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..
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.
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.
Agrizzly 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
The badger cull policy has cost the lives of more than 140,000 badgers since 2013, in the largest destruction of a protected species in living memory. Badgers have been shot across a geographical area stretching from Cornwall to Cumbria at an estimated public cost of over £70m, when the costs of policing, training, monitoring, equipment, and legal defence are taken into account.
Despite the huge cruelty and cost of the badger cull policy, the government has provided no reliable scientific evidence to prove that badger culling is making any significant contribution to lowering bovine tuberculosis (TB) in cattle, in or around the cull zones. The government could kill every badger in England, but bovine TB will remain in cattle herds, since it’s primarily spread from cow to cow.
There are over 9.6m cattle in Britain and we move more cattle in this nation than anywhere else in Europe. The movement of cattle is a key driver for the spread of bovine TB in both cattle and badgers.
For too long, the government and the farming industry have wrongly blamed the badger for the spread of bovine TB in cattle, which has become a dangerous distraction from tackling the root cause of disease in the cattle industry.
However, could growing public recognition over infectious disease control issues, resulting from the Covid-19 pandemic, help to bring respite to the badgers?
Over the past 12 months, all of us have gained an insight into the danger of pandemics and the actions we need to take to stop the spread of Covid-19. R-numbers, testing efficiency, track and trace, biosecurity controls, vaccines, antibodies and herd immunity have all become subjects of discussion in households across the nation.
For those of us who have long opposed the cruel, expensive and ineffective badger cull policy, these discussions resonate for disease control in animals as well as humans.
Like the spread of Covid-19 in the human population, the spread of bovine TB in cattle is largely down to cows being kept inside buildings for extended periods or moved in large numbers across the country.
The Randomised Badger Culling Trial (RBCT), undertaken between 1998 to 2005, cost over £49m and resulted in the death of more than 11,000 badgers in the largest and most complex field research programme ever undertaken on the issue of badgers and the spread of bovine TB to cattle.
The Independent Scientific Group, which reviewed the results of the RBCT, found that the culling of badgers could make no meaningful contribution to lowering bovine TB in cattle, and that like Covid-19 in humans, bovine TB in cattle is most effectively controlled by cattle-focussed measures, including improved testing, track and trace systems, movement and biosecurity controls and vaccination against the disease.
One of the most outspoken critics of the government’s handling of the Covid-19 pandemic is the former chief scientist Sir David King. Through his Independent Sage Committee, he has heavily criticised key aspects of the Covid-19 control strategy, from the timing of lockdowns and the failures in testing and track and trace systems, to movement and border controls.
To a large degree, Sir David has received strong public support for many of the concerns he has raised on the Covid-19 pandemic, but in my opinion there remains a huge inconsistency in his position on the control of disease in humans compared to animals.
As the government chief scientist under Prime Minister Tony Blair, Sir David King challenged the key findings of the Independent Scientific Group which oversaw the Randomised Badger Culling Trial. This helped pave the way for the incoming coalition government in 2010 to plan and implement a badger cull policy which remains in place to this day. I believe he was wrong to do so.
Like Covid-19, bovine TB is a disease spread primarily by aerosol droplet infection when cattle are held indoors for extended periods of time, without any prospect of “social distancing’’.
The most effective way to stop the spread of the disease is to put in place effective testing and track and trace systems for cattle. Biosecurity measures are crucial in stopping the spread of disease on farms, at cattle markets and when cattle are moved. A widespread cattle vaccination programme is the most effective way of building up herd immunity to stop the spread of the disease.
Badgers have been unfairly blamed for spreading bovine TB in cattle, and demonised and destroyed as a result. The government has laid out an exit strategy from badger culling, but tens of thousands of badgers remain under the threat of being shot before this is finally implemented.
The Covid-19 pandemic has caused great human suffering, but it could lead to significant scientific improvements in disease control for both humans and animals. It is now time that the government uses the lessons learned from the pandemic to bring the killing of badgers to an immediate and permanent end.
Let us hope by the time Covid-19 ends, it will also bring a close to the badger cull, one of the darkest chapters in the history of farming and wildlife conservation in Britain.
The Wyoming Game and Fish Department is backing a plan to trap 16 sheep-hunting golden eagles and move them up to 400 miles away, including out of Wyoming.
The plan is both a research project and a way to “alleviate conflicts” with domestic livestock, according to a memo to Game and Fish commissioners from the chief of the agency’s wildlife division. The matter is scheduled for consideration and potential approval by the commission Thursday at its Jackson meeting.
The goal of the research is to identify best practices for relocating depredating golden eagles and reduce conflicts, said Nate Bickford, a Colorado State University professor in Pueblo, Colorado, who proposed the project. With today’s tracking technology enabling researchers to fit devices on birds, the project could benefit both eagles and stock growers, he said.
“We can move these eagles and, with telemetry, actually track their movements after they are released,” Bickford said. Bickford and associates may identify the environments where relocated eagles stay and possibly figure out why. At the same time, the project could determine what factors influence eagles to take wing and return to lambing areas after being relocated, he said.
