing the Congressional Review Act

actionnetwork.org

The Trump administration issued a significant number of rules and deregulations that will disastrously impact immigration, the environment, endangered species habitat, and employment, among other issues.

These rules do not have to be permanently enacted, however. Congress can fast-track reversal of rulemakings from the Trump administration under the Congressional Review Act (CRA).

Under the CRA, agencies are required to submit to Congress notice of a finalized rule. Once notified, Congress has the option of passing a joint resolution of disapproval to overturn the rule. If that passes both chambers of Congress and is signed into law by the President, the rule is immediately overturned and has no effect both proactively and retroactively. Importantly, a joint resolution of disapproval need only pass by a simple majority in both chambers.

This means that Congress has the power to negate Trump’s harmful rules!

There is a time limit: the CRA only encompasses Trump’s rules created since August 2020 and the new Congress has 60 days to act. That is why we must press them to act immediately.

There are MANY Trump rules and deregulations that fall under the scope of the CRA. We must demand Congress and President Biden act swiftly to undo so much damage that Trump has done to our country.

Sign the petition: Demand Congress reverse the damage done by Trump and remove his rules under the CRA.

https://actionnetwork.org/forms/sign-the-petition-demand-congress-and-biden-act-now-to-undo-the-damage-trump-has-caused-by-utilizing-the-congressional-review-act?source=twitter&fbclid=IwAR0sM7WjNDYWRwNLkTjS9fY-AqfPkKRWAVv89_DdHR81rVJmg-bFxWYmze0

Petition · Virginia State Legislature: Ban Balloon Releases in Virginia · Change.org

www.change.org

Balloons that are released into the air, both latex and foil, always return to land or water as harmful and potentially deadly litter. The current law in Virginia states that releasing up to 49 balloons is allowable but more than 50 is illegal. We must change this law in the 2021 General Assembly to ban all intentional balloon releases. 

The law in Virginia (§ 29.1-556.1. Release of certain balloons prohibited; civil penalty) currently states that ” It shall be unlawful for any person to knowingly release or cause to be released into the atmosphere within a one-hour period fifty or more balloons which are (i) made of a nonbiodegradable or nonphotodegradable material or any material which requires more than five minutes’ contact with air or water to degrade and (ii) inflated with a substance which is lighter than air.” 

Research has shown that balloon-related litter is one of the most common types of litter on Virginia’s remote beaches. In many cases, more than 100 pieces of balloon related litter, including foil & latex balloons, plastic ribbons & attachments such as plastic discs and laminated notes, have been found on one mile of beach. 

Balloon litter is considered one of the most harmful types of litter to wildlife. Balloon litter not only harms marine animals, especially sea turtles, and shorebirds, but there are documented interactions with livestock, wild horses and inland species of wildlife as well.

We must change the Virginia law to ban all balloon releases, even so-called “biodegradable” balloons. The Balloon Council announced in August, 2018 that it no longer supports balloon releases. Cities and towns all over the country are banning balloon releases. If you are from Virginia, please sign this petition so that we can help to reduce this dangerous type of litter in our environment. 

Virginia residents: please be sure to share your location information when signing so we can show the Virginia representatives that Virginians want to see this law change. Thank you! 

Related articles: https://www.delmarvanow.com/story/news/local/virginia/2015/07/06/virginia-marine-debris/29775191/

https://www.worldanimalfoundation.org/articles/article/8948431/182504.htm

https://www.thedodo.com/in-the-wild/balloons-hurt-animals-risks

Authorities confirm balloons caused Saddle Butte Fire

What Goes Up… Chesapeake Bay Magazine

Just how dangerous are balloons for the environment and wildlife? The Virginian Pilot

Hempstead (NY) Moving Toward Ban of Balloons Released Intentionally, CBS New York

Queen Anne’s County passes ban on releasing helium balloons, Baltimore Sun

https://www.change.org/p/virginia-state-legislature-ban-balloon-releases-in-virginia?source_location=petition_footer&algorithm=promoted&original_footer_petition_id=22128086&grid_position=1&pt=AVBldGl0aW9uAFqbDwEAAAAAX87HRqzbRTwwZWFmYTM4OA%3D%3D

A Declining Population

Researchers Still Don’t Know Why So Many Birds Died This Fall

www.sierraclub.org

It was midnight in Velarde, New Mexico, and graduate student Jenna McCullough was in search of dead birds.

She had driven two hours to a site where on the previous day, September 13, journalist Austin Fisher had stumbled upon a mass of deceased birds and posted a video of the grisly scene on Twitter.

When she saw the video, McCullough—who is studying avian genetics and evolution at New Mexico University—thought, “Oh my god, this is such a massive die-off here, just in one little spot.” She had to go investigate herself.

Now in the darkness picking up carcasses, McCullough felt the lightness of the birds. Of course, birds are light—an adaptation that enables flight—but these ones were particularly boney. And there were hundreds of them.

“It was really incredible. I work with dead birds. I see them all the time. But I had never seen just piles and piles of dead birds in one spot,” McCullough said.

Unfortunately, McCullough was not alone in witnessing such a scene this fall. Across New Mexico, similar swaths of dead birds were discovered as part of an unusual mass mortality event that has baffled researchers. Were the mortalities caused by the drought conditions in the Southwest? A recent cold snap? The smoke from wildfires raging in California? Or some other unknown peril?

Each autumn, billions of birds soar south from Canada and Alaska, passing over the southwestern US on their way to overwinter in Central and South America. While migration is always a risky journey, for thousands of birds this year, it was far deadlier than usual.

Birds literally fell from the sky. Others exhibited strange behavior, with species that normally swoop among trees and bushes seen huddling together on the ground, moving slowly as they searched for insects. There were bright-yellow warblers, shimmering swallows, brown sparrows, and other migratory species. Many were insectivores, or insect-eating birds.

The first recorded incident occurred on August 20, when hundreds of birds were found dead at the White Sands Missile Range military facility in New Mexico. Incidents all over the state followed in mid-September and into October. Whether all these events are related or separate remains unclear.

I work with dead birds. I see them all the time. But I had never seen just piles and piles of dead birds in one spot.

Researchers have sent carcasses to US Fish and Wildlife laboratories in Oregon and Wisconsin for testing, though results will likely take months. They also put out a PSA for the public to log found dead birds on the iNaturalst app, of which there are currently 980 observations across the western US and into Mexico.

That night in Velarde, McCullough and another graduate student identified 305 dead birds, 258 of which were violet-green swallows. They decided to collect some data for themselves. After weighing the carcasses back at the lab, they found that the average weight of the swallows was 9.5 grams. The birds usually weigh about 14 grams, on average.

Like what you read? Sign up for daily updates from Sierra Magazine.

The low weight, indicative of starvation, would have made the birds far more vulnerable to the unusual weather event that struck New Mexico between September 8 and 9, when temperatures dropped over 50 degrees and wind and snow whipped through parts of the state.

“If a lack of food contributed to the mortality event, birds would have less fat and no protection against hypothermia. Indeed, of the hundreds of birds we assessed, none had fat stores on their bodies,” wrote McCullough on the American Birding Association website.

Cold also limits the availability of insects, particularly insects flying through the air, which are the primary food source for aerial insectivores like violet-green swallows.

That’s enough evidence for McCullough to pinpoint weather as the culprit. “Birds with extreme weather events during the height of migration are more susceptible to something like this,” she said. “It’s not a sexy story to sell to newspapers that birds died of something that they routinely die of.”

