Don’t Steal Safe and Healthy Animals for Display in Zoos – Animal Petitions

Photo credit: Andrew King

animalpetitions.org

Target: Kevin Shea, Administrator, U.S. Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS)

Carey Jameson

Goal: Demand zoos use only rescued animals for human display.

Zoos can be a wonderful place to visit. They give us exposure to animals we may never see otherwise in real life. Through these experiences, people can learn more about all the creatures found on the planet and their habits and connections to one another. Zoos also offer opportunities for animals who are endangered or injured and will not survive in the wild. Not only does this give us a chance to fulfill curiosity about other creatures, it gives those animals a second chance at life.

Unfortunately, zoos do not operate so altruistically. Out of the estimated 800,000 animals in zoos, those that are bred in captivity also end up behind bars with generations after them never getting to run free. While it is understandable zoos have an invested interest in staying stocked with animals, they should not lose sight of their goal to operate in the best interest of wildlife under their supervision. Using all or mostly animals rescued from unsafe circumstances is the best way to improve zoo operations.

Rescued animals can include those that are injured or healthy animals close to extinction. Injured animals who may die in the wild can live safely in captivity given they have care sympathetic to the adjustment from their natural habitat. Those facing extinction can be protected, too, chiefly in the event any safely bred in zoos are correctly reintroduced to the wild. According to PETA, animals facing extinction only make up 18% of those in zoos, evidence there is much work to be done to make these establishments a place to sustain species the world may lose otherwise.

Sign the petition below to urge Administrator Shea towards an understanding for how important it is for zoos to be about animal conservation, not just human recreation.

PETITION LETTER:

Dear Administrator Shea,

Every year, animal welfare is more important to people than in previous generations. U.S. zoos have always operated on a platform revolving around conservation, though not much has been done to improve animal welfare efforts at a reasonable pace. Their cages are stocked with wildlife that may not need human help whether from injury or endangerment. Those who do face extinction are bred more for entertainment rather than their survival. This is where APHIS needs to step in.

Because zoos will always be popular for children and interested adults alike, they still can survive with a shift in business model. Plenty of animals with permanent injury can be sourced from the wild and nurtured in captivity given fair and understanding care. In addition, with more animals facing endangerment and extinction every day, zoos have a fabulous chance to not only facilitate the survival of these poor creatures, but maintain a population for people to enjoy and learn about. Remember, zoos are first and foremost for the animals.

We urge you to reevaluate the guidelines governing zoos and to enforce a more animal-centric approach to their operation.

Sincerely,

Sign the Petition

https://animalpetitions.org/1177627/dont-steal-healthy-and-safe-animals-for-display-in-zoos/

New Jersey residences tell Governor Murphy protect NJ black bears

Lion Husband Stays By His Sick Wife’s Side Until The Very End

lions cuddling

He tried to help her eat and cuddled her ❤️

www.thedodo.com

By Caitlin Jill AndersPublished on 11/2/2022 at 12:29 PM

Leo and Muñeca have known each other for nearly their entire lives. The pair of lions and their children were rescued from a circus in Peru in 2014 by Animal Defenders International (ADI). They were briefly separated during their rescue, but other than that, they were rarely ever apart.Animal Defenders International (ADI)

“Leo and their sons, Chino, Coco and Rolex, were successfully removed during a raid on the first day of the mission in August 2014, but the circus blocked the seizure partway through and then went into hiding,” Jan Creamer, president of ADI, told The Dodo. “ADI caught up with them six months later and over 600 miles away, saving Muñeca and their daughters, Africa and Kiara … They were almost always together, exploring their 4-acre habitat and resting together under the trees.”Animal Defenders International (ADI)

lions cuddling

In August, Muñeca suddenly fell ill — and Leo immediately became even more protective over her than he already was.

“Leo has always watched over Muñeca, but when she became unwell, he clearly realized something was wrong,” Creamer said. “He was seen trying to encourage her to her food, and appeared to comfort her.”Animal Defenders International (ADI)

lion watching over his best friend

While she was sick, Leo stood watch over Muñeca, and even cuddled her to try and help her feel better. In those moments, it was clear just how much the pair loved each other, a beautiful example of the way lions express their love.

“We have seen the closeness between lion companions and the bonds they share on many occasions,” Creamer said.Animal Defenders International (ADI)

lions cuddling

Studies have shown that lions cuddle each other to strengthen their social bonds, and Leo and Muñeca were caught cuddling many, many times during their years together.

Sadly, Muñeca passed away in September at 19 years old. Leo stayed by her side until the very end, and she left this world knowing exactly how loved she was by him.Animal Defenders International (ADI)

lions cuddling

Leo’s rescuers have been keeping a close eye on him as he mourns the loss of his beloved Muñeca. He’s been getting lots of extra treats and attention to help him cope. Even though losing Muñeca was heartbreaking, watching the way Leo cared for her was such a beautiful moment that everyone around him will remember for years to come.

https://www.thedodo.com/daily-dodo/lion-refuses-to-leave-sick-best-friends-side

Don’t Steal Healthy and Safe Animals for Display in Zoos – ForceChange

forcechange.com

Carey Jameson

Target: Kevin Shea, Administrator, U.S. Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS)

Goal: Demand zoos use only rescued animals for human display.

Zoos can be a wonderful place to visit. They give us exposure to animals we may never see otherwise in real life. Through these experiences, people can learn more about all the creatures found on the planet and their habits and connections to one another. Zoos also offer opportunities for animals who are endangered or injured and will not survive in the wild. Not only does this give us a chance to fulfill curiosity about other creatures, it gives those animals a second chance at life.

Unfortunately, zoos do not operate so altruistically. Out of the estimated 800,000 animals in zoos, those that are bred in captivity also end up behind bars with generations after them never getting to run free. While it is understandable zoos have an invested interest in staying stocked with animals, they should not lose sight of their goal to operate in the best interest of wildlife under their supervision. Using all or mostly animals rescued from unsafe circumstances is the best way to improve zoo operations.

Rescued animals can include those that are injured or healthy animals close to extinction. Injured animals who may die in the wild can live safely in captivity given they have care sympathetic to the adjustment from their natural habitat. Those facing extinction can be protected, too, chiefly in the event any safely bred in zoos are correctly reintroduced to the wild. According to PETA, animals facing extinction only make up 18% of those in zoos, evidence there is much work to be done to make these establishments a place to sustain species the world may lose otherwise.

Sign the petition below to urge Administrator Shea towards an understanding for how important it is for zoos to be about animal conservation, not just human recreation.

PETITION LETTER:

Dear Administrator Shea,

Every year, animal welfare is more important to people than in previous generations. U.S. zoos have always operated on a platform revolving around conservation, though not much has been done to improve animal welfare efforts at a reasonable pace. Their cages are stocked with wildlife that may not need human help whether from injury or endangerment. Those who do face extinction are bred more for entertainment rather than their survival. This is where APHIS needs to step in.

Because zoos will always be popular for children and interested adults alike, they still can survive with a shift in business model. Plenty of animals with permanent injury can be sourced from the wild and nurtured in captivity given fair and understanding care. In addition, with more animals facing endangerment and extinction every day, zoos have a fabulous chance to not only facilitate the survival of these poor creatures, but maintain a population for people to enjoy and learn about. Remember, zoos are first and foremost for the animals.

We urge you to reevaluate the guidelines governing zoos and to enforce a more animal-centric approach to their operation.

Sincerely,

Photo credit: Andrew King

https://forcechange.com/610670/dont-steal-healthy-and-safe-animals-for-display-in-zoos/

Reflections

SIGN: Stop Cruel Helicopter Roundups That Are Killing Wild Horses

ladyfreethinker.org

PETITION TARGETS: U.S. Department of the Interior, Bureau of Land Management

UPDATE (9/22/2022): Nevada Congress member Dina Titus has sponsored HR 6635, which seeks to amend the Wild Free-Roaming Horses and Burros Act to prohibit the use of aircraft to manage wild horses. The bill was introduced to the House in February and currently is in the Committee on Natural Resources. We’ll keep watching this situation. —Lady Freethinker Staff

*

Wild horses who snapped their necks running into corral panels, were killed following lacerations and broken bones, and who died of “unexpected heart failure” were among the victims of the Bureau of Land Management (BLM)’s most recent helicopter-assisted roundups – or “gathers.”

At least 245 wild horses died as the result of 20 roundups in 2021-2022 where low-flying helicopters pushed the panicked animals toward corrals, according to a review of the BLM’s daily gather reports.

While the BLM’s reports cite “pre-existing conditions” – including blindness, fractures, club feet, poor body condition, and bad or no teeth – as the cause for most of the killings, at least 33 wild horses died specifically from acute or gather-related injuries, according to the gather reports. 

Three of those deaths made headlines during the recent Pancake Complex roundup in Nevada – with victims of a foal separated from his family who limped reportedly for at least 29 minutes before being euthanized, a 20-year-old stallion who suffered a “break” and a 3-year-old mare killed after reportedly being too weak to stand up.

Some of the other victims, according to the BLM daily gather reports:

  • a 6-year-old mare who died of a broken neck after running into a panel in a temporary corral and a 20-year-old stallion who sustained a fracture during the Barren Valley Complex roundup in Oregon
  • a stallion who broke his neck during loading at the Surprise Complex roundup in California
  • At least 10 horses who died from injuries including broken legs and necks, a mare who ruptured her uterus, and a horse with a broken back during the Rock Springs roundup in Wyoming
  • An 11-year-old mare who died of “unexpected heart failure” during the Owyhee Wild Horse gather in Nevada; a 7-year-old mare who was killed following a laceration and a 4-year-old mare killed following a fracture in the Eagle Complex roundup, also in Nevada

While the BLM says that helicopters are a humane way to manage wild horse removals, the horrific death toll from a single year alone shows they are cruel, violent, and unacceptable. 