Something as simple as an abundance or scarcity of natural prey, such as rabbits, in any given year could be a factor in relocation success, research has suggested.
A dozen eagles could be relocated this year, and four more in 2022, Bickford said. Neither he nor the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service could say by deadline how many eagles, if any, were moved last year.
Ranchers and their certified eagle trappers “would be doing some of that work regardless of our project,” Bickford said. The proposal appears to contemplate giving some birds to raptor handlers — falconers and austringers — with the result of those birds being removed from the wild population.
Researchers would move eagles up to 400 miles, Wildlife Division Chief Rick King’s memo to the Game and Fish Commission states. “Careful consideration is given to the release sites and researchers are evaluating several locations outside of Wyoming.”
Game and Fish will collaborate with the Wyoming Animal Damage Management Board, U.S. Department of Agriculture Wildlife Services, Wyoming Wool Growers Association, International Eagle Austringers Association, North American Falconers Association and Colorado State University, according to agency documents. The Wyoming Animal Damage Management Board funded the project, according to Bickford’s research application.
Tracking a key element
Bickford must share tracking information and possibly blood samples with the Game and Fish, according to a Wyoming research permit dated April 6 and signed by Scott Edberg, deputy chief of the agency’s wildlife division. Where the eagles will be trapped will depend on what ranches secure depredation permits from the federal government, Bickford’s application states.
Most likely the project will center on three ranches in the Green River region, three in the Powder River Basin and one in the Shirley Basin, the application states. A golden eagle rescued from apparent lead poisoning in the Dubois area takes off during a training flight at the Teton Raptor Center. (Provided/Teton Raptor Center)
Research would take place for three years, according to a separate application for funding to the Wyoming Animal Damage Management Board. The undertaking would cost some $60,920 a year and employ non-lethal management methods, that application states.
Bickford will receive $45,000 a year from the ADM board, according to the organization’s website. The application in 2020 shows he was seeking, $2,500 a year each from Wyoming Wool Growers Association and North American Falconers Association and $5,000 from the International Eagle Austringer Association.
CSU would make $5,920 a year in in-kind contributions, according to Bickford’s ADM grant application that was copied to Game and Fish. There is no indication of any funding from Game and Fish.
Golden eagles are adept at killing lambs and can inflict significant losses. Since lawmakers in 1962 amended the 1940 Bald Eagle Act to protect golden eagles, researchers and ranchers have tried various methods for protecting sheep without harming the raptors.
A 1988 paper by federal researchers Robert Phillips and F. Sheridan Blom of the U.S. Department of Agriculture said eagles can have “substantial economic impact on individual producers.” They cited a 1975 case documented by B.W. O’Gara at the University of Montana in which two neighboring Montana ranches lost $48,000 worth of lambs that year.
More recently, a Johnson County rancher in 2019 complained that eagles took all but 25 of his 200 lambs, killing some of them “just for the fun of it,” according to reporting by the Buffalo Bulletin.
Investigations in the 1970s by O’Gara suggested ranchers would take matters into their own hands and kill eagles, despite federal laws, if predation by eagles could not be prevented by other means.
In 2020 the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service along with Wyoming Game and Fish investigated the poisoning deaths of a golden eagle and ravens near Wamsutter. Investigators found poison-laced baits along with the dead birds.
By 1987, O’Gara and W. Rightmore determined scarecrows and harassment of eagles offered “the most feasible means of protecting lambs under range lambing conditions,” in Montana. Range lambing occurs when sheep give birth in open pastures instead of in sheds.
Bickford discounted that technique, saying golden eagles become habituated to scarecrows and hazing.
Live trapping and moving golden eagles became the most common method to alleviate ranchers’ problems, USDA researchers Phillips and Blom wrote in 1988. On one Montana ranch, trappers moved 430 eagles during the period 1975 to 1983.
“Most field investigators who have dealt with eagle depredation problems feel that where eagles are preying on lambs in large open range pastures, scare tactics and the general live-trapping and relocation of eagles have been ineffective,” they wrote.
Other research had different results. Starting in 1999, a group of California researchers trapped and relocated golden eagles from the Channel Islands off the state’s southern coast to stop a “catastrophic decline” in three subspecies of island fox.
Live-trapping and moving the eagles was an “effective non-lethal method of reducing the island golden eagle population,” they wrote.
But by 1991, Phillips had found the method somewhat ineffective when dealing with breeding golden eagles near Sheridan. “Our observations of 14 relocated resident golden eagles showed a well-developed homing instinct for this species, with 12 of 14 individuals returning to their former territories,” he wrote.
Some were back within 11 days. Two came back after being moved twice, each time in different directions.
“Because most relocated birds reestablished their territories, it appears that relocation of breeding adult eagles offers, at best, only a short-term solution to the problem of eagle predation on livestock,” Phillips wrote.