Yet others suspect that different or additional causes are afoot. The thick wildfire smoke that blanketed California and western states throughout late summer and autumn could have harmed the birds’ lungs. Smoke also decreases visibility for birds. One theory suggests that species may have altered their flight paths away from historically food-rich areas and instead went through the food-scarce Chihuahuan Desert of New Mexico.

Additionally, this year the Southwest experienced its worst drought in decades and possibly centuries. Such dry conditions could have limited insect availability. That’s on top of the fact that insect populations are already declining globally at perilous rates, a looming extinction that no doubt spells trouble for insect-eating birds.

Or it could be all of the above. Martha Desmond, an ornithologist at New Mexico State University, told the Las Cruces Sun News that “we saw a large number of mortalities leading up to it and following” the September cold snap, “which indicates that there might be multiple stressors coming together.” Rather than distinct events with distinct causes, these multiple stressors may have created the “perfect storm” of perilous conditions for migratory birds this fall.

Until the US Fish and Wildlife autopsy information is available, however, it is impossible to say conclusively what caused the avian deaths. Mass mortality events are not unheard of for migratory birds and are typically due to extreme weather. Yet with one in four bird species having disappeared from North American in the past 50 years, it’s hard not to feel existential dread about the fate of birds in 2020.

https://www.sierraclub.org/sierra/researchers-still-don-t-know-why-so-many-birds-died-fall?suppress=true&utm_source=greenlife&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=newsletter

This is a Vaquita. With Less than 10 Left, It’s the Rarest Marine Mammal on Earth

rarest mammal on earth vaquita cover This is a Vaquita. With Less than 10 Left, Its the Rarest Marine Mammal on Earth

The Vaquita (Phocoena sinus), literally “little cow” in Spanish, is a species of porpoise endemic to the northern end of the Gulf of California (Sea of Cortez, Vermilion Sea). Averaging 150 cm (for females) or 140 cm (for males) in length, it is the smallest of all living cetaceans.

Today, the species is on the brink of extinction. Recent research estimates the population at fewer than 10 individuals. The steep decline in abundance is primarily due to bycatch in gillnets from the illegal totoaba fishery. [source]

The vaquita is listed as critically endangered on the IUCN Red List. Today, this is the most endangered marine mammal in the world. VaquitaCPR are trying to save the species but the outlook is bleak. You can learn more about their conservation efforts here.

https://twistedsifter.com/2020/10/rarest-marine-mammal-on-earth-the-vaquita/#like-136667

United States sea turtle nesting threatened

Dear Kitty. Some blog

This 20 July 2013 video from the USA is called Loggerhead sea turtles hatching. Sebastian, Florida.

By Florida State University in the USA:

Coastal development, changing climate threaten sea turtle nesting habitat

August 26, 2020

A research team led by Florida State University found that sea turtles in the U.S. will have less suitable nesting habitat in the future because of climate change and coastal development.

Researchers found areas that will remain or become suitable for sea turtle nesting in the future because of climatic changes and sea-level rise will be exposed to increased coastal development, hindering the ability of turtles to adapt to these disturbances. Their work was published in the journal Regional Environmental Change.

“A reduction in available nesting habitat coupled with the pressures associated with coastal development could likely have detrimental impacts on the reproductive output of sea turtle nesting areas in the U.S. and population…

View original post 443 more words

Giant Pandas Are No Longer Endangered, But They Still Need Help

treehugger.com

Long the face of the conservation movement, giant pandas were upgraded from “endangered” to “vulnerable” on the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List of Endangered Species In September 2016. The listing change followed a 17% increase in the population in China from 2004 to 2014. There are an estimated 1,800 pandas left in the wild with the numbers increasing.

Threats

The improved status shows that the government’s efforts to help conserve the panda have been somewhat effective. But there are still obstacles to overcome, including habitat loss and the impact of the climate crisis on bamboo, the panda’s main food source. 

Habitat Loss

Although the giant panda has experienced a recent increase in some habitat in China, habitat loss continues to be the primary threat facing the species, according to the IUCN. Giant pandas lived in China’s bamboo forests for several million years, but their numbers were decimated as humans cleared acres of habitat for homes and agriculture, roads and mining.

In 1988, the Chinese government banned logging in the panda’s habitat. But new roads and railways are still being built in the area. That not only clears trees, but also fragments the forests, isolating small groups of panda populations.

Fragmentation

The panda population has as many as 33 subpopulations, and more than half of those contain fewer than 10 individuals, reports the IUNC. These small groups are often cut off from habitat, food sources, and from other pandas.

Because some of these subpopulations are so small, conservation geneticists are concerned about inbreeding in these groups. It’s often linked with decreased fertility and can impact survival rates.

Climate Crisis and Bamboo

Bamboo makes up about 90% of a panda’s diet, according to the WWF. Because bamboo is low in nutrients, pandas eat a lot of it, spending about 12 hours a day munching on the thick stalks and leaves.

But bamboo may be quite vulnerable to the climate crisis. Depending on the species, some bamboo only reproduces every 15 to 100 years. Others only thrive at certain temperatures or elevations. Bamboo makes up about 90% of a panda’s diet.

 Craig Sellars / Getty Images

With warming temperatures and changing habitats, pandas have limited access to bamboo, says the IUCN. One study published in the journal Nature Climate Change predicted that global warming will wipe out much of the bamboo the bears rely on for food.

The IUCN says the climate crisis is predicted to eliminate more than one-third of the panda’s bamboo habitat in the next 80 years. As a result, they expect the panda population to decline, “reversing the gains made during the last two decades.”

Poaching

Poaching was a problem in the past, as the animals were hunted for their fur. But China passed the Wildlife Protection Law, enacted in 1988 and revised in 2016, which banned the breeding, hunting, and selling of hundreds of animals including the giant panda. However, the IUCN points out that pandas are sometimes still accidentally caught in traps set out for other animals.

What We Can Do 

A census in the mid-1970s found only 2,459 pandas in China, according to the WWF, which alerted the government to the species’ precarious position. Since then, the panda has been the focus of a high-profile campaign to save the species. 

Since that eye-opening report, poaching has been banned, panda nature reserves have been created, and partnerships between the Chinese government and zoos around the world have assisted with breeding and research efforts.

China now has a network of 67 panda reserves, which protect more than 66% of the giant pandas in the wild and nearly 54% of their existing habitat. In partnership with the WWF, the Chinese government has developed bamboo corridors to allow pandas to more easily move to new areas, find more food, and meet more potential mates, which will also help improve genetic diversity.

Although recent population increases show that some success has been achieved, the panda still needs help. The IUCN notes that the Chinese government plans to continue to protect panda habitat and monitor population. “They recognize the challenges the future holds, and in particular will seek to address problems of habitat connectivity and population fragmentation.”

To help giant pandas, you can donate to the WWF to conserve the species and their habitats.

https://www.treehugger.com/are-giant-pandas-endangered-4847188?utm_campaign=treehugger&utm_medium=email&utm_source=cn_nl&utm_content=20965338&utm_term=

Sheriff’s office investigating social media photo showing man kneeling on child’s neck

 

whio.com

WHIO Staff

CLARK COUNTY, Ohio — A social media photo of a man kneeling on the back of the neck of a child is currently under investigation by the Clark County Sheriff’s Office.

