Petition: Kill California’s Ivory Market, Save Endangered Elephants

Every 15 minutes, an elephant is killed for its tusks. The entire wild species could go extinct as early as 2025. The ivory market is to blame.

President Obama has a plan. But there are loopholes. Currently, California ivory dealers can still legally sell elephant ivory because of one loophole: intentional mislabeling. Elephant ivory is being passed off as wooly mammoth, cow bone, etc.

The United States and California matter.

After China, the United States is the second largest ivory consumer.

After New York, California — particularly Los Angeles and San Francisco — has the second largest ivory market in the country. California also facilities the international export of ivory.

According to a Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) press release, http://www.nrdc.org/media/2015/150107a.asp investigations revealed that there are 100 ivory vendors and the Bay Area sells 1,200 ivory items.And this isn’t exactly legal ivory.

Los Angeles’ ivory:

— Between 77 – 90 percent of the ivory seen was likely illegal under California law

— Between 47 – 60 percent could have been illegal under federal law

San Francisco’s ivory:

— Roughly 80 percent of the ivory was likely illegal under California law

— 52 percent could have been illegal under federal law

But there’s a way to close the loophole.

San Diego’s Assembly Speaker Toni Atkins has proposed Assembly Bill 96 — the bill would ban all sales of material resembling ivory animals,  including: elephants, wooly mammoths, wart hogs and whales. Atkins believes we can save thousands of elephants (and endangered rhinos, for that matter) by closing this loophole and closing the ivory market in California for good.

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http://linkis.com/thepetitionsite.com/4wVEQ

If you are Oregon resident please take action to help us end the war on wildlife and score a win against brutality and cruelty!

wg.convio.net

Join Guardians in the fight to ban wildlife killing contests in Oregon

Ask your Oregon state representative for a total ban of the senseless blood sport

Dear Guardian,

The bill to ban coyote killing contests in Oregon has moved from committee and will get a floor vote in the House of Representatives! Guardians needs your voice to get this bill from the Oregon House to the Senate. Urge your state representative to step up and end this cruelty by voting yes on HB-2728, a total ban on coyote killing contests in the Beaver State.

Completely devoid of ethics, wildlife killing contests are organized events in which participants compete for prizes by attempting to kill the most animals over a certain time period. It’s a disgusting practice in which the winners are rewarded for piling up the most or biggest animals or even killing the most different kinds of species. This rule would only ban contests for coyotes specifically and would not change general hunting laws.

Killing contests aren’t sport. They’re gratuitous violence.

They also send the message that animals, like coyotes, are disposable, killing them only for fun is OK and life is cheap. These wildlife killing contests disrupt natural processes and may also put threatened or endangered species in peril. Clearly, they have no place in 21st century humane, science-based wildlife management.

The good news is that seven states—Washington, Arizona, New Mexico, California, Vermont, Massachusetts, and Colorado—have already banned or severely restricted coyote killing contests. Now we have an opportunity to end these killing competitions in Oregon.

If you are an Oregon resident, take action to help us end the war on wildlife and score a win against brutality and cruelty.

For the Wild,

Samantha Bruegger, Wildlife Coexistence Campaigner

Share this message with friends and family

WildEarth Guardians protects and restores the wildlife, wild places, wild rivers, and health of the American West.

http://wg.convio.net/site/MessageViewer?current=true&em_id=27418.0

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

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

www.dailymail.co.uk

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

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

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

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

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

Click here to resize this module

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Petition: Get Botswana To Reinstate The Band On Elephant Hunting!

www.change.org

I am demanding that Botswana reinstates their ban on elephant hunting. Botswana is a conservation hub and has been a beautiful success story. The elephant population in Botswana ranges form 130,000 to 160,00, the most in Africa. Botswana is home to 1/3 of the decreasing elephant population. Mokgweetsi Masisi, the president, has just lifted the ban on elephant hunting today on May 23rd 2019. This will result in large elephant culls and decrease the population quickly and quietly. We need to call for action, and be the voice elephants don’t have. Elephants are animals capable of grief and love and they mourn like humans. We cannot be the generation that lets these magnificent, prehistoric creatures, go extinct in front of our eyes. PLEASE SIGN! Every voice counts. 

Today: katia is counting on you

katia goldberg needs your help with “Mokgweetsi Masisi: GET BOTSWANA TO REINSTATE THE BAN ON ELEPHANT HUNTING!”. Join katia and 17,164 supporters today.

https://www.change.org/p/mokgweetsi-masisi-get-botswana-to-reinstate-the-ban-on-elephant-hunting

Petition Urgent Action Needed… As Botswana Plans To Allow The Hunting Of 287 Elephants At The Beginning Of April

Botswana has just announced plans to allow the hunting of 287 elephants beginning next month, causing worldwide outrage among conservationists.

World Animal News

Karen Lapizco 5 hours ago

This shocking news comes a week after the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) announced that the African forest elephant was now listed as Critically Endangered, and the African savanna elephant was listed as Endangered on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. The decision was made because of the decline in elephant populations over several decades due to poaching for ivory and loss of habitat.

The latest assessments by the IUCN highlights a broadscale decline in African elephant numbers across the continent. The number of African forest elephants fell by more than 86% over a period of 31 years, while the population of African savanna elephants decreased by at least 60% over the last 50 years, according to the assessments.

According to the Department of Wildlife and National Parks, the hunting season is scheduled to begin on April 6th in Botswana, which has the largest elephant population in the world, estimated at 130,000. One hundred hunting licenses are to be issued, including 187 that were issued during last year’s season.

Despite President Mokgweetsi Masisi lifting Botswana’s hunting ban last year, many animals were thankfully spared due to strict travel restrictions from COVID-19. Now that restrictions are being lifted, the government wants to resume “business as usual” to continue their cruel, archaic, and outdated industry.

In February, WAN reported on the controversial auction of 170 wild elephants in Namibia, where elephant populations are estimated to be only 24,000. It is sickening that these countries continue to auction off endangered species as they inch closer to extinction. We must take action and speak out to stop these atrocities from continuing.

Please call the office of the President of Botswana to urge him to reinstate the ban on hunting at +267 365 0837 or email gpitso@gov.be

Contact the Botswana Democratic Party at +267 395 2564

You can also sign the petition HERE!

