El Jefe the Jaguar Is Also Not a “Bad Hombre” | NRDC

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El Jefe the Jaguar Is Also Not a “Bad Hombre”

Another reason to oppose President Trump’s proposed border wall with Mexico: It would be devastating for wildlife.
February 15, 2017 Clara Chaisson
Just about a year ago, a YouTube sensation emerged from an unlikely place: the rugged wilderness of Arizona’s Santa Rita mountains. He made just one video, but those 41 seconds of footage—compiled from remote motion-sensor cameras—were enough to solidify his claim to fame as the only known wild jaguar living in the United States. A group of Tucson schoolkids won a nationwide naming contest, christening the big cat El Jefe, Spanish for “The Boss,” a nod to his apex predator status and Mexican heritage.

El Jefe, however, has recently become headline worthy for another reason. On January 25, our newly elected president signed an executive order calling for “the immediate construction of a physical wall on the southern border.” Now our beloved boss cat represents the threat that barrier would pose to wildlife.

President Trump’s clamorous demand to build a wall along the nearly 2,000 miles we share with Mexico has, of course, sparked a litany of objections—it’s offensive, for one, and it would be costly, ineffective, and infeasible, to name just a few more. Individuals and organizations ranging from the mayor of the border town of Laredo, Texas, to the American Civil Liberties Union to the pope have spoken out against the order. Clearly, the wall’s negative impact on wildlife is only one of many legitimate concerns, but it’s significant nonetheless.

Trump’s wall could affect anything from bighorn sheep to wolves to javelinas, but El Jefe’s story is a powerful case study. A hundred years ago, a jaguar’s stealthy presence in Arizona would have been unremarkable. In the United States, the species’ historic range included a swath from California to Texas—possibly stretching as far east as Louisiana. But by the mid-1900s, federal predator-control programs had pretty much eliminated jaguars from the country. A hunter in 1913 could collect a $5 bounty per jaguar, equivalent to about $123 today. Mexico is still home to some 4,000 individuals, including 50 to 100 in the northern state of Sonora, from where El Jefe likely hails.

Walking for just a few days, a male Sonoran jaguar can easily wander into Arizona. Conservationists haven’t given up hope that the cats might come back and restore their ranks north of the border. “The landscape really is not whole without jaguars,” says Randy Serraglio, a southwest conservation advocate for the Center for Biological Diversity. “They belong here.” After several sightings of the spotted cat, the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service (FWS) added it to the Endangered Species List in 1997. Hunters first spotted El Jefe in November 2011.

Female jaguars, however, don’t typically have the same level of wanderlust. El Jefe hasn’t been seen in recent months, and it’s possible that he has returned to Sonora to find a Señora El Jefe (or La Jefa?) to mate with. Because males alone can’t reestablish a breeding population—the future is female, if you will—biologists treat the possibility of a jaguar comeback on U.S. soil with varying degrees of optimism. “If there’s going to be a population recolonized in the States, then we really have to expand the population that’s south of the border,” says Howard Quigley, executive director of the jaguar program at Panthera, a big cat conservation group.

One thing is certain, however: As slim as the chance for jaguars to reestablish themselves here may be, a wall would prevent it entirely. “If somehow Trump is able to realize his fantasy of walling off the U.S.-Mexico border, it would be the end of jaguars in the United States,” Serraglio says. “They would never have a chance to recover here.”

A border wall could also be devastating to the survival of northern Mexico’s fragile jaguar population. Habitat fragmentation, development, and hunting threaten the long-term survival of the species both in Sonora and throughout its range, which extends south to northern Argentina. Throughout the Americas, an estimated 30,000 remaining wild jaguars occupy just 46 percent of their historic range.

In fact, those threats in northern Mexico were part of the reasoning behind the FWS’s decision to designate 764,207 acres of critical jaguar habitat in Arizona and New Mexico. Its 2014 rule reads, “Critical habitat in the United States contributes to the jaguar’s persistence and recovery across the species’ entire range. . .therefore, maintaining connectivity to Mexico is essential to the conservation of the jaguar.”