A picture of the post was sent into News Center 7 Tuesday, showing the man with his knee on the back of a child’s neck, who appears to be crying. A second person in the photo is holding the child’s hands behind their back. The caption of the photo reads “Blm now.”

A version of the the photo, which some might find disturbing, is available at the bottom of this news story, with the faces of the child and man blurred out.

The photo resembles the action taken by Minneapolis police officers during the arrest of George Floyd May 25 that resulted in his death.

Investigators in Clark County said they are investigating the post, however no arrests have been made and charges have not been filed.

“We are looking into this case, however it is still an active investigation. At this point we are actively looking into it and we are VERY early on into this investigation,” Maj. Chris Clark said in an emailed statement.

According to emergency scanner traffic, deputies, police, and medics were called to two different addresses Tuesday morning in Clark County as a part of the investigation.

We’ll continue to update this story with new details as they become available.

Contributed photo, provided to News Center 7
Contributed photo, provided to News Center 7

© 2020 Cox Media Group

https://www.whio.com/news/crime-and-law/sheriffs-office-investigating-social-media-post-showing-man-kneeling-childs-neck/7GREMQGUZNC6DBZAFQCVDVZXKI/

 

North Atlantic Right Whales Now Listed as ‘Critically Endangered’

smithsonianmag.com

A North Atlantic right whale off the coast of Massachusetts, blowing water through its blowhole

SmartNews Keeping you current

Just about 400 of the whales survive in the wild, and they continue to die at an alarming rate

A North Atlantic right whale off the coast of Cape Cod in 2015 (Photo by David L. Ryan / The Boston Globe via Getty Images)

smithsonianmag.com

By Nora McGreevy
July 16, 2020

North Atlantic right whales are facing a crisis. Just 409 survive in the world, according to data from the North Atlantic Right Whale Consortium, and the whales continue to die at an alarming rate.

Last week, the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) moved the species from “Endangered” to “Critically Endangered” on their “red list” of threatened and endangered species, Jamey Keaten and James Brooks report for the Associated Press.

Most right whale deaths in the last three years have been linked to interactions with vessels and fishing operations along the coast of the United States and Canada, per the IUCN. Right whales swim with their mouths open to catch copepods, tiny zooplanktons, and other small sea creatures that make up the majority of their diet.

As they swim with mouths agape, they can easily become entangled in the fishing lines that connect lobster and crab traps to the ocean’s surface, as Tom Cheney reported for Smithsonian magazine in 2018. Ships can also strike and kill the whales, who often feed close to the surface. Entanglement and deadly collisions can cause massive, devastating injuries to the animals.

Many scientists believe that climate change is partly to blame for the uptick in right whale deaths. The whales typically migrate in the summer from their calving grounds in Georgia and Florida to the Gulf of Maine and Bay of Fundy. As the ocean warms, however, copepod populations have shifted north, causing the whales to follow their food source further north to the Gulf of St. Lawrence, reports Lisa Friedman for the New York Times.

Estimates in 2018 showed that without a substantial turn for the better, the whales could be “functionally extinct” in 20 years, reported Cheney at the time.

“It’s devastating,” Regina Asmutis-Silvia, the executive director of Whale and Dolphin Conservation North America, told the Atlantic’s Ed Yong in June 2019. “There’s now more people working on right whales than there are right whales left.”

Scientists suspect that an average of 17 calves per year need to be born for the population to grow, as Brigit Katz reported for Smithsonian magazine last year. However, studies show that birth rates for female right whales have declined dramatically over the last few years. Fewer than 250 sexually mature right whales were estimated to exist in the wild in 2018, according to the IUCN.

In 2017, the NOAA Fisheries declared an “Unusual Mortality Event” as right whale deaths ticked up to even higher numbers. In the last three years, 31 right whales off the coast of the U.S. and Canada have died and 10 have been seriously injured, nearly all the result of crashing into vessels or entanglement in fishing gear.

On June 25 this year, the carcass of a six-month-old calf—the first observed earlier this breeding season—was discovered floating off the coast of Elberon, New Jersey. He had likely been hit by two separate vessels, NOAA Fisheries said in a statement.

Recently, President Donald Trump vowed to defend the U.S. lobster industry, which means the administration will likely not advocate for measures to protect the whales at the expense of fisheries in the area, reports Friedman.

Right whales were severely threatened by hunting in the 19th and 20th centuries—at one point, their numbers dropped to an estimated 60 mature individuals, reports Cheney. The whales even got their names from hunters: slow and easy to kill, they were known as the “right” marks because they would float to the surface after dying. At the turn of the 21st century, right whale numbers were estimated at about 500, due in part to serious protection measures against hunting. Now, the population is once again on the decline.

“For nearly a century, North Atlantic right whales have been protected from the commercial whaling that pushed them to the brink of extinction, but they continue to be killed by human activities,” says Jane Davenport, the senior attorney for conservation nonprofit Defenders of Wildlife, in a statement. “…This status change is a call to arms: unless we act decisively to turn the tide, the next time the right whale’s Red List status changes it will be to ‘extinct.’”

https://www.smithsonianmag.com/smart-news/right-whales-now-listed-critically-endangered-180975315/

Protect Right Whales Petition

defenders.org

North Atlantic right whales are one of the most endangered large whale species in the world.

Hundreds of years of commercial whaling decimated the species by the early 1900s. The species got its name as the “right” whale to hunt: these animals swim slowly close to shore and are so blubber-rich they float when dead. They have a stocky, black body, no dorsal fin and bumpy patches of rough skin, called callosities, on their heads.

These massive marine mammals migrate each year between their northern feeding grounds in coastal Atlantic Canada and New England to their calving grounds in the warm waters off South Carolina, Georgia and Florida, and back. It is a journey fraught with danger as the whales navigate waters where they encounter vessel traffic, millions of fishing ropes and other hazards associated with human activity. 

Defenders’ Impact

Defenders is building support in Congress to enact the SAVE Right Whales Act, to provide much-needed funding for develop technologies to protect the species from fishing entanglements and vessel strikes. We are also fighting in court to protect right whales from deadly entanglements.

In January 2018, Defenders and our conservation allies filed suit against the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) for violating the Endangered Species Act and the Marine Mammal Protection Act by failing to protect North Atlantic right whales from entanglements in the American lobster fishery.

We advocate for right whales as a conservation member of the Atlantic Large Whale Take Reduction Team, a stakeholder group under the Marine Mammal Protection Act that advises NMFS on how to implement fishery management measures to minimize or avoid the risk of deadly entanglements. We are also litigating to stop seismic blasting in the Atlantic and working to promote responsible wildlife- and whale-friendly offshore wind development. 

Threats

North Atlantic right whales are threatened by entanglement, ship strikes and offshore oil and gas exploration and development. 

Protection Status

Endangered Species Act

IUCN Red List

CITES

 Endangered

 Critically Endangered

 Appendix I

What You Can Do

Tell your members of Congress to support the SAVE Right Whales Act.

Facts

Latin Name

Eubalaena glacialis

Size

about 50 feet long and weigh about 70 tons (140,000 pounds), with females larger than males

Lifespan

Under ideal circumstances, 50 -100 years; however, most adult whales are killed by human actions by the time they are 30-40 years old.

Range/Habitat

North Atlantic right whales are found from Atlantic Canada to the southeastern United States and migrate along the length of the east coasts of the United States and Canada. 