BLM gather report detail

(Courtesy Bureau of Land Management)

The gruesome trend also isn’t new, with a report as far back as 2008 citing most deaths during helicopter roundups from “broken limbs or injuries sustained accidentally during gathers,” according to documentation from the Government Accountability Office.

Wild horse experts from several advocacy groups say a more effective – and less deadly –  approach would involve fertility control via humane darting that would allow wild horses to remain on the range, while also contributing to the thriving ecological balance the BLM is required to maintain. 

That alternative also would save U.S. taxpayers the millions of dollars spent each year to hold upwards of 50,000 wild horses in long-term holding corrals or to pay ranchers to keep the horses on private property. 

Captured wild horses also sometimes meet grisly ends, with the BLM’s Adoption Incentive Program exposed by the New York Times as knowingly handing over the protected animals to individuals with a history of selling horses to slaughterhouses. 

Sign our petition urging the Biden Administration, the U.S. Department of the Interior, and the Bureau of Land Management to end deadly helicopter gathers in favor of safer, more cost-effective approaches involving humane fertility control that would allow wild horses to remain free on the range, and so help end unnecessary, grisly deaths from injuries to intentional slaughter.

BLM fatality

(Courtesy Bureau of Land Management)

https://ladyfreethinker.org/sign-stop-cruel-and-deadly-helicopter-roundups-of-iconic-wild-horses/?utm_source=Newsletter&utm_medium=Email

Celebrate Your Squirrely Side

Ban Body-Crushing Traps That Paralyze And Kill Endangered Animals – ForceChange

forcechange.com

Victoria Paige

Target: Nancy Pelosi, Speaker of the United States House of Representatives

Goal: Ban the use of body-gripping traps within areas protected under the National Wildlife Refuge System.

Many types of body-gripping traps are still widely available for commercial use throughout the U.S. These traps, which include conibear traps, snares, and steel-jaw leghold traps, work by crushing animals bones and holding them hostage until a trapper, hunter, or furbearer comes to retrieve them. Although body-gripping traps—such as conibear traps which are designed to snap an animal’s spinal cord—are meant to kill animals instantaneously and painlessly, they are often unreliable and typically animals die a slow, agonizing death. An animal could be stuck in one of these traps for days before being retrieved, subject to extreme hunger, dehydration, and psychological trauma, and vulnerable to predators. Some animals will even resort to chewing their own limbs off to try and escape the crushing, all-consuming pain.

These types of traps are responsible for the deaths of millions of animals each year. As they are nonselective and cannot be continuously monitored, they often catch and kill non-intended targets. This includes endangered animals, such as Bald Eagles and Mexican wolves, as well as companion animals that happen to take a misfortunate step.

Though these traps are banned in many states, they still remain largely under regulation. In 2021, a bill was introduced to the House of Representatives that, if passed, would end the use of these cruel, indiscriminate traps once and for all within areas protected under the National Wildlife Refuge System.

Animals do not deserve to suffer prolonged, torturous deaths. Sign this petition to end this archaic method of trapping.

PETITION LETTER:

Dear Representative Pelosi,

Body-gripping traps are a particularly cruel method of trapping wildlife and kill millions of innocent animals each year. These devices work by slamming shut onto helpless animals, often crushing bones or vital organs in the process. An animal can be ensnared for days without any food or water, left vulnerable to predation and infection as they die a slow and agonizing death. Some desperate animals will even chew off their trapped limbs to try and escape the devices’ powerful grip. Since these traps are indiscriminate, they don’t just catch targeted wildlife, but also endangered species and companion animals. Even so, body-gripping traps like conibear traps, snares, and steel-jaw leghold traps are still widely commercially available in the U.S. today.

Luckily, changes are underway. In 2021, a bill was introduced to the House by Congressman Jerrold Nadler to ban inhumane conibear and steel-jaw leghols traps from areas protected under the National Wildlife Refuge System. If passed, millions of innocent animals will be granted the ability to roam freely and graciously, without the possibility of having their spinal cords snapped.

We are asking you, Mrs. Pelosi, to please ban the antiquated 300-year old practice of catching animals with inhumane, bone crushing traps and to support Bill H.R. 4716.

Sincerely,

Photo Credit: Terese Hart

https://forcechange.com/606478/ban-body-crushing-traps-that-paralyze-and-kill-endangered-animals/

Yellowstone bison goring incidents highlight America’s tourism problem

Image: A bison walks past tourists on June 22, 2022 at Yellowstone National Park, Wyo.

A bison walks past tourists on June 22, at Yellowstone National Park, in Wyoming. George Frey / Getty Images file

Humans may think themselves apex predators, but they remain quite vulnerable. Meanwhile, wildlife is feeling more pressure than ever.

By Dennis Jorgensen, bison program manager for World Wildlife Fund’s U.S. Northern Great Plains Program

Bison are oh-so-fluffy, ambling, plant-eating animals that have long captured the world’s attention because of their majestic dignity. Increasingly, however, they also make headlines because of dangerous run-ins with tourists. Already this summer we’ve seen two high-profile bison gorings at Yellowstone, both caught on video.

As a resident Montanan, professional bison conservationist and neighbor of nearby Yellowstone National Park, I can understand why people feel the urge to touch these massive mammals.

As a resident Montanan, professional bison conservationist and neighbor of nearby Yellowstone National Park, I can understand why people feel the urge to touch these massive mammals. They are a sight to behold — both undeniably cute and seemingly oblivious to our presence. However, as a biologist, I assure you that they are keenly aware of our approach. They can and will respond with lightning-fast reflexes if we get too close.nullhttps://www3.nbcnews.com/think/embedded-newsletter/rcna37363#amp=1

Indulge me for a minute. The average NFL lineman weighs around 310 pounds, and the league’s fastest player has been clocked at about 23 miles per hour. In comparison, a bison can weigh more than 2,000 pounds and run more than 35 miles per hour. But unlike in the NFL, there isn’t a referee to blow the whistle when a bison feels threatened. They charge until the threat has been diminished.

Recent and ongoing injuries from bison gorings in parks and protected areas are tragedies for both people and bison. Bison aren’t out to get tourists, but with visitation in Yellowstone and other parks on the rise, wildlife is feeling more pressure than ever. Approximately 4.86 million people visited Yellowstone in 2021, its busiest year to date. American travel has exploded recently, as families cooped up during the pandemic embrace their summer vacations. But that (understandable) wanderlust comes with a cost. More broadly, more than 55% of Earth’s land is shared by people and wildlife. As our footprint extends even farther into wild spaces, encounters between people and wildlife increase, often leading to instances of human-wildlife conflict.

The broader problem may be that many of us no longer know how to relate to nature, because we see ourselves as being outside of it. People are so used to experiencing wildlife through the lens of social media or a wildlife series that we’ve come to see ourselves solely as spectators rather than participants when we enter actual wild places. However, let me be clear: When we visit parks with free-roaming wild animals, we have entered a wild area. And we have no special rights or protections, other than our own common sense.

When you choose to not respect a bison, bear or moose’s space to get that selfie for social media, it is not only disrespectful — it’s dangerous. Humans may have evolved to think themselves apex predators, but they are in fact quite vulnerable.

For those who may still be traveling to parks this year, here’s a quick bison “rule of thumb”: If you outstretch your arm and hold up your thumb, you should be able to cover the entire silhouette of any bison in the vicinity. If not, you are too close. This rule should keep visitors approximately 100 yards from a bison, a distance that the animal can cover in just under 6 seconds at 35 miles per hour — if it chooses to. This doesn’t offer much time for you to react, let alone coordinate your family’s reaction — as evidenced by recent events when a frightened child ran away from her parents in response to a charging bison. However, at this distance, the bison will most likely ignore you, preferring to attack a tasty patch of prairie grass instead.

It is also important to note that a boardwalk or road will not prevent a bison from approaching or feeling anxious or threatened by visitors who are too close. One notable exception to the rule of thumb, though you still need to respect a bison’s space, is traveling inside a closed vehicle (motorcycles don’t count). However, I have even seen bison unintentionally damage cars that were too close, sometimes using a side mirror to scratch a hard-to-reach itch.

These recent incidents of gorings are serious reminders that Americans, and everyone, must give more thought to how we interact with wildlife. The fact that bison still exist is a miracle after they were nearly wiped out as part of deliberate efforts to subjugate Indigenous people. Today Yellowstone National Park, a spectacle that every American should see and experience, is home to more wild bison than any other place in the world. Watching these marvels of nature can be one of the most rewarding moments of someone’s life. But only at a safe distance.

Dennis Jorgensen is the bison program manager for World Wildlife Fund’s U.S. Northern Great Plains Program. He’s studied rattlesnakes, mountain lions, bison and many other plains species in the wild and it has reminded him of his place in the food chain and just how rewarding it is to be a participant in nature, if we give nature its due respect and space.

Related:

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https://www-nbcnews-com.cdn.ampproject.org/v/s/www.nbcnews.com/think/amp/rcna37363?amp_gsa=1&amp_js_v=a9&usqp=mq331AQIKAGwASCAAgM%3D#amp_tf=From%20%251%24s&aoh=16580721315798&csi=0&referrer=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.google.com&ampshare=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.nbcnews.com%2Fthink%2Fopinion%2Fyellowstone-bison-goring-incidents-highlight-americas-tourism-problem-rcna37363

The tailorbird’s nest-making has to be seen to be believed

Image credit: Photowork by Sijanto/Getty

www.australiangeographic.com.au

By Bec Crew

If social distancing has inspired you to take up wholesome new hobbies like knitting and needlecraft, this clever bird might serve as the inspiration you need.