Trump’s great divider would hurt many other endangered species that straddle the border, too. The recovery plan for the ocelot, which has been under federal protection since 1982, includes connecting the populations in Texas and Mexico. And after rebounding from the brink of extinction, an estimated 160 Sonoran pronghorns remain in the States, with 240 or so more living in Mexico. They need to get together to make more pronghorns, the speediest land animals in North America. Our two countries have also been working together for years to recover the Mexican gray wolf, the most endangered subspecies of wolf in the world.

Many wildlife populations depend on the ability to roam, whether to find a love connection, to migrate, or to mix genes between isolated populations. Serraglio cited one particular herd of bison that crosses the border nearly every day to go between a preferred pasture on one side and a favorite watering hole on the other. “There are all kinds of reasons why animals need to move around on the landscape in order to be biologically healthy,” Serraglio says. “And all that would be disrupted by the border wall.”

Crosses adorn the Mexican side of the wall dividing Nogales, Arizona, and Nogales, Mexico

Federal projects usually require an extensive environmental impact statement before they can get the green light, but there’s reason to think that the Trump administration might skip that step. Before signing the Secure Fence Act of 2006, which allowed the United States to build 700 miles’ worth of barriers along the Mexican border, then-President George W. Bush enacted the REAL ID Act. Section 102 of that legislation allows the secretary of homeland security to waive all local, state, and federal laws deemed an impediment to construction along U.S. borders. The former secretary, Michael Chertoff, subsequently used it to override the Endangered Species Act and other environmental protections.
As a result of these waivers, the existing walls have impinged on communities that don’t want them and triggered environmental problems experts could have foreseen—if they had been consulted. The San Pedro Riparian National Conservation Area, one of the most biologically diverse areas in the country, is now home to two miles of border fencing in addition to hundreds of species of birds, mammals, fish, amphibians, and reptiles. According to the Sierra Club, in addition to blocking wildlife, construction there desecrated 69 Native American burial sites and accelerated erosion and sedimentation in the riverbed.

Even winged animals could feel the effects of fragmentation. A 2009 study found that the ferruginous pygmy owl, which got off the FWS Endangered Species List only 11 years ago, rarely flies higher than 4.5 feet off the ground; the average height of the fencing now bisecting its habitat is 13 feet.

“One of the big issues in wildlife conservation is to prevent fragmentation,” Panthera’s Quigley says. “As soon as you start fragmenting populations—whether it’s with a road, or with a huge plantation of oil palm, or whatever it is—then you start seeing the demise of not only that species, but the system and its multiple interactions.”

A month after the election, the Arizona Game and Fish Department and FWS announced that a trail camera in the Huachuca Mountains had snapped a shot of what seems to be a second male jaguar on U.S. soil. With such uncanny timing, it’s almost as if this big cat showed up to remind the president-elect that he’s not the only new boss in town.

wp-1488651332450.jpegAt Fort Huachuca trail camera recently captured a photograph of a jaguar

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A Third Jaguar was just Confirmed in Arizona

The Jaguar

A new jaguar was just confirmed in Arizona, although this image does not feature it. Jaguar by Scottmliddell. CC BY 3.0 A new jaguar was just confirmed in Arizona, although this image does not feature it. Jaguar Edin Zoo by Scottmliddell. CC BY 3.0

I have exciting news to share with you on this World Wildlife Day! Today has been set aside by the United Nations to celebrate the many ways in which wild animals enrich our lives. They provide valuable ecosystem services, play vital roles in our cultures, and are worth protecting in their own right. As such, it seems appropriate that news just broke of a third jaguar photographed in Arizona.

Until November of 2016, El Jefe was thought to be the only wild jaguar in the United States. However, during that month another male jaguar was photographed near Fort Huachuca in Arizona. Now, a third individual has been confirmed in that state. This jaguar was photographed approximately 60 miles north of the U.S.-Mexico border – and…

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Petition: Urge the Wildlife Trust not to cull the Grey Squirrels, United Kingdom


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Petition · Azzedine Downes FAW: Snow leopards · Change.org


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Stop Coyote Killings

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Don’t Slowly and Painfully Poison Feral Hogs

Feral pigs could be killed in a barbaric manner by a deadly poison should a plan proposed by a Texas legislator come into effect. Sign this petition to denounce his “hog apocalypse” as both reckless and inhumane.