We call upon the European Commissioners Stella Kyriakides (DG SANTE) and Valdis Dombrovskis (DG Trade) to immediately suspend the importation of Kangaroo body parts and flesh. Statistics have disclosed more than 70% of Kangaroo flesh derived from the Australian “harvests” is exported to Europe.
The slaughter of Kangaroos for export of body parts and flesh for human consumption, under an Australian Commonwealth Government approved “wildlife trade management plan”, does not comply with the Legislation of the European Union namely Regulation 1099/200910, Killing of animals. Under the regulation, stunning animals before killing, ( to ensure the killing is humane and not cruel) is compulsory. This regulation applies to animals “culled” for “depopulation, disease control” or “other purposes” “and farmed animals”. This is not happening. Further, the regulation requires products imported into the EU, to be accompanied with an attestation, certifying that requirements at least equivalent to those of the EU have been met. Investigations have revealed this cannot be certified.
Due to the remote locations where commercial kangaroo shooting takes place, there is no control or policing. Nobody is present to ensure animal welfare practices are complied including whether Kangaroos are stunned. No statistics are available for the animals who are wounded and escape.
Kangaroos have been found, with blown-apart jaws from mis-shooting, but survived to endure a long and painful death from starvation. ‘In pouch’ joeys of shot mothers are either decapitated (if very small) or killed with a blow to the head. Quite often dependent ‘at foot’ joeys escape, and suddenly face a life alone, often falling victim to predators, exposure or starvation. Eastern and Western Grey Kangaroos are not weaned until they are nearly 18 months old. “A Shot in the Dark’ — a report on kangaroo harvesting, a 2009 report commissioned by Animal Liberation (NSW) estimates some ‘440,000 dependent young kangaroos are either clubbed to death or left to starve after their mothers are killed’. (Source:Animals Australia)
Not only is the EU Legislation not complied with, the Australian Kangaroo industry Code of Practice requires that animals be killed by a single shot to the head, but even conservative estimates suggest that more than tens of thousands of the adult Kangaroos for commercial processing each year, are not killed in this manner. (Source Animals Australia).
Commercial Trade in an Australian Emblamatic and Iconic Native Kangaroos must stop.
The Australian Governments’ support for a Commercial Trade in Kangaroo Body Parts and Flesh for human consumption is being challenged, and there are calls for it to be banned. It has been asserted State and Commonwealth Legislations designed to conserve and Protect Native Wildlife and habitat, does not support a commercial slaughter, particularly a demand for trade in flesh for human consumption on a commercial scale.
State Governments rely on claims of “overabundance” and alledged consequential damage to farming land, to justify “culling” or “harvesting” Kangaroos, in order to satisfy local Wildlife Legislation and the Environment Protection Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (Cth). This is to obtain a permit to remove or cull protected Native Wildlife for a commercial industry.
There are allegations that the population numbers of Kangaroos have been grossly exaggerated to justify a claim of “overabundance” and that in fact in some States, Kangaroos may face extinction as a consequence of “harvesting”, or the push to supply demand for the commercial exploitation of Kangaroos.
The intention of Legislations is not to support the commercialisation and trade in commerce of Australian Native Wildlife for human consumption, but rather the preservation and conservation of Australian native wildlife and habitat.
Ministerial approval is under the microscope.
There is a Call for a Ban on Killing Kangaroos and an immediate ban on the commercial “harvesting” of Kangaroos, and to ban any further killing of Kangaroos; to revoke all current Permits and Plans for trade in Kangaroos for local and export markets.
Kangaroos are not and have never been “farmed animals” in Australia, nor were Kangaroos “farmed” by Australia’s First Nations’ peoples. To some indigenous Australians, Kangaroos are totemic. Kangaroos are protected Native Wildlife.
We call upon the European Commissioners Stella Kyriakides (DG SANTE) and Valdis Dombrovskis (DG Trade) to immediately suspend the importation of Kangaroo body parts and flesh for human consumption as the EU Regulations are not being complied with.
Photo Credit: Red Box Wildlife Sanctuary Elphinstone, Victoria Australia
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.
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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)
Bird Calls Black-and-White Warbler, Dennis W. Donohue/Shutterstock
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.
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.
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 thewild.
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 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:
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.
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.
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.
“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.”
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
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 dogsfor 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 crueldoghunts for good.
If you love learning about birds — from those in your backyard to the rarest species — join us! Subscribe to get our Bird of the Week delivered to your inbox. It's a bit of virtual #birdtherapy for you from @ABCbirds.
Cattlemen Tell EnviroNews Ranchers Want Mexican Wolves Killed, Despite Being Paid for Livestock Losses
14 – 17 minutes
(EnviroNews Arizona) — Parts of eastern Arizona are a conflict zone, as a 100-year war between ranchers, conservation groups, government agencies, and the endangered Mexican gray wolf (Canis lupus baileyi) rages on. The rarest subspecies of gray wolf, also known as “el lobo,” is doing what wolves have always done in their native territories: they hunt and eat animals weakened by misfortune, time and nature itself. But ranchers who sell their cows, sometimes for $1200-$1500 per animal, aren’t happy when someone’s future hamburger becomes a wolf’s dinner.