TO CONSTRUCT ITS nest, the common tailorbird (Orthotomus sutorius) uses its delicate beak to stitch together leaves in exactly the same way we humans would if given a needle and thread.

Found throughout South and Southeast Asia, including in Indonesia, Thailand, and Vietnam, this little songbird gathers plant fibres and spider’s web, which it threads through perfectly placed holes in the edges of large leaves.

It pulls these threads tight to create a deep cradle, and inside that, it packs in a cosy nest of grass and down. If you’re a fan of the Jungle Book, you’ll remember Darzee was a tailorbird.

Here’s ornithologist John Gould’s illustration of the nest:

The tailorbird is so good at what it does, it knows to create the tiniest of holes in the edges of the leaves so it doesn’t wither and brown. This is important, because keeping its cradle looking the same as all the leaves around it is how the tailorbird camouflages itself and its young.

Watch it in action here, it’s kind of mind-boggling:

The common tailorbird belongs to the tailorbird genus, which includes 13 species, many of which have ruddy crowns and pretty green or yellow plumage.

One of the most recently identified species is the Cambodian tailorbird (Orthotomus chaktomuk), which was discovered in 2009 during routine checks for avian flu in Cambodia’s capital, Phnom Penh.

If we take this full circle and back to your new quarantine hobbies, you could knit nests of your own for rescue birds, particularly those in areas that have been affected by bushfires.

Here’s a video showing you how to do it, but make sure you contact Wires first to see where the nests are most needed:

https://www.australiangeographic.com.au/blogs/creatura-blog/2020/04/the-tailorbirds-nest-making-has-to-be-seen-to-be-believed/

Court rules federal agency wrongly withdrew bi-state sage grouse protections

wildearthguardians.org

Matthew Koehler

SAN FRANCISCO—A federal court has ruled that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service illegally withdrew its proposal to list the bi-state sage grouse as threatened under the Endangered Species Act.

U.S. District Judge Jacqueline Scott Corley on Monday vacated the agency’s 2020 withdrawal of the bird from the proposed listing, reinstated the 2013 proposal to list the birds as threatened and ordered the Fish and Wildlife Service to issue a new final listing decision.

“These rare dancing birds have a shot at survival thanks to this court decision,” said Ileene Anderson, a senior scientist at the Center for Biological Diversity. “We’ve watched for more than a decade as these sage grouse have continued to decline. Without the Endangered Species Act’s legal protection, multiple threats will just keep pushing these grouse toward extinction.”

The bi-state sage grouse is a geographically isolated, genetically distinct population of greater sage grouse, which are famous for their showy plumage and mating dances, during which the males make popping sounds with large, inflated air sacs. They live only in an area along the California-Nevada border and face multiple threats. Population declines are particularly acute at the northern and southern ends of the birds’ range.

The court found that the Fish and Wildlife Service’s 2020 decision to withdraw the bird’s proposed listing failed to consider the small overall population of the bi-state sage grouse and the significance of the potential loss of subpopulations most at risk of being wiped out.

“These unique sage grouse populations in the Eastern Sierra are heading toward extinction from numerous threats, including livestock grazing, cheatgrass invasions, raven predation and extreme droughts,” said Laura Cunningham, California director at Western Watersheds Project. “They deserve a chance to thrive with legal protection.”

The birds were originally proposed for listing as threatened in 2013, but the Fish and Wildlife Service abandoned the proposal in 2015. In 2018 a federal court found the Service had wrongly denied Endangered Species Act protection to the bi-state sage grouse and required the agency to re-evaluate the bird’s situation. The bird was again proposed for protection, but in March 2020 the Trump administration withdrew the proposal.

“The court’s decision is a win for the bi-state sage grouse, which deserve Endangered Species Act protections,” said Joe Bushyhead, endangered species attorney with WildEarth Guardians. “The Fish and Wildlife Service must address the threats to these birds and their habitat, as well as the failure of existing efforts to halt their decline.”

Sage grouse populations in California and Nevada are isolated from other sage grouse by unsuitable habitats and former habitat that has been heavily developed. The bi-state sage grouse populations together are estimated to be no more than 3,305 birds, far below the 5,000-bird threshold that scientists consider the minimum viable population.

“The decision reinforces important legal principles for endangered species: that agencies must base their decisions on the best available science, fully explain their decisions, and carefully consider the status of an imperiled species, especially segments that are small and vulnerable,” said Daniel Ahrens, a law student with the Stanford Environmental Law Clinic, which represented the conservation groups in court.

Stanford law student Zach Rego, who also represented the conservation groups, said the court was right to hold that the Service “must do more to show that conservation measures, like the removal of invasive cheatgrass, will be effective in preventing the bi-state sage grouse’s extinction.”

Efforts to protect the birds, including placing markers on barbed-wire fencing in cattle and sheep operations to reduce collision deaths and vegetation treatments, have failed to stem their decline. Federal scientists predict localized extinctions in the north and south ends of the range. Scientists also estimate occupied habitat has decreased by more than 136,000 acres over the past 11 years.

Bi-state sage grouse are found on lands originally inhabited by the Washoe and Paiute peoples.

The conservation groups that successfully challenged the withdrawal include Desert Survivors, the Center for Biological Diversity, Western Watersheds Project and WildEarth Guardians. The groups are represented by attorneys from the Center and the Stanford Law Clinic.

bi state sage grouse usfws flickr wildearth guardians

The bi-state sage grouse lives only in an area along the California-Nevada border and faces multiple threats, including grazing, mining and habitat loss. Photo by USFWS.

https://wildearthguardians.org/press-releases/court-rules-federal-agency-wrongly-withdrew-bi-state-sage-grouse-protections/

UK bird flu research project launched to protect poultry and seabirds

A notice from the Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs

A notice warning of an avian influenza outbreak, taken on 25 January in Windsor, UK

www.newscientist.com

Mark Kerrison/In Pictures via Getty Images

Adam Vaughan

A UK government-backed project – FluMap – aims to help understand how bird flu is evolving and finding its way into poultry farms Environment 20 June 2022

Scientists have embarked on a one-year, £1.5 million research project to combat the highly pathogenic strain of bird flu wreaking havoc on UK seabirds and heaping pressure on poultry farming.

With reports last week of growing numbers of seabirds – from gannets and guillemots to razorbills and skuas – being found dead on UK beaches, the risk is growing of the disease spreading to and from poultry. A record 122 poultry cases have already been recorded in the UK last winter, up on 26 the winter before. Meanwhile, more than 1100 cases have been detected in wild birds, compared with about 300 the previous winter.

Ian Brown at the UK Animal and Plant Health Agency hopes the government-backed project, dubbed FluMap, will help researchers fill knowledge gaps about how the H5N1 influenza is evolving and precisely how it is finding its way into poultry farms.

https://www.newscientist.com/article/2325036-uk-bird-flu-research-project-launched-to-protect-poultry-and-seabirds/

Hybrid WOW Legislative Hearing – June 16, 2022 | The House Committee on Natural Resources

naturalresources.house.gov

Subcommittee on Water, Oceans, and Wildlife Date: Thursday, June 16, 2022 Add to my Calendar Time: 09:00 AM Location: Longworth House Office Building 1324 Presiding: The Honorable Jared Huffman, Chair

On Thursday, June 16, 2022 at 9:00 a.m. ET, in room 1324 Longworth House Office Building and via Cisco WebEx, the Subcommittee on Water, Oceans, and Wildlife will hold a hybrid legislative hearing on the following bills: 

  • H.R. 4768 (Rep. David Joyce, R-OH) To require the Secretary of the Army to initiate at least 5 projects to reduce the loss and degradation of Great Lakes coastal wetlands, and for other purposes. Detrimental Erosion Forcing Enhanced Needs to Defend (DEFEND) the Great Lakes Act.
  • H.R. 6936 (Rep. Elise Stefanik, R-NY) To provide for the issuance of a semipostal to benefit programs that combat invasive species. Stamp Out Invasive Species Act.
  • H.R. 6949 (Rep. Dwight Evans, D-PA) To amend the Water Infrastructure Improvements for the Nation Act to reauthorize Delaware River Basin conservation programs, and for other purposes. Delaware River Basin Conservation Reauthorization Act of 2022
  • H.R. 7398 (Rep. Steve Cohen, D-TN) To prohibit wildlife killing contests on public lands, and for other purposes.Prohibit Wildlife Killing Contests Act of 2022.
  • H.R. 7792 (Rep. Melanie Stansbury, D-NM) To provide for a national water data framework, and for other purposes. Water Data Act
  • H.R. 7793 (Rep. Melanie Stansbury, D-NM) To provide for the water security of the Rio Grande Basin, to reauthorize irrigation infrastructure grants, and for other purposes. Rio Grande Water Security Act.
  • H.R. 7801 (Rep. Mike Levin, D-CA) To amend the Coastal Zone Management Act of 1972 to allow the Secretary of Commerce to establish a Coastal and Estuarine Resilience and Restoration Program, and for other purposes.

For hearing materials and schedules, please visit U.S. House of Representatives, Committee Repository at http://docs.house.gov/.

https://naturalresources.house.gov/hearings/hybrid-wow-legislative-hearing_june-16-2022

PETITION UPDATE: New Bill Could Stop Brutal Killings in NC Bear Sanctuaries

mama black bear and cub

Photo Credit: Steven/Adobe Stock

ladyfreethinker.org

Lady Freethinker

North Carolina legislators have filed a bill that will delay – and could ultimately stop – the brutal hunting of black bears in the state’s long-established bear sanctuaries.

Rep. Pricey Harrison and Rep. Becky Carney have introduced into the state General Assembly HB 1072, or the Prohibit Killing Bears in Bear Sanctuaries.

If passed, the bill would reverse a recent ruling to re-designate the state’s 22 bear sanctuaries instead as “bear management units” and to allow hunting in an additional three of them: Panthertown, Pisgah, and Standing Indian.

HB1072 went through a first reading on May 27 and has been referred to the Committee on Rules, Calendar, and Operations of the House.

The filing is the result of public outrage at a February decision by the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission to approve the hunts and designation changes, despite strong opposition from more than 86 percent of the public who weighed in on the proposal.

Lady Freethinker also sent the Commission our petition, signed by more than 800 North Carolina residents and more than 40,000 people overall, denouncing the proposed killings.

The Commission’s decision kicked off 439 pages of written comment sent to the North Carolina Rules Review Committee, which by state law has to send on to the General Assembly any rule change that receives 10 letters requesting a legislative review.

While the Commission noted in its decision an increased number of human-bear conflicts, news reports have noted that human actions have contributed to those conflicts, and also that they could be prevented by less-than-lethal means – including public education and awareness campaigns and also people taking common-sense steps, like securing their garbage if they live in an area with bears.

We are now going to reroute our petition to legislators, urging them to support and pass HB 1072 and so halt this horrific plan to destroy black bears pushed already into the backcountry by human encroachment.

If you haven’t already, please sign and raise your voice for these innocent bears, who don’t deserve to die simply for existing.

Sign This Petition ⬇️

https://ladyfreethinker.org/petition-update-bill-filed-to-stop-brutal-killings-in-bear-sanctuaries-in-north-carolina/?utm_source=Newsletter&utm_medium=Email

Sign Petition: Sign to Demand Giraffes Receive Endangered Species Status in the United States!

www.thepetitionsite.com

  • by: Care2 Team
  • recipient: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

While giraffe populations dwindle, products made from their skins and bones are flooding into the United States. The good news is that the U.S. government has agreed to consider giving giraffes Endangered Species Act protections, which would curb these imports and save countless giraffe lives. The bad news is that the decision deadline is all the way in 2024. We must encourage the U.S. agency to act quickly before the iconic species’ numbers dwindle beyond recovery!

Sign the petition now to demand the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service list giraffes under the Endangered Species Act well before the November 2024 deadline!

Giraffes, like so many Savanna animals, have been at heightened risk in the past few decades. From poaching and habitat loss to climate change, the beloved long-necked mammals have had a dwindling population since the 1990s. Only 69,000 mature individuals remain in the wild – a whopping 40% reduction in the past three decades. And unfortunately, Americans have played a big role in those plummeting numbers.

The United States is a top importer and seller of giraffe parts, including heads, feet, tails, legs, and skins. This greed has led to rampant trophy hunting and poaching of giraffes all across sub-Saharan Africa. That means that it is the job of the United States, a country primarily responsible for giraffe trade and trafficking, to institute protections for the species before it is too late. 

Conservationists and related organizations have been pushing to increase giraffe protections for years. In April 2017, the Center for Biological Diversity, Humane Society International, and the Humane Society of the United States filed a petition to request giraffe protections, but the agency missed the legal deadline for a decision. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service cannot continue to delay this decision, but instead must act quickly to protect all remaining giraffe lives, which are precious and still at high risk. Sign the petition now if you agree! more

Sign Petition⬇️

https://www.thepetitionsite.com/takeaction/325/090/364/?z00m=33032796&redirectID=3220321711

Return of the Buffalo – Flathead Beacon

A bison grazes among blooming arrowleaf balsamroot on the Bison Range nature preserve on the Flathead Indian Reservation on May 20, 2022. Hunter D’Antuono | Flathead Beacon

Over three days the Salish and Kootenai celebrated the restoration of the Bison Range to tribal ownership allowing them to manage the resources and wildlife for the first time in 112 yearsBy Micah DrewMay 25, 2022

Red Sleep Mountain rises 2,000 feet above the floor of the Mission Valley, one of the best vantage points to take in the dramatic expanse of the Mission Mountains that form the valley’s eastern border. The top of the mountain is only accessible via a one-way dirt road that winds through 18,524 fenced-off acres in the heart of the Flathead Indian Reservation. 

That swath of land is home to deer, elk, bears and approximately 455 bison, a herd of animals whose history is intricately bound to the Salish and Kootenai people. 

However, for more than a century that parcel of land was federally owned and managed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) as a National Wildlife Refuge known as the National Bison Range (NBR). Tribal members were cut off not only from their ancestral land and the herd of bison they helped bring back from the brink of extinction, but from their ability to leverage generations of resource conservation knowledge to protect the landscape and habitat within the fence line. 

For decades, the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes (CSKT) actively sought to restore ownership of the NBR to allow the Salish and Kootenai to resume full management responsibilities of the range. 

The Bison Range nature preserve on the Flathead Indian Reservation on May 20, 2022. Hunter D’Antuono | Flathead Beacon

Rich Janssen, head of the CSKT’s Natural Resource Department (NRD), said in a 2015 interview with Montana Public Radio that he believed the range would be returned in his lifetime. 

“I just had that feeling back when I was 45, I felt in my heart that I thought it was going to happen,” Janssen said last week. “You know we just weren’t going away until it was done, and when I turned 50 it happened.”

Legislation to restore the Bison Range was included in the 2020 annual omnibus spending bill, known as Public Law 116-260, which was signed on Dec. 27, 2020, transferring the land to the Bureau of Indian Affairs to be held in a trust for the tribes, effectively restoring the land forcefully taken more than a century ago.

“The range was always a postage stamp of pink, which is the federal land color, on our land status map for so long,” said Whisper Camel-Means, division manager of fish, wildlife, recreation, and conservation for the tribal NRD. “Now it’s green, the tribal ownership color, and we don’t want this hard border anymore. Yes, we have a fence to keep the bison in. But as much as we can I want to see that line blurred, making the bison range holistic with the rest of our management and the rest of our reservation.”

Tribal dancers celebrate the restoration of the bison range

Dancers march to the dance floor during the powwow portion of the Bison Range Restoration Celebration on the Flathead Indian Reservation on May 20, 2022. Hunter D’Antuono | Flathead Beacon

While the legislation restoring the Bison Range was signed in late 2020, it wasn’t until January of this year that the transfer was completed. As a culmination of decades of work, as well as to commemorate the opening of the range under full tribal management for the first time, the CSKT held a three-day celebration last week that began with prayers, dances, and a powwow on Friday, May 20 and ended with half-price admission to the Bison Range on Sunday, May 22. 

 The ceremonies reached a peak on Saturday afternoon inside the gym of the Salish Kootenai College in Pablo. A multigenerational crowd packed the venue and, after songs by Flathead Nation singers and opening prayers by tribal elders, the first Native American Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland took the stage, tearing up as she started speaking. 

“I cannot help but imagine what this area looked like before European contact with vast herds of bison roaming the plains, when our Indigenous ancestors lived on this land alongside the plethora of animals and each respected their place in the balance of nature,” Haaland began. “With the loss of tribal homelands and the depletion of the buffalo herds, Plains tribes lost traditional connections with this beautiful animal; but in spite of that tragedy and loss, we are still here. You are still here, and that’s something to celebrate.”

Former Interior secretaries expressly opposed the restoration of land ownership, making Haaland’s presence an important affirmation of the reunification. As the first Native American in the presidential Cabinet, Haaland’s position also prompted emotional reactions from many attendees who congregated around her for handshakes and photos. 

“When our wildlife management and conservation efforts are guided by Indigenous knowledge developed over millennia, we all succeed,” Haaland said. “The return of the bison range to these Tribes is a triumph and a testament to what can happen when we collaboratively work together to restore balance and ecosystems that were injured by greed and disrespect.”

U.S. Interior Secretary Deb Haaland speaks at the celebration of the Bison Range restoration

Deb Haaland, U.S. Secretary of the Interior, speaks at Salish Kootenai College in Pablo May 21, 2022. Micah Drew | Flathead Beacon

Throughout the celebrations, tribal elders relayed the history of the Tribes’ relationship with the buffalo, both in person and through screenings of the short documentary film, “In the Spirit of Atatice: The Untold Story of the National Bison Range,” which was commissioned by CSKT to explain how members of the Tribes were responsible for initially bringing buffalo to the Flathead Indian Reservation from across the Continental Divide when the animals were at the brink of extinction, a narrative that was fractured by the creation of the Bison Range. 

The idea to restore bison to the Flathead Reservation dates to the 1860s when a tribal member named Atatice, or Peregrine Falcon Robe, was on a buffalo hunt across the Continental Divide and asked the tribal chiefs if they could bring some bison back with them, but the chiefs were at an impasse.

His son Latati, or Little Falcon Robe, was able to realize his father’s vision while on a buffalo hunt by bringing some orphaned calves across the Divide. A small herd began to flourish on the Reservation, but in 1884, Latati’s stepfather sold the herd to tribal members Michel Pablo and Charles Allard without Latati’s consent. 

The Allard-Pablo herd continued to grow and, in 1901, a portion of the herd was sold to Charles E. Conrad in Kalispell. Three years later, the Flathead Allotment Act opened land to non-Indian homesteaders, effectively ending free range on much of the Reservation and allowing the federal government to force Pablo to sell the remaining head of his herd.

When the American Bison Society began scouting land to establish a bison range to preserve the species, the organization contracted with the ecologist Morton J. Elrod, a professor at the University of Montana who recommended the Flathead Indian Reservation as a fitting landscape, where the species could return to its native land. In 1908, the federal government seized 18,524 acres of land to establish the National Bison Range.  

Flags fly over the Bison Range Visitor Center on the Flathead Indian Reservation on May 20, 2022. Hunter D’Antuono | Flathead Beacon

In a wrenching twist of irony, the 36 animals that made up the initial herd for the range were purchased from the Conrad family — the same animals (or their direct descendants) that formed the Allard-Pablo herd prior to the federal government’s forceful removal. 

The establishment of the Bison Range continued the fragmentation of the reservation, which was reflected in the Salish translation for the range: “fenced-in place.”

“It was common knowledge that the fence was as much to keep the Indians out as it was to keep the buffalo in,” former CSKT councilman Leonard Gray said over the weekend. “I remember growing up driving down [U.S. Highway] 93 heading toward Ravalli and knowing this was the Bison Range but that it was federal land and I just didn’t feel welcome.”

For decades, tribal members were prohibited from working for the Bison Range; as recently as the early 2000s, only one tribal member, Darren Thomas, was employed there. 

“There’s so many things you can learn from a buffalo — from how they act, how they behave, their strength, their kindness, their wiseness, how they run in a herd,” Thomas said. “So as a Flathead Nation, now we are truly a buffalo nation.”

An elder's folder hands during a prayer at the Bison Range restoration celebration

Salish elder Johnny Arlee folds his hands over his hat and cane during a prayer at the Bison Range Restoration Celebration on the Flathead Indian Reservation on May 20, 2022. Hunter D’Antuono | Flathead Beacon

Rich Janssen has worked for the NRD for more than a decade, helping to steer conservation and restoration work across the 1.25 million-acre reservation, protecting habitat for everything from grizzly bears and bighorn sheep to trumpeter swans and bull trout. 

That meant managing thousands of acres abutting the imaginary ecological boundary of the Bison Range, including shared wetlands, watersheds and wildlife habitat, without being able to complete the same work on the other side of the fence.

Now conservation work can continue unfettered by jurisdictional divides, an efficient, but subtle difference. Day-to-day management of the range and bison hasn’t changed much since the transition from federal to tribal management, though Janssen said one difference is how the annual bison roundup is conducted. The roundup allows biologists to monitor the health of the herd, as well as cull some animals to send to other herds or auction off to raise funds for the range. Starting last fall, staff implemented a low-stress handling procedure, doing away with the use of whips and horses and cattle-like treatment. 

“The roundup took a little longer than normal,” Janssen said. “It was an extra day to gently move them through the corrals and handle them with the respect they deserve and we’re already seeing the changes in the bison. They’re really taking to our way of caring for them.”

The most visible change to the Bison Range is at the visitor’s center in Moiese, where a newly renovated wing of exhibits details the history of the Tribes’ relationship to the bison and the land. There are also plans for a cultural center and a second entrance to the range at the top of Ravalli Hill, located directly off U.S. Highway 93, which will make access easier for travelers. 

“We’re getting a lot of traffic and it’s only getting larger,” Janssen said. “We’re inviting the public to come out and enjoy the Bison Range, especially if they can’t get into Glacier and can’t get into Yellowstone.”

Rich Janssen, Department Head of Natural Resources for the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes on the Flathead Indian Reservation on May 20, 2022. Hunter D’Antuono | Flathead Beacon

Preparing for a greater number of visitors means addressing a backlog of deferred maintenance on the Bison Range that has piled up through the years. Janssen said the Tribes are working on improving the roads, making the visitor’s center ADA accessible and upgrading technology to make both staff and visitor experiences smoother.  

“Some people have been worried about the transition, but we’ve already got our feet on the ground, and I don’t worry about this place failing,” said Camel-Means, the NRD’s division manager of fish, wildlife, recreation, and conservation. “We can manage wildlife and we can manage places and now we get to manage this land in the same way. Failure isn’t a term that’s part of my vocabulary anymore because we don’t have to worry about other people ruining things for us for a political agenda.” 

If there was one entity that didn’t seem to understand the magnitude of the weekend’s celebration, it was the dozens of buffalo lounging hillside across the Bison Range, unfazed by the procession of cars driving past, visitors snapping photos through open windows. 

Just over the summit of Red Sleep Mountain, a few bison were grazing among the blooming yellow arrowleaf balsamroot. Standing out in stark contrast to the adult’s dark brown shapes were a few diminutive reddish baby buffalo, a few of the 20 calves born this spring, which Secretary Haaland fittingly referenced in her closing remarks.

“Today represents a return to something pure and sacred,” she said. “I am confident that the future is as bright for the little calves just learning to walk in the spring as for the generations of CSKT members who will be reconnected with their ancestral traditions over the decades.”A cow bison rests with her calf on the Bison Range nature preserve on the Flathead Indian Reservation on May 20, 2022. Hunter D’Antuono | Flathead Beacon

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Return of the Buffalo

Over three days the Salish and Kootenai celebrated the restoration of the Bison Range to tribal ownership allowing them to manage the resources and wildlife for the first time in 112 years Books

Art, History, and the Atomic Bomb

Author, illustrator and Flathead resident Jonathan Fetter-Vorm reflects on the 10-year anniversary of his debut book, a graphic history of the first atomic bomb

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https://flatheadbeacon.com/2022/05/25/return-of-the-buffalo/

Petition · U​.​S. Congress – Ban trophy hunting imports and end elephant slaughter. · Change.org


http://www.change.org
Sign the Petition

U.S. Congress – Ban trophy hunting imports and end elephant slaughter. Support the CECIL and Protect Acts

The Botswana government announced it will restart elephant hunts this year. A quota has been issued of 272 killings starting in April and will go through September during their dry season when the bush is thinner and elephants are easier to locate.

Foreign hunters will be allowed to kill 202 of the elephants and 70 will be reserved for local people. Most of the hunters that go to southern Africa are from the U.S. The average cost for a foreign trophy hunter the right to shoot an elephant is anywhere between $21,000-$60,000 or more.

Now is the time to pressure the U.S. government to take action to prevent the pending elephant slaughter.

Sign this petition asking our members of Congress to support two bills that are moving against trophy hunting elephants from Botswana and ask for lawmakers to defund trophy hunting import permits sold here in America:

CECIL Act H.R. 2245; Conserving Ecosystems by Ceasing the Importation of Large Animal Trophies
This will restrict the import and export of trophies of any species listed under the Endangered Species Act (ESA).
Protect Act, H.R. 4804; Prohibiting Threatened and Endangered Creature Trophies
Prohibit trophy hunting of ESA species in the US and import of any trophy of a species listed under the ESA.
Lastly there is an Appropriations Bill For Fiscal Year 2021

The appropriation bill is a spending bill that authorizes the expenditure of government funds. We would like to see language for the Appropriations Bill for Fiscal Year 2021 to defund U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s trophy import permits of elephants from Botswana.

To help make a bigger impact, you can call your House of Representative asking him/her to support the Cecil and Protect Acts as well as the Appropriations Bills for Fiscal Year 2021. To find your House of Representative, go to http://www.house.gov

How did we get here?

One hundred years ago, the global elephant population was approximately 3-5 million. After decades of poaching and hunting, the current elephant population is estimated at 415,000. Elephants are critically endangered and protections for them in certain regions, like Botswana, has recently diminished.

In 2014, the government of Botswana put a trophy hunting ban in place. Due to this ban, elephants from bordering countries such as Namibia and Angola came to Botswana seeking refuge. Today, one third of the African elephant population reside in Botswana.

In 2019, the government made another decision to lift the hunting ban on elephants. Last year, there were 358 elephant hunting permits allotted and a further 386 elephants were poached. Such a large- scale loss of bull elephants in what was once their greatest refuge is unsustainable.

Elephant hunting only hurts us in the big scheme of life. In fact, since the elephant is a keystone species that actually supports ecosystems, their sheer existence helps to maintain biodiversity that supports the health of our planet. We actually benefit from the elephants’ presence without even realizing it.

Elephants contribute more to the ecosystem per capita than we do. Elephants are known as the Gardeners of the Forest. Elephants spread the seeds from the plants they have eaten which helps to disperse the plant life to other areas. This new plant life gives off oxygen for us to breathe. Elephants dig water holes in dry river beds that other animals use as a water source as well as creating trails that serve as fire breakers.

To take this one step further on how detrimental commercial elephant hunting and poaching is, we are currently in the world’s sixth mass extinction. The first 5 mass extinctions were all-natural phenomena. This current extinction is almost exclusively due to humans. Dozens of species are going extinct every day and it is predicted by 2050, 30-50% of all species will be extinct. Losing species at this rate will break down ecosystems that we rely on for the health of the planet. This is another reason why it is critical we help conserve and protect the elephants and all wildlife.

Elephants also help the local economies through eco-tourism. According to an article by All Africa research indicates eco-tourism is a $2 billion-dollar industry and reintroducing hunting contributes to only 1.9% of tourism.

Please sign and share this petition to help end trophy hunting and protect elephants and other incredible wildlife.


With heartfelt gratitude,

Nicole @WildForChange


Photo by James Hammond on Unsplash

https://www.change.org/p/u-s-house-of-representatives-u-s-congress-ban-trophy-hunting-imports-and-end-elephant-slaughter?recruiter=38083566&recruited_by_id=f8a0bdb0-3a74-0130-b144-3c764e048845&utm_source=share_petition&utm_medium=copylink&utm_campaign=petition_dashboard

Izembek Refuge and Wilderness Threatened by Road

King Cove, Alaska. Photo Center for American Progress

www.thewildlifenews.com

George Wuerthner

Recently Secretary of Interior Deb Haaland visited the isolated  Aleut community of King Cove on the Alaskan Peninsula southwest of Anchorage, Alaska, to see and hear firsthand whether to approve the construction of a road across the Izembek Wilderness and National Wildlife Refuge. Recently, a federal court approved a Trump Administration land exchange proposal to facilitate the road right of way through the refuge.

The Izembek Refuge is one of the blue areas is on the Alaskan Peninsula which connects the Aleutian Islands to the main part of Alaska.

The debate about a road pits Alaskan Aleuts against the legal mandate of the Wilderness Act to preserve wildlands and protect wildlife. The 315,000-acre Izembek Wildlife Refuge is a critical stopping ground for migratory waterfowl. Its eel grass lagoons are considered of International Importance.

The road would connect the King Cove community to an all-weather airstrip (built during WW11) 37 miles away in Cold Bay, Alaska. The airport was initially operated as a military base before being transferred to the state of Alaska.

The 10,000 foot airstrip in Cold Bay was built by the Army and can easily service jets. Photo American Airlines

Currently, access to the Cold Bay airport is either by air from a strip in King Cove or by boat.

Roads are prohibited in wilderness areas. The Izembek Refuge Wilderness was designated in 1980 as part of the expansive Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act (ANILCA).

Henry Mack, the major of King Cove, Stanley Mack, the mayor of Aleutian East Borough, and Della Trumble, a member of the King Cove Corporation and Agdaagux Tribal Council, suggests in an editorial Anchorage Times, opponents put wildlife ahead of humans.

As they wrote in a commentary about opposition to the road by former Secretary of Interior Bruce Babbitt and former Fish and Wildlife Service Director Jamie Clark, “It’s easy for highly paid former federal officials like Bruce Babbitt and Jamie Clark to pretend that the lives of nearly 1,000 indigenous Aleuts in King Cove, Alaska don’t really matter.”

Some 98 percent of all black brant spend part of the year feeding among the eelgrass lagoons of the Izembek NWR. 

Izembek is particularly important for Pacific Black Brant; 98 percent of those small geese spend part of the year there, slurping up the world’s most extensive eelgrass beds, their dietary staple. The area also supports about half the world’s Emperor Geese and a substantial percentage of the threatened Steller’s Eider population. The refuge supports one of the denset population of grizzly bears on the Alaskan Peninsula, as well as wolves, foxes, caribou, and even walruses.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service concluded that allowing a road through the refuge would “degrade irreplaceable ecological resources.” It also would jeopardize the global survival of a migratory sea goose, called the Pacific black brant, and the emperor goose and other waterfowl.

Eel grass at Izembek NWR. 

Izembek is recognized as a Wetland of International Importance, and Izembek lagoons are also considered an Important Bird Area (IBA) of global significance.

A 2013 Record of Decision on a Final EIS that reviewed the potential impact of the road concluded: ” Construction of a road through the Izembek NWR wouild lead to significant degradation of irreplaceable ecological resources.”

The document went on to note that the proposed land trade between the Aleuts and federal government would compromise the ecological integrity of the refuge. “The Service has determined that increased acreage would not compensate for the overall values of the existing Izemeck REfuge lands and Wilderness that would be removed. Nor would the offered lands compenstate for the anticipated impacts that the proposed road would have on wildlife and the habitat that surround the road corridor.”

Therefore, in 2013 Secretary of Interior Sally Jewell decided to preclude road construction from protecting the wildlife and wilderness values of the area. But the Trump administration, under the Secretary of Interior, approved a land exchange between the Aleut natives of King Cove and the Department of Interior that would permit the road construction to proceed.

Jewell found ” Increased human traffic and noise, changed hydrology of the wetlands, pollution runoff, and introduced contaminants and invasive species would despoil the isthmus.”  She further concluded there were other modes of transportation available to address emergency medical transportation and pledged to work to implement them.

The King Cove villagers contend they need the proposed road for “medical emergencies.” Although King Cove has an airport, planes and helicopters cannot operate in extreme weather, which frequently closes the King Cove facilities. The Cold Bay airport can operate in more inclement weather. A road connecting the two communities would also permit villagers to fly more frequently to Anchorage and other destinations for shopping and other purposes.

The mountains along the Alaskan Peninsula in an unusually good weather day. Photo George Wuerthner

I have some sympathy for the situation of the villagers. I have experienced the horrific weather typical to the Aleutian Islands and Alaskan Peninsula. I was once trapped for days without food other than the fish I caught while camped at Ugashik Lake because aircraft could not fly to pick me up.  Other times I was delayed for days by bad weather while trying to fly out of the villages of Port Moller and Meshik. I’ve been out numerous times on trips to the Alaskan Peninsula in the rain with 50 mile per hour winds, so I know how difficult the weather can be at times.

Villagers have latched on to the idea that a road would provide safe passage between King Cove and Cold Bay. However, a doctor who oversaw medical evacuations in King Cove for 15 years said traveling almost 40 miles on the gravel road during 60 mph winds and blinding snowstorms would be “suicidal” for patients and rescue teams.

“Should the road happen, I foresee all sorts of calamity,” said Dr. Peter Mjos, who was the Eastern Aleutian Tribes’ medical director until 2002. He retired from practicing medicine in 2015.

The original justification for the road was more pecuniary. “In 1994, King Cove passed a resolution saying the road would “link together two communities having one of the State’s premier fishing ports/harbors (including North America’s largest salmon cannery) in King Cove with one of the State’s premier airports at Cold Bay.”

But twenty years later, the justification was changed to the medical emergency rationale.

Izembek NWR. Photo Audubon.

To find an alternative to the road, the federal government contributed $37 million (a taxpayer subsidy of over $56,000 per King Cove resident) for an improved medical clinic in King Cove and the purchase of a hovercraft and improved dock facilities that could link both communities by water. The hovercraft only operated for three years before the Borough shut it down, arguing it was too expensive to operate and failed to work in high winds. However, during the three years it operated, the hovercraft successfully transported 22 medical evacuations.

In addition,  of the original $37 million allotted by Congress for the hovercraft purchase and operation, villagers chose to spend $26 million to construct part of the road they hope will eventually link the two communities. In other words, they spent $26 million on a road to nowhere which could have paid  hovercraft and other alternative transportation like Coast Guard transport for many years.

Community leaders admitted they used part of the federal grant to construct a partial road because they believed it would make it harder for the federal government to deny its completion.

However, some suggest the real purpose of the road is related to money. The Peter Pan Processing plant in King Cove is Alaska’s biggest salmon and seafood processing operation. The route would make getting workers in and out of King Cove easier.  But it would also reduces costs for shipping fish. Currently, Peter Pan must load fish on a boat, transport it by sea to Cold Bay, where it is loaded on another truck to be transported to the airstrip.

The transport of fresh fish to markets is another justification for the road. However, the land exchange approved by the Trump Administration has specific language that precludes large companies like Peter Pan from using the road to transport fish.

The agreement says explicitly: “The road shall be used primarily for health, safety and quality of life purposes (including access to and from the Cod Bay Airport) and generally for non-commercial purposes. The commercial transport of fish and seafood products, except by an individual or small business on any portion of the road shall be prohibited.”

The term “generally”and “small business” opens a big loophole. Not surprisingly, the local Aleut leaders of King Cove all support road construction. Since they own fishing boats, including in 2019, the mayor of King Cove and five out of six city council members, all considered small business owners, would not be prohibited from using the road to transport fish.

It is important to note that the US Small Business Administration defines a firm engaged in “seafood product preparation and packaging” to be a small business if it has no more than 750 employees. Though Peter Pan is owned by a fortunte 500 Maruha Nichiro Corporation in Japan. The Peter Pan currently operates with 500 employees. So all Maruha would have to do is spin off as a separate company, and it would qualify as a “small business.”

Another important issue is that such an exemption to Wilderness Act prohibition against roads could easily become a precedent for new roads in other parts of Alaska where many villages are not part of any road network. In this instance, apparently, the Izembek Refuge is not part of the traditional “sacred” lands of the Aleut.

Many villages in Alaska have no road access to year-round air service. People choose to live in these places. While I might support the road if I thought there were no other viable alternatives, as former Secretary of Interior Sally Jewell concluded, viable (if not expensive) alternatives do exist including emergency transport from the U.S. Coast Guard. It seems to me that “medical emergencies” is a red herring. While there may indeed be a few times when alternative means of transport are not available, I do not believe this is the real reason for the road. The main motive is to create economically viable alternatives for seafood transport. This is about advancing economic desires rather than satisfying the “needs” of King Cove residents.

Many Alaskan communities face the same limitations on transportation due to weather, terrain and other constraints. People choose to live in these places. While the Indigneous Aleuts living at King Cove have other alternatives, the Indigenious wildlife that depends on the Izembek Refuge lands do not.

Secretary of Interior Haaland has stated she wants to represent the interests of Indigenous people. It will be interesting to see whether she agrees with the conclusion of former Secretary of Interior Sally Jewell that other options exist to meet the desires of King Cove residents while protecting globally significant wildlife and wilderness values.

https://www.thewildlifenews.com/2022/04/28/izembek-refuge-and-wilderness-threatened-by-road/#respond

WildChoices

WildChoices assists local and international tour operators, agents, and individual travellers to make informed, ethical choices about captive wildlife tourism facilities in South Africa.

HOW IT WORKS

WildChoices identifies the captive wildlife facilities* in South Africa that offer tourist attractions and activities including interactions and volunteer programs, and assesses them by applying the publicly available SATSA Captive Wildlife Attractions & Activities Decision Tool published in 2019, to publicly available online information about the facilities and their activities.

The Tool is in the form of a decision tree (see below) that guides the user through the rapid assessment of a facility against a series of qualifying and disqualifying criteria to help decide which captive wildlife tourism facilities to support and which to avoid.

The assessment process results in one of three possible outcomes: Support, Support with Caution, or Avoid.

Neither the list nor the assessment results are static and are updated with any new information to keep the list and assessment result current. No online information prior to 2018 has been considered in the assessment process.

For the full SATSA Captive Wildlife Attractions & Activities Guidelines click here.

For the full SATSA Captive Wildlife Attractions & Activities Decision Tool click here.

**Captive wildlife facilities are defined as facilities that keep wild animals in a human-made enclosure that is of insufficient size for the management of self-sustaining populations of the species and designed to hold the animals in a manner that prevents them from escaping and facilitates intensive human intervention or manipulation in the provision of food and/or water, artificial housing and/or healthcare.

BACKGROUND

The Southern Africa Tourism Services Association (SATSA) is a non-profit, member-driven association representing the Southern Africa region’s tourism private sector. It has over 1,000 members including accommodation establishments, airlines, attractions, transport operators, conference organisers, marketing organisations, tour operators and destination management companies.

At SATSA’s annual conference in August 2017, members raised concerns about the proliferation of captive wildlife attractions and activities in South Africa, and the negative impact that unethical facilities might have on tourism and brand South Africa.

In 2018 SATSA established a Board Committee on Animal Interactions and commissioned BDO South Africa, an independent consulting firm, to:

  1. Define the types of entities that fall within the ambit of captive wildlife interactions including standardising definitions and terminology;
  2. Develop an ethical framework to evaluate operations that involve captive wildlife interactions to underpin the debate and establish the principles upon which the ethicalness of animal interaction operations may objectively be evaluated;
  3. Develop a set of guidelines for the self-regulation of captive wildlife tourism experiences.

In November 2019 SATSA published their Captive Wildlife Attractions & Activities Guidelines and Decision Tool.

In 2021 Brett Mitchell and Gavin Reynolds, both members of the 2018 SATSA Board Committee, founded WildChoices.

WildChoices launched in March 2022 with a list of 219 assessed facilities.

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https://www.wildchoices.org/

Take action: Sonoran desert tortoise move slow, but are racing toward extinction

secure.wildearthguardians.org

The Sonoran desert tortoise is found south and east of the Colorado River, in the central and western parts of Arizona, and into northwestern Mexico. The habitat of this rare reptile is threatened by invasive species, livestock grazing, increased fire risk, housing developments, off-road vehicles, and increased predation facilitated by human activities.

In 2015, WildEarth Guardians and allies challenged the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services’ (USFWS) decision not to protect the Sonoran desert tortoise under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). As a result of that lawsuit, in August 2020 USFWS agreed to reconsider the tortoise for ESA protection.

USFWS must now go back and take a new look at the imperiled animal’s status in Arizona and has 18 months to make a new determination about the status of the species. Sonoran desert tortoise are known for moving slowly, but without full federal ESA protections, they will continue racing toward extinction. Please raise your voice today!

Photo Credit: E.K. Schahauser

Recipients

  • Secretary of Interior Deb Haaland

https://secure.wildearthguardians.org/site/Advocacy?cmd=display&page=UserAction&id=1148

Missing wallaby is found hiding in bush near zoo exhibit

This undated photo provided by the Memphis Zoo shows Honey Bunch, the wallaby.  The  wallaby who went missing at the Memphis Zoo after storms passed through Tennessee this week, has been found hiding in plain sight. “It was an area right behind the exhibit that was a service area that had been searched multiple times in the past 36 hours, but he was camouflaged really well and hidden very well under a bush,” said Jessica Faulk, the zoo's spokesperson, Friday, April 15, 2022. (Memphis Zoo via AP)

local21news.com

BETH CAMPBELL | Associated Press

This undated photo provided by the Memphis Zoo shows Honey Bunch, the wallaby. The wallaby who went missing at the Memphis Zoo after storms passed through Tennessee this week, has been found hiding in plain sight. “It was an area right behind the exhibit that was a service area that had been searched multiple times in the past 36 hours, but he was camouflaged really well and hidden very well under a bush,” said Jessica Faulk, the zoo’s spokesperson, Friday, April 15, 2022. (Memphis Zoo via AP)

UNDATED (AP) — Honey Bunch, the wallaby who went missing at the Memphis Zoo after storms passed through Tennessee this week, has been found hiding — nearly in plain sight.

“It was an area right behind the exhibit … that had been searched multiple times in the past 36 hours, but he was camouflaged really well and hidden very well under a bush,” said Jessica Faulk, the zoo’s spokesperson.

A curator happened to see some tracks Friday morning and followed them to Honey Bunch, Faulk said.

“We suspect he was there the whole time,” she said.

Honey Bunch was taken to the zoo’s hospital and was being evaluated by a veterinarian, who gave him a clean bill of health, Faulk said.

A creek in the KangaZoo exhibit overflowed during storms Wednesday night, and the exhibit was evacuated, with the animals moved to the hospital. Honey Bunch and three other wallabies will move back to the exhibit together in a day or so probably, Faulk said.

Honey Bunch is 21 months old and one of the largest of the four, she said.

Faulk said no one knows how he was able to get out of the exhibit’s fencing but that zoo officials are looking into it so they can prevent it from happening again.

Memphis police had assisted in the search for the missing animal, a smaller relative of the kangaroo.

https://local21news.com/news/offbeat/missing-wallaby-found-hiding-in-bush-near-zoo-exhibit-tennessee-honey-bunch-jessica-faulk-memphis-zoo-spokesperson-21-months-old

Smithsonian’s National Zoo celebrates 50th ‘Pandaversary’

local21news.com

ALEXANDRA RODRIGUEZ | WJLA Staff

The Smithsonian National Zoo celebrates its 50th Anniversary of their Giant Panda conservation. (WJLA)

WASHINGTON (WJLA) — The Smithsonian’s National Zoo is celebrating the golden anniversary of its achievement in the care, conservation, breeding, and study of giant pandas.

The Smithsonian National Zoo celebrates its 50th Anniversary of their Giant Panda conservation. (Video: WJLA)

Zookeepers rolled out a special fruitsicle cake for the in-residence panda family to honor the special achievement.

Over the past five decades, the Zoo’s bears have become international icons, beloved both for their adorable antics and their ability to bring colleagues from the United States and China together to collaborate for a common goal of saving the species from extinction.

Ever since their arrival, giant pandas have symbolized cross-cultural collaboration between the United States and China. In 1972, Chinese Premier Zhou Enlai gifted two giant pandas to the American people as a gesture of goodwill following former President Richard M. Nixon’s groundbreaking state visit.

The President and First Lady Pat Nixon selected the Smithsonian’s National Zoo as female Ling-Ling and male Hsing-Hsing’s home in the United States. Then-Zoo director Theodore Reed personally escorted the bears from China, and they arrived in Washington, D.C., on April 16, 1972.

The Smithsonian National Zoo celebrates its 50th Anniversary of their Giant Panda conservation. (Photo: WJLA)

Zoo visitors will get to enjoy lion dance performances, panda-shaped bao buns, and calligraphy demonstrations and see the pandas receive special enrichment treats. The world premiere of the Smithsonian Channel’s documentary on the Zoo’s giant panda program, “The Miracle Panda,” will be screened for a limited time at the Zoo’s Visitor Center Theater at 10 a.m. and 1 p.m.

https://local21news.com/news/nation-world/gallery-smithsonians-national-zoo-celebrates-50th-pandaversary-fruitsicle-cake-past-five-decages-bring-united-states-and-china-together-to-collaborate-for-common-goal-saving-species-from-extinction

The Beauty of Nature

U.S. Allows Hunters to Import Some Elephant Trophies From African Countries

Elephants at a waterhole in Hwange National Park in Zimbabwe.
Credit…Eric Baccega/agefotostock, via Alamy

After settling a lawsuit filed during the Trump administration, the Fish and Wildlife Service granted six permits to bring elephant parts into the country. It may approve more in the coming months.

www.nytimes.com

April 1, 2022

Miranda Green

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service informed some hunters last month that it would allow the import of six elephant trophies into the United States from Zimbabwe. The African elephant carcasses will be the first allowed into the country in five years.

The decision reverses an agencywide hold on processing elephant trophy import permits that was put in place during the Trump administration in November 2017, and has since prevented any elephant tusks, tails or feet from being brought into the country.

The reversal is the result of a September 2021 settlement with the Dallas Safari Club, a big-game hunting organization that sued the Trump administration in December 2019 for pausing trophy permit processing. The environment and tourism ministry of Namibia was also a plaintiff in the case. The Fish and Wildlife Service is required under the settlement to process the permits of the 11 hunters named in the suit, as well as 73 other outstanding permit applications. That could potentially lead to additional trophies being brought into the United States from countries that allow limited hunting of elephants for sport.

According to a Fish and Wildlife Service spokesperson, both parties “negotiated a settlement they consider to be in the public interest and a just, fair, adequate and equitable resolution of the disputes set forth in the plaintiffs’ complaint.”

The service’s decision to settle the lawsuit continues a long-running dispute between hunters and biodiversity experts over whether trophy hunting is beneficial or harmful to big game species, particularly endangered animals like the two species of African elephants. It has also prompted criticism from activists and biodiversity groups who question why the agency did not fight the lawsuit or reinstate a similar ban that was instituted during the Obama administration.

They point out that the move goes against President Biden’s commitment on the campaign trail to limiting hunting imports. The critics also say it is the latest in a series of confounding steps by the Biden administration to acquiesce to lawsuits leftover from the Trump administration and a failure to invest in more protections under the Endangered Species Act, like conserving more gray wolves. They argue these actions show that Mr. Biden hasn’t kept his word on environmental priorities.

“We expected the Biden administration would have halted everything and taken a hard look and made some tough decisions that maybe this isn’t something we should be doing given the biodiversity crisis,” said Tanya Sanerib, senior attorney at the Center for Biological Diversity. “So to have the reality be the exact opposite of that, it feels like whiplash.”

For trophy hunters and big game groups, the reversal came as a long delayed win.

“It’s a victory for conservation because in a lot of these places where elephants reside, the habitat is only made available because of hunting dollars,” said Lane Easter, 57, an equine veterinarian in Texas whose trophy permit was approved under the settlement for a Zimbabwe hunt he did in 2017.

The majority of trophy hunters are from the United States. Under the federal Endangered Species Act, hunters must prove before they import a trophy that killing the animal aided in the “positive enhancement” of a species.

The Fish and Wildlife Service’s perspective, which predates Mr. Biden’s election, is that trophy hunting can qualify as species enhancement if it’s “legal, well-regulated hunting as part of a sound management program,” the agency spokesperson said.

Big game hunters say that the money they spend on hunts is later invested in the rehabilitation of the species and economically benefits nearby communities, preventing poaching. They also say that hunting certain animals like elephants and lions can benefit overall herd health.

Hunters can spend upward of $40,000 on an African hunt in Zimbabwe, Tanzania, Zambia and Namibia, and many of them win the rights through bidding wars held at national conferences like the Safari Club International’s annual convention.

But groups like Humane Society International say that hunting a species does not benefit its survival and that the Fish and Wildlife Service should not allow paid hunts to qualify as a method of species enhancement, especially on animals the United States considers threatened. The International Union for Conservation of Nature in 2021 revised its listing for both species of African elephant to highlight that both are at greater risk of extinction.

Critics also say there is little proof that money paid for a hunt ultimately helps the species recover, especially when corruption has been found to be rampant in several of the countries where African elephants reside.

“There is no evidence that trophy hunting advances conservation of a species,” said Teresa Telecky, a zoologist and the vice president of wildlife at the Humane Society International.

When Donald Trump was elected president in 2016, big game hunters expected it would be easier to import elephant trophies. The week before Thanksgiving in 2017, the Fish and Wildlife Service reversed an Obama-era ban, allowing hunters to import elephant trophies from several African countries. The news set off a storm of disapproval and criticism, with even staunch allies of Mr. Trump warning the move might increase the “gruesome poaching of elephants.”

Just 24 hours later, Mr. Trump tweeted that he would put the decision on “hold.” After that tweet, not a single elephant trophy was approved for import to the United States.

“Because the president found trophy hunting distasteful he essentially abrogated the law with a tweet,” said George Lyon, the lawyer who represented the Dallas Safari Club, “and that’s not how the administrative process is supposed to go.”

So far, the wildlife service said it had processed eight permits. In addition to the six it allowed, it denied two, and it is expected to rule in coming months on more. Mr. Lyon estimated that as of last September, close to 300 elephant trophy permits from various African countries were awaiting processing.

Mr. Easter says he’s not wasting any time to bask in his legal victory. His elephant’s tusks are already being prepared for shipment to his home in Texas.

“They are going to hang in the living room of my house, and I will remember that elephant for the rest of my life,” he said.

He has another trophy hunt in Africa booked for August.

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https://www.nytimes.com/2022/04/01/science/elephant-trophies-hunting.html?fbclid=IwAR33VZ1781F-rUh6oYtY-jqWr6goQG1Af1p9jLNxxEg6hR7VL8YfIdXjqDk

Another One Of Biden’s Accomplishments

“Young man noticed a strange stump and decided to get closer to it! What happened next made him gasp!”

What a shot! Game Warden shoots antler off buck to free it from net

Photo Courtesy of the Pennsylvania Game Commission

What a shot! Game Warden shoots antler off buck to free it from net

by CBS 21 NewsThursday, March 24th 2022

BERKS COUNTY, Pa. — One buck in Berks Co. is an antler lighter, but safe, thanks to a PA State Game Warden.

The Pennsylvania Game Commission posting this amazing story on it’s Facebook page.

A concerned resident called the Game Commission when they saw a buck with it’s antler stuck in a net.

State Game Warden Ryan Zawada was nervous that chemical immobilization was not a safe option because of the distress level of the deer.

So, he decided the best option was to shoot the antler off.

Pennsylvania Game Commission

🦌 This buck recently shed an antler in a nontypical way.

State Game Warden Ryan Zawada recently responded to quite the call when a concerned citizen reported a buck had it’s antler stuck in a net in Berks County.

Given the deer’s state of distress upon arrival, SGW Zawada was nervous that chemical immobilization was not a safe option to remove the deer from the net. He decided the best option was to shoot the caught antler off. After the shot, one antler lighter, the buck ra… See more

May be an image of outdoors
May be an image of 1 person, deer and nature
May be an image of deer and nature

After the shot, the buck ran off, unharmed.

Now that’s what I call a good shot.

https://local21news.com/news/local/what-a-shot-game-warden-shoots-antler-off-buck-to-free-it-from-net

Fish and Wildlife Service denies federal protection for Sonoran desert tortoise

Sonoran desert tortoise. Photo by U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

wildearthguardians.org

Lack of action puts the Sonoran desert tortoise on a collision course with extinction

TUCSON, ARIZONA—The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has announced that the iconic Sonoran desert tortoise does not warrant the protection of the Endangered Species Act (ESA).

Conservation groups remain concerned that the habitat of Sonoran desert tortoise is degraded by invasive species, livestock grazing, increase fire risk, housing developments, off-road vehicles, habitat fragmentation, and increased predation facilitated by human activities. Residential development has created artificial barriers to the tortoise’s movement and its natural genetic mixing. Continuous overgrazing in the desert has depleted the vegetation on which the species depends. Cattle are also known to trample and crush tortoises in their burrows.

“A decision to forego ESA listing must be based on the best available science, and we will make sure the Service complied with that duty here,” said Joe Bushyhead, Endangered Species Policy Advocate for WildEarth Guardians.

“It’s hopeful news that the Service thinks the future is rosy for the Sonoran desert tortoise based on the agency’s modeling scenarios, and we certainly hope they are right,” said Cyndi Tuell, the Arizona and New Mexico director for Western Watersheds Project. Tuell expressed her concerns about the 12-month finding that the tortoise is not warranted for protection. “For those of us who have visited Arizona’s public lands, we can clearly see that the species’ habitat is still gravely threatened by livestock grazing, off-road vehicles, abandoned mines, invasive species, and fires.”

The Service’s announcement asserts that  29 percent of the species’ range in Arizona is on publicly-owned lands managed specifically “for the benefit of wildlife.” This includes the Sonoran Desert National Monument where the Bureau resisted conducting a thorough or adequate analysis of the impacts of livestock grazing on natural values, including the tortoise, and simply forged ahead to authorize expanded livestock use in 2020. The Service failed to acknowledge the many uses of most public lands that will continue to affect the species habitat. The Service also relied on predictive modeling and other information not yet available to the public.

More than 8,500 square miles (over 5 million acres) of tortoise habitat is managed by the Bureau of Land Management for livestock grazing and over 77 percent of those grazing allotments have 10 year permits that have been renewed at least once without any analysis of the impacts to species like the tortoise. “We worry that the Service has put the tortoise on a collision course with extinction by minimizing the threats from livestock grazing throughout the tortoise’s habitat,” said Tuell.

Timeline of Sonoran desert tortoise protection efforts:

  • 2008 Western Watersheds Project (WWP) and WildEarth Guardians (Guardians) file a petition to list the species under the Endangered Species Act
  • 2009 U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service issues a 90-day finding that the tortoise should be considered as a Distinct Population Segment (DPS)
  • 2010 Service determines that listing is warranted as a DPS, but precluded by higher priority species
  • 2011 Service reaffirms this finding
  • 2012 Service reaffirms this finding and determines the Sonoran desert tortoise is a separate species, which moves it up the priority list for the Service
  • 2013 Service reaffirms this finding
  • 2014 Service reaffirms this finding and starts preparing the proposed listing rule (formal process for listing the species under the Endangered Species Act)
  • 2015 Service enters into a voluntary “candidate conservation agreement” with state and federal agencies to theoretically protect the tortoise and reaffirms in this agreement that the tortoise warrants listing under the Endangered Species Act
  • 2015 Service uses a “very coarse model” based on elevation, vegetation type, and slope to assess the status of the tortoise.
  • 2015 Service reverses its previous findings and issued a “not warranted” determination on the petition to list the tortoise and concludes the tortoise does not qualify for listing under the Endangered Species Act.
  • 2019 WWP and WildEarth Guardians file a lawsuit seeking to overturn the “not warranted” determination as arbitrary and capricious and for failing to use the best available science in violation of the Endangered Species Act.
  • 2020 Service agrees to revisit the 2015 “not warranted” determination.
  • 2022 Service issues a “not warranted” determination for Sonoran desert tortoise.

https://wildearthguardians.org/press-releases/fish-and-wildlife-service-denies-federal-protection-for-sonoran-desert-tortoise/

With Plenty Of Room For The Kids

“Hippos Can’t Swim?