Categories: Breaking News, News Tags: Animal News, Animal Protection, Animal Welfare, Botswana, Elephants, endangered, hunting

World Animal News

https://worldanimalnews.com/urgent-action-needed-as-botswana-plans-to-allow-the-hunting-of-287-elephants-at-the-beginning-of-april-after-species-is-listed-as-critically-endangered/amp/?__twitter_impression=true

Amid hunting expansion, ban on wolf trapping upheld in Blaine

www.mtexpress.com

Wolf trapping has long been illegal in the Wood River Valley—and it will stay that way, the Idaho Fish and Game Commission decided in a season-setting meeting last week.

Since Jan. 28, the commission had been weighing a proposal from two sportsmen’s groups seeking to reinstate wolf trapping in Blaine County. The groups—the Idaho Trappers Association and the Foundation for Wildlife Management—also asked to expand private-land wolf hunting in the Wood River Valley from 11 months to year-round, opening up the month of July to hunters.

While the groups’ first request was denied, its second was granted Thursday. The commission had previously expanded wolf hunting from 11 to 12 months across much of the state last spring, and it continued that trajectory last week in 28 game units.

In Blaine County’s Game Units 48 and 49, located on either side of state Highway 75, the commission upheld the current 11-month public-land wolf hunt while moving to a year-round private-land hunt. Twenty-four game units, including Unit 36—which encompasses Galena Summit, Stanley and much of the Sawtooth Mountains—moved to year-round wolf hunts on both public and private land.

Local public discourse leading up to last week’s meeting was largely focused on the trapping aspect of the sportsmen’s groups’ proposal. Over 300 comments were sent to Fish and Game opposing trapping in the Wood River Valley, according to Sarah Michael, chairwoman of the Wood River Wolf Project. Several local representatives traveled to Nampa to give in-person testimony before the commission on March 17, including Rep. Muffy Davis, D-Ketchum, and Blaine County Commissioner Dick Fosbury.

“Wolf trapping is not coexistence, and is not welcome on lands surrounding our community,” Hailey Mayor Martha Burke wrote in a February letter to the commission.

On March 9, the Blaine County commissioners passed a resolution asking the commission to keep wolf trapping out of the Wood River Valley, citing its threat to trail users and the overall recreational economy. The resolution also asked Fish and Game not to expand wolf hunting locally and to “work cooperatively” with the Wolf Project, an organization that collaborates with ranchers in Blaine County to reduce wolf-livestock conflicts using nonlethal means.

Sarah Michael

Wolf Project anticipates sheep migration

With its 14th season drawing closer, the Wolf Project met over Zoom last Friday to discuss two new spring and summer programs.

Starting next month—provided that it raises the remaining half of its funding goal of $3,500—the project will partner with high school students to place wildlife cameras throughout remote sections of Blaine County. The camera footage will provide real-time information on the movement of wolves throughout the region, giving nearby livestock producers the chance to prepare for and avoid potential conflicts with the predators.

Kurt Holtzen, a project volunteer who spent years tracking wolves in the Greater Yellowstone ecosystem, will train students on proper camera placement and assist them with footage retrieval. As time allows, participants will be introduced to wolf biologists and meet with Idaho Department of Fish and Game representatives, Michael said.

“We’ll be getting kids involved in wildlife issues out in the backcountry, gathering intelligence and locating wolves before the sheep come on. It will be a hands-on predator-wildlife coexistence program,” she said.

The Wolf Project is also working with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to bring on a nighttime range rider as additional backup this summer as bands of sheep begin their migration into the mountains, she said. The hope is that the camera project will determine where the night rider is most needed.

In April, Michael added, the project will assess whether it has enough funding to hire a second field technician, who would join Logan Miller in monitoring wolves and providing sheepherders with nonlethal tools to reduce conflict.

“I think we’re at a point in time—talking about night riders, working with Wildlife Services and other agencies—where we can feel optimistic,” project member Larry Schoen said. “I really appreciate the fact that Sarah’s 50-mile-an-hour level of energy is breathing new life into this effort.”

https://www.mtexpress.com/news/environment/amid-hunting-expansion-ban-on-wolf-trapping-upheld-in-blaine/article_bf0dd4e6-8c35-11eb-99a0-271fe0f9d83a.html

Update on trapping laws

A Life Without Water

Published on the 24th of October, 2014NewsWilderness Journal A Life Without Water

What’s the longest you have ever gone without water?

This unique-looking antelope, called a gerenuk can survive its entire life without ever taking a drink of water.

Instead, the gerenuk derives water from the foliage that it eats. To better reach this foliage it has evolved a long, slender neck upon which is perched a disproportionately small head. Its eyes and ears, however, are proportional to the rest of its body giving it a comical, somewhat alien appearance.

The gerenuk’s large eyelashes and sensory hairs on its muzzle and ears allow it to carefully navigate through thorny bushes without getting scratched. In addition to having an extra long neck it is also able to stand on two legs and reach even further to the tops of shrubs and bushes. This is facilitated by stronger-than-normal lumbar vertebrae and powerful hind legs. This way they can reach tender shoots up to six and a half feet off the ground. The name Gerenuk is of Somali origin, meaning giraffe-necked. They are found in Somalia, but also in southern Djibouti and much of Kenya’s arid North as well as throughout Tsavo in the East. Aerial surveys have shown that their densities are higher in drier areas and especially in areas further from permanent water sources. This way they reduce competition with other browsers that are more water-dependant.

Gerenuks conserve water with uniquely adapted nasal passages, which prevent evaporative loss. They also have very highly concentrated urine, and aside from short, quick bursts to escape predators they are very sedentary animals, preferring to stand in place or browse.

They are somewhat social, but prefer to stay in small groups. In Tsavo, they are commonly seen alone, but will often form groups of up to five individuals. The largest herd of gerenuks reported in Tsavo is twelve, but it is very rare to see more than five together. In more arid areas and in Somalia, however, larger groups are more common, with 2-8 being frequently reported and as many as 25-30 individuals aggregating when foliage is flush.

The David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust rescued an orphaned gerenuk named Nuk last year who has since rejoined the wild. He still comes to visit from time to time and in the mornings and evenings he is often sighted on the airstrip with a herd of impalas that he has taken a liking to. The Trust is holding on to hope that he will one day catch the scent of a wild female nearby and start a family of his own. There are indeed wild gerenuk nearby and it should be a matter of time before he finds a mate.