Even though the government will compensate ranchers for cows killed by wolves, a new survey reveals most cattle farmers feel el lobo’s reintroduction into the area is a threat to ranching – and their livelihoods.
“[Ranchers] realize that [wolves are] there and they’re there to stay now,” Jerome Rosa, Executive Director of the Arizona Cattle Growers’ Association, which funded the survey, told EnviroNews in a phone interview. “They just have to do the best they can to try and manage the situation and try to do what they can to be able to live, you know, cohesively. But if they had a preference, [absolutely they] would like to not have that apex predator out there.”
Back From the Brink of Extinction
When Rosa said, “out there,” he is referring to the southwestern United States – part of the Mexican wolf’s indigenous turf. Early in the 1900s when the livestock industry began booming, the federal government hired trappers to eradicate all wolves – and they were nearly successful in that task with el lobo.
“This genetically [and] morphologically unique animal came about as close to extinction as any creature can get without actually going over the brink,” Michael Robinson, a senior conservation advocate at the Center for Biological Diversity, told EnviroNews.
And how close is “close?” U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) official Stephen Guertin told a congressional subcommittee “the Mexican wolf was all but eliminated from the wild by the 1970s due to extensive predator control initiatives.” According to the Arizona Game and Fish Department’s (AGFD) website, Mexican wolves had once disappeared completely from Arizona and New Mexico.
But when the Endangered Species Act (ESA/the Act) passed in 1973, these critters finally received some appreciation. USFWS hired trappers again — this time to capture live wolves that could still be found in Mexico, in an effort to save the species from total annihilation. The agency was only able to find and capture five wild wolves; four males and one female. With time running out, USFWS took those specimens and launched a captive breeding program.
In 1998 el lobo caught a break and received an invitation to return home to the Southwest and 11 were released into the Blue Range Mexican Wolf Reintroduction Area in Arizona.
“They’re part of the natural ecosystem,” Robinson said. “They’re a beautiful, intelligent social animal that helps maintain balance, and they deserve to be there.”
Mexican Gray Wolf (Canis lupus baileyi)
The USFWS’ website hails the breeding program as a victory: “Missing from the landscape for more than 30 years, the howl of the Mexican wolf can once again be heard in the mountains of the southwestern United States.” Despite the agency’s victory dance, ranchers certainly were not out holding “welcome home” signs. The conflict zone reemerged — as did the wolf killings.
Money Can’t Buy Wolves Love
To help ease concerns, ranchers have been compensated for depredations since the wolves were first reintroduced in 1998 and in 2015 the State of Arizona Livestock Loss Board was formed. Ranchers can submit claims to the board for depredations when they can prove Mexican wolves most likely killed their animals. According to the agency’s most recent annual report ranchers have been paid more than $143,000 over the last few years.
But Rosa told EnviroNews these reimbursements still can’t buy the wolves love. He said the number of cattle they kill exceeds what ranchers claim as a loss:
Some [ranchers] just don’t want to deal with the red tape. They don’t want to deal with the paperwork. Or, when they find these carcasses, they’re too far gone. And remember: these cattle are out there in these vast, vast landscapes in really, really rugged terrain, and so often, when they do find a depredation, there’s nothing there to investigate. You know, there’s not enough to be able to prove it was a depredation. So, [ranchers] just don’t say anything. It’s like, “Well, you know, we took a hit on that.”
Rosa added that there’s no way for cattlemen to calculate losses for livestock that die from exhaustion and dehydration after being chased by wolves, or cows that get stressed out, thin, and don’t reproduce.
David Parsons, the wildlife biologist who led USFWS’ effort to reintroduce the Mexican wolf into the Southwest, told EnviroNews he’s heard those claims, but not the veracity of them. “Open range cattle die for many reasons other than predation or harassment by predators, such as weather extremes, disease, toxic plants, and even lightning strikes,” he refuted.
Hawk’s Nest Pack Released into Pre-Release Pen in 1998 — Photo: Dave Parsons
Parsons is now a science advisor for the conservation group Project Coyote. He said figuring out an exact cause of a cow’s death is arduous. “It would be very difficult to tease out the significance of mortality caused by predator harassment compared to all other causes of mortality.”
Natural Born Killers?
No one disputes that wolves are natural born killers. But Rosa claimed there are far more wolves out there than official counts reflect. “As the wolf populations increase, the cattle populations will decrease. I think that’s tragic,” he said.
Rosa added the more the packs grow, the more food they will need. “And unfortunately, the realism of wolves is they don’t just kill when they’re hungry. They kill for sport,” he said. “That’s what they do. You know, they are… that’s what they do. I mean, they’re killers.” But many experts dispute that and say wolves do not kill for the fun of it.
Greta Anderson — Deputy Director, Western Watersheds Project
“They kill to eat,” Greta Anderson, Deputy Director of the Western Watersheds Project told EnviroNews. “When humans find animals that have been killed by wolves but are uneaten, they should assume the carcasses haven’t been consumed yet, as animals will routinely return to kill sites and continue to feed off a carcass as long as they can.”
Regarding the numbers of wolves, federal and state officials have boots on the ground, the AGFD even pays five full-time biologists to help manage and tabulate the numbers. Currently, there’s a minimum of 76 Mexican gray wolves in the state and about 163 total in the Southwest. So, even after over two decades of “recovery” in the wild, the current number of lobos is far from the estimated 3000-4000 that roamed the U.S. in the early 1900s.
Currently, wolf tracking is done in many ways: about half the estimated population wears radio collars, others are counted on the ground, in the air, and even by conducting howl surveys where biologists listen for wolves return howls.
“I don’t think the cattle growers have a basis for contending that the numbers are substantially higher than announced,” Robinson said. “If there were significantly more wolves on the landscape than the interagency field team now contends, wouldn’t those wolves be breeding with each other, and wouldn’t their numbers grow to the point that their presences couldn’t be denied by anyone?”
Wolf Depredation Prevention
What about just deploying measures to keep wolves away from cows, so fewer end up getting eaten? According to the cattle association’s survey, some feel “spending on preventative practices can be large relative to returns.” And ranchers’ willingness to pay to avoid depredations may be an area they’ll study in the future.
Jerome Rosa — Executive Director, Arizona Cattle Growers’ Association
Rosa said prevention can be challenging, expensive and more assistance is welcome, adding, “I think the ranchers would like to have all the available tools in their toolbox to be able to manage the situation.”
But in addition to reimbursements for depredations, there’s also money out there to help ranchers pay for prevention. One example: the State of Arizona Livestock Loss Board slated $110,000 to develop effective methods of preventing wolf and cattle interactions.
At present, preventative tools like tracking collars, that help to alert ranchers when wolves are in the area, are being used along with blinking lights, electric fences, and range riders. The downside, Rosa said, is that batteries burn out, and some prevention is burdensome.
“All of these non-lethal measures just work for a short period of time,” he contended. “These wolves are extremely, extremely intelligent, and they get immune to those systems, and so then you constantly have to be changing.”
Mexican Wolf With Radio Collar — Photo: Mexican Wolf Interagency Field Team
One solution Rosa offered is to limit the wolf population to a “manageable number” and kill problem wolves. “In areas where we’re having problems, then we need to go to lethal take on those packs,” Rosa told EnviroNews.
“You mean kill the wolves?” EnviroNews reiterated for clarity. “Yes. Yes,” Rosa asserted. And sometimes ranchers ask for just that and the federal government obliges.
Mexican Gray Wolf — Photo: KTAR Pheonix
Experts tallied reports for EnviroNews and found that since Mexican wolves were reintroduced to the Southwest the feds have killed about 21 lobos. The most common reason was for livestock depredations.
Dave Parsons Conducts Health Check on Captive-Born Mexican Wolf Pup
Conservationists insist killing this already beleaguered species is not the answer. Instead, they say regulators should require ranchers to use more preventative measures and remove the remains of dead cattle immediately, so the scent doesn’t attract predators. Furthermore, they insist there’s plenty of money out there to help ranchers outsmart even the craftiest of wolves.
“The government has asked nothing of the ranchers — at least required nothing,” Robinson continued. “They have asked nicely at times, you know, ‘Would you mind doing this?’ And sometimes the answer is ‘yes’ and sometimes the answer is ‘no.’”
Parsons claimed some wolves are being killed in “cryptic poaching” — meaning poaching that goes undetected. “Uncollared wolves killed in remote areas are rarely discovered by agency biologists, and the same is true for collared wolves when the poacher immediately disables the collar,” he added.
What’s at Stake?
Rosa told EnviroNews that if something isn’t done to curb Mexican wolf numbers, more ranchers will hang up their hats. Fewer cattle, he said, means less meat at the grocery store and more wildfires because ungrazed pastures provide fuel for flames to spread. “Killing wolves will allow [for] cattle, [and for] more people to be able to continue having cattle, out there to graze these spots,” he asserted.
Mexican Wolf — Photo: Columbus Zoo
But in addition to the many tangible issues, palpable on the ground between ranchers and conservationists, the more esoteric factor of global warming looms. Scientists say the rising trend of massive wildfires in the West is fueled in part by methane emissions from livestock and the agricultural sector at large.
Robinson told EnviroNews responsible, proactive ranchers should tap into the resources available to help keep afloat, but pulled no punches when emphasizing the free marketplace should determine the better mousetrap:
As for whether ranchers will go out of business due to depredations in the absence of wolf killing, that very much depends. Not all business ventures in the United States are destined to succeed, even when subsidized. The fact that some ranchers refuse to take measures to protect their stock would seem to make them less likely to stay in business.
Parsons agreed. “If a heavily subsidized livestock production business cannot afford to protect its primary asset (cows) by methods such as confining cows to pens for calving and hiring range riders to monitor and control their whereabouts on the landscape, then perhaps it is not a viable or appropriate business enterprise,” he said.
This Land is Not Your Land
Finally, EnviroNews asked Rosa, “Do you see the Mexican wolf as a vital part of the ecosystem? Should the species be there [at all]?” His answer: Nope. He concluded:
I don’t see it as a vital part. It wasn’t here for many, many years after they had been hunted down in the past. Now, some will say, “OK, they take care of, you know, sick animals, they’ll put them down.” They’re non-discriminatory. So, they’re not just taking [out] the weakness of a species. They take these animals down just for sport. I mean, it’s just what they do. And so, I understand, you know, the wolf advocates reasoning that they use — that they try to use. But, [it’s] not logical, and it’s not realistic. But, you know, I understand that that’s their position.
That’s something that enrages conservationists who say the wolves aren’t into sport killing and were there first. “The livestock industry has sought to transform the entire ecosystem of the Southwest… they see the wolves as the worst part of the ecosystem that they want to eliminate,” Robinson said.
Mexican Gray Wolf (Canis lupus baileyi)
So, the 100-year war between ranchers, cattle, wolves, conservationists and government agencies continues. Many battles ensue, no side declares any winners, but all have the instinct to keep fighting.
OTHER GREAT REPORTS ABOUT MEXICAN WOLVES FROM ENVIRONEWS
Mink was found on Tuesday near the Mascoma River in Lebanon. Andrew Timmins, New Hampshire’s bear biologist, says he had noticed there wasn’t much movement on her tracking collar for several days.
Early on, he wasn’t too concerned. But when he checked back on Monday and there was still no movement from Mink, he called a colleague in Hanover to check on her.
“Something was going on. That collar was not moving,” he said. “That usually means one of two things: that means the animal has slipped [off] its collar, or it can mean the animal’s not moving because it’s dead.”
Timmins says based on her injuries and location he suspects Mink was hit by a car.
This year, Mink had a litter of three cubs. Timmins says this summer Mink and the cubs were spending a lot of time eating berries along a powerline corridor, and mostly staying away from residential areas.
An orangutan named Boncel is pictured after being translocated to the main forest from a palm oil plantation, in Ketapang, West Kalimantan province, Indonesia, on August 18, 2020. (Courtesy of /International Animal Rescue (IAR) Indonesia/Indonesia’s Environment and Forestry Ministry (KLHK)/Rudiansyah/Handout via REUTERS)
A Bornean orangutan found on an Indonesian palm plantation has been rescued and returned to the forest, a conservation group said on Wednesday, the latest example of how habitat loss is piling pressure on the critically endangered animal in the wild.
The male orangutan, named “Boncel” and estimated to be 30- to 40-years-old, was found in a plantation in the Indonesian portion of Borneo island with four other orangutans in early August, International Animal Rescue (IAR) said in a statement.
“We found five orangutans (in the area) and we managed to relocate four of them back into the wild, except this male orangutan that still remained in the plantation,” said Andiri Nurillah, a veterinarian working for the Indonesian arm of IAR.
The great ape was darted with a tranquilizer at the plantation in Ketapang, West Kalimantan province, before being put in a cage and taken by motor boat on a river to a safer area in the forest.
Boncel was in good condition when found, apart from a fractured finger and other minor injuries, said Nurillah, adding that his move had gone smoothly.
The release came soon after two other Bornean orangutans were rescued from captivity on Java island and sent to a rehabilitation center on Borneo to assess whether they can be released back into the wild.
Only around 100,000 Bornean orangutans are estimated to be left in the wild, according to the World Wildlife Fund, with the population crashing by more than 50 percent over the past 60 years.
The animals have suffered from illegal poaching, as well as destruction of habitat due to large-scale logging and replacement of forests with cash crops such as palm oil.
“You were willing to coexist, but people were not,” wrote the North Shore Black Bear Society about the bear
A wild black bear was killed after becoming accustomed to humans in Canada.
Last Wednesday, the North Shore Black Bear Society reported on Facebook that a bear they’ve encountered on several occasions this summer — whom they affectionately named Huckleberry — was tranquilized and put down by local conservation officers for being too comfortable around humans.
The North Vancouver, British Columbia-based organization wrote that the bear had been lured and allowed to eat food left out by local residents, who wanted to capture the animal on camera.
“On July 31st you were eating berries at the edge of the forest. We headed out to make sure you were not being crowded or chased by dogs. By the time we reached you, you were being followed by residents who wanted a video of you eating organics from an unlocked cart,” read the post. “Due to the crowd of people, it wasn’t safe for us to move you on. When you finished eating, you calmly walked by and left our gaze. That was the last time we saw you.”
“Later that day you were tranquilized by the Conservation Officers and taken away to be killed,” they continued. “You were willing to coexist, but people were not.”
NSBBS added that Huckleberry “showed us every time we met that you were a good-natured bear, we are deeply sorry that we couldn’t save you.” The team added, “We’ll always have a place in our hearts for you, sweet boy.”
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NSBBS representatives recalled on Facebook that they first encountered Huckleberry on July 2. During this initial meeting, Huckleberry was quick to get out of the way of humans. Their next interaction would lead to the story behind the bear’s name.
“The next time we met, you were at the roadside eating berries. As we walked you back to the forest, you stood and sniffed a garbage can,” NSBBS shared. “We used a firm tone and told you to leave — you listened. As you walked away, you left a bright pink scat full of huckleberries! We were so proud of you for eating natural foods, despite all the tempting treats residents had left available to you. From that moment, we named you Huckleberry!”
NSBBS remembered that Huckleberry would “roll” his tongue out at them to “smell the air as we walked together back to the forest” — a behavior NSBBS said showed that the bear recognized them.
RELATED VIDEO: Jeff Corwin Warns Sad Moments Are ‘Part of the Story Arc’ on Alaska Animal Rescue
NSBBS said nearby residents admitted to allowing the “easy-going, calm bear” to pick through their garbage so they could photograph him.
“Reports started coming in of you finding easy rewards from garbage and organics carts. People admitted they allowed you to do that for a video and they neglected to move you on … a death sentence,” they wrote. “If only people had used a firm voice with you, you would have listened. Or respected you enough to not have any garbage or food scraps accessible in the first place. We did you a disservice, Huckleberry.”
Boasting some of the richest biodiversity in the world, Australia is estimated to be home to as many as 300,000 different species of animals. In such company, it takes a truly iconic animal to fill the role of Australia’s national animal — and the kangaroo certainly lives up to the task. Immediately recognizable are their long, powerful legs, allowing them to travel over six feet per leap, and the pouch they sport on their belly for carrying their young. But even their emblem status does not keep them safe from the whims of humans. Kangaroo skin, strong but light, has long been sought after for things like football (or soccer in the U.S.) cleats, baseball mitts, and many types of gloves. California, a U.S. state known for leading the way in animal welfare policy, was ahead of its time when it banned the sale of products made from kangaroo skin all the way back in 1971. But in 2020, an investigation discovered that some huge brands thought they were above the law. Nike and Puma have both been selling kangaroo leather products in California despite the ban!
Sign the petition today if you want Nike and Puma to do the right thing and abide by California law! Tell them to stop selling kangaroo leather products in the state, and commit to phasing out the use of kangaroo leather company-wide!
These kangaroos are ripped from the wild, stolen from their families and lush homes. The Australian government dictates that kangaroo hunting must be done with a firearm, which is cruel enough — but when it comes to the most vulnerable, like babies or adult kangaroos that are already wounded, the cruelty is amplified. These poor animals have their heads severed from their bodies, or they are painfully bludgeoned to death. The officially stated reason for this heinous method is to “destroy the brain,” and apparently any semblance of humanity. California’s law is an indirect attempt to curb this brutality. Companies like Nike and Puma disregarding said law puts pain and profit above compassion and animal welfare.
Ideally, kangaroo leather would be totally banned worldwide. With advanced technology and a wide variety of synthetic materials at our disposal, using the skin from innocent animals for our luxury sport equipment is simply outdated and cruel. But passing laws that keep these products off the shelves is the right step towards making them obsolete, and Californai did that! But statewide laws can be difficult to enforce when these companies sell to states and nations all over the world. That means that it is Nike and Puma’s responsibility to do the right thing and abide by the law! They have the time, money, and resources to do so — any noncompliance is a result of negligence, apathy, and a gross misuse of power.
If we speak out enough, we can really get Nike and Puma where it matters most — in their profits. Let’s make sure that they know we are watching, and until they decide to put animal welfare first, we won’t rest! Sign the petition and demand that Nike and Puma comply with California law, halting the sale of products made with kangaroo skin in the state, and then take it one step further by phasing out all kangaroo leather products!
For far too long the federal government has used our hard-earned tax dollars to slaughter native wildlife on public lands. Tell your representative and senators this all-out war on wildlife and public safety must stop today. Download our advocacy kit to learn more ways you can join us to end the war on wildlife.
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A white-throated Sparrow (Zonotrichia albicollis) singing in Manitoba, Canada, where a new distinctive call has replaced an old one.Photograph by Glenn Bartley, Minden Pictures
Most birds have distinct calls that tend to stay the same. It’s how birders can recognize a species without seeing it. But new research shows these tunes can change.
Over the course of two decades, white-throated sparrows across western and central Canada have changed one of their songs, replacing a three-note call with a two-note one. The new tune started in British Columbia and spread east—now, most of Canada’s birds are singing it. And it’s still spreading in Quebec, more than 2,000 miles from where it originated.
Although some bird calls undergo slow evolutions, this rapid shift in a bird’s song has never been observed before, says Ken Otter, lead author of the study, published July 2 in the journal Current Biology.
“There is nothing that we know of that’s spread like this,” Otter says.
As the song sweeps west to east, ornithologists wonder what makes the song so catchy—and if the trend will continue. The finding was made possible by crowd-sourced birdsong recordings, which are uncovering patterns that may have previously gone unnoticed.
A song is born
Birdsongs are not just pleasant to listen to, they’re also rich with information, such as the health and fitness of the speaker. Like other birds, male sparrows sing to establish territory and to entice females. It’s only the males that sing certain tunes, and they learn them during a critical window early in their development.
Otter, who studies bird behavior and communication at the University of Northern British Columbia, first noticed that something was up with sparrow calls in the late 1990s. He was doing fieldwork in British Columbia, just west of the Rocky Mountains, with a colleague who usually studies eastern populations of the species.
“We were walking around… and he suddenly said, ‘Your sparrows sound weird.’” Otter hadn’t noticed it before but agreed—they did sound different.
“White-throated sparrows have this classic song that’s supposed to sound like it goes, ‘Oh, my sweet Canada, Canada, Canada,’” he explains. “And our birds sound like they’re going, ‘Oh, my sweet Cana– Cana– Cana– Canada.’”
The new song trend emerged by the 1990s in northern British Columbia, where Otter and his colleague first heard the “weird” call. From there, it crept east, moving across Alberta, Saskatchewan, and Manitoba.
In 2004, about half the sparrows in Alberta were singing the new doublet ending, but by 2014, every sparrow in the area had made the shift. By 2015, every sparrow west of central Ontario was singing the doublet ending. It didn’t stop there. In western Quebec, nearly 2,000 miles from where the song began, it’s still spreading.
Knowing that bird songs must be learned from others, Otter and his colleges suspected that eastern and western sparrows may be crossing paths.
In 2013 and 2016, they strapped geolocators to 50 male sparrows breeding in Prince George, British Columbia, to track their seasonal migration path and areas where they winter.
Otter says he expected the western sparrow populations to travel directly south to their overwintering areas in California. Instead, the birds crossed the Rocky Mountains, meeting up with eastern populations in the southern Great Plains of the United States, in Texas, Oklahoma, Arkansas, and Kansas. This convergence of western and eastern sparrows may act as a tutoring ground for young males, which could learn the new song before returning to their respective breeding ranges.
Using two decades of citizen-recorded data, including more than 1,785 recordings, Otter and his team were able to map the song’s spread. Charting the new song in blue and the old song in red, Otter’s maps show a cascade of blue dots crashing east from 2000 to 2019. Only a thin ribbon of red dots—birds singing the old song—still clings to the eastern edge of the country.
“It’s cool to realize that this sort of happenstance pattern of migration allowed [some sparrows] to then hear birds singing the other form of song”—and then spread—“like a viral contagion,” says Jeffrey Podos, who studies birdsong at the University of Massachusetts Amherst and was not involved in the study.
Podos isn’t surprised the birds are learning from each other, but he admits that the pace at which the new song spread is “somewhat surprising.”
“It’s like a blue wave,” he says.
New variations of songs crop up constantly, but the vast majority of these aren’t picked up by other birds.
“For some reason, some birds just went deviant,” says Podos, describing the advent of the new doublet-ending song. “You figure it would have just died on the vine, but somehow other birds must have found it interesting.”
Otter and his team didn’t find that birds singing new doublet-ending songs were better at wooing mates or defending territories, so it doesn’t appear to be advantageous or deleterious. This just adds to the mystery of the song’s virality.
“The only thing that we can think of is that the females might have a preference for something that’s slightly novel,” Otter says.
It’s possible that sweeping evolutions in songs like this have happened before but went undetected. Otter’s work relied on recordings from eBird and Xeno-Canto, databases which contain birdsongs recorded and uploaded by people around the world.
Bob Planqué, a cofounder of Xeno-Canto and mathematics professor at Vrije Universiteit in Amsterdam, says this crowd-sourced information is “a tremendous boon to academia.” One reason this model lends itself so well to studying birds, says Planqué, is that recording songs is easy and accessible. Planqué says hundreds of papers a year rely on Xeno-Canto data, which includes over half a million recordings.
Crowd-sourced science is “like having thousands of research assistants spread out across the continent,” Otter says. “It’s allowing researchers to tap into a totally different avenue of research [and] to look at this on a very big scale that was never there before.”
“He that takes truth for his guide, and duty for his end, may safely trust to God’s providence to lead him aright.” - Blaise Pascal. "There is but one straight course, and that is to seek truth and pursue it steadily" – George Washington letter to Edmund Randolph — 1795. We live in a “post-truth” world. According to the dictionary, “post-truth” means, “relating to or denoting circumstances in which objective facts are less influential in shaping public opinion than appeals to emotion and personal belief.” Simply put, we now live in a culture that seems to value experience and emotion more than truth. Truth will never go away no matter how hard one might wish. Going beyond the MSM idealogical opinion/bias and their low information tabloid reality show news with a distractional superficial focus on entertainment, sensationalism, emotionalism and activist reporting – this blogs goal is to, in some small way, put a plug in the broken dam of truth and save as many as possible from the consequences—temporal and eternal. "The further a society drifts from truth, the more it will hate those who speak it." – George Orwell “There are two ways to be fooled. One is to believe what isn’t true; the other is to refuse to believe what is true.” ― Soren Kierkegaard