Population

Only about 400 North Atlantic right whales remain and of those, only 85 are reproductively active females.

Behavior

Right whales are slow swimmers, averaging just six miles per hour. They are known to make brief shallow dives in succession before submerging themselves underwater for up to 20 minutes at a time. They usually travel solo or in small groups.

Reproduction

Females usually give birth to their first calf at 10 years. Although usually they give birth every 3-5 years thereafter, their calving intervals are now approximately 10 years because of the energy demands of dragging entangled fishing gear around. Right whale calves are 13-15 feet long at birth.

Mating season: winter
Gestation: 1 year
Litter size: 1 calf

Diet

North Atlantic right whales eat zooplankton and krill larvae. They take large gulps of water and then filter out their tiny prey using baleen plates.

News

North atlantic right whale

IUCN: North Atlantic Right Whale Now “Critically Endangered”

The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) announced today that it is changing the status of the North Atlantic right whale from “endangered” to “critically endangered” on its Red List of Threatened Species, recognizing that the species faces an extremely high risk of extinction. The IUCN Red List is the world’s most comprehensive inventory of the global conservation status of species.

North Atlantic Right Whale Blog Posts

Read More About the North Atlantic Right Whale

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https://act.defenders.org/page/18283/action/1

In ‘Conservation Disaster,’ Hundreds of Botswana’s Elephants Are Dying From Mysterious Cause

Jul. 02, 2020 07:43AM EST Animals African bush elephants in the Makgadikgadi Pans Game Reserve in Botswana on Nov. 22, 2016. Michael Jansen / Flickr

More than 350 elephants have died in Botswana since May, and no one knows why.

Poaching has been ruled out, because no tusks have been removed from the elephants’ bodies, but it is possible the animals are dying of a disease that could spread to the human population.

“Yes, it is a conservation disaster — but it also has the potential to be a public health crisis,” National Park Rescue Director of Conservation Dr. Niall McCann told BBC News. nullReport Advertisement https://platform.twitter.com/embed/index.html?dnt=false&embedId=twitter-widget-0&frame=false&hideCard=false&hideThread=false&id=1278329244767137792&lang=en&origin=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.ecowatch.com%2Felephants-dying-botswana-2646313336.html&partner=rebelmouse&siteScreenName=EcoWatch&siteUserId=78361556&theme=light&widgetsVersion=9066bb2%3A1593540614199&width=550px

Botswana’s tourism ministry first said that it was investigating the deaths in mid-May, when 12 dead elephants were found over two weekends in the country’s Okavango Delta, Phys.org reported at the time.

By the end of May, 169 elephants had died, and that number had more than doubled by mid-June, The Guardian reported.

“This is totally unprecedented in terms of numbers of elephants dying in a single event unrelated to drought,” McCann told BBC News.

But despite the scale of the deaths, the government has not yet completed testing of the animals to determine the cause, earning the criticism of conservation groups.

“There is real concern regarding the delay in getting the samples to an accredited laboratory for testing in order to identify the problem — and then take measures to mitigate it,” Environmental Investigation Agency Executive Director Mary Rice told The Guardian. “The lack of urgency is of real concern and does not reflect the actions of a responsible custodian. There have been repeated offers of help from private stakeholders to facilitate urgent testing which appear to have fallen on deaf ears … and the increasing numbers are, frankly, shocking.”

The government, meanwhile, attributed the delay to the coronavirus pandemic.

“We have sent [samples] off for testing and we are expecting the results over the next couple of weeks or so,” Dr. Cyril Taolo, acting director for Botswana’s department of wildlife and national parks, told The Guardian. “The Covid-19 restrictions have not helped in the transportation of samples in the region and around the world. We’re now beginning to emerge from that and that is why we are now in a position to send the samples to other laboratories.”

Taolo said the government had confirmed 280 out of 350 reported deaths and is working to confirm the rest.

Local reports indicate that animals of all ages and sexes are dying, with some spotted wandering in circles, a sign of neurological damage. The cause is likely a poison or disease, but experts are not sure which.

More than 100 elephants died in October 2019 in a suspected anthrax outbreak, Phys.org reported, but McCann told BBC News he had tentatively ruled out anthrax as the cause of the most recent deaths. Cyanide poisoning used by poachers is another possibility, but scavengers are not dying after eating the carcasses, The Guardian pointed out.

“It is only elephants that are dying and nothing else,” McCann told BBC News. “If it was cyanide used by poachers, you would expect to see other deaths.”

Botswana hosts the world’s largest elephant population at more than 135,000 animals, about a third of all the elephants in Africa, Phys.org pointed out. The Okavango Delta, meanwhile, is home to 10 percent of Botswana’s total population, or around 15,000 animals. African elephants are considered vulnerable by the International Union for Conservation of Nature Red List. Botswana was considered one of the safest countries for elephants until recently, Science Alert pointed out. But the government made a controversial decision to lift its elephant hunting ban in May of 2019, and poaching is on the rise. An Elephants Without Borders study published in Current Biology last year found that new elephant carcasses in northern Botswana had increased by 593 percent between 2014 and 2018 and that at least 385 elephants had been poached between 2017 and 2018.

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EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

https://www.ecowatch.com/elephants-dying-botswana-2646313336.html?rebelltitem=3#rebelltitem3

Horrific Video of a Pregnant Mother Whale Shark Caught in a Drag Net Shows the Impact of Our Reckless Fishing

onegreenplanet.org

By Estelle Rayburn 3-4 minutes

By dragging a net across the ocean floor, fishers can easily catch many fish at a time. However, this practice comes with a price — it often results in larger marine creatures being unintentionally picked up by the nets as well. This unfortunate situation happened recently off the coast of Thailand in the Andaman Sea when a fishing boat accidentally caught a pregnant female whale shark in a drag net.

Upon getting news from divers on a diving boat that the animal had been scooped up by the net, the fishing boat’s captain reportedly said that they would release the whale shark. But instead of doing so promptly, the crew left the whale shark hanging on the side of the boat for upwards of two hours, leaving the poor creature unresponsive and with severely dry skin.

By the time the fishing boat crew finally cut the ropes that the whale shark was caught in and released her back into the ocean, it was already too late — she had spent too much time out of the water, and she had died. What’s worse, the diving crew reportedly spotted an unborn baby whale shark coming out of the mother and floating away into the sea. This drag net operation took the lives of not one but two innocent whale sharks.

When he heard about this tragic incident, Dr. Thon Thamrongnawasawata, a marine activist and an official counsellor for the Department of Marine and Coastal Resouces (DMCR), was understandably outraged. He reportedly posted on his personal Facebook page, “The whale shark is protected by the international Species Conservation Act. It is also classified as prohibited in the Fisheries Act. The female whale shark should not be caught or taken onto a fishing vessel. The sentence is a fine between 300,000 and 3 million baht.”

We certainly hope that the fishing crew receives a hefty fine for the murder of these two poor whale sharks.

To make sure justice is served for these whales and help more people learn about the harsh consequences of drag net fishing, a conservation group in Thailand called Go Eco Phuket is encouraging individuals to spread the word about this tragedy. Doing so is a great way to play your part in ending reckless fishing practices. Another easy thing you can do to help reduce the needless slaughter of marine life is decrease your seafood consumption. If we all work together, it’s very possible for us to enact change and preserve our planet’s precious marine animals!