The David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust, known as Sheldrick Wildlife Trust, is a charity in Kenya, a registered charity in England

and Wales number 1103836, and is supported by The David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust USA, Inc. a 501(c)3 in the United States (EIN 30-0224549)

Copyright © 2020, The David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust. All Rights Reserved.

https://www.sheldrickwildlifetrust.org/news/wilderness/giraffe-necked-antelope

The red-headed woodpecker and a list of crazy nicknames

Rest in Peace Milo

How Long Do Birds Live?

Bird Calls Black-and-White Warbler, Dennis W. Donohue/Shutterstock

BirdCalls

News and Perspectives on Bird Conservation

John C. Mittermeier January 29, 2021

How long do birds live? Whether you want to ace this question at your next bird-themed trivia challenge or just impress someone spontaneously, here’s the answer: Birds can live between four and 100 years, depending on the species.

While it may win you trivia points, this answer may raise more questions than it resolves: Why is there such a range of lifespans? Which birds live the longest? Can some birds really live to be 100?

Answering these questions proves to be surprisingly hard. In many cases, the seemingly simple question of how old is that bird can be impossible to answer.

By learning a few basic facts about how birds age, however, we can gain some interesting insights into bird lifespans and even begin to understand which of the familiar species around us are likely to be living longer (and shorter) lives.

Wisdom, a 69-year-old female Laysan Albatross, currently holds the record as the oldest-known wild bird. Photo by USFWS

Birds don’t age like we do

As humans, we’re accustomed to using visual hints to guess the age of someone or something. The neighbor’s dog with flecks of gray fur and a stiff walk is obviously getting up in years. That huge gnarled tree in the park must have been there for decades.

Birds are different. They don’t get gray; they don’t become arthritic; they don’t get bigger with each passing year; they don’t leave growth rings for us to count.

In fact, once most birds develop their adult plumage, they essentially become impossible to age.

How birds are able to accomplish this remarkable feat is not yet fully understood, but it probably has to do with how their bodies process oxygen and the proteins associated with metabolism.

The reality that birds don’t show physical signs of aging creates a challenge for understanding how long they live: If we can’t age adult birds, how can we study their lifespans?

Cookie, a Pink Cockatoo, lived to the age of 83, making her the world’s longest-living bird. Photo by Brookfield Zoo/Flickr

What we know (and don’t know) about the oldest birds in the world

If you Google “longest-lived bird,” you will find multiple claims of birds that lived for over 100 years. Some birds may have even lived to be 120!

Take these claims with a grain of salt.

These records depend on knowing when a bird hatched, a fact we usually do not have if the bird was born in the wild. Also, as with fishing stories, bird fanciers sometimes exaggerate how long their birds live.

According to Guinness World Records, the oldest confirmed bird is “Cookie,” a Pink, or Major Mitchell’s, Cockatoo that lived to the age of 83 at the Brookfield Zoo near Chicago.

Some birds have almost certainly lived to be older than 83 (hence the upper range of the trivia answer), but for now, we do not yet have definitive confirmation of an avian centenarian.

It is usually difficult to age wild birds

As the claims for the title of “world’s oldest bird” demonstrate, accurately aging birds, even in captivity, is challenging. For wild birds, it is even harder. There’s the obvious problem that wild birds are difficult to keep track of. In almost all cases, it is impossible to know when exactly an individual bird began or ended its life. Furthermore, animals in the wild lead very different lives from those in captivity and the insights gained from captive individuals may not always be relevant to those in the wild. 

Our knowledge of birds’ lifespans in the wild comes almost entirely from bird banding. The theory behind this technique is simple: If you catch a bird that has already been banded, you can confirm its age — or at least the time elapsed since it was originally caught.

In practice, though, aging birds from banding is more complicated than it seems. Only a small percentage of banded birds are ever observed again, and if they were adults when they were first banded, their starting age is unknown.

How long do birds live for? The answer is: It depends. Red-tailed Hawks can live up to 30 years.

Red-tailed Hawks have been recorded living up to 30 years. Photo by Stanislav Duben/Shutterstock

Relatively speaking, birds live a long time

While there is still a lot to learn about how long birds live in the wild, one thing is clear: Many birds live much longer than we might expect.

Life expectancy in the animal world generally correlates with metabolic rate. In mammals, this is often linked to body size: Big mammals with slower metabolisms generally live longer lives; small ones with faster metabolisms live shorter lives. Humans, for example, live longer than dogs and cats, which live longer than mice and hamsters. (As is often the case with these generalized patterns, there are exceptions.)

Many birds are small and have extremely high metabolic rates. So, we would expect birds to be relatively short-lived. But they aren’t.

On the contrary, many birds live an extraordinarily long time, particularly when compared to similar-sized mammals. For example, under ideal conditions in captivity, a House Mouse can live four years. Meanwhile, a Broad-billed Hummingbird (a quarter the size of the mouse) can live up to 14 years in the wild.

There is no single answer to the question 'How long do birds live for?' Different owl species live for varying lengths of time.

Barn Swallows have been recorded living 16 years, enough time for these prodigious travelers to have traveled roughly half the distance to the moon during their annual migrations. European Goldfinches can live up to 27 years. Common Ravens are known to have lived 69 years, more than twice as long as the oldest-known dog.

As with their lack of physical aging, we are also still learning how birds are able to live so long with their super-fast metabolisms. The answers may offer clues to understanding aging in our own species.

One important point to keep in mind: Just because birds can live a long time doesn’t necessarily mean that all individuals of the species do live that long. Similar to us humans (who have been recorded living to 122), most individuals will have shorter lives than those at the extreme.

The question of how long do birds live is complicated. Wild Turkeys can live up to 15 years.

The oldest recorded Wild Turkey lived for 15 years. Photo by Paul Tessier/Shutterstock

Clues for identifying the longer (and shorter) lived birds around you

For those of us watching birds at our feeders or birding in the field, it will almost always be impossible to accurately age individual wild birds once they are adults. But we can begin to understand which of the bird species around us are likely to be longer (and shorter) lived.

Longer lifespan is often associated with features of a bird’s biology and natural history. Here are five characteristics that can help us make an educated guess about which species are likely to be longer-lived:

  1. Body size. On average, larger species tend to live longer than smaller species.
  • Number of chicks. Birds with longer lifespans often have fewer young, while those with shorter lifespans tend to have more.
  • Years to reach adulthood. Shorter-lived species tend to reach adulthood more quickly than longer-lived species.
  • Life on the ground. Birds that live and nest on the ground have often adapted for shorter lifespans than those that live higher up, such as in the shelter of the tree canopy.
  • Island life. Birds that live and nest on islands are often longer-lived than their mainland counterparts.