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New Mexico’s A Step Closer To Banning Coyote Killing Contests | Care2 Causes

Petition at Bottom. Please Sign….Let’s make this happen!

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15 Fascinating Facts About Groundhogs and  3 Videos | Care2 Causes


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This is Why Your Trash is Dangerous: Deer Trapped in Pretzel Container for a Week Gets Rescued | One Green Planet

Aleksandra Pajda
February 1, 2017

The amount of waste people throw away every day is quite obviously a huge cause for concern. With no concern for what their actions may bring about, people throw away all kinds of trash in places that should be respected and taken care of – like forests, where trash is a serious hazard for the woodland animals.
Recently, a deer whose head was stuck in a plastic pretzel container was found in Bel Air, Maryland. The container had been stuck on the deer’s head for several days before the Maryland Department of Natural Resources managed to capture and free the poor animal.

The Wildlife Response Team tranquilized the deer, released him from the container, and, once he was recovered from the tranquilizers, returned him to the wild. 
This deer was incredibly fortunate, but many animals don’t have such luck. One of the many harmful effects of littering is the risk it poses for wild and homeless animals. Let us remember that and take care never to act carelessly when it comes to things that may seem trivial to us but in reality are terribly serious to the animals around us and often turn into matters of life and death.

Petition · Representative Ryan Zinke: USFWS Lead Ban is about Saving Wildlife not the 2nd Amendment ! · Change.org


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 INTERPOL- Launches New Project Targeting African-Asian Wildlife Crime Links


20 January 2017
INTERPOL launches new project targeting African-Asian wildlife crime links

KATHMANDU, Nepal – A new project to identify and dismantle the organized crime networks making billions in illicit profits behind wildlife trafficking between Africa and Asia has been launched by INTERPOL.

Targeting high profile traffickers in Asia sourcing wildlife from Africa, the project will provide a strengthened law enforcement response in source, transit and destination countries, particularly those linked to the illicit trade in ivory, rhinoceros horn and Asian big cat products.

With environmental crime estimated to be worth up to USD 258 billion and linked to other criminal activities including corruption, money laundering and firearms trafficking, the project led by INTERPOL’s Environmental Security programme will draw on the expertise of other specialized units.

These include the Anti-Corruption and Financial crime unit, the Digital Forensics Lab for the extraction of data from seized equipment, the Firearms programme for weapons tracing and ballistics analysis and the Fugitive Investigations unit to assist countries locate and arrest wanted environmental criminals.

INTERPOL Secretary General Jürgen Stock said the project embodied the added value of INTERPOL to help countries more effectively target specific crime threats.

“Protecting the world’s wildlife heritage is our collective responsibility, as global citizens and as international law enforcement,” said Secretary General Stock.

“It is essential that decisive action is taken to combat environmental crime and this project targeting the organized crime links between Africa and Asia will enable all involved actors to unite in their efforts, and provide a blueprint for future actions elsewhere in the world,” added the INTERPOL Chief.

A recent INTERPOL-UN Environment report showed 80 per cent of countries consider environmental crime a national priority, with the majority saying new and more sophisticated criminal activities increasingly threaten peace and security.

Supported by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and in collaboration with the International Consortium on Combatting Wildlife Crime (ICCWC), the INTERPOL initiative will draw on the intelligence gathered from existing projects including Wisdom, Predator and Scale.

In addition to expanding the level of investigative cooperation between the involved countries, the project will also provide increased analytical support for activities both in the field and for online investigations.

Fisheries crime will also be targeted as part of the project. Due to the increasing value of fish as a commodity, the last decade has seen an escalation of transnational and organized criminal networks engaged in this type of crime.

In addition to undermining the sustainability of marine resources, illegal fishing is also often linked to human trafficking with crews subjected to labour and human rights abuses, fraud in regulatory systems and corruption, damaging legitimate businesses and economies.
© INTERPOL 2017. All rights reserved.

Protect Northwest Forests for Spotted Owl – American Bird Conservancy


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Petition – Eagle Rule – American Bird Conservancy


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Petition – Time to End Bird Deaths in Pipes – American Bird Conservancy


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Help Protect Seabirds! – American Bird Conservancy


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American Bird Conservancy’s “Together for Birds” Petition – American Bