Petition: Support the end of the captive big cat industry

help.four-paws.org

We need your help to protect ALL big cats in South Africa!

Minister Barbara Creecy has recently released a draft Policy Position on the conservation and ecologically sustainable use of elephant, lion, leopard and rhinoceros. We are encouraged by the Department’s decisions, but there is no doubt that more needs to be done in South Africa to end the farming and commercial trade in all big cat species.

This change in legislation is more important than ever. The exploitation of big cats in South Africa continues to grow and includes not only indigenous species like lions, but also exotic species such as tigers and jaguars. All big cats deserve protection.

How can you make a difference?

We’re asking you to voice your support of the Government’s decision to close the captive lion industry and furthermore ban ALL breeding and commercial trade of big cats. This is your chance to speak up for the welfare of all captive big cats. You can help with only a few clicks, which will submit a letter to government supporting our recommendations – which you can review in the message to government window..

https://help.four-paws.org/en-ZA/i-support-end-captive-big-cat-industry

Yosemite ranger gives heartbreaking account of mother bear calling for cub killed by driver

www.fox35orlando.com

FOX 35 Orlando

YOSEMITE, Calif. – A Yosemite National Park ranger has shared a heartfelt, heartbreaking story about a young bear that was struck and killed by a vehicle and her grieving mother that spent hours by her side hoping to wake her up.

“From behind me there’s a deep toned but soft sounding grunt. I immediately know what it is. It’s a vocalization, the kind sows (female bears) make to call to their cubs,” the ranger shared in a Facebook post on Friday, along with a powerfully moving photo of the bear standing over her cub, which the ranger estimated was just months old. 

“This bear is the mom, and she never left her cub,” the ranger continued.

yosemite bear mom baby cub

In a Facebook post on July 16, 2021, a Yosemite park ranger shared a moving account of responding to a dead bear cub and learning it was hit by a vehicle. The ranger said that the mother had been by its side for hours trying to wake her cub. (Yosemite National Park)

The post began with the ranger acknowledging how common bear killings were and how hardened rangers’ hearts have become to these calls, due to the frequency of these events. Vehicle-bear collisions have been identified as one of the leading causes of death for black bears in Yosemite.

“‘Bear hit by vehicle, dead on the side of the road.’ Sadly, it’s become routine,” the ranger wrote.

The post went on to explain the process of going into the “routine” of responding to the call, which had come in some five hours earlier.

Once on scene, the ranger went through the steps of taking care of what was expected to be the latest in a string of similar cases. 

“My job here is easy, really: find the bear, move its body far away from the road to prevent any other animals from getting hit while scavenging on it, fill out a report, and collect samples and measurements for research,” the post said. “Then I’m off on my way again with another number to add to the total of bears hit by vehicles this year—data we hope will help prevent future collisions. Pretty callous,” the ranger wrote, adding, “However, the reality behind each of these numbers is not.”

SEE ALSO: California identifies new, rare gray wolf pack

To the ranger, this case would prove to be a painful reminder that each killed bear logged into the system was more than just a number, more than just data as part of a report.

The ranger surveyed the scene, inspecting the surroundings, looking for the usual signs and scanning the road for blood that might reveal where the animal’s body was.   

“I try to remember how many times I’ve done this now and, truthfully, I don’t know,” the writer pondered, while going through the motions, and noted, “This is not what any of us signs up for, but it’s a part of the job nonetheless.” 

And then a clue caught the ranger’s eyes: a vehicle part, presumably something that was once a section of an undercarriage. The training and vast experience prompted the ranger to the next move, to search the immediate area for a bear’s still body. 

SEE ALSO: 2 San Francisco brothers set record crossing large gap on a highline in Yosemite

Two San Francisco brothers claim highline record at Yosemite

Two brothers from San Francisco say they have set a record for the longest highline ever walked in both Yosemite National Park and California. Earlier this month, they and a group of friends spent nearly a week stringing a single, 2,800-foot-long line from Taft Point west across a series of gulleys that plunge 1,600 feet. Highlining is high-altitude slacklining, in which a narrow strip of strong, nylon webbing — usually an inch wide and a few millimeters thick — is strung between two anchor points and serves as a kind of balance beam.

“I turn my gaze from the car part down the embankment on the side of the road and there it is,” the post explained. 

What the ranger found next, prompted a pause as the animal was much smaller than expected. “A cub,” the ranger shared, describing the discovery. “Its tiny light brown body laying just feet from me and the road, nearly invisible to every passerby. It’s a new cub—couldn’t be much more than six months old, now balled up and lifeless under a small pine tree.” 

This call may have hit the ranger a little harder than the others, as the lifeless body was so small. “For a moment I lose track of time as I stand there staring at its tiny body,” the writer explained, noting it didn’t take long to snap out of it and remember what needed to be done next. “…the sound of more cars whizzing by reminds me of my place and my role. I let out a deep sigh and continue on with my task.”

But first, the ranger explained of being compelled to place the small cub in a different location before getting to the “task” of the job. 

“I pick up the cub—it couldn’t be much more than 25 pounds—and begin carrying it off into the woods. I have no certain destination; I’m just walking until I can no longer hear the hiss of the road behind me,” the writer recounted. “The least I can do is find it a nice place to be laid. I lay it down in the grass protected by one of the nearby logs and sit back on the log opposite of it, slightly relieved that it looks far more in place now than when I found it earlier.”

SEE ALSO: Surveillance video shows bear wandering Oakley neighborhood, police search continues

As the ranger started getting to work, there in the quiet of the woods came a sudden and startling sound of a snapping stick. The ranger looked up to find a dark figure, its dark eyes staring back. 

“It’s another bear. Surprised, I stand up quickly and the bear runs off into the brush,” the ranger wrote, noting that the animal took a moment to look back once more before leaving completely. 

The bear did eventually get out of sight, prompting the ranger to chalk it up to being just a coincidence and speculate that the bear might have been looking for food or perhaps the area was a common crossing for others of its kind. 

But within minutes, the ranger would know that it was not just a coincidence, that the bear had intentionally and with purpose found her way there, seeking and hoping for only one thing. And the animal would return as part of that pursuit. The scene that unfolded was a powerful reminder of the important work Yosemite rangers and other conservationists do to try and protect the iconic park and its inhabitants.   

When the bear returned, the ranger would be notified of her presence by the sad, heart-wrenching sound that she made as she called for her cub.

“I turn and look in its direction and there she is, the same bear from before intently staring back at me. It’s no coincidence. I can feel the callousness drain from my body,” the writer recalled. “My heart sinks. It’s been nearly six hours and she still hasn’t given up on her cub. I can just imagine how many times she darted back and forth on that road in attempts to wake it.” 

The ranger detailed the emotional scene, explaining how the mother’s calls to her cub continue, “sounding more pained each time.” The ranger watched on saying it was impossible not to hope that in some miraculous event, the cub would wake up and respond back to her mama. “…but of course, nothing,” the writer shared. “Now here I am, standing between a grieving mother and her child. I feel like a monster.” 

And the ranger decided it was time to leave. “I get up, quickly pack my bag, and get out of there… even though my task is not done.” 

But before leaving the mother bear and her dead cub, the park worker took out a camera to document the grim scene, with hopes of turning this moment into one that would educate visitors to the park and teach them that this moment could have been prevented. 

FLASHBACK Bears struck and killed by speeding drivers in Yosemite National Park

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“Every year we report the number of bears that get hit by vehicles, but numbers don’t always paint a picture,” the writer shared. “I want people to see what I saw: the sad reality behind each of these numbers.”

And the ranger made an urgent call to those who came to the park to take in the majestic world it had to offer.  

YOSEMITE-NATIONAL-PARK-from-Ellen-Ellery-1.jpeg.jpg

(Ellen Ellery)

“So please, remember this,” the ranger pleaded, “we are all just visitors in the home of countless animals and it is up to us to follow the rules that protect them. Go the speed limit, drive alertly, and look out for wildlife. Protecting Yosemite’s black bears is something we can all do.”

yosemite-bear.jpg

File of bear crossing the road.

Visitors to Yosemite National Park can learn more about how to prevent vehicle-bear collisions by clicking here.

https://www.fox35orlando.com/news/yosemite-ranger-gives-heartbreaking-account-of-mother-bear-calling-for-her-dead-cub-asks-drivers-to-slow-down

Record rise in tiger population in Manas National Park may cause infighting & deaths

www.sentinelassam.com

Sentinel Digital Desk

STAFF REPORTER

GUWAHATI: Over three-fold increase in the number of adult tigers in the Manas National Park in a decade that has created a national record in tiger conservation in the country, may also result in infighting inside the park.

Such fear and apprehension are seen among renowned wildlife activists and NGOs.

“Better management and protection measures have increased to tigers in Manas, which is a positive sign. But in coming years, the focus should be given on the management of the prey base, so that deaths due to infighting do not take place”, said Dr Bibhab Kumar Talukdar, CEO of Aaranyak, leading wildlife protection and conservation NGO said.

The National Park once ravaged by the problem of insurgency can now boast of having 38 adult tigers. The park had only 10 adult tigers in 2010.

The 12th annual camera trapping survey conducted this year has revealed the presence of 48 tigers, of which 38 are adults, 3 sub-adults and 7 cubs in Manas. Among the adult tigers, 21 are females, 16 males and 1 unidentified sex. The extensive systematic camera trap survey was carried out for the first time in Manas Tiger Reserve covering Manas National Park, First Addition to Manas National Park and Barnadi Wildlife Sanctuary-together covering a total area of 876 sq. km approximately.

The annual survey in Manas using camera-traps is led by the Field Director of Manas Tiger Reserve and supported by Aaranyak and WWF India and has been continuing since 2010 in Manas for monitoring the tigers, co-predators and prey animals, with constant support from various donors and collaborators. This year Manas is celebrating the 12th year of collaboration with Aaranyak and WWF India for the annual camera trapping survey dedicated to assessing the population status of tigers in the area.

Dr M Firoz Ahmed, scientist and head of Tiger Research and Conservation Division, Aaranyak said, “Manas is a unique landscape that offers tremendous scope for conservation of Tigers and another biodiversity in a transboundary conservation landscape. The future of conservation of the landscape lies with both India and Bhutan as the forest on either side of the international boundary complements with each other, which was proved by new understandings how individual tigers share transboundary space.”

Also Read: A 3-fold rise in Manas tiger population creates a conservation record

https://www.sentinelassam.com/amp/guwahati-city/record-rise-in-tiger-population-in-manas-national-park-may-cause-infighting-deaths-aaranyak-547457?__twitter_impression=true

“Potoos of Costa Rica”

Rats! Tesla won’t pay for rodent damage to cars

Iowa Climate Science Education

Street-rat

Any Teslas round here? [image credit: Edal Anton Lefterov @ Wikipedia]

A bit of light relief perhaps, unless you’re already one of the victims or could soon become one. Are electric cars more appealing than combustion-engined types to hungry rodents? Check those brake cables.
– – –
Elon Musk may have a rat problem, says The New York Post.

Fans of the South African billionaire’s electric cars say rats, mice and rodents are chomping down on their Teslas.

And despite having dropped tens of thousands of dollars to buy the pricey vehicles, Tesla refuses to cover the damage.

Sarah Williams, a 41-year-old physician who lives in Manhattan and uses her Tesla to commute to work in the Bronx, told The Post of an alarming incident when she took her 2018 Model 3 into Tesla’s Paramus, NJ, dealership in mid-May after her air conditioner had stopped working.

“They opened the…

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Wild animals are born free, they should remain free: Virginia McKenna on why zoos should be banned

  • Virginia McKenna, 90, who starred in film Born Free said it transformed her life
  • After filming, she was horrified to learn most of the lions would be taken to zoos  
  • Her and husband Bill gave up Hollywood and dedicated lives to conservation

www.dailymail.co.uk

Helena Horton For The Daily Mail

When Virginia McKenna was asked to star in the film Born Free with her husband Bill Travers she knew it might be career-changing, but she could never have guessed it would transform her life. 

Virginia has always had an affection for animals, but it was getting to know the lions in the film that made her and Bill give up their Hollywood careers and dedicate their lives to conservation.

The 1966 film was based on the true story of wildlife conservationist George Adamson and his wife Joy, who had taken in three orphaned lion cubs and raised one of them, Elsa, to adulthood before releasing her into the wild. 

It was the most popular movie at the British box office that year and won two Oscars, but for Virginia and Bill, who played the Adamsons, it changed everything. 

‘Before Born Free we knew almost nothing about lions or the wider conservation world,’ Virginia, 90, tells me from her cottage in the Surrey Hills.  Virginia McKenna, 90, speaking from her cottage in the Surrey Hills, said starring in 1966 film Born Free with husband Bill Travers transformed her life. Pictured Virginia with lioness, Girl

‘So on the three-week voyage by ship to Kenya we spent almost all our time reading every book or article about lions we could. But it was the constant presence of George, who was the technical advisor on the film, that taught us so much – how to interpret lion behaviour, how to tell when one was unsettled or relaxed. 

‘We learned about the challenges facing wildlife, although in those days it seemed as if the natural world went on forever. I think I’m right in saying that when Born Free was made there were 100,000 to 200,000 wild lions across Africa. Today there are just 20,000. Making Born Free was the spark for us.’

Bill had starred in films with Ava Gardner and Jean Simmons while Virginia, nine years his junior, was a stunning up-and-coming actress when they first met as the leads in the play I Capture The Castle in 1954. They met again two years later after Virginia had split up with her husband Denholm Elliott and were married within a year. They went on to star in a number of films together before Born Free made them global stars. When filming finished Virginia and Bill were horrified to learn that most of the 20 or so lions used in the film would be taken to zoos and wildlife parks around the globe. Pictured: Virginia and Bill as Joy and George with some of the adorable cubs in 1966’s Born Free It made her and Bill (pictured) give up their Hollywood careers and dedicate their lives to conservation

But when filming finished Virginia and Bill were horrified to learn that most of the 20 or so lions used in the film would be taken to zoos and wildlife parks around the globe. ‘This was terrible,’ she says. ‘But we managed to save three of them, including a brother and sister and a big lion who was saved from an animal orphanage in Nairobi.’

George persuaded Virginia and Bill to stay with him and the lions in Kenya’s Meru National Park instead of returning to Hollywood, but they soon found that living with big cats could be unpredictable. ‘One day we were out walking with two young lions, Boy and Girl,’ recalls Virginia. 

‘They started to stalk a group of gazelle, and Boy kept snagging our ankles to get us to join them in the game. On our hands and knees we crept closer, but it was painful and at one stage I stood up. The spell was broken and Boy leapt at me, not in anger but more with a sense of regret that the game was over.  Soon they were campaigning for an end to wildlife in captivity, but it was an experience with Pole Pole the baby elephant that made Virginia come to the conclusion that all zoos should be shut. Pictured: The powerful Mail photo of Pole Pole reaching out to Virginia and Bill at London Zoo

Click here to resize this module One of several features the Daily Mail ran in 1983 supporting Virginia and Bill’s Pole Pole crusade, pictured

AN ELEPHANT NEVER FORGETS ITS REAL HOME

We called her name and she stretched out her trunk to us: Virginia and her husband Bill Travers (pictured) visiting Pole Pole in 1983

The phone call I received from Virginia McKenna to my office at the Daily Mail in Fleet Street on 18 October 1983, in which she sobbed uncontrollably at the death of a much-loved elephant, will be forever etched on my mind. I wasn’t to know it at the time, but it was a moment that would play a significant role in igniting the global conservation movement, helped by a Daily Mail photograph.

The Mail was supporting Virginia in her battle to have Pole Pole the elephant moved from her desolate enclosure at London Zoo to a large leafy space at Whipsnade, and had published several moving features about the elephant’s plight. From time to time Virginia and her husband Bill Travers visited Pole Pole, taking her a big bag of oranges, her favourite fruit. As soon as Pole Pole heard Virginia calling, she would stop pacing her pen, walk to the moat and extend her trunk to touch Bill and Virginia’s outstretched hands in recognition of her old friends.

As Virginia shed tears at this poignant moment, Daily Mail photographer Ted Blackbrow took what has become one of the most powerful images ever in the campaign against locking wild animals up in zoos. The photo hung on the wall of the features department at the Mail and I was looking at it when Virginia, weeping, told me the shocking news. ‘Pole Pole’s dead. They’ve killed her. And London Zoo must take the blame.’

Despite her distress, Virginia wrote a moving article about Pole Pole for the Mail which was published all over the world alongside Ted’s photograph. Thousands of messages of sympathy reached Virginia, and the zoo sustained such a bombardment of criticism it eventually closed its elephant compound in Regent’s Park and began a revolutionary reorganisation of the animals’ living spaces.

It was Pole Pole’s death that led Virginia to set up the campaign group Zoo Check, which began with an auction of personal possessions from friends in a room above the Queen’s Elm pub in Chelsea, conducted by Ronnie Corbett, that raised £2,000. Today, 37 years later and now known as the Born Free Foundation, it has 200 employees and an annual income of £5m.

‘There is no doubt the Daily Mail photograph was a catalyst for change,’ Virginia tells me now. ‘How could people fail to respond to such a deeply poignant image. An elephant never forgets… and it never forgets it was born free. It was wonderful the paper was there to record the moment, and we are grateful for it.’

Roderick Gilchrist

‘I heard a sickening snap in my ankle when I landed with Boy on top of me. Bill took off his shirt and wiggled it through the grass to distract Boy, and he managed to get the lions into the back of the Land Rover before taking me to hospital. I was in plaster for weeks, but who was the first to greet me when I came back? Boy! He came straight up to the Land Rover and stuck his massive head through the half-open window to say hello.’ 

Soon Virginia and Bill were campaigning for an end to wildlife in captivity, but it was the traumatic experience with her ‘adorable little friend’ Pole Pole the baby elephant while making the 1969 film An Elephant Called Slowly that brought Virginia to the conclusion that all zoos should be shut. 

In the film Bill and Virginia played themselves, house-sitting in Kenya, when three elephants turn up in the grounds and ‘adopt’ their new humans before returning to the wild when they leave. 

After filming Pole Pole was due to make the long journey from Nairobi to a concrete enclosure at London Zoo. Virginia begged the government to let her buy the elephant and take it to a safe place, but they would agree only if they could take another elephant from the wild for the zoo. 

‘It was shattering,’ she says. ‘We couldn’t endorse another elephant being taken from its family to go into captivity, we just couldn’t.’ 

A decade later, she and Bill mustered the emotional strength to visit their imprisoned friend a few times at London Zoo. ‘We called her name and she stretched out her trunk to touch our hands,’ she recalls. ‘It’s a moment I shall never forget. I suppose it was then that we became activists, and we campaigned for Pole Pole to go back to Africa.’ 

But the story gets worse. In 1983 Pole Pole was due to be transferred to Whipsnade in Bedfordshire, which would have more space and a herd for her to join. First she was darted with tranquillisers, but part of the needle was left in her skin and turned septic. 

‘They then kept her standing in her travelling crate for many hours and she collapsed,’ says Virginia, her voice cracking. ‘They examined her and said she’d lost the will to live. Her death is what caused all this to start.’

Sitting around their kitchen table in Surrey, Virginia, Bill and their son Will set up Zoo Check to hold zoos to account and ensure they treated wild animals properly. Zoo Check (which evolved into the Born Free Foundation) sent out a survey to investigate 340 zoos on the continent, but it was found that there were actually 1,007, meaning only just over a third were registered. 

This led to the 1999 EU Zoos Directive, requiring registration as well as adherence to conservation, welfare and education criteria. ‘Our purpose was to look at what was going on in zoos and the consequences for the animals,’ explains Virginia. ‘If no one agreed with us we would have disappeared without a trace. But we’ve just marked our 37th birthday.’

Pole Pole’s death also led Virginia to lead a campaign to stop London Zoo housing elephants, and in 2001 the zoo shut its elephant enclosure after more than 170 years. 

And just last month it was announced that legislation is being prepared that would prohibit the importation of any new elephants to UK zoos, with the existing population being allowed to die out naturally. 

It is also proposed that zoos will lose their charitable status if they fail to prove they’re doing sufficient conservation work. 

‘Zoos will never be acceptable,’ says Virginia. ‘Of course, if an animal becomes injured in the wild it has to be looked after, but you can’t then keep a wild animal out of the wild. I don’t believe in people being locked up unless they’ve done something terribly wrong. These animals haven’t done anything wrong and they’re being locked up anyway. The zoos are saying, “Hooray, the visitors are coming back,” after lockdown, but I wonder if the visitors realise that lockdown for these animals is permanent.’ Virginia (pictured) remains an irrepressible activist at 90, saying, zoos will ‘never be acceptable’ as ‘lockdown for these animals is permanent’ Virginia pictured paying her respects at the grave of the real lion, Elsa, in Kenya, which the film Born Free was based on

Virginia, Bill and Will have been one of conservation’s most influential families, with the Born Free Foundation changing the lives of millions of creatures in captivity. Ironically, it was Born Free the film, Bill’s most successful ever, that made him turn his back on stardom and concentrate on animal documentaries. 

CARRIE’S FIGHTING VIRGINIA’S CORNER

Virginia has an ally in the prime minister’s wife Carrie Johnson. Pictured: With Damian Aspinall

Virginia has an ally in the prime minister’s wife Carrie Johnson, who runs communications for the Aspinall Foundation and shares the belief that all wild animals should be returned to their natural habitat. 

Although Damian Aspinall and his family own two wildlife parks in Kent, Howletts and Port Lympne, they say that all their animals are earmarked to return to the wild. They breed populations of endangered species in large numbers so they can be released in Africa, and are responsible for the successful reintroduction of gorillas to Gabon.

Carrie has been a vocal campaigner against the neglect of animals in zoos, recently steering the Aspinall Foundation to petition for help for a sick lion languishing in Tehran Zoo.  Pictured: The sick Tehran lion

Kamran, a rare Asiatic lion, was moved there from Bristol Zoo in 2019 but contracted a disease called feline viral rhinotracheitis. The Aspinall Foundation has called for urgent medical help for Kamran, and a move to a more suitable enclosure.

Virginia is sympathetic to their views, but remains unconvinced that animals should be bred away from their natural habitat. ‘Damian Aspinall has certainly done more than most,’ she says, ‘but it’s very expensive and fraught with difficulties. I’m still in two minds.’ 

‘He did acting off and on but documentaries were what he wanted to do,’ Virginia recalls. ‘And Hollywood was all a bit too contrived for me. George’s little camp was so real. Every day was a beautiful, simple, authentic challenge. We once went with our four children for Christmas. It was surreal sitting in his mess-hut eating Christmas lunch wearing paper hats, with lions resting quietly just outside the perimeter fence.’

It was while Bill was filming documentaries about zoos in Europe that he coined the word ‘zoochosis’, to describe the unnatural behaviour exhibited by captive animals. ‘We saw great apes smearing faeces on the walls, giraffes compulsively licking the bars of their enclosure and an elephant smashing its trunk on the side of its face,’ says Virginia. ‘That’s the sort of behaviour seen by prisoners in solitary confinement.’

Realising the impact Born Free had on the public, Virginia, Bill and Will renamed their charity after the blockbuster in 1991. Virginia has coaxed celebrity friends into joining the cause, including Martin Clunes, Bryan Adams and Joanna Lumley, who was their first patron. Born Free has since led a successful campaign to ban the use of wild animals in circuses in this country as of January last year, and played a part in ending the UK’s dolphinarium industry – there were once more than 30 aquariums with dolphins here but the final tank was drained in 1993.

Yet while Born Free makes convincing arguments, the general consensus is still in favour of zoos. Proponents argue they give people a chance to become concerned about endangered species they would otherwise not know about. They have also saved many animals from extinction, including the Brazilian Spix’s macaw, star of 2011 Disney film Rio, which was declared extinct in the wild in 2018 but is now due to be returned to the wild after a successful breeding programme. All regulated zoos in Europe have to dedicate a portion of their takings to conservation, and London Zoo has improved habitats for animals across the globe, from angel sharks off the coast of Wales to the Sumatran tiger in Indonesia.

But Virginia’s son Will thinks zoos do more harm than good, and believes it’s wasteful to spend millions of pounds on state-of-the-art enclosures when the wild is crying out for investment, pointing out that some enclosures cost more than the entire wildlife budget of some African countries. ‘As an example, they built a new elephant house at Los Angeles Zoo seven or eight years ago. The old one was just under two acres, the new one is just over two acres, and it cost $14 million,’ he says. ‘That’s close to the entire annual operating budget of the Kenya Wildlife Service, which is responsible for 6 million acres of land, 35,000 elephants, 1,000 rhino and 2,500 lions. Born Free can’t accept this is the best we can do, because it clearly isn’t.’

So what would happen to the animals if all zoos were shut? Born Free’s position is that zoos should be phased out over time, giving the animals in captivity a chance to live out their natural lives or be rehomed in more humane conditions. ‘We started campaigning on circus animals in the mid-90s, and the use of wild animals in circuses was eventually ended in 2019, 25 years later,’ explains Virginia, who hopes her plans for the closure of zoos will be her legacy. ‘It’ll be challenging and we’ll need to be brave but if we truly want what’s best for the world’s wildlife then, in my opinion, zoos are not the answer.’ 

https://www.dailymail.co.uk/femail/article-9761033/amp/Wild-animals-born-free-remain-free-Virginia-McKenna-zoos-banned.html?__twitter_impression=true

WildEarth Guardians scores big protections for wildlife in New Mexico

wildearthguardians.org

Agreement with USDA’s Wildlife Services curbs killing of cougars, bears, and other native species 6

SANTA FE, NM—In a major win for New Mexico’s wildlife, WildEarth Guardians settled its lawsuit against USDA’s Wildlife Services after the federal program agreed to stop its reckless slaughter of native carnivores such as black bears, cougars, and foxes on all federal public lands; cease killing all carnivores on specific protected federal lands; and end the use of cruel traps, snares, and poisons on public lands.

The settlement additionally requires public reporting of Wildlife Services’ activities in the state, including documenting non-lethal preventative measures employed by the program. These protections will remain in place pending the program’s completion of a detailed and public environmental review of its work.

The settlement agreement comes after WildEarth Guardians sued Wildlife Services in October 2020 over the program’s reliance on severely outdated environmental reviews of its work. The agreement, filed with the federal district court of New Mexico, ensures that Wildlife Services will no longer conduct any wildlife killing in New Mexico’s specially protected areas such as designated Wilderness, Areas of Critical Environmental Concern, and Wild & Scenic River corridors. The program will cease using sodium cyanide bombs (M44s) and other poisons on all public lands within the state. Additionally, the program will no longer kill beavers, which are increasingly seen as critical to mitigating the effects of widespread drought.

Notably, the agreement also mandates that a program district supervisor reviews all wolf depredation investigation reports before a livestock depredation determination is made in an effort to ensure appropriate safeguards for the endangered Mexican gray wolves that inhabit southwestern New Mexico.

“It’s past time for Wildlife Services to start grappling with 21st century science showing killing wildlife in hopes of preventing livestock losses doesn’t work, is often counterproductive, horribly inhumane, and robs native ecosystems of critically important apex carnivores,” said Jennifer Schwartz, staff attorney at WildEarth Guardians. “We’re glad our settlement kickstarts this process, while affording New Mexico’s wildlife some reprieve from the government’s archaic and cruel killing practices.”

The settlement agreement, finalized on March 11, 2021, includes multiple temporary provisions that will soon become permanent parts of New Mexico law as the result of the enactment of the Wildlife Conservation and Public Safety Act (“Roxy’s Law”) earlier this month. Roxy’s Law—championed by WildEarth Guardians and its allies in the TrapFree New Mexico coalition—bans the use of traps, snares, and poisons, on all public lands in the state of New Mexico. While Roxy’s Law is set to go into effect on April 1, 2022, the settlement agreement ensures that Wildlife Services refrains from using these devices on public lands immediately.

“The past several weeks have seen incredible wins for New Mexico’s native wildlife,” said Chris Smith, southern Rockies wildlife advocate for WildEarth Guardians. “With the climate crisis, drought, and human expansion all taking a toll on our state’s biodiversity, it’s time we stop seeing wildlife as something that needs to be killed and culled and instead see it as something that deserves protection and respect.”

Wildlife Services is culpable of killing thousands of animals in New Mexico each year including coyotes, cougars, prairie dogs, several varieties of fox, and even endangered Mexican gray wolves. Per federal law, Wildlife Services must use up-to-date studies and the best available science to analyze the environmental impact of their animal damage control program on New Mexico’s wildlife and native ecosystems. Under the agreement, Wildlife Services must provide an environmental analysis of the effects and risks of its wildlife-killing program in New Mexico by December 31, 2021.

The settlement agreement also requires Wildlife Services to significantly increase its overall transparency with the public by documenting and releasing—via its state website—detailed yearly reports of its wildlife “damage control” practices. This includes the number and type of animals captured and by which method, the number of requests for assistance and the reason given (livestock protection, health and safety, nuisance, etc.), and types of non-lethal preventative measures employed by Wildlife Services or the party requesting lethal control. This type of detailed information has previously only been available through formal Freedom of Information Act requests, which typically take many months, if not years, for USDA to fulfill.

“A public reporting requirement will compel Wildlife Services to be held accountable to the general public for its actions,” said Schwartz. “We hope that this motivates Wildlife Services to employ practices in line with the values of the public and embrace the use of scientifically verified non-lethal conflict prevention.”

BackgroundWildlife Services is a multimillion-dollar federal program that uses painful leghold traps, strangulation snares, poisons and aerial gunning to kill wolves, coyotes, cougars, birds, and other wild animals. Most of the killing responds to requests from the agriculture industry.

The program reported killing more than 433,000 native animals nationwide in 2020. Nontarget animals, including pets and protected wildlife like wolves, grizzlies and eagles, are also at risk from the program’s indiscriminate methods.

Over the last five years, litigation by WildEarth Guardians and partners against Wildlife Services has resulted in settlement agreements and legal victories in Idaho, Montana, California, Nevada, Oregon, Washington, and New Mexico, all curbing the program’s slaughter of native wildlife and making the program accountable for its activities.

Large male black bear feeding on hawthorn berries during the fall. Photo by Sam Parks.

https://wildearthguardians.org/press-releases/wildearth-guardians-scores-big-protections-for-wildlife-in-new-mexico/

SIGN: Permanently End All Slaughter of America’s Horses

A horse being slaughtered

Image Credit: Abattoir Alès Wikicommons

ladyfreethinker.org

PETITION TARGET: Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer

American horses bound for slaughter often endure a grueling journey to international kill floors before they’re hustled into chutes, butchered, and sold as meat.

As part of this cruel and deadly pipeline, the United States ships horses to Canada and Mexico, where it is legal to butcher them for human consumption. 

Every week, hundreds of horses are sent to Mexican slaughterhouses, according to official USDA export reports. Over 6,800 have been sent to slaughter in the last six months alone. This number doesn’t include the horses sent to Canada who suffer the same horrible fate. 

Many of the horses are considered to be in good health before they’re killed for their meat.

Americans have increasingly spoken out about the grisly demise of these iconic animals, but the United States is still sending innocent horses to slaughter, despite a temporary ban on killing these precious animals for meat. But there’s new hope for these wild horses.

The Save America’s Forgotten Equines (SAFE) Act would ban the live export of horses to Mexican and Canadian slaughterhouses for sales overseas.  This bipartisan bill — sponsored by Rep. Vern Buchanan (R-Fla.) and Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.) — would also permanently ban the slaughter of horses for human consumption in the United States.

We must end this senseless killing.

Sign the petition urging Congress to support and pass the SAFE Act to permanently ban transporting, killing, and eating horse meat in the United States.

https://ladyfreethinker.org/sign-permanently-ban-slaughtering-and-eating-horses-in-the-us/?utm_source=Newsletter&utm_medium=Email

SIGN: Don’t Execute Mother Bear and Cubs Just for Living Close to Road

grizzly bear mom and cub

ladyfreethinker.org

Image Credit: Facebook/Sean McNabb

PETITION TARGET: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

A grizzly bear nicknamed Felicia and her two cubs could be killed just for living near a highway in Jackson Hole, Wyo., according to USA Today.

Wildlife Advocate Savannah Rose Burgess said the bear family has no record of acting aggressively, charging, or taking food from humans who have been spotted approaching them. Felicia also caught the attention of award-winning photographer Thomas Mangelsen, who has documented her for more than six years and said she has always been calm and collected.

But wildlife officials are saying that “human-conditioned behavior” — through no fault of Felicia’s or her family’s– could lead to human-wildlife conflict. They propose relocating or killing the bear family as the only possible solutions.

If park rangers fail to scare the bears off with “targeted hazing operations” — which could include loud noise or rubber bullets — these innocent wild animals could pay with their lives, according to a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) statement.

Killing an entire family of bears who have no history of acting aggressively must not be allowed. Felicia and her cubs must be protected.

Sign this petition urging the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to find an alternative solution for Felicia and her cubs that does not involve killing them.

https://ladyfreethinker.org/sign-protect-mother-bear-and-two-cubs-from-execution-for-wandering-too-close-to-road/?utm_source=Newsletter&utm_medium=Email

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

Photo Credit: E.K. Schahauser

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!

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

Let them be free: stop live elephant exports to China, ban trade in ivory permanently

secure.avaaz.org

We, the nature-loving people of Namibia and like-minded international friends:

  • Record our utter dismay at the intention of Namibia, Botswana, Zimbabwe and Zambia to re-instate international trade in ivory over the clear objections from the other 14 elephant range countries in Africa;
  • Are shocked and disappointed at their threat to break away from CITES , should their demand the right to auction off their official ivory stockpiles;
  • Are dismayed at their strong-arming tactics that are tantamount to political blackmail of CITES , especially after their trade proposal was overwhelmingly rejected at the last COP meeting;
  • Remind the responsible officials that the past two ivory auctions were a complete failure because the Asian buyers colluded to keep the prices ridiculously low;
  • Remind them that this led to increased trade and speculation that saw a massive surge in elephant poaching since then;
  • Object to Namibia’s plans to remove and sell off 170 elephants from their natural habitats in Namibia to Chinese and other buyers for US$5,500 apiece , while an elephant is worth US$1.6 million in eco-tourism opportunities it generates in its life-time;
  • Object to the continued falsification and gross inflation of Namibia’s resident elephant population data by the Min of Environment, Forestry and Tourism to keep justifying unsustainable levels of trophy hunting ;
  • Express our deep concern over the true state of our wildlife heritage and key protected species such as elephants, black rhinos, giraffes and other endangered wildlife, the loss of which will destroy our country’s tourism economy which contributes one-third of the national GDP and thousands of direct and indirect job opportunities;
  • Caution that these reckless actions by Minister Pohamba Shifeta and MEFT management officials amount to wilful acts of environmental and economic despoliation , and are in violation of the legal imperatives imposed by Art. 95 of the Constitution to maintain and protect bio-diversity;
  • Caution the responsible officials that we reserve the right to hold them liable in their personal capacity for financial losses caused by their reckless mismanagement of a priceless resource.

Background:
Namibia’s wildlife is its single-biggest tourism asset, attracting thousands of with visitors flocking from all over the world to see especially iconic big-game species such as elephants, black rhinos, lion, giraffe and other game.

One of the most unique attractions is the opportunity to see elephants in their natural environment outside of the national parks in the surrounding communal areas, managed by the MEFT under the communal conservancy model.

Under this model first implemented in 1996, rural conservancies are granted the right to issue tourism and/or hunting concessions. Because trophy hunting generates large annual fees to the government and the communal conservancies, this led to a proliferation of the hunting conservancy model in rural areas, an approach widely lauded by the WWF as an example of an African conservation success story.

These concessional rights includes elephant trophy hunting rights within the boundaries of the KAZA trans-frontier park, located along the elephants’ seasonal migratory route between the Okavango Delta and the Quito floodplains in Angola.

From 1996 to 1999, the new 500 km-long Trans-Caprivi Highway was constructed across the length of the West Caprivi, further interceding the trans-frontier elephant herd’s seasonal migratory routes.

In late 1999, the Angolan Army used the new highway to launch an attack on their former rebel foes UNITA, using local recruits to conduct a scorched earth campaign along the common border. This influx of weapons triggered a surge in poaching in especially the West Caprivi, with armed gangs running rampant in the area and on one occasion, gunning down an entire herd with automatic weapons in full sight of shocked tourists at a lodge on the opposite Namibian side of the Kavango river border.

From the early 2000s, the over-concentration of elephants in Botswana was becoming evident in Chobe Park as the increase in heavy road traffic and human settlement along the Trans-Caprivi Highway scared away especially breeding herds with small calves.

In order to prevent the spread of bovine lung-disease, Botswana erected a 700km-long game-proof fence along their north-eastern and northern border with Namibia to replace the collapsed old Namibian fence in 2009.

Two 15-km-wide openings were left in the fence on the western and eastern end to allow for the elephants’ seasonal migration, both located opposite elephant hunting concession areas in Namibia.

The combined impact of the Trans-Caprivi Highway and the fence thus stopped any seasonal migration between Botswana, Namibia and Angola, with tracking data showing only the odd bull occasionally crossing the border at those gaps in the fence. This led to the MEFT allowing trophy hunting operators to hunt elephant cows in 2017 to recover their trophy fees paid in advance to the communal conservancies.

By late 2020, elephants have all but disappeared from the West Caprivi and adjacent communal areas. Elsewhere in north-western Namibia, a severe drought and increased poaching has also taken a severe toll, with only an estimated 250 elephants left in the arid Kunene and Erongo regions.

In 1999 and 2008, the MEFT held two CITES-sanctioned auctions of the best ivory in the official stockpile in misguided attempt to flood and depress the black market demand for ivory and generate income for conservation efforts.

This proved to be an abject failure. The Chinese and Japanese buyers colluded to keep prices low, paying only USD$100 and US$157 per kilogram respectively, and instead of releasing the stocks into the carving markets, drip-fed their new stock at USD$1,500 per kilogram over the following years.

This triggered a 66% surge in elephant poaching and 71% increase in ivory smuggling over the following decade that saw elephant herds decimated in East and central Africa. As result, the African savannah and forest elephant species were declared as endangered and critically-endangered earlier this year.

Meanwhile, the communal conservancy model had started to fail. Due to their tendency to inflate annual game counts and so justify high, cash-generating hunting quotas and a disastrous shoot-and-sell permit system that allowed them to sell off entire herds for cash to local butchers, the once-abundant wildlife in communal areas have all but disappeared.

The elephants’ Appendix I status also thus became an obstacle to the demand from conservancies for ever more cash from elephant hunting due to the limitations it imposed on the number of trophies that may be legally exported.

Because CITES has thus far allowed and facilitated the export of live elephants to Chinese buyers, the MEFT therefore is now resorting to auctioning off entire herds of elephants in order to generate cash to the conservancies, as well as re-open the ivory trade that has historically wiped out over 95% of Africa’s elephant herds over the past 100 years.

This reckless and short-sighted humans-first approach by the Namibian authorities and their colleagues in Botswana, Zambia and Zimbabwe poses a dire threat to the last surviving elephant herds in the KAZA Park.

The MEFT continues to falsely claim that there are 22,000 – 24,000 elephants in Namibia, based on a 1995 base count of 7,000 animals that they claim grew at a biologically improbably and mathematically impossible exponential rate of 3.3% since then.

This fraudulent claims of a huge increase in numbers is immediately obvious from the fact that none of the factors outlined above are in any way reflected in their purported official elephant counts. Claims by Minister Pohamba Shifeta of a rampant rise human-elephant conflict is flatly contradicted by the fact that just one case of human-elephant conflict was reported in 2020.

  The official elephant population estimates, inflated by over-counting and systematic inflation of population density factors, are clearly only intended to keep the trophy hunting in business and the ruling party’s rural support base appeased with regular cash hand-outs.

The fact is that Namibia is losing the battle against organised crime and syndicated poaching, with 80% of all rhino poaching since 2005 occurring over the past five years. This largely due to the MEFT’s humans-first conservation policies and poor management of resources, not to mention their obvious ignorance of their own Ministry’s track record in respect of past ivory auctions.

We remind these authorities that they are merely custodians, not the private owners of our common wildlife heritage and that the elephants are not theirs to dispose of as they see fit.

Their plan to resume ivory trading, combined with their poor management, poses a dire threat to the last elephants left in the sub-region and the tourism industry that is an economic mainstay in all four countries involved in this deplorable and reckless attempt to cash in on the elephants for what will likely be one last and final time.

We, the nature-loving people of Namibia and like-minded international friends therefore demand that:

  1. CITES immediately commission an independent audit of all official ivory stockpiles held by Namibia, Botswana, Zambia and Zimbabwe;
  2. CITES demand an independent and verified elephant census in all four countries before granting any further export permits for live elephants;
  3. CITES and the IUCN conduct a full Environmental Impact Assessment on the impact of the Trans-Caprivi highway and the Botswana border fence on the elephants’ seasonal migratory routes and patterns;
  4. CITES and the IUCN require that Namibia and Botswana implement measures to re-establish migratory routes and wildlife corridors across the West Caprivi;
  5. CITES and the IUCN suspend all elephant hunting in the KAZA area until such time that the elephants can freely and without impedance regain access to all their historical range areas within the KAZA Park.

References:
https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2021-06-18/southern-africa-nations-mull-cites-split-to-allow-ivory-trade
https://therevelator.org/southern-africas-ivory-delusion/
https://news.mongabay.com/2019/02/it-pays-but-does-it-stay-hunting-in-namibias-community-conservation-system/

https://secure.avaaz.org/community_petitions/en/cites_and_iucn_let_them_be_free_stop_live_elephant_exports_to_china_ban_trade_in_ivory_permanently/?caUAxeb&utm_source=sharetools&utm_medium=copy&utm_campaign=petition-1239455-let_them_be_free_stop_live_elephant_exports_to_china_ban_trade_in_ivory_permanently&utm_term=aUAxeb%2Ben&fbclid=IwAR03UT1wrlBtAyZ8EVZlKk_5oPNmv_URwoOlkiH1XUzXUSXh3lw_prK7VlQk

Support trap-free public lands across the United States

secure.wildearthguardians.org

Trapping is a cruel and dangerous activity threatening native wildlife, biodiversity, humans, and companion animals.

Traps are also indiscriminate, which means nearly any animal whose feet touch the ground can trigger them—whether it’s an endangered species like the Mexican gray wolf, a bald eagle, or even a family dog.

WildEarth Guardians is campaigning against the vicious practice of trapping on public lands—both on our own and in coalition with partners. By ending trapping on public lands, we will make public lands safe and enjoyable for recreationists and wildlife, so please raise your voice today and sign our petition.

https://secure.wildearthguardians.org/site/Advocacy?cmd=display&page=UserAction&id=1135

Leading Wild Horse Group Challenges Bureau of Land Management’s Mojave Desert Wild Burro Eradication Plan

americanwildhorsecampaign.org

Legal appeal cites failure to consider new research documenting key role that wild burros play in desert ecosystems

Riverside, CA (June 23, 2021) — This week, the American Wild Horse Campaign, the nation’s leading wild horse protection organization, filed a legal challenge to the  Bureau of Land Management’s (BLM) plan to eradicate federally protected wild burros from three Herd Areas in the Mojave Desert in California. In an appeal to the Interior Board of Land Appeals (IBLA), AWHC challenged the legal basis for the eradication plan and said that the agency violated federal law by failing to consider new science documenting the critical role that wild burros play in the desert ecosystems where they live. 

“Wild burros are icons of the West and protected under federal law. They are also important ecosystem engineers whose removal from other desert areas has led to species extinction,” said Brieanah Schwartz, AWHC’s Director of Policy and Litigation. “We are appealing to the Interior Department Board of Land Appeals to overturn the decision to exterminate wild burros from the Centennial, Slate, and Panamint Herd Areas because it is inhumane, unscientific, and violates several federal laws.” 

The BLM’s decision to set the Appropriate Management Levels (AMLs) to zero wild burros in the Centennial, Slate, and Panamint Herd Areas was implemented in the 1980s and has not been re-evaluated in the decades since. Now new research on the benefits of wild burros to the desert ecosystem, published in Science, illuminates the need for re-evaluation, the AWHC’s appeal alleges. The research shows how wild burros are boosting the availability of water in desert landscapes across the American West and how the removal of burros from similar ecosystems has caused the extinction of rare fish species.

AWHC’s appeal alleges that by not considering the new research, the BLM is violating the agency’s obligations, under federal law, to periodically review land use planning documents and meaningfully analyze all new information instead of using the environmental review process to support a foregone conclusion to eradicate the burros.

The BLM plan calls for removing all of the approximately 1,000 wild burros living in this one million+ acre public lands area over ten years. The first in a series of helicopter roundups aimed at removing the burros was conducted earlier this month, with 290  burros, including 39 foals, captured so far. The captured burros were sent to the BLM’s Ridgecrest holding pens where they will be sold or adopted through the BLM’s Adoption Incentive Program, which the New York Times exposed as a pipeline to slaughter for hundreds of wild horses and burros. 

AWHC is asking the IBLA to vacate the BLM’s decision record and direct the agency to instead meaningfully analyze the Herd Areas for redesignation as actively managed habitat for a permanent population of wild burros. 

###

The American Wild Horse Campaign (AWHC) is the nation’s leading wild horse protection organization, with more than 700,000 supporters and followers nationwide. AWHC is dedicated to preserving the American wild horse and burros in viable, free-roaming herds for generations to come, as part of our national heritage. In addition to advocating for the protection and preservation of America’s wild herds, AWHC implements the largest wild horse fertility control program in the world through a partnership with the State of Nevada for wild horses that live in the Virginia Range near Reno.

https://americanwildhorsecampaign.org/media/leading-wild-horse-group-challenges-bureau-land-managements-mojave-desert-wild-burro

Petition · Animal lovers and wildlife rescuers: STOP PAYING THE PUBLIC TO KILL WILD HORSES · Change.org

www.change.org

Skydog Sanctuary started this petition to Animal lovers and wildlife rescuers

Skydog is a Wild Horse Sanctuary with ranches in California and Oregon for the rescue, rehabilitation and re-wilding of mustangs who have been rounded up from public lands across the American West.    One year ago the Government Agency charged with managing and protecting these wild horses introduced an incentive plan offering people one thousand dollars for each horse or donkey they adopted.

One year later as the Bureau of Land Management heralds this program a success in press releases, we are seeing the same wild horses they paid people to take away, being dumped in Kill Pens in record numbers.   These mostly young horses are being shipped to slaughter in Mexico and Canada one year after being rounded up from America’s public lands.   This wild horse and burro program is broken and is complicit in sending wild horses to their deaths.   The BLM is not doing any real tracking or follow-up to ensure the safety of our wild horses.  This is one failure of their mandate under the law.

Please sign our petition urging the Bureau of Land Management to disband this terrible ADOPTION INCENTIVE PROGRAM – which is paying people to dump wild, untrained, young horses in Kill Pens.  These horses and burros are federally protected and they need to be PROPERLY AND SCIENTIFICALLY managed on public lands by the BLM and the Department of the Interior.   Current wild horse roundups should be halted until there is a successful program in place to adopt out the 50,000 horses already sitting in holding pens.   Having lost their freedom and families they should not now also lose their lives.   

STOP THE BLM ADOPTION INCENTIVE PROGRAM BEFORE ONE MORE HORSE SHIPS TO SLAUGHTER.   

NOTE – Please do not donate on this page – the donation goes to Change.org not to help us fight this cause.

https://www.change.org/p/animal-lovers-and-wildlife-rescuers-stop-paying-the-public-to-kill-wild-horses?source_location=petition_footer&algorithm=promoted&original_footer_petition_id=27701166&grid_position=1&pt=AVBldGl0aW9uAAJNbQEAAAAAYNEvUGxn99lhZGZiZDkzNw%3D%3D

Petition · Silvio O. Conte National Fish and Wildlife Refuge: Wildlife should not be terrorized by hunting hounds on Vermont’s National Wildlife Refuge! · Change.org

Protect Our Wildlife, Vermont started this petition to Silvio O. Conte National Fish and Wildlife Refuge

The Silvio O. Conte National Wildlife Refuge is seeking public comment on its recreational hunting and fishing plan found here. This plan impacts the Nulhegan Basin Division in Bloomfield, Brunswick, Ferdinand and Lewis, and the Putney Mountain Unit in Putney. Please sign this petition and let the Refuge know that you oppose hounding on the Refuge—this activity is not compatible due to its indiscriminate and disruptive nature. We are also asking that the Refuge ban all lead ammunition due to the secondary effects it has on wildlife, including bald eagles that scavenge on animal remnants left in the field by the hunters.

Hounders unleash packs of powerful, radio-collared hounds on a lone bobcat, bear, coyote and other wildlife. This occurs not only during the legal hunting seasons, but throughout the year during hound “training” season. The hounds often chase the animals for miles until the exhausted wild animal either collapses, climbs a tree (where they’re often shot), or decides to stand its ground and fight back. This places both wildlife and the hounds in danger since the hunters are often miles away with only their handheld GPS tracking device. We consider this activity akin to animal fighting, which is illegal in Vermont. 

Hounding is not a compatible use on wildlife refuges, since the activity places non-targeted animals and visitors at risk. A retired couple and their leashed puppy were attacked by bear hounds in Ripton, VT in Oct 2019 on public land. You can read about it here. Between hound training season and hunting season, the activity may take place all year, placing nursing mothers like bobcats and their kits in danger. The Refuge Plan lists Canada lynx as a threatened species, but lynx may be mistaken for bobcat, which would be an illegal method of “take.” A Refuge manager shared her concern about lynx being disturbed by hunting hounds in a Feb 2014 email to VT Fish & Wildlife, but they disregarded her concern. You can read our letter to Fish & Wildlife on that here. Other non-target animals include ground nesting birds, deer fawn, moose calves, and other wildlife.

The unsupervised hounds also place Refuge visitors at risk. The general public should be able to birdwatch, hike, and partake in other activities without the fear of running into a pack of frenzied hounds.

https://www.change.org/p/silvio-o-conte-national-fish-and-wildlife-refuge-wildlife-should-not-be-terrorized-by-hunting-hounds-on-vermont-s-national-wildlife-refuge?source_location=petition_footer&algorithm=promoted&original_footer_petition_id=29409338&grid_position=6&pt=AVBldGl0aW9uAES%2FugEAAAAAYM%2BFLfgL%2BU9lYjRkM2RmNA%3D%3D

“Tiniest Baby Elephant Copies Everything His Mom Does” The Dodo Little But Fierce

Petition · Help Us Save The Asian Elephants by Liking and Sharing This Post #savetheasianelephants · Change.org

Above: a baby elephant beaten to the ground in the “training” process of pajan.

www.change.org

The plight of elephants in Africa is widely recognised, but far less is known of the even more desperate threats facing Asian (or Asiatic) elephants, whose surviving population is barely 5% that of African elephants, with numbers of Asian elephants declining from estimates of a million or more in the late 19th Century to scarcely 40,000 today.

 Save The Asian Elephants (STAE) is a not for profit association which aims to raise awareness of the plight of the Asian Elephants; working to end the terrible cruelty and brutal conditions suffered by this wondrous and ancient species.
Young elephants are snatched from their forest homes to supply tourist attractions, temples and festivals. Capture from the wild often entails slaughtering the mothers and other herd members who attempt to protect their young.

PAJAN – THE BRUTAL ‘BREAKING IN’ PROCESS
The captured calves are isolated and then forced into a pen and tied with ropes to prevent them moving. They are deprived of water, food and sleep. Terrified, they are brutally, often fatally, beaten with rods, chains or bullhooks (a rod with sharp metal hooks at the striking end) and stabbed with knives and nails. This practice – “pajan” – is designed to break their spirits and brutalise them into submission.

We respectfully urge:

1. Prime Minister Narendra Modi to end pajan and ensure the proper treatment of captive elephants. These magnificent creatures should either be released into the forests or kept in genuine sanctuaries.

2. Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Former Prime Minister David Cameron to urgently fulfil their Government’s Manifesto commitment to “support the Indian Government in its efforts to protect the Asian elephant”.

3. The Association of British Travel Agents (ABTA) to press its members including Virgin Holidays,  to remove elephant attractions from their itinerary in India and the rest of Asia. Only visits to genuine sanctuaries and wildlife reserves where tourists observe elephants at a respectful distance (and do not ride them) should be permitted.

Save The Asian Elephants now before it’s too late by signing our petition.

Find out more about Save The Asian Elephants at www.stae.org
Like us on Facebook
Follow us on Twitter
Follow us on Instagram

See STAE’s work 

07/10/18: Thai elephant tourism hides abuse

07/08/18: Save the Asian Elephants charity hands Theresa May 200,000-name petition demanding action against cruelty

04/02/18: A-Law spotlight on Save The Asian Elephants

10/08/17: How You Can Help Save The Asian Elephants Mistreated For Tourism And On The Brink Of Extinction

04/08/18: Calls for ban on holiday adverts with elephant rides and circuses

Thank you for your support.

http://stae.org  

https://www.change.org/p/help-us-save-the-asian-elephants-by-liking-and-sharing-this-post-savetheasianelephants

Grizzly bear ‘Felicia’ and her cubs may be euthanized for being too close to Wyoming road

news.yahoo.com

Felicia walking along a weeded area with her two cubs.
Felicia walking along a weeded area with her two cubs.

Sudiksha Kochi, USA TODAY

A grizzly bear mother and her two cubs are at risk for relocation or even death after making their home near a Wyoming highway.

The bear, known as “Felicia” by Jackson Hole residents poses a threat, wildlife officials say, for her family’s proximity to a 55-mile highway in the Togwotee Mountain Pass.

People have also been spotted approaching and feeding the bears.

“Human-conditioned behavior,” the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service said in a news release, could lead to aggressive bear behavior.

If park rangers aren’t able to scare the bear off the road using rubber bullets or loud noises over the next 10 to 14 days, U.S. Fish and Wildlife service says Felicia and her cubs will likely be relocated or euthanized.

Wildlife advocates, including Savannah Rose Burgess, say euthanasia shouldn’t be an option. Burgess launched a petition on June 11 to save Felicia and her cubs that has more than 34,500 signatures as of Thursday.

With her team, Burgess is also working to launch a bear ambassador program where a person or multiple people would ensure visitors are following appropriate guidelines in the presence of bears.

“We have the opportunity here to make a really impactful change,” Burgess told USA TODAY. “It is absolutely horrible to try to think of removing this animal. She’s important and she’s vital, and not just vital to her species in the reproductive sense.”

She has been in contact with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, who are open to her efforts and are working with her.

Felicia, according to Burgess, has never been aggressive or charged anyone. Award-winning wildlife photographer Thomas Mangelsen, who has documented Felicia for over six years, also says that she is very calm and collected.

“This is more of a people management issue than a bear management issue. We need more people on the ground who are trained and educated,” Mangelsen told USA TODAY.

Yellowstone bear charges woman: National Park Service has launched investigation

‘Just didn’t seem quite right’: Bear with rare disease seems unfazed

Mangelsen and his assistant, Susan Cedarholm, are working with different entities such as the forest service and the wildlife service to come up with a solution to keep Felicia alive and other bears that may come along.

“We are all working for the same cause,” Mangelsen said.

Jack Bayles, owner of Team399 that helps fund grizzly bear education and protection, says that it is up to the person to be informed on bear guidelines. An incident happened in Yellowstone National Park where a woman disregarded park rules to stay 100 yards away from bears, and it ended up charging her.

“I think the bear ambassador program can be really effective. The wildlife brigade in Grand Teton National Park, for example, has been highly successful in managing people around these situations,” Bayles said.

Bayles said that part of keeping bears alive is respecting their boundaries.

“The bears have done nothing wrong. There just happens to be a road that goes through her territory,” Bayles said. “I think it’s incumbent upon the public to understand what their role is when they come into a grizzly habitat.”

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Grizzly bear Felicia, cubs near Wyoming road may be euthanized: FWS

https://news.yahoo.com/grizzly-bear-felicia-her-cubs-111502183.html?soc_src=social-sh&soc_trk=tw&tsrc=twtr

A female snapping turtle looking for a place to lay her eggs.

It’s nesting season for snapping turtles.Be on the lookout for them crossing the road, stop if you can so they can safely cross the road and if you’re a warrior like me, park your car in a safe zone, walk up behind them and wait for them to go into their shell and pick them up close to they’re back feet and be prepared for them to poke their head out and try to snap at you, but they won’t be able to reach you if you keep your hands close to their back feet, and if you come across one that’s been hit by a car, call your local wildlife sanctuary, they’re several places I can drop them off in my area, I keep an old bath towel and gloves in my trunk and gently place them on the towel, grab the ends of the towel and carry them to your car. 

Safe travels everyone!

Frightened terns abandon 3,000 eggs after drone illegally crashes on beach

www.theguardian.com

About 3,000 elegant tern eggs were abandoned at a southern California nesting island after a drone crashed and scared off the birds, a newspaper reported Friday.

Two drones were flown illegally over the Bolsa Chica ecological reserve in Huntington Beach in May and one of them went down in the wetlands, the Orange County Register said.

Fearing an attack from a predator, several thousand terns abandoned their ground nests, according to the state department of fish and wildlife.

Now, during the month when the birds would be overseeing their eggs as they begin to hatch, the sand is littered with egg shells.

It’s one of the largest-scale abandonments of eggs ever at the coastal site about 100 miles (160 km) north of San Diego, according to the reserve manager, Melissa Loebl.

With the pandemic driving more and more people to outdoor spaces, last year saw about 100,000 visitors to the Bolsa Chica reserve – up from about 60,000 the previous year, Loebl said told the newspaper.

That’s contributed not only to increased drone activity, but also to more dogs and bicycles on the trails – all of which are prohibited.

“We’ve seen a significant increase in dogs, particularly off-leash,” Loebl said. “That’s devastating for wildlife and this is prime nesting season. The dogs chase the birds and the birds abandon their nests.”

Another problem is the development of multimillion-dollar homes on the hillside at the north end of the reserve overlooking the wetlands, said Nick Molsberry, a fish and wildlife warden. While most residents respect the sensitive nature of the estuary, there are a few scofflaws, he said.

“It’s residents that sometimes feel entitled, that feel they should be able to use the land as they like,” Molsberry said. Authorities are ramping up enforcement and citing people who break the rules.

At nearly 1,500 acres, the reserve is the largest saltwater marsh between Monterey Bay, just south of San Francisco, and the Tijuana River Estuary in Mexico. About 800 species of plants and animals live at or migrate to Bolsa Chica.

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https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2021/jun/04/tern-bird-eggs-abandoned-drone

By Creating a ‘Landscape of Fear,’ Wolves Reduce Car Collisions With Deer

A photograph of a deer walking across the road while a car approaches

www.smithsonianmag.com

Theresa Machemer

A new study in Wisconsin suggests the predators keep prey away from roads, reducing crashes by 24 percent

Each year, nearly 20,000 Wisconsin residents collide with deer each year, which leads to about 477 injuries and eight deaths annually. (Photo by Ken Mattison via Flickr under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

smithsonianmag.com
May 26, 2021

Research published this week in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences highlights an underappreciated benefit of wild wolf populations: the large predators frighten deer away from dangerous roadways, saving money and lives in the process.

According to the analysis 22 years of data, a county’s deer-vehicle collisions fall by about 24 percent after wolves take up residence there, Christina Larson reports for the Associated Press. Nearly 20,000 Wisconsin residents collide with deer each year, which leads to about 477 injuries and eight deaths annually. There are 29 counties in Wisconsin that have wolves.

“Some lives are saved, some injuries are prevented, and a huge amount of damage and time are saved by having wolves present,” says Wesleyan University natural resource economist Jennifer Raynor to Ed Yong at the Atlantic.

The study estimates that wolves save Wisconsin about $10.9 million in losses each year in prevented car crashes, which is far greater than the compensation paid by the state to people who lose pets or livestock to wolves.

“Most economic studies of wolves have been negative, focusing on livestock losses,” says wolf expert Dave Mech, who works at the U.S. Geological Survey in Minnesota and was not involved in the study, to the AP. “But wolves also reshape ecosystems in many ways, although that’s hard to measure economically.”

Most of the reduction in collisions was due to the “landscape of fear” that wolves create. Wolves tend to follow clear paths through the landscape, like streams. In an area that has been developed by humans, wolves follow roads, trails and pipelines. Deer adapt to the wolves’ presence by staying away, which would reduce the chance that they would get hit by a car.

“The icing on the cake is that wolves do this work all year long at their own expense,” says Western University ecologist Liana Zanette, who was not involved in the study, to the Atlantic. “It all seems like a win-win for those wolf counties.”

Wolves killing deer only accounted for about six percent of the drop in deer-vehicle collisions, reports Jack J. Lee for Science News. The drop in collisions didn’t just happen because wolves kill deer, so culling deerduring hunting season wouldn’t necessarily limit car collisions to the same extent as having wolves present.

The deer that the wolves do manage to kill would likely be the least risk-averse, and most likely to run in front of cars. But a detailed understanding of wolf and deer behavior would come from research that tracks the animals with collars, which was not a part of the new study, says University of Wyoming ecologist Matthew Kauffman to the Atlantic.

The research stands out from other studies of wolves’ impact on the environment because it highlights a benefit that wolves bring to the humans that live nearby. The regions that support wolf reintroduction tend to be urban, while rural communities generally oppose it. That was the case in Colorado, where wolf reintroduction narrowly passed in a vote in November. In sharp contrast, the Idaho state government recently passed a law to kill 90 percent of its wolves.

“The most interesting thing to me about choosing Wisconsin as a case study is that this is a human-dominated landscape,” says Raynor to Science News.

The estimated savings to Wisconsin are about 63 times higher than the cost of compensating people for losses caused by wolves. Raynor adds to Science News there are economic factors that weren’t taken into account in the new study, like the cost by deer to agriculture and through Lyme disease.

Adrian Treves, a conservation biologist at the University of Wisconsin, tells the AP that the study “adds to growing awareness that scientists should consider both the costs and the benefits of having large carnivores on the landscape.”

https://www.smithsonianmag.com/smart-news/wisconsin-counties-wolves-see-fewer-collisions-between-cars-and-deer-180977819/#.YL14eBQzoH4.twitter

“Biden administration program sending horses to slaughter”

‘Super mom’: Photographer captures images of mama duck with 76 baby ducklings

mypositiveoutlooks.com

We’ve all seen momma ducks with 20 to 30 ducklings trailing behind her, but have you seen one with over 70 offspring in her care?
If you haven’t, meet “Mama Merganser,” the super duck mom caring for 76 ducklings!

One windy afternoon on July 16, 2018, wildlife photographer Brent Cizek headed for a scouting excursion on Lake Bemidji, Minnesota, with just one camera and one lens with him.

He had initially intended to capture a photo of a mallard he had seen the day before, but he didn’t expect to snap something far more special.

As he motored toward the boat slip, Brent spotted something in the river: a female Common Merganser surrounded by over 50 ducklings. As he watched, the little mergansers formed a line behind their mom and began swimming away.

A female common merganser surrounded by a brood of ducklings

Twitter

The scene was too remarkable to pass up, so Brent got into action.

“I probably shot 50 pictures, and I was just praying that one was going to turn out sharp because the waves were so strong it was nearly impossible to even keep them in the frame,” he recalled at the time.

Making things more complicated was that he had to alternate between maneuvering his trolling motor and snapping photos with his camera. Luckily for him, just one picture turned out.Twitter

At home, Brent counted at least 50 ducklings in the photo. But during subsequent visits to the lake, he saw as many as 76 paddling behind Mama Merganser.

50 and 76 ducklings are definitely on the high-end, but large groups like this are actually pretty common, according to Kenn Kaufman, field editor for Audubon.

Female ducks have an interesting habit of leaving a few of their eggs in the nests of other ducks. They will have a nest of their own but will make their way over to another nest or two to lay a few eggs there.

Most of the time, mother ducks will drop off their eggs in the nests of other ducks of the same species, but sometimes they’re also known to lay their eggs in the nests of other duck species.

Young mergansers in the water

Twitter

There’s no clear explanation behind this practice, but experts think it has to do with preservation. For example, in case a duck’s own nest is destroyed, she will still have more offspring being safely incubated in other nests.

Not putting all their eggs in one basket is sort of a reproductive insurance policy for these ducks.

This behavior doesn’t completely explain what Brent captured, though, because ducks can only successfully incubate a limited number of eggs. Female ducks lay about a dozen eggs and can only warm up to 20. Having more than that will be too much for them to handle.

Their theory is that this particular merganser picked up several dozen ducklings that strayed away from their mothers.

Adult ducks can’t identify which birds are theirs, and the ducklings that have already imprinted on their biological mothers will start to follow another Common Merganser who looks like mom.

Young mergansers in the water

Twitter

Another plausible theory is that the ducklings are part of a crèche, wherein female birds entrust their newborns into the care of an older and wiser female.

This elder usually has broad experience in raising young and doesn’t mind taking a few hatchlings under her wing while their parents go off to do what adult birds typically do.

According to David Rave, an area wildlife manager overseeing the Bemidji region for the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, several species of birds—including common mergansers—use this system.

This super duck mom will tend to these young birds for a couple more weeks before they are big enough to defend themselves.

They will eventually leave the group, and the females will one day potentially adopted a brood of ducklings of their own.

Luckily for this wildlife photographer, he was able to capture this remarkable scene for the rest of the world to see!

Here’s a compilation of raw videos that Brent Cizek took of Mama Merganser and her adorable ducklings.

Young mergansers going into the water

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If you want to see more amazing photography follow Brent Cizek’s Instagram and Twitter. Please share this story with your friends and family.

https://mypositiveoutlooks.com/super-duck-mom-with-over-70-hatchlings/

Montana officials kill three grizzlies after livestock attacks

www.rfdtv.com

Wednesday, June 2nd 2021, 8:32 AM CDT 2 minutes

Great Falls, Montana (AP)– Montana wildlife officials said Tuesday that state bear management specialists killed a pair of grizzly bears near Whitefish that had been involved in numerous livestock attacks, just a week after a bear was shot and killed for preying on cattle near Dupuyer.

An adult female grizzly bear was captured on Monday and its yearling captured on Tuesday in the Haskill Basin area, Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks officials said.

The bears were euthanized because of a history of killing livestock including sheep, llamas, chickens, and a goat.

An adult male grizzly bear in the Dupuyer area was killed last week after it was suspected of attacking calves across numerous ranches.

The 450-pound bear in that case was shot after repeated attempts to trap the animal failed. The bear had been seen in photos from game cameras set up where the calves had been killed.

The bear killed near Dupuyer will be provided to the Blackfeet Tribe fish and wildlife agency for distribution to tribal members for cultural purposes.

Grizzly bears are protected as a threatened species under federal law and hunting of them is not allowed. But since their populations have rebounded in Montana grizzlies have run into frequent conflicts with humans and can be killed by government wildlife agents following livestock attacks.

https://www.rfdtv.com/story/44017793/montana-officials-kill-three-grizzlies-after-livestock-attacks?fbclid=IwAR3-jA0-tZ8MzaUKXjyNWGjaTTUVpBYXJ1xyGHmyCqGR0r9E93RqQvudFrM

Petition · Ban lion trophy hunting imports into the UK · Change.org

www.change.org

Pieter Kat started this petition to Conservative Party Leader Boris Johnson and 6 others

In 2019, Barbara Creecy – South Africa’s Minister of Environmental Affairs – set up a High Level Panel to review the policies, legislation and management regarding the breeding, hunting, trade and general handling of elephants, lions, rhinos and leopards. The Panel recently came back with their decision – recommending that Cabinet endorse a report calling for the end of lion farming, captive lion hunting, cub-petting and the commercial farming of rhinos.

Also in 2019, the UK government made some promises to halt the import of trophies collected by British hunters abroad. This promise was repeated in the most recent Queen’s Speech on 11th May – “Legislation will also be brought forward to ensure the United Kingdom has, and promotes, the highest standards of animal welfare [Animal Welfare (Sentience) Bill, Kept Animals Bill, Animals Abroad Bill].”

The highest standards of animal welfare? Well there ARE some very good things listed as government intentions in the Queen’s Speech. For example the entire of issue of animal sentience. The UK was a pioneer with their Protections of Animals Act 1911, which basically said animals can feel pain. Slowly, slowly other animal protections emerged.

If Animal Sentience is going to be discussed in a Bill, does that same Bill not also have to take into account the sentience of the animals being snuffed out by trophy hunters?  This Bill risks being remembered for its shortcomings in terms of lion conservation.

The UK government has prevaricated on the issue of trophy hunting imports for more than a decade. Unlike the High Level Panel conclusions in South Africa and an inevitable need for a clear government response there, the UK government continues to sit on its hands with their own consultations.

Ignoring:

1. A public consultation on the issue organized by the government itself. Submissions of various detail had a submission deadline of January 25th, 2020. The government decided to extend the submission deadline to February 25th – saying that some people might have not been able to submit their views because of the Christmas and New Year holidays. The government promised to publish results 12 weeks later. That would be May 2020. We are now a year overdue.

2. Our many requests to government about the delayed publication of the public consultation results have been met with recalcitrance and delaying tactics. Ministers contacted have latterly claimed the COVID situation as a reason for the many delays.

3. We are approaching 700,500 signatures, counting upward per day, in our LionAid petition to end lion trophy imports into the UK. At Change.org, this level of response is the highest recorded petition for ANY animal issue to date. The UK government does not acknowledge results of the petition to date.

Instead:

The UK government promotes the weak position that they will “bring forward legislation to ensure UK imports and exports of hunting trophies are not threatening the conservation status of species abroad”.  Who is going to determine whether UK imports of hunting trophies threaten their species conservation status?

The UK seems to be adopting an anaemic version of the USA import restrictions. The USA decided to place lions on their own ”threatened” list of species. Took many years, and public consultations, but eventually the decision was made. The USA made also the consequential decision that as captive bred lions were in no way important to the conservation of the species, that all hunting trophy imports of captive bred lions would cease.

The UK government really needs to step up to the plate. Hiding behind “sustainable” use as a reason to allow trophy hunting imports in the future slaps the faces of all in the voting public who have long since made up their minds about such trophy hunting imports.

So — let’s have the results provided by the UK Ministers, unredacted, of the public consultation to start? And decisively, a ban on the import of all trophies, whether from wild or captive bred lions.

As you can see, there are still huge amounts of work to be done and we rely on your continued and wonderful DONATIONS to keep our work moving steadily forward.

PLEASE if you can, dig deep and continue to help us by DONATING to keep the lion’s roar sounding across African savannas.

https://www.change.org/p/ban-lion-trophy-hunting-imports-into-the-uk?recruiter=48709276&utm_source=share_petition&utm_medium=twitter&recruited_by_id=e3e5af90-90ba-0130-e145-3c764e049c4f

Activist heads explode as USFWS says oil activities pose minimal risk to polar bears in AK

polarbearscience

Apparently, the US Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) under Joe Biden agrees with my conclusion that oil company activities in Alaska pose minimal risk to polar bears (Crockford 2019, 2020, 2021). Although this ruling is not yet final, they have proposed that oil exploration and extraction activities on the North Slope of Alaska can proceed over the next five years.

After noting that no major offshore oil spills have ever taken place in the Alaskan portion of the Beaufort Sea (see map below) and that all spills to date have been on land with no impact on polar bears, the proposed rule in the 200+ page assessment states:

View original post 1,052 more words

Attorneys argue Flathead forest plan doesn’t project grizzlies, lynx, bull trout ~ Missoula Current

missoulacurrent.com

Canada lynx are one of the endangered species of concern in the Flathead National Forest plan.

A Missoula federal district judge will decide if the new Flathead National Forest plan must be changed to better protect endangered species, including grizzly bears, Canada lynx and bull trout.

On Thursday afternoon, Judge Donald Molloy heard limited arguments on whether the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service properly considered the effect of the new Flathead National Forest plan on the three threatened species and, if not, whether the Flathead National Forest needed to put its forest plan on hold while the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service returned to the drawing board.

Earthjustice attorney Tim Preso, representing the Swan View Coalition and Friends of the Wild Swan, argued that the new Flathead forest plan, published in 2018, changed how the forest would manage its roads and road culverts.

The result could make things worse for threatened species. And yet, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service had failed to flag anything as wrong in its Biological Opinion of the plan. Wildlife advocates sued in 2019.

“If all you have to do to make a road not count against limits is pile debris over the first 50 feet, it’s a lot easier and cheaper to build roads than it is if you have to rehabilitate an entire roadway under Amendment 19,” Preso told Molloy. “(The Flathead National Forest has) about 70 miles of road construction and reconstruction planned for the first two years of this plan. Under the past 15 years of Amendment 19, they accomplished a little over 2 miles of road construction. So they’re at a pace of 20 times the amount of road building under Amendment 19.”

Under the previous forest plan with a 1995 amendment – Amendment 19 – a policy of 19% -19% -68% required the agency to ensure that 68% of each grizzly bear management unit was secure habitat, that is free of roads.

Research has shown that adding more roads increases the chance of human-bear conflict, which often results in dead bears. Plus bears avoid roads so they can’t use roaded habitat.

The roads in the remainder of each grizzly management unit can’t exist above certain densities, even if they were closed, because bears, especially females, avoid roads. To meet those standards, the agency had not just closed but reclaimed 730 miles of roads.

However, the new Flathead policy allows the agency to build more miles of roads while doing less with closed roads, because it’s done away with Amendment 19 restrictions so the agency doesn’t have to reclaim roads. A grizzly bear with a cub.

Preso said the Flathead Forest plan allows the agency to block off just the first 50 to 100 feet of a road to count it as “closed” and then remove it from the road-density statistics. However, surveys carried out by nonprofit groups have documented that vehicles still illegally use a percentage of the closed roads. Roads that aren’t fully reclaimed still have an effect on wildlife, so the agency should have to count them.

Finally, under Amendment 19, the agency was supposed to remove all culverts from beneath closed roads, because blocked or damaged culverts increase road erosion. The resulting sediment spilling into forest streams can damage bull trout spawning grounds and habitat.

U.S. Department of Justice attorney Frederick Turner argued that the new plan provides “as much if not more protection” for endangered species, even though the 19-19-68 standard is gone. The Flathead Forest would use a standard of “no net increase” in roads past what existed in 2011.

The Flathead National Forest chose the year 2011 because the grizzly bear population in the Northern Continental Divide Ecosystem had grown at that point, so the agency argued that the roads that existed at that time must have been okay.

Preso argued that the bears had done okay because Amendment 19 was in effect so the agency was meeting higher standards to help the bear.

Turner also argued that the Amendment 19 requirement for culverts wasn’t needed because the new forest plan has a culvert-monitoring plan, which requires Forest Service employees to ensure all culverts on all roads are operating during a six-year cycle.

Turner said the US Fish and Wildlife Service Biological Opinion was sufficient because the Endangered Species Act doesn’t require the service to do side-by-side comparisons of the protections in each plan. It just requires a determination of whether species are in jeopardy and the Service decided the new plan didn’t put species in jeopardy.

However, WildEarth Guardians attorney Marla Fox said the Biological Opinion failed to consider three issues.

Similar to the attempted delisting of the Yellowstone subpopulation, the agency failed to consider what the ramifications would be for bear populations outside the NCDE. Other populations have very low numbers and won’t survive without NCDE bears having the ability to migrate to other populations. The road building planned for some logging projects could limit or stop dispersal into the Cabinet-Yaak and down into the Bitterroot.

Second, Fox said, the 2011 road conditions are based on an assumption that the population was growing and didn’t consider the best science, even though they’re included in the NCDE grizzly bear conservation strategy.

Finally, the US Fish and Wildlife Service approved a certain level of grizzly bear deaths under the new plan but didn’t set a point where the decision needed to be reconsidered if the number of dead bears started increasing.

Molloy kept the attorneys on a tight schedule, limiting each side to 30 minutes, and often interrupted to ask questions. Notably, he asked both sides what they thought the remedy should be, but with the federal attorneys, he prefaced his question with “If the plaintiffs are right…” Bull Trout

The federal attorneys want Molloy to decide that the Flathead National Forest can keep its plan the way it is. But “if the plaintiffs are right,” Turner asked that Molloy send the Biological Opinion and Forest Plan back to the agencies for reconsideration but keep the new Forest Plan in effect.

The Flathead National Forest has six projects already approved with four under analysis so they want those to go ahead. Federal attorney John Tustin said some projects might not even include road building so they wouldn’t be affected either way.

Preso argued that two projects – the Mid-Swan and Frozen Moose projects – together plan to build 70 miles of road. So the wildlife groups want Molloy keep most of the new forest plan in place but put the road and culvert parts of the new forest plan on hold while the agencies reconsider the biological opinion.

Outside the courthouse, Preso said the Flathead National Forest has been moving forward as rapidly as possible with road building since the plan was published.

“They’ve never wrestled with the impact of that,” Preso said. “They pretended it wasn’t going to happen and told everyone that the conditions that existed during the last 20 years are going to continue. Well, we can see already they’re not going to continue.”

The federal attorneys argued it has to be all or nothing – rewrite the entire plan or keep the entire plan. Preso said previous court rulings have allowed for the invalidation of parts of policies and procedures. Molloy asked Preso why his ruling should limit only the parts of the Forest Plan the wildlife groups don’t like.

“I would say the part that’s lawful and poses no threat should stay and the part that’s unlawful and poses a clear threat should go,” Preso said.

Molloy said he would rule as quickly as he could.

Contact reporter Laura Lundquist at lundquist@missoulacurrent.com.

https://missoulacurrent.com/outdoors/2021/05/flathead-grizzlies-bull-trout/

WildEarth Guardians scores big protections for wildlife in New Mexico | WildEarth Guardians

Large male black bear feeding on hawthorn berries during the fall. Photo by Sam Parks.

wildearthguardians.org

Agreement with USDA’s Wildlife Services curbs killing of cougars, bears, and other native species

SANTA FE, NM—In a major win for New Mexico’s wildlife, WildEarth Guardians settled its lawsuit against USDA’s Wildlife Services after the federal program agreed to stop its reckless slaughter of native carnivores such as black bears, cougars, and foxes on all federal public lands; cease killing all carnivores on specific protected federal lands; and end the use of cruel traps, snares, and poisons on public lands.

The settlement additionally requires public reporting of Wildlife Services’ activities in the state, including documenting non-lethal preventative measures employed by the program. These protections will remain in place pending the program’s completion of a detailed and public environmental review of its work.

The settlement agreement comes after WildEarth Guardians sued Wildlife Services in October 2020 over the program’s reliance on severely outdated environmental reviews of its work. The agreement, filed with the federal district court of New Mexico, ensures that Wildlife Services will no longer conduct any wildlife killing in New Mexico’s specially protected areas such as designated Wilderness, Areas of Critical Environmental Concern, and Wild & Scenic River corridors. The program will cease using sodium cyanide bombs (M44s) and other poisons on all public lands within the state. Additionally, the program will no longer kill beavers, which are increasingly seen as critical to mitigating the effects of widespread drought.

Notably, the agreement also mandates that a program district supervisor reviews all wolf depredation investigation reports before a livestock depredation determination is made in an effort to ensure appropriate safeguards for the endangered Mexican gray wolves that inhabit southwestern New Mexico.

“It’s past time for Wildlife Services to start grappling with 21st century science showing killing wildlife in hopes of preventing livestock losses doesn’t work, is often counterproductive, horribly inhumane, and robs native ecosystems of critically important apex carnivores,” said Jennifer Schwartz, staff attorney at WildEarth Guardians. “We’re glad our settlement kickstarts this process, while affording New Mexico’s wildlife some reprieve from the government’s archaic and cruel killing practices.”

The settlement agreement, finalized on March 11, 2021, includes multiple temporary provisions that will soon become permanent parts of New Mexico law as the result of the enactment of the Wildlife Conservation and Public Safety Act (“Roxy’s Law”) earlier this month. Roxy’s Law—championed by WildEarth Guardians and its allies in the TrapFree New Mexico coalition—bans the use of traps, snares, and poisons, on all public lands in the state of New Mexico. While Roxy’s Law is set to go into effect on April 1, 2022, the settlement agreement ensures that Wildlife Services refrains from using these devices on public lands immediately.

“The past several weeks have seen incredible wins for New Mexico’s native wildlife,” said Chris Smith, southern Rockies wildlife advocate for WildEarth Guardians. “With the climate crisis, drought, and human expansion all taking a toll on our state’s biodiversity, it’s time we stop seeing wildlife as something that needs to be killed and culled and instead see it as something that deserves protection and respect.”

Wildlife Services is culpable of killing thousands of animals in New Mexico each year including coyotes, cougars, prairie dogs, several varieties of fox, and even endangered Mexican gray wolves. Per federal law, Wildlife Services must use up-to-date studies and the best available science to analyze the environmental impact of their animal damage control program on New Mexico’s wildlife and native ecosystems. Under the agreement, Wildlife Services must provide an environmental analysis of the effects and risks of its wildlife-killing program in New Mexico by December 31, 2021.

The settlement agreement also requires Wildlife Services to significantly increase its overall transparency with the public by documenting and releasing—via its state website—detailed yearly reports of its wildlife “damage control” practices. This includes the number and type of animals captured and by which method, the number of requests for assistance and the reason given (livestock protection, health and safety, nuisance, etc.), and types of non-lethal preventative measures employed by Wildlife Services or the party requesting lethal control. This type of detailed information has previously only been available through formal Freedom of Information Act requests, which typically take many months, if not years, for USDA to fulfill.

“A public reporting requirement will compel Wildlife Services to be held accountable to the general public for its actions,” said Schwartz. “We hope that this motivates Wildlife Services to employ practices in line with the values of the public and embrace the use of scientifically verified non-lethal conflict prevention.”

BackgroundWildlife Services is a multimillion-dollar federal program that uses painful leghold traps, strangulation snares, poisons and aerial gunning to kill wolves, coyotes, cougars, birds, and other wild animals. Most of the killing responds to requests from the agriculture industry.

The program reported killing more than 433,000 native animals nationwide in 2020. Nontarget animals, including pets and protected wildlife like wolves, grizzlies and eagles, are also at risk from the program’s indiscriminate methods.

Over the last five years, litigation by WildEarth Guardians and partners against Wildlife Services has resulted in settlement agreements and legal victories in Idaho, Montana, California, Nevada, Oregon, Washington, and New Mexico, all curbing the program’s slaughter of native wildlife and making the program accountable for its activities.

https://wildearthguardians.org/press-releases/wildearth-guardians-scores-big-protections-for-wildlife-in-new-mexico/

50 exotic cats seized from Tiger King Park were relocated to Colorado

theknow.denverpost.com

A young tiger relaxes in his open enclosures at the Wild Animal Sanctuary on April 1, 2020 in Kennesburg, Colorado. These tigers are among 45 animals the sanctuary rescued from Joe Exotic’s Greater Wynnewood Animal Park in Florida. (Helen H. Richardson, The Denver Post)

The majority of the exotic animals seized this year by federal agents from a park made infamous by the “Tiger King” docu-series now reside in Colorado.

Pat Craig, executive director of the Wild Animal Sanctuary in Keenesburg, said that since January, his facility has taken in 50 animals from the Tiger King Park in Thackerville, Okla. That includes 10 tiger cubs with four mothers that were seized in January, and 36 adult lions, tigers and liligers — a hybrid lion and liger — that were seized this month.

The Wild Animal Sanctuary was already home to 39 tigers and three bears previously moved from Greater Wynnewood Exotic Animal Park, which was owned by Joseph Maldonado-Passage, a.k.a. Joe Exotic, who starred in Netflix’ “Tiger King.” The Colorado sanctuary was in charge of physically removing all of the animals seized in this most recent raid, including ones that went to other sanctuaries, Craig said.

Sixty-eight big cats total were seized in May, according to NPR.

RELATED: Where are the tigers from “Tiger King” now? Many of them live in Colorado, just 45 minutes from Denver.

Tiger King Park is owned by Jeff and Lauren Lowe, who were featured in the namesake documentary. Jeff Lowe was put in charge of Maldonado-Passage’s exotic animal park after the owner was sentenced to 22 years in prison for his role in a murder-for-hire plot. The park was eventually closed — under disputed circumstances, according to Men’s Health — and Lowe announced plans for a new one in Thackerville, near the border of Oklahoma and Texas.

According to NPR, the Justice Department sued the Lowes in November for allegedly violating the Endangered Species Act and the Animal Welfare Act. The couple is accused of exhibiting the animals without a license and failing to adequately care for them.

An affidavit said, “inspectors found that the animals were receiving a nutritionally deficient diet, inadequate and untimely veterinary care, and insufficient shelter from the weather” during welfare checks conducted since December of 2020, NPR reported.

Located on a 789-acre tract of land in Weld County, the Wild Animal Sanctuary is a nonprofit organization that began housing animals rescued from Maldonado-Passage’s Oklahoma compound as early as 2017. The company also operates the Wild Animal Refuge on more than 9,600 acres in Springfield, Colo. and a Wild Animal Sanctuary on 41 acres in Boyd, Texas.

The company currently cares for more than 650 lions, tigers, bears and wolves, according to its website.

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“Searching for the Blue-throated Macaw: Cerrado Birding Walk in Barba Azul Nature Reserve, Bolivia”