Keeping these insights in mind, which do you think lives longer: A Wild Turkey or a Red-tailed Hawk?

To get started, here are a few basic facts: Turkeys are larger than Red-tails (up to 24 lbs. versus vs. 2.8 lbs.), have substantially more chicks (up to 17 eggs versus up to five eggs), reach adulthood more quickly (one year versus three years), and live on the ground.

If you chose the Red-tailed Hawk, you’re right. Red-tails have been recorded living up to 30 years, while the oldest recorded Wild Turkey was 15 years old.

In addition to these biological and ecological features, there is another factor that often predicts how long a bird species is known to live: How much people have studied it. In general, birds that have been better studied are more likely to have records of long-lived individuals. Given how difficult it is to age birds, this makes sense. It also shows how much there still is to learn about how long many bird species can live.

Longevity records for some familiar North American birds in the wild (based on banding data from the Patuxent Wildlife Research Center Bird Banding Laboratory). To see more records, take a look at our expanded wild bird longevity graph.SpeciesAgeMallard27 yearsElf Owl5 yearsAmerican Flamingo49 yearsLaysan Albatross68 yearsGreat Blue Heron24 yearsBald Eagle38 yearsSandhill Crane37 yearsAtlantic Puffin33 yearsGreat Horned Owl28 years

See if you can use what you know about the size and natural history of some of these familiar birds to notice patterns in their lifespans. Remember, not all of these characteristics are hard-and-fast rules, and sometimes patterns are influenced by how much we have studied a species. For more, check out the avian longevity records by species from the Patuxent Wildlife Research Center Bird Banding Laboratory.

Smaller owls like the Elf Owl can live up to five years; larger species, like the Great Horned Owl, can live to be nearly 30. Photos (left to right) by Terry Sohl and Brent Barnes/Shutterstock

Longevity and Conservation

Longer-lived birds often have fewer young each breeding season and take longer to reach adulthood. This means that their ability to successfully produce young can be dependent on each individual being able to live a long time. Wisdom, a 69-year-old female Laysan Albatross that currently holds the record as the oldest-known wild bird, may have produced as many as 36 chicks over the course of her life. If this seems like a lot, consider that a very productive female turkey might produce nearly that many chicks over the course of one or two years!

The slow-paced lifestyle of long-lived birds such as albatrosses can have important consequences for conservation. On islands, for example, where birds have long lifespans, the introduction of new threats such as invasive predators can have disastrous results.

ABC’s work to protect long-lived island-nesting birds such as the Hawaiian Petrel is one way we’re helping long-lived bird species continue to make the most of their slow and steady lifestyles.

ABC works to improve prospects for birds throughout the Americas and beyond. This means taking on human-caused challenges to birds including habitat loss, building collisions, pesticides, and climate change. Your support helps us achieve conservation for birds and their habitats.

Dr. Steve Austad generously offered advice for this blog. His book Methuselah’s Zoo, which focuses on aging in the animal world, comes out in 2021. John C. Mittermeier is the Director of Threatened Species Outreach at ABC. He works with ABC’s partners in Bolivia and helps to lead ABC’s lost birds and bird trade initiatives.

Copyright 2021 © American Bird Conservancy. All Rights Reserved. American Bird Conservancy is a 501(c)(3) organization. EIN: 52-1501259

https://c.sharethis.mgr.consensu.org/portal-v2.html

https://abcbirds.org/blog21/bird-longevity/

More Than 3,500 Turtles Are Rescued From Texas Cold

www.ecowatch.com

In particular, the freezing temperatures are cold stunning endangered sea turtles — making them so cold that they lose the ability to swim or feed.

“You could put a cold-stunned turtle in a half an inch of water and they’d drown,” Wendy Knight, executive director of conservation nonprofit Sea Turtle Inc., told The New York Times.

Turtles can become cold stunned when temperatures fall below 50 degrees Fahrenheit, according to The Washington Post. But that is unusual for South Padre Island, a beach town at the southern tip of Texas where Sea Turtle Inc. is located. Usually, volunteers might rescue dozens to hundreds of cold-stunned turtles. But by Tuesday, the group wrote on Facebook that they were caring for more than 2,500 turtles. By late Tuesday, more than 3,500 turtles had been rescued and brought to the town’s convention center, where they were being warmed in kiddie pools and tarps, The Washington Post reported.

The rescue involved a collective effort. Social media posts showed a retiree hauling turtles in the back of her car and Texas Game Wardens lining the deck of their ship with turtles.

Texas Game Wardens assigned to Cameron county rescued 141 sea turtles from the frigid waters of the Brownsville Shi… https://t.co/I9IFZwTqnl — Texas Game Warden (@Texas Game Warden)1613523864.0

“It is a huge, huge community effort,” Gina McLellan, a 71-year-old retired professor and volunteer, told The Washington Post. “We very often don’t even think about the [cold’s] impact on animals, because we’re so worried about our own electricity and water. With this kind of event, it’s a classic display of humanity toward animals.”

However, the turtles currently face the same problem as people: a lack of power. Knight said that Sea Turtle Inc. is still in the dark. The convention center they are using as an overflow space has generators, but sick or injured animals need the heated tanks only their fully powered hospital can provide.

“All of these efforts will be in vain if we do not soon get power restored,” Knight said in a Facebook video, reported HuffPost. “We need our power back on.”

It is also unclear how many of the rescued turtles will ultimately recover, volunteers told The Washington Post. Knight told The New York Times that the cold-stunning event could impact the turtles’ overall population. Five Texas sea turtle species are listed as threatened or endangered, according to the Fish and Wildlife Service.

The turtles aren’t the only ones harmed by the cold spell. At least 23 people have died in the winter storm that froze the south and central U.S., The New York Times reported. More than a dozen dogs were rescued from the cold near Houston, while one was found dead, according to The Washington Post. A chimpanzee, several lemurs and monkeys and many tropical birds died at an animal sanctuary near San Antonio after the facility lost power Monday morning, The San Antonio Express-News reported.

The sanctuary, Primarily Primates, evacuated some of the animals Monday night, but could not save them all.

“I’ve never faced a decision like this,” Executive Director Brooke Chavez told The San Antonio Express-News. “Having to decide who we can save, depending on the predictability of which animals we can catch.”

https://www.ecowatch.com/turtle-rescue-texas-2650597417.html?rebelltitem=1#rebelltitem1

Why Do Elephants Rarely Get Cancer?

FIREPAW, Inc.

The Foundation for Interdisciplinary Research and Education Promoting Animal Welfare [FIREPAW] is a 501 (c)(3) nonprofit research and education foundation

The rules of nature tell us that large, long-lived animals should have the highest risk of cancer. The calculation is simple: Tumors grow when genetic mutations cause individual cells to reproduce too quickly. A long life creates more opportunities for those cancerous mutations to arise. So, too, does a massive body: Big creatures — which have many more cells — should develop tumors more frequently. Why, then, does cancer rarely afflict elephants, with their long lifespans and gargantuan bodies? Scientists went looking for the answer…

The first discovery was that elephants possess extra copies of a wide variety of genes associated with tumor suppression.  But this phenomenon is not unique to elephants, so they pressed on for more information…

“One of the expectations is that as you get a really big body, your burden of cancer should increase because things with big bodies have more cells.  The fact that this isn’t true across species — a long-standing paradox in evolutionary medicine and cancer biology — indicates that evolution found a way to reduce cancer risk.”

-Vincent Lynch, PhD, assistant professor, Department of Biological Sciences, University at Buffalo College of Arts and Sciences

The research concluded that duplication of tumor suppressor genes is quite common among elephants’ living and extinct relatives, including in small ones like Cape golden moles (a burrowing animal) and elephant shrews (a long-nosed insectivore). The data suggest that tumor suppression capabilities preceded or coincided with the evolution of exceptionally big bodies, facilitating this development.

“We found that: Elephants have lots and lots and lots of extra copies of tumor suppressor genes, and they all contribute probably a little bit to cancer resistance.”

-Vincent Lynch, PhD, assistant professor, Department of Biological Sciences, University at Buffalo College of Arts and Sciences

The final analysis:  Elephants do have enhanced cancer protections, compared with relatives.  Though many elephant relatives harbor extra copies of tumor suppressor genes, the scientists found that elephant genomes possess some unique duplications that may contribute to tumor suppression through genes involved in DNA repair; resistance to oxidative stress; and cellular growth, aging and death.


Journal Reference:  Juan M Vazquez, Vincent J Lynch. Pervasive duplication of tumor suppressors in Afrotherians during the evolution of large bodies and reduced cancer risk. eLife, 2021; 10 DOI: 10.7554/eLife.65041


Elephants evolved to have enhanced protections against cancer

https://firepaw.org/2021/02/05/why-do-elephants-rarely-get-cancer-study/

What Do Owls Eat? 7 Facts About These Skilled Hunters

Erica J. Sánchez Vázquez October 29, 2020

Owls are quintessential creatures of the night (with a few exceptions mentioned below). Beautiful and formidable predators, they inspire admiration, fear, and a sense of mystery.

There are more than 200 species of owls around the world. They are divided into two families, Tytonidae (Barn Owls) and Strigidae, which includes all other owl species. Owls in both families have evolved outstanding hunting skills that allow them to catch their prey with quiet precision.

Great Horned Owl

Great Horned Owl by Alessandro Cancian/Shutterstock

With their superb hunting abilities, owls are truly fascinating. Here are some interesting facts about them that you might not know:

Exclusively Carnivorous

Owls eat other animals, from small insects such as moths or beetles, to large birds, even as large as an Osprey. A few species of owls mostly eat fish, such as Ketupa (fish-owl) and Scotopelia (fishing-owl) species, found in Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa, respectively. Owls spend much of their active time hunting for food. The Snowy Owl, for example, may have to try quite a few times, but can catch three to five lemmings a day.

Owls Cannot Chew

Like other birds, owls do not have teeth to chew their food. They use their sharp, hooked bills to tear the flesh of prey into pieces, often crushing their skulls and other bones. They can also swallow small prey whole, usually head-first. Any body parts that owls are not able to digest, such as bones and fur, are regurgitated hours later in the form of a pellet.

Barred Owl regurgitating pellet

A Barred Owl regurgitates a pellet. Original video by Justin Hoffman

Not All Owls Are Nocturnal Feeders

Although we typically associate them with the night, some owls are diurnal, or active during the day. Species in northern latitudes, such as Snowy Owls, must be able to hunt throughout the continuously bright days of summer. In western mountain forests, Northern Pygmy-Owls hunt small birds during the day, and although they mostly hunt at night, Burrowing Owls are often seen outside their burrows in daylight. Some others are crepuscular, active during the twilight hours of dawn and dusk.

Guided by Sound

Mostly nocturnal, owls rely on outstanding hearing abilities to find their prey in the darkness. Barn Owls, for example, are able to locate small animals hiding in vegetation by using their auditory sense alone. The Great Gray Owl (in the video below) can find prey under almost a foot of snow. Owls’ flat faces work like dish antennas — the feathers around the face direct soundwaves to their ears, which are hidden on the sides. Many owl species also have a slight asymmetry in ear position, which helps them determine target distance.https://www.youtube.com/embed/w4OH6gMN6vY?autoplay=1&enablejsapi=1&origin=https%3A%2F%2Fabcbirds.org

Bountiful Years Bring Lots of Chicks

The amount of food available affects owls’ reproduction. While Barn Owls typically lay four to seven eggs, they have been known to lay as many as 12 during years with high rodent populations. In years of food scarcity, however, some owls might refrain from breeding altogether.

Stealthy Hunters

The flight of owls is nearly silent, which allows them to approach and then pounce on unsuspecting targets. Because the wings’ surface area is larger than most birds in proportion to body mass, they can glide more slowly without stalling and dropping to the ground. Their feathers also play a role – their shape and soft texture help muffle the sound of the owl’s flight.

Owls’ Water Needs

Owls can drink, but they mostly get their water needs met by the animals they eat. During metabolism, the hydrogen contained in the animals’ fat gets oxidized, yielding around one gram of water for every gram of fat. During northern winters, owls sometimes may be seen eating snow.

Protecting Owls

While owls’ extraordinary hunting skills and nocturnal habits are the stuff of legend, the dangers they face are often overlooked. Threats like habitat losspesticides, and vehicle collisions have already sent a third of all owl species in the United States into decline.

The Northern Spotted Owl (a subspecies of the Spotted Owl) has been protected by the Endangered Species Act since 1990, and six additional owl species have been placed on Partners in Flight‘s Yellow Watch List, indicating the need for conservation action.

American Bird Conservancy and other organizations are taking a multipronged approach to helping owls by improving key habitat, banning dangerous pesticides, and pushing for improved protections.


Erica J. Sánchez Vázquez is ABC’s Digital Content Manager


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https://abcbirds.org/blog20/seven-facts-owls-eating-habits/

Petition: Time to defund Wildlife Services

wg.convio.net

Dear Guardian,

As we endure a multitude of crises and injustices across the United States, the systemic failure of many of the country’s institutions has become glaringly apparent. The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Wildlife Services is one of these failing institutions.

A misnomer, Wildlife Services is anything but helpful to wildlife. Instead, Wildlife Services is a federally-funded wildlife killing program that slaughters native wild animals, almost exclusively at the behest of the livestock industry.

During this time of mass extinction, the killing of over 1 million wild animals annually is not only unjustifiable, it is reckless, particularly when this slaughter involves species that are critical players in delicate ecosystems.

In 2019, alone, Wildlife Services killed approximately 62,000 coyotes, 25,000 beavers, 14,000 prairie dogs (plus 27,000 dens), as well as hundreds of wolves, cougars, bobcats, and many other keystone species that are essential for healthy ecosystems. You can see the astounding level of destruction across the American West by Wildlife Services on our new map.

There are numerous scientifically-proven, cost-effective, nonlethal options for wildlife coexistence. Moreover, nonlethal solutions like range riding and electric fencing have been proven more effective than pre-emptively gunning down thousands of coyotes from an airplane prior to grazing season. Incredibly, even though Wildlife Services has these non-lethal options available, only a small portion of its more than $100 million federal budget is restricted for non-lethal management.

We need your help to curb this rogue wildlife killing program. No congressionally-appropriated, taxpayer funds should continue to be used for Wildlife Services to wastefully kill native animals, especially in a time of mass extinction.

Join WildEarth Guardians in demanding that Congress restrict taxpayer dollars going to Wildlife Services to only be used for non-lethal management practices.

http://wg.convio.net/site/MessageViewer?current=true&em_id=27186.0

Petition · Ministry of Environment and Forests Kerala,India: Humane treatment of enslaved elephants in Kerala, India · Change.org

Suji Roy started this petition to Adv. K. Raju, Minister of Forests Ministry of Environment and Forests , Adv. K. Raju and 6 others

Please raise your voices on behalf of the elephants shackled with spikes, beaten and tortured in India so they may be treated better and their treatment monitored by an international body even if their freedom can’t be obtained.

In India, there are 1000s of elephants chained with spikes, tortured with bull hooks, semi-starved and  suffering, working in the logging industry, begging on the streets, working as tourist slaves to entertain tourists and give them rides and chained in temples. They are captured from the wild, born into slavery or orphaned, tortured into submission in training camps with bullhooks and worse.  These elephants are often walked for hundreds of kilometers on hot roads injuring their feet for life. Here is one of many articles that you can read to get an intro into the suffering of these elephants of India  https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3199391/Tortured-tourists-Chained-spot-20-years-Beaten-submission-secret-jungle-training-camps-terrible-plight-Indian-elephants-LIZ-JONES.html

The possibility of all of these suffering elephants of India being freed is next to nil. Therefore. we ask for the following:

1) Humane treatment of captive elements

2) Proper census of all captive elephants

3) Periodic monitoring (at least once in 6 months) of all captive elephants by the Government of India and international agencies to ensure these elephants receive  proper food, water and medical treatment, are not over worked. Ensure detailed annual reports on these elephants are made publicly available.

4) Banning of bull hooks and spiked chains.

https://www.change.org/p/ministry-of-environment-and-forests-kerala-india-humane-treatment-of-enslaved-elephants-in-kerala-india?signed=true

Take Action, Sign a Petition | The Rainforest Site, a GreaterGood project

Reverse the Damage the Trump Administration has done to the Migratory Bird Treaty Act

Sponsor: The Animal Rescue Site

Reverse the Damage the Trump Administration has done to the Migratory Bird Treaty Act


Executive Branch decisions have all but neutralized the Migratory Bird Treaty Act in the last few years, despite a court ruling that its position is against the law and will increase preventable bird deaths. A final blow to the MBTA was dealt by a rule that allows companies and individuals to kill migratory birds as long as “they didn’t mean to1.”

Any industrial activities, including oil waste pits, oil spills, power lines, tailings ponds, and others, will now be exempt from the law1.

This rule comes at a time when scientists have raised alarm over the loss of 3 billion North American birds during the past 50 years. It would end enforcement against incidental take of birds–the predictable and preventable killing of birds by industrial practices–even though last summer a federal judge struck down the Interior Department legal opinion that the new rule seeks to codify2.

The MBTA covers more than 1,000 species, some which are already dwindling to the point of becoming endangered. This measure could lead to billions of bird deaths as they crash into power lines and buildings, or get trapped in oil pits3.

National Audubon Society President David Yarnold said the potential fallout from this decision is largely being ignored at an already trying time in U.S. history.

Birds are being harmed as nesting grounds are destroyed to make way for new developments. In Virginia, 25,000 shorebirds were displaced to make way for a road and tunnel project. State officials had ended conservation measures for the birds after federal officials advised such measures were voluntary under the new interpretation of the law3.

The National Audubon Society and chapters across the country helped pass this bird protection law in 1918. Since then, innumerable species have been saved from extinction. But climate change and habitat destruction have made it even harder to conserve North American bird species. Since 1970 more than 3 billion birds have disappeared, while two-thirds of our bird species are at risk of going extinct4.

Without the MBTA, we could lose many more birds, and if the Trump Administrations’ changes to the MBTA are withheld, we surely will.

Sign the petition below and tell the Administrator of the EPA to restore the MBTA in full, reinstating penalties for companies and individuals who violate this important law.

The Petition:

Dear, Aurelia Skipwith, Director of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service,

Three billion North American birds have vanished since 1970 and many more will soon disappear forever if the Migratory Bird Treaty Act is not restored.