For more Animal, Earth, Life, Vegan Food, Health, and Recipe content published daily, subscribe to the One Green Planet Newsletter! Also, don’t forget to download the Food Monster App on iTunes — with over 15,000 delicious recipes it is the largest meatless, vegan and allergy-friendly recipe resource to help reduce your environmental footprint, save animals and get healthy!

Lastly, being publicly-funded gives us a greater chance to continue providing you with high quality content. Please consider supporting us by donating!

https://www.onegreenplanet.org/news/pregnant-mother-whale-shark-caught-drag-net/?fbclid=IwAR20YfGELlF_Es_uIEM_H7bpoS7yb4FukYqY_5OBlpx9tv-Mku9AT2BIqH8

Rough start to the year for Mexican gray wolves, cattle

abqjournal.com

FILE - This Jan. 30, 2020, file photo, shows members of the Mexican gray wolf recovery team preparing to load a wolf into a helicopter in Reserve, N.M., so it can be released after being processed during an annual survey. One Mexican gray wolf died after being caught in a trap in April and another was found dead in the wild, bringing the total to more than a dozen of the endangered predators that have died so far this year in New Mexico and Arizona. Environmentalists say a combination of lethal management by U.S. wildlife officials and private trapping is making it difficult to recover the species. (AP Photo/Susan Montoya Bryan, File)

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FILE – This Jan. 30, 2020, file photo, shows members of the Mexican gray wolf recovery team preparing to load a wolf into a helicopter in Reserve, N.M., so it can be released after being processed during an annual survey. One Mexican gray wolf died after being caught in a trap in April and another was found dead in the wild, bringing the total to more than a dozen of the endangered predators that have died so far this year in New Mexico and Arizona. Environmentalists say a combination of lethal management by U.S. wildlife officials and private trapping is making it difficult to recover the species. (AP Photo/Susan Montoya Bryan, File)

More photos

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — One Mexican gray wolf died after being caught in a trap in April and another was found dead in the wild, bringing the total to more than a dozen of the endangered predators that died in the first four months of the year in New Mexico and Arizona.

Environmentalists say a combination of lethal management by U.S. wildlife officials and private trapping is making it difficult to recover the species.

But ranchers say they face constant pressure from the wolves, pointing to the more than two dozen cattle that were killed just last month.

The latest wolf and livestock deaths come as the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service begins wading through the process of revamping a rule that guides management of wolves in the Southwest.

The public has until June 15 to comment on the issues to be considered by officials. So far, nearly 800 comments have been submitted.

Some say it’s shaping up to be a deadly year for the wolf following an encouraging survey that found more wolves in the wild last year than at any time since efforts began more than two decades ago to reintroduce wolves along the New Mexico-Arizona border.

At least 163 wolves were counted during the survey that wrapped up in February. That marks a nearly 25% jump in the population from the previous year and puts wildlife managers about halfway to meeting the goal set for declaring the species recovered.

Monthly reports show 10 wolves have died in the first four months of 2020. That doesn’t include the alpha female of the Prieto Pack of wolves in New Mexico that died after being trapped in late April and four others that were killed in March due to livestock issues.

“It demonstrates the vagaries of the program and how quickly things can turn bad for the wolves,” Bryan Bird, the southwest program director for Defenders of Wildlife, said Tuesday.

He said changes to the management rule now under revision could address these ups and downs by limiting the circumstances in which wolves can be lethally or non-lethally removed from the wild and addressing trapping on public lands in the wolf recovery area.

Michael Robinson with the Center for Biological Diversity said one problem that has been ongoing for years is the wolves feeding on live cattle after being drawn in by the carcasses of cows that die from other causes. He’s among those who have been pushing for a requirement for ranchers to remove carcasses as one way to avoid conflict.

“Though the feds claim they’re looking at the population as a whole, this recurring mismanagement is precisely why the Mexican wolf is in worse genetic shape now than when reintroduction began more than two decades ago,” he said.

Some ranchers say they have tried everything from hiring cowboys on horseback to installing flagging and other devices to scare away the wolves. But they are still having problems.

Last year marked a record year for livestock kills. Several dozen kills have been reported so far this year.

The Arizona House last week passed a Senate-approved measure that would allow a board set up to reimburse ranchers for livestock losses to also compensate ranchers for things like range riders to keep wolves away from their herds.The measure now goes to Republican Gov. Doug Ducey for his consideration.

Federal officials say they conducted 24 days of hazing efforts in April, removed two carcasses, set up several food caches in hopes of diverting the wolves and talked with dozens of ranchers via phone, text and email in an effort to reduce the conflicts.

https://www.abqjournal.com/1459850/rough-start-to-the-year-for-mexican-gray-wolves-cattle.html?amp=1&__twitter_impression=true

The grand old trees of the world are dying, leaving forests younger and shorter

api.nationalgeographic.com

By Craig Welch 14-18 minutes

PUBLISHED May 28, 2020

California’s giant sequoias can live for more than 3,000 years, their trunks stretching two car lengths in diameter, their branches reaching nearly 300 feet toward the clouds. But a few years ago, amid a record drought, scientists noticed something odd. A few of these arboreal behemoths inside Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks were dying in ways no one had ever documented—from the top down.

When researchers climbed into the canopies, they discovered that cedar bark beetles had bored into a few branches. By 2019, at least 38 of the trees had died—not a large number, but “concerning because we’ve never observed this before,” says Christy Brigham, the park’s chief of resource management.

Beetles have ravaged hundreds of millions of pines across North America. But scientists had assumed that stately sequoias, with their bug-repelling tannins, were immune to such dangerous pests. Worried experts are investigating whether some mix of increased drought and wildfire, both worsened by climate change, have now made even sequoias susceptible to deadly insect invasions.

top: 

The largest patch of old growth redwood forest remaining stands in Humboldt Redwoods State Park, California. The world’s largest trees are dying, meaning that they’re releasing their carbon back into the atmosphere instead of storing it, which has previously unknown repercussions for climate change.

bottom: 

The stump of a giant sequoia tree, known as the Discovery Tree, located in Calaveras Big Trees State Park.

Photograph by (top) and Photograph by Diane Cook and Len Jenshel, Nat Geo Image Collection (bottom)

If so, these ancient sentinels would be just the latest example of a trend experts are documenting around the world: Trees in forests are dying at increasingly high rates—especially the bigger, older trees. According to a study appearing today in the journal Science, the death rate is making forests younger, threatening biodiversity, eliminating important plant and animal habitat, and reducing forests’ ability to store excess carbon dioxide generated by our consumption of fossil fuels.

“We’re seeing it almost everywhere we look,” says the study’s lead author, Nate McDowell, an earth scientist at the U.S. Energy Department’s Pacific Northwest National Laboratory.

More old trees dying, everywhere

To paint the most detailed picture of global tree loss to date, nearly two dozen scientists from around the world examined more than 160 previous studies and combined their findings with satellite imagery. Their analysis reveals that from 1900 to 2015, the world lost more than a third of its old-growth forests.

In places where historical data is the most detailed—particularly Canada, the western United States, and Europe—mortality rates have doubled in just the past four decades, and a higher proportion of those deaths are older trees.

There is no single direct cause. Decades of logging and land clearing play a role, scientists say. But increasing temperatures and rising carbon dioxide from the burning of fossil fuels have significantly magnified most other causes of tree death. From Israel’s eucalyptus and cypress plantations to Mongolia’s birch and larch stands, scientists are documenting longer and harsher droughts, more severe outbreaks of insects and disease, and increasingly catastrophic wildfires.

“We will see fewer forests,” says Monica Turner, a forest ecologist at the University of Wisconsin. “There will be areas where there are forests now where there won’t be in the future.”

Changes worldwide

With 60,000 known tree species on Earth, those shifts are playing out differently across the planet.

In central Europe, for instance, “You don’t have to look for dead trees,” says Henrik Hartmann, with Germany’s Max Planck Institute for Biogeochemistry. “They’re everywhere.”

In one recent year, following a week of excessive heat, hundreds of thousands of beech trees dropped their leaves. Bark beetles are also killing spruce, which is not unusual. But hotter weather weakens trees, making them more vulnerable and allowing the insects to multiply and survive through winter into the next year.

Even in colder regions, “You get a couple of hot years and the forests are suffering,” says Hartmann, who was not an author on McDowell’s study. “We’re approaching a situation where the forests cannot acclimate. There are individual species that are being driven beyond the threshold of what they can handle.”

That also may be true in some of North America’s treasured spots. For 10,000 years, fires have roared through Yellowstone National Park every 100 to 300 years. In 1988, such conflagrations caught the world’s attention as they charred and blackened 1.2 million acres.

Lodgepole pine forest burns in Yellowstone National Park.Photograph by Michael Quinton, Minden Pictures/Nat Geo Image Collection

Turner, the Wisconsin ecologist, has been studying the aftermath of those fires ever since. And the lessons aren’t quite what we once thought they were.

The heat from flames usually helps lodgepole pine cones release their seeds as their sticky resin melts. But in 2016, when those new forests were not yet 30 years old, a new fire raged inside an old burn site from 1988. Because we live in a hotter, drier world, the new fires burned more intensely—in some cases wiping out almost everything. The very process that usually helps create new forests instead helped prevent one from growing. “When I went back, I was just astonished,” Turner says. “There were places with no small trees left. None.”

Just last year, massive fires marched through a dry Australia, smoldered across 7.4 million acres in northern Siberia, and focused the world’s attention on blazes in the Amazon.

In parts of that rainforest, dry seasons now last longer and come more often. Rainfall has dropped by as much as a quarter and often arrives in torrents, bringing massive floods in three out of six seasons between 2009 and 2014. All that activity is altering the rainforest’s mix of trees. Those that grow fast and reach the light quickly, and are more tolerant of dry weather, are outcompeting species that require damp soils.

Moringa peregrina is an endangered tree in Jordan and Israel, where desertification is killing native trees. Photograph by Mark Moffett, Minden Pictures/Nat Geo Image Collection

The consequences of all these changes around the world are still being assessed. The first national look at tree mortality in Israel showed vast stretches disappearing, thanks largely to scorching heat and wildfires. In a country largely blanketed by stone and sand, forests mean a great deal. Trees support nests for eagles and habitat for wolves and jackals. They hold soil with their roots. Without them, plants that normally rise in trees’ shadows are suddenly exposed to higher temperatures and bright light.

“Trees are these big plants that design the ecosystems for all the other plants and animals,” says Tamir Klein at the Weizmann Institute of Science.

Earlier this month Klein met with the Israeli forestry chief to talk about the country’s southern forests, which may not survive the century. “They came to me and asked, What are we supposed to do? We don’t want the desert to move north,” Klein recalls.

“We’re dealing with a very tough situation. It’s a race to the unknown.”

Earlier signs

The seeds of the Science study were sown in the early 2000s when lead author McDowell moved to the southwestern U.S. to work at Los Alamos National Laboratory. Outside his office window he saw fields of dead juniper and piñon pine. An intense heat wave had wiped out 30 percent of the pines on more than 4,500 square miles of woodland. “I thought, as a tree physiologist I’m going to have a short stay here because they are all dead,” he remembers.

McDowell and several colleagues began pondering how tree loss would alter forests’ ability to sequester CO2—and how to better predict such devastation in the future. A decade later, a co-worker examined tree rings and past temperature swings and found a relationship between heat and tree deaths. Then he simulated how the forest would change based on temperature projections from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. The results suggested that by 2050, normal temperatures in the Southwest could be similar to rare past heat waves that led to severe tree-killing droughts. “That was really frightening,” McDowell says.

McDowell and other scientists began to look more broadly. Many people had assumed rising CO2 would feed tree growth. But as the planet gets hotter, the atmosphere sucks moisture from plants and animals. Trees respond by shedding leaves or closing their pores to retain moisture. Both of those reactions curtail CO2 uptake. It’s like “going to an all-you-can-eat buffet with duct tape over their mouths,” McDowell says.

In a tropical forest, the vast majority of tree mass can be in the top one percent of the largest trees. “These big old trees disproportionately hold the above-ground carbon storage,” says study co-author Craig D. Allen, a forest ecologist with the U.S. Geological Survey. “When they die, it creates space for smaller trees, but they have much less carbon in them.”

That’s important, because most global carbon models used by the IPCC assume that forests will do far more to offset our fossil fuel use. The reality may be far less clear.

“When old trees die, they decompose and stop sucking up CO2 and release more of it to the atmosphere,” McDowell says. “It’s like a thermostat gone bad. Warming begets tree loss, then tree loss begets more warming.”

A mountainside is forested with golden larches the Italian Dolomites. Mature trees all over the world are dying off much more quickly than thought. Photograph by Martin Zwick, VISUM/Redux

While some significant change to forests is inevitable, Turner says cutting our fossil fuel emissionscan still make a huge difference. One scenario she has documented suggests that curbing CO2 in the next few decades could cut future forest loss in Grand Teton National Park by half.

In some cases, though, more radical solutions may be required.

In his meeting, Klein urged Israel’s forest leaders to consider planting acacia trees, normally found in the Sahara, in place of pine and cypress. They manage to keep growing even during the hottest days of the year.

“It is sad,” Klein adds. “It won’t look the same. It won’t be the same. But I think it’s better to do this than just have barren land.”

https://api.nationalgeographic.com/distribution/public/amp/science/2020/05/grand-old-trees-are-dying-leaving-forests-younger-shorter?__twitter_impression=true

New Mexico Wolf Pack Destroyed After Alpha Female Killed, Yearling Flees – Center for Biological Diversity

For Immediate Release, May 20, 2020

Contact:

Michael Robinson, (575) 313-7017, michaelr@biologicaldiversity.org

New Mexico Wolf Pack Destroyed After Alpha Female Killed, Yearling Flees

Wolf Mother’s Undisclosed Death in April Follows March Killing of Mate, Pup

SILVER CITY, N.M.— A pack of endangered Mexican gray wolves has been eliminated in the Gila National Forest through a combination of private trapping and federal shooting on behalf of the livestock industry.

Conservationists learned today that the Prieto pack’s nine-year-old alpha female died in federal custody on April 25 and that a yearling has fled dozens of miles from his natal range. These events follow the federal shooting in March of the alpha male and a pup, and the trapping, maiming and/or deaths of seven other pack members during 2018 and 2019.

“This latest incident is the cruel final blow to the Prieto pack, which struggled for two years to survive the Fish and Wildlife Service and avowed wolf-haters in the livestock industry,” said Michael Robinson at the Center for Biological Diversity. “We’ll do everything in our power to end the policy of looking the other way on so-called ‘accidental trapping’ of wolves. It’s crucial to stop the federal government’s sickening program of wolf trapping and shooting.”

The alpha female was caught in a privately set trap on April 24. When notified of this, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service decided to take the wolf into captivity because the pack was deplored by local ranchers, even though she showed no significant injuries and no removal order was issued for her. The wolf died the next day of apparent capture myopathy, a stress response in which the body overheats.

The alpha female was the granddaughter of one of the first wolves released in 1998, who also died of capture myopathy after federal capture in 2005.

A male and a female wolf of the Prieto Pack were trapped in December 2018, resulting in the death of the female and causing the male to lose a leg and his freedom.

Following those losses, the pack began preying on livestock. In February 2019 another pack member was found dead, and in March 2019 the government trapped and removed two more; one was later released and is now a lone wolf in the wild.

In November two more wolves were trapped by private parties. One wolf was taken into federal custody, and the other was seen dragging a trap on its paw. This wolf was later seen with the trap gone but part of its paw missing, and has not been located in recent months. And in March federal agents shot the alpha male and a pup.

“The government is supposed to be recovering these endangered animals but is far too cavalier with their lives,” said Robinson. “Though the feds claim they’re looking at the population as a whole, this recurring mismanagement is precisely why the Mexican wolf is in worse genetic shape now than when reintroduction began more than two decades ago.”

The Fish and Wildlife Service currently has an open comment period through June 15, to determine the scope of issues to be considered in the course of a court-ordered revision in its 2015 Mexican wolf management rule that must conclude next May.

Prieto pups 2016 USFWS-1.jpg

Prieto pack litter from 2016. Photo courtesy of USFWS. Image is available for media use.

The Center for Biological Diversity is a national, nonprofit conservation organization with more than 1.7 million members and online activists dedicated to the protection of endangered species and wild places.

https://biologicaldiversity.org/w/news/press-releases/new-mexico-wolf-pack-destroyed-after-alpha-female-killed-yearling-flees-2020-05-20/#.XsZSSyp4IeS.facebook

🏵️🐝 Happy World Bee Day 🐝🏵️

“If the bee disappeared off of the surface of the globe, than man would have only four years of life left. No more bees, no more pollination, no more plants, no more animals, no more man.” Albert Einstein

 

Petition: Officials Seized 26 Tons of Shark Fins From Endangered Shark Species

71,540 SUPPORTERS 75,000 GOAL

Shark fins are considered a delicacy in some parts of the world, including China. But because sharks are endangered thanks to human behavior, we cannot afford to kill any more of them. Yet, people are still trafficking in shark fins. In fact, in April and May of 2020, officials in Hong Kong seized 26 tons of shark fins from over 38,500 endangered sharks in two different cases. Luckily, they have a suspect in custody for one of the seizures. But still no word on the other seizure or any official charges on the first suspect. 

It’s critical we keep the pressure on to make sure they hold everyone involved with this massive slaughter accountable. Sign now!

The main way sharks are consumed is in a dish called shark fin soup. That means traffickers don’t even care about the rest of the shark’s body. In fact, they often slice off a shark’s fin and toss it back to the ocean to drown and die a slow and painful death. Fins from over 73 million sharks are used in this “delicacy” every single year. 

The seized shark fins in Hong Kong were largely from thresher and silky sharks, both of which are endangered. Sharks are predators, playing a crucial role in maintaining sea biodiversity. Losing an entire predatory species would have dire consequences for our planet’s ecosystem. That’s why it’s so tragic to learn of 38,500 ruthlessly slaughtered sharks

The good news is that this particular crime carries a fine of $10 million and imprisonment for 10 years. We need to demand anyone involved in this horrible act gets that punishment. Please sign on to demand justice for all these poor sharks!moreEMBED

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https://www.thepetitionsite.com/550/634/764/officials-seized-26-tons-of-shark-fins-from-endangered-shark-species/?taf_id=65789605&cid=fb_na

Florida’s Long-Lost Blue Bee Has Been Rediscovered – Awareness Act

awarenessact.com

By Gerald Sinclair 5-6 minutes

For those who may not be aware, there is a species of bee known as the Osmia calaminthae. This bee is as you’d expect a bit blue in color unlike your average bee and for a while now has been seemingly gone from anyone’s view.

This kind of bee is so rare to spot that many in the scientific world thought it was gone for good, however, in recent times they’ve popped back up. After being so unsure for a long period about whether or not these interesting little creatures still existed, spotting one is a serious feat. According to Weather.com the plant this kind of bee needs to survive is very rare in Florida as well which means it’s hard for this kind of bee to get by.

This species had for the longest only been recorded in four locations of about a 16 square mile area in Wales Ridge and it seems since Spring a Florida Museum of Natural History has gotten lucky in ‘rediscovering’ these little guys. While it might not sound like much to the average person, this find is remarkable. These been were thought to be gone for good and to begin with we did not know much about them. Now that we know they are still out there we have so much to learn.

Chase Kimmel a postdoctoral researcher told Florida Museum as follows about this find:

“I was open to the possibility that we may not find the bee at all so that first moment when we spotted it in the field was really exciting,”

“We’re trying to fill in a lot of gaps that were not previously known,”

“It shows how little we know about the insect community and how there’s a lot of neat discoveries that can still occur.”

These researchers hope to study this specific kind of bee and get a better understanding of how it interacts with other insects, forages, and things of that nature. Lots of questions are being brought forth and perhaps in time, we will have our answers.

Weather.com wrote as follows about this marvelous find:

On March 9, Kimmel and a volunteer went to put out traps to see if they could find the bees. That’s when “we saw a blue bee bopping its head,” Kimmel said. They caught it and examined it and saw that it met all the qualifications for the ultra-rare blue calamintha bee.

Currently the bee does not have any protection status. It is considered a “species of greatest conservation need,” but has neither state nor federal protection. The main host plant that the bee utilizes, Calamintha ashei, is a state threatened species. In 2015, there was a petition to have the bee included, but it still lacks the status as there is not enough known about it for it to qualify for the endangered species list.

According to Kimmel, it is too early to know if the bee will be registered on the endangered species list, because more research needs to be done. There’s still much to learn about the blue calamintha bee. Not much is known about the bee’s biology. Does it prefer sun or shade? Such information is what Kimmel’s team will be looking into.

Kimmel added that “in an ideal world, it would be great to look at how management choices impact the plant and the population of this bee.” For example, the Florida Scrub Jays are an endangered species, and as such, conservationists and governments have tried to protect them, which includes managing wildlife to enable them to flourish. However, these management methods, which includes burning vegetation including the flowers that support the blue calamintha bees, could be damaging to the bee population, Kimmel explained. “Is the management for that bird the same as the management for this bee?” he poses. Other questions include how quickly does a bee return to an area that’s been burned, and how quickly does a plant regenerate to have the blossoms to support that bee.

The ongoing research is funded by a Florida Fish & Wildlife Conservation Commission grant through the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. This research falls under the grant’s qualifications to conserve important wildlife habitat and/or preventing species extinctions. “There was a lack of scientific information regarding the occurrence and life history of the bee[, and more] information was needed to make an informed determination regarding the classification status for this species under the Endangered Species Act,” according to a spokesperson at the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

What do you think about this find? I for one think it is monumental for a number of reasons. It’s always a huge feat when we find something that was previously thought to be gone forever.

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https://awarenessact.com/floridas-long-lost-blue-bee-has-been-rediscovered/?fbclid=IwAR0pDeClHeGa-5CdKv4Ga7SNCfjIeJeNWOHFeDP0j5VA3_BWZz3AitnZLtA

Petition: Ban Neonicotinoid Insecticides Deadline 11:59pm May 4,2020

EPA: Follow the science, not GMO and agrichemical industry profits! Ban neonicotinoid insecticides. EPA: Follow the science, not GMO and agrichemical industry profits! Ban neonicotinoid insecticides. The science is clear and the evidence overwhelming. Neonics pose a grave threat to bees and other pollinators, birds, animals and humans. In 2013, the European Union placed a moratorium on three neonics widely used in the U.S. In 2018, the EU went further and banned all outdoor use because of the high risk to pollinators and soil and water contamination. In 2020, the EU went on to ban a fourth neonic, also widely used in the U.S., due to the threat to human health and the environment. Here in the United States, the EPA is poised to renew the registration of five types of neonics. Tell the EPA that it’s high time to protect America’s health and our shared environment, rather than Bayer-Monsanto and Syngenta’s poison profits. We need the bees and other important pollinators. We don’t need poison made by Bayer-Monsanto and Syngenta. Do not renew the registration for neonicotinoid insecticides. BAN NEONICS. Pesticide Registration Review: Proposed Interim Decisions for Several Neonicotinoid Pesticides Regulations.gov Document ID EPA-HQ-OPP-2011-0581-0357 Agency Environmental Protection Agency Comment Period Feb 3, 2020 to May 4, 2020 Comment

https://gmofreeusa.salsalabs.org/banneonics2020/index.html?eType=EmailBlastContent&eId=77441f17-7573-4f79-b47d-e1a4a063bb8d

Sign Petition STOP Disney- Last Chance for Lighthouse Point

change.org

Sign the Petition Lighthouse Point started this petition to The Walt Disney Company

There are plenty of places in the Bahamas where Disney can dock its cruise ships. There is only one Lighthouse Point. We are deeply concerned about Disney’s plans that threaten this unique natural place treasured by generations of Bahamians and visitors from around the world. The seas surrounding the point are so biologically rich that they have been formally proposed as a Marine Protected Area. This is NOT the place where an environmentally responsible corporation would choose to construct a massive private cruise ship port – the centerpiece of which is a half-mile-long pier cutting across coral reefs including endangered staghorn coral. The port’s construction and operation would seriously harm the environment, while the economic benefits to communities in South Eleuthera are still unclear and very questionable. Our planet’s oceans are already facing unprecedented pressures. Their future depends on the choices we make today to protect places like the proposed Lighthouse Point Marine Protected Area. Disney should follow the lead of other cruise companies that have chosen instead to rehabilitate already degraded areas for their cruise facilities. This is our last chance to protect Lighthouse Point for generations to come. Sign the petition to call upon Disney to secure a different, more suitable site for their cruise ship port and instead work with Bahamian citizen groups on a sustainable development alternative for Lighthouse Point.

https://www.change.org/p/the-walt-disney-company-last-chance-for-lighthouse-point-2

Sign Petition: We Could See This Country’s Entire Rainforest Disappear in Our Lifetime

thepetitionsite.com

Sign Petition: We Could See This Country’s Entire Rainforest Disappear in Our Lifetime 10-12 minutes by: Care2 Team recipient: The Government of Madagascar

But a new report from Nature Climate Change found that the cumulative effects of global warming and deforestation within that time will be enough to eliminate 100% of Madagascar’s rainforest. Every last inch of the island country’s rainforest will be gone. Many folks alive today would see this heartbreaking eventuality happen in their lifetime. Sign the petition today and urge the Government of Madagascar to take the strictest possible measures to protect its rainforests! While Madagascar alone is not responsible for human-induced climate change, its government can certainly take action against the potential massive loss of plant and animal life from deforestation. Contributing researchers to the shocking study suggest that “protected areas will help to mitigate this devastation while environmentalists work toward long-term solutions for ending runaway greenhouse gas emissions and resulting climate change.” To make the situation even more alarming, 80-90% of animal and plant species in Madagascar exist in its rainforest. If we fail to save this habitat, there will be a subsequent massive, irreversible loss of diversity and life. Of Madagascar’s 101 different lemur species, only 5% are not are not at risk of extinction in the near future. The ruffed lemur, described as a “cornerstone species” because of the critical role they play in bolstering the survival of other animals and plants, is critically endangered. As daunting as this may seem, we must use this study as an incentive. Please sign the petition and make the Government of Madagascar hear us – they must impose strict deforestation protections on their rainforest before it’s too late!

https://www.thepetitionsite.com/takeaction/949/176/865/?z00m=32272359&redirectID=3003092278

Protect New Black Iguana Species from Extinction – Animal Petitions

A newly discovered black iguana already faces extinction. Demand that immediate action be taken to protect this species from harvest, hunting, and habitat loss.

Source: Protect New Black Iguana Species from Extinction – Animal Petitions

Protect Rare Bumblebee from Extinction – ForceChange

A rare bumblebee has seen its population decline by over 90 percent. Demand that the bee be afforded protections under the Endangered Species Act to save it from extinction.

Source: Protect Rare Bumblebee from Extinction – ForceChange

Groups Warn CA Desert Tortoise On Path to Extinction

publicnewsservice.org

The desert tortoise is losing ground to off-road vehicles, development, disease, drought and animal grazing. (Kurt Moses/National Park Service) The desert tortoise is losing ground to off-road vehicles, development, disease, drought and animal grazing. (Kurt Moses/National Park Service) March 25, 2020 MOJAVE DESERT, Calif. — The desert tortoise is dangerously close to extinction in California, according to a petition filed this week by conservation groups. Advocates are asking the California Fish and Game Commission to upgrade the species’ status from threatened to endangered. Pamela Flick, California program director for Defenders of Wildlife, said California’s state reptile may move slowly but its decline in the wild has been a lot faster. “Adult tortoise population numbers have dropped by over 50% in some recovery areas just since 2004,” she said, “and by as much as 80% to 90% in some habitat since approximately 1980.” Research has shown the animals are falling victim to a variety of threats including uncontrolled off-road vehicle use, livestock grazing on wildlands, the spread of contagious disease, disruption from highway and utility projects, and extended droughts likely associated with climate change. Flick said inadequate protective measures taken over the past few decades have failed. “Despite 30 years of federal and state protections as a threatened species,” she said, “the desert tortoise is closer to extinction than it was in 1990 when it was first listed.” Last year, the Trump administration moved to relax restrictions on off-road vehicles on federal land in the California desert, and has signaled plans to loosen them even further by amending the Obama-era Desert Renewable Energy Conservation Plan. If the commission accepts the petition, it would trigger a 12-month review of the tortoise’s threatened status. More information is online at defenders.org.

https://www.publicnewsservice.org/2020-03-25/endangered-species-and-wildlife/groups-warn-ca-desert-tortoise-on-path-to-extinction/a69674-1

Disclosure: Defenders of Wildlife contributes to our fund for reporting on Climate Change/Air Quality, Endangered Species & Wildlife, Energy Policy, Public Lands/Wilderness. If you would like to help support news in the public interest, click here. Suzanne Potter, Public News Service – CA