The Audubon Society and many others were responsible for writing the MBTA back in 1918. It’s helped bring many birds back from the brink of extinction. Rule changes administered by the Trump Administration have rendered it ineffective, however.To Top

https://therainforestsite.greatergood.com/clickToGive/trs/petition/restore-the-mbta?utm_source=trs-ta-enviro&utm_medium=email&utm_term=01182021&utm_content=takeaction-A0&utm_campaign=petition-restore-the-mbta&oidp=0x4a568a63ec7cab2cc0a82937

They want to be with their family not hugged by us

Support Virginia’s Groundbreaking Steps to Protect Migratory Birds!

abcbirds.org

I am writing to express my support for the proposed regulation on incidental take of migratory birds, 4VAC15-30-70. Thank you for leading the Commonwealth toward a commonsense plan to protect migratory birds.

This much-needed regulation will be a win-win for everyone. In addition to the many benefits of bird conservation, this will provide regulatory clarity for industry.

I have been dismayed at the last three years of regulatory rollbacks at the federal level. This has left our already-diminished birds at even greater risk. I am encouraged to see the Commonwealth step in to fill this regulatory void.

I offer one very important suggestion: That the overarching goal be clarified to achieve no net loss of migratory birds for regulated activities. Please require industry to provide compensation for its impact to birds, no matter the permit level. By requiring compensation for all permits, we can offset the continued loss of our declining bird populations.

Again, thank you for taking this important step to protect the birds of Virginia and beyond.

https://abcbirds.org/action/virginia-incidental-take-regulation/

No traps on public lands

PETITION: Justice for 500 Deer and Wild Boar Massacred in Walled-In Farm

ladyfreethinker.org

Image Credit: Twitter/Alberto Mancebo

PETITION TARGET: Portuguese Ambassador Domingos Fezas Vital

Stuck inside a fenced-in “hunting zone,” over 500 deer and wild boar desperately attempted to flee for their lives, watching as animals around them collapsed to their deaths from gunshots.

The massacre, led by 16 Spanish hunters, took place on a farm in Torrebela, where tourists are welcome to “hunt” trapped animals, according to BBC.

Horrifying images of the slaughter’s aftermath are going viral on social media, inciting outrage and demands for justice among activists and public officials, including Portugal’s Environment Minister João Fernandes.

An onslaught of this magnitude grossly exceeds the alleged purpose of allowing hunting as a means of animal population control. And killing caged animals who have no chance to escape is simply despicable.

There is no excuse for the mass killing of wildlife, and this heartbreaking incident must not go unchecked. Sign this petition urging Portuguese Ambassador Domingos Fezas Vital to push for a full investigation of this appalling event, the thorough prosecution of all perpetrators, and new hunting laws that protect animals from being slaughtered in confined areas.

https://ladyfreethinker.org/sign-justice-for-500-deer-and-wild-boar-massacred-at-walled-in-farm/?utm_source=Newsletter&utm_medium=Email

The Golden Eagle

National Eagles Day

Tell Chevron: No oil drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge

environmental-action.webaction.org

The Arctic National Wildlife Refuge is a safe haven for polar bears, caribou, wolves and millions of migratory birds — to name just a few of the species that depend on it. It’s one of the last places we should be drilling for oil and gas.

Drilling would exact a tremendous cost on this beautiful wilderness and the wildlife that call it home. It would also be a risky and expensive proposition for your company.

I’m calling on Chevron to pledge not to drill in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.

The Arctic National Wildlife Refuge is a safe haven for polar bears, caribou, wolves and millions of migratory birds — to name just a few of the species that depend on it. It’s one of the last places we should be drilling for oil and gas.

Drilling would exact a tremendous cost on this beautiful wilderness and the wildlife that call it home. It would also be a risky and expensive proposition for your company.

I’m calling on Chevron to pledge not to drill in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.

https://environmental-action.webaction.org/p/dia/action4/common/public/?action_KEY=41303&supporter_KEY=1220798&uid=0d0236e6916ce0fdcb06085fe49b10fc&utm_source=salsa&utm_medium=email&tag=email_blast:88174&utm_campaign=EAC4-FCNS:SPECPLCCNS:ARCTICSPEC-0121&utm_content=EM9:00C:0HH-DCP

Petition: Outlaw Cruel Dog Hunting Where Foxes Are Torn to Shreds

ladyfreethinker.org

Representative Image via Wikimedia Commons/David John Crawford

PETITION TARGET: South Antrim MLA, Chair of the Assembly’s All-Party Group on Animal Welfare John Blair  

In Northern Ireland, foxes continue to be lawfully torn to shreds by dogs for sport — enduring prolonged suffering from multiple bites, tears, and wounds on the way to their slow, bloody and painful deaths. 

But a new bill could end the uncivilized, cruel blood sport and bring Northern Ireland in line with the rest of the United Kingdom, which banned hunting animals with dogs more than a decade ago.

John Blair – the South Antrim Member of the Legislative Assembly (MLA), Chair of the Assembly’s All–Party Group on Animal Welfare told the Belfast Telegraph that “animals ripped to shreds by dogs is nothing but cruelty.”  

Blair said he supports and plans to soon introduce the new bill, which would prohibit people from using dogs to hunt foxes, hare, and stag and also would prevent people setting terriers on wildlife in Northern Ireland.

 A poll, commissioned by the League Against Cruel Sports and conducted by the market-research firm Ipos Mori, showed that more than 80% of respondents – including those in rural communities – support the ban

Sign this petition encouraging Northern Ireland’s lawmakers to reform the country’s outdated hunting laws and join the rest of the United Kingdom in banning the brutally cruel dog hunts for good.

https://ladyfreethinker.org/sign-outlaw-cruel-dog-hunting-where-foxes-are-torn-to-shreds-2/?utm_source=Newsletter&utm_medium=Email

Demand That the EPA Ban Notorious Bird Poison Avitrol—Act Before January 4

www.peta.org

Avitrol is a bird poison that targets and impairs victims’ nervous systems, causing disorientation, convulsions, and a slow, painful death.

Avitrol is regulated by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Currently, the EPA is reviewing Avitrol’s registration under the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act as part of a process that occurs only every 15 years or so. If the agency decides not to renew Avitrol’s registration, “pest”-control operators will no longer legally be able to use this hideous poison!

The EPA is accepting public comment regarding Avitrol until Monday, January 4, and your voice is urgently needed. Please follow these instructions carefully to submit a comment.

  1. Visit the comment page and be sure to begin your comment with this text: “This comment pertains to 4-aminopyridine (4-AP), Case 0015, in Docket EPA-HQ-OPP-2016-0030, also known as Avitrol.”
  2. Make sure the rest of your comment is personalized. The reviewers give less consideration to comments that appear to be copied and pasted from another source. You can draw ideas from our bullet points below, but be sure to use your own words, and feel free to do some additional research into the topic!
  3. Click “Continue” to submit your comment.

Below are some talking points to consider for your personalized comment:

  • “Pest”-control companies often tell potential customers that Avitrol is a humane flock-dispersing agent that scares birds away from areas where they aren’t wanted. But Avitrol is acutely toxic and causes birds and other animals to suffer immensely.
  • “Nontarget” species, such as protected songbirds, often die from ingesting Avitrol, and predators such as raptors, foxes, hawks, cats, and dogs die from secondary poisoning after feeding on the dead or dying birds.
  • Wildlife pathologists have demonstrated repeatedly that protected and endangered birds, including red-tailed hawks and peregrine falcons, die as a result of ingesting the remains of pigeons and other birds poisoned with Avitrol. For these reasons, several cities have banned its use.
  • Poisoning birds does not resolve perceived problems with them. As long as areas remain attractive or accessible to birds, more will simply move in from surrounding areas to fill the newly vacant niches. However, the Avitrol Corporation, nuisance wildlife control operators, and “pest”-control companies refuse to reveal this fact to potential customers because the only thing that the use of poison guarantees is repeat business.

Once you’ve submitted your comment, please share this alert with all of your contacts. Thank you for taking action to protect birds and other animals imperiled by Avitrol!

https://www.peta.org/action/action-alerts/demand-epa-ban-avitrol/

Bird of the week

New York’s Renewable Energy Regulations Neglect Bird Impacts | American Bird Conservancy

Golden Eagles are listed as Endangered in New York, and are among the species at risk from poorly sited wind turbines. Photo Taylor Berge/Shutterstock

New York released draft regulations in September to implement the Accelerated Renewable Energy Growth and Community Benefit Act, which was passed into law earlier this year (in April 2020). Twenty-five conservation groups, including ABC, have expressed concern about these draft regulations, which do little to address renewable energy projects’ substantial negative impacts on birds.

The groups propose commonsense solutions that would correct some of the regulations’ major flaws and provide better protection for birds. By incorporating the recommended changes from these bird conservation experts, the State could set a positive precedent for environmentally friendly renewable energy development. But to make this happen, substantial revisions to the current draft regulations would be needed.

The Accelerated Renewable Energy Growth and Community Benefit Act is intended to streamline the approval process for wind and solar energy projects as part of the State’s approach to achieving its renewable energy goals. Among other things, the law established a new Office of Renewable Energy Siting (ORES), charged with developing and overseeing the process for renewable energy project development.

In September, the ORES released draft regulations to implement the Act. “Implementation of this major new regulation has proceeded at a breakneck pace,” says Joel Merriman, ABC’s Bird-Smart Wind Energy Campaign Director. “Unfortunately, in the draft regulations, very little consideration is given to bird protection. We fully support renewable energy development as part of a broader strategy for combating climate change, but this has to be done in an environmentally responsible manner. That includes taking care of our birds, and so far these regulations fall far short in this area.”

Wind energy development is an important element of fighting climate change, but it does not come without environmental costs. ABC estimates that more than 500,000 birds are killed annually from collisions with wind turbines in the U.S. Given projected industry build-out, that figure is expected to increase to more than 1.4 million annually by 2030. Birds are also killed by powerlines installed to connect wind facilities to the energy grid, and yet others are displaced by facility development. Some species, such as Golden Eagles, are more vulnerable to turbine collisions, and due to slow reproductive rates, these birds have less capacity to recover from losses.

“When the law was being considered, we expressed serious concerns,” says Merriman. “Now that we have seen the draft regulations to implement the law, it’s worse than we feared.”

The draft regulations are paired with uniform standards and conditions for project siting and planning. They lack adequate protections for birds, including appropriate project siting, field studies, and other steps that, if established in the law, would conceivably result in an environmentally balanced approach.

“The draft regulations don’t allow enough time for necessary field studies for wildlife,” says Merriman. “They also dramatically reduce the opportunity for public and expert input in the planning process, and they ignore considerations for the majority of bird species. Worst of all, there is nothing to influence where projects are sited, which is the most important aspect of minimizing impacts to wildlife. This is why we worked with other concerned conservation organizations to clearly articulate the problems with this proposed process, and how some of them might be addressed.”

A total of 25 conservation organizations signed a letter to the State outlining the many deficiencies in the draft regulations. “It’s possible to work around some of the biggest issues in ways that will minimize negative impacts to birds,” says Merriman. “For example, if wildlife field studies are required before a pre-application meeting, there may be enough information to make smart planning decisions in many instances. This is the way things already work in the wind energy industry – it’s no burden to developers and results in better outcomes.”

Merriman continues, “It’s hard to understand: In other arenas, New York has done great things for birds. The State can maintain this commitment by making some improvements to the draft regulations, such as establishing commonsense setbacks from high biodiversity areas and requiring some already-standard field studies to inform project planning. It’s critical that we balance the need for renewable energy development with protecting our vulnerable bird populations.”

ABC thanks the Leon Levy Foundation for its support of ABC’s Bird-Smart Wind Energy Campaign.

###

Media Contact: Jordan Rutter, Director of Public Relations, 202-888-7472 | jerutter@abcbirds.org | @JERutter
Expert Contact: Joel Merriman, Bird-Smart Wind Energy Campaign Director | jmerriman@abcbirds.org

American Bird Conservancy is a nonprofit organization dedicated to conserving birds and their habitats throughout the Americas. With an emphasis on achieving results and working in partnership, we take on the greatest problems facing birds today, innovating and building on rapid advancements in science to halt extinctions, protect habitats, eliminate threats, and build capacity for bird conservation. Find us on abcbirds.org, Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter (@ABCbirds).

https://c.sharethis.mgr.consensu.org/portal-v2.html

https://abcbirds.org/article/new-yorks-renewable-energy-regulations-neglect-bird-impacts/

The Snow Owl

Bird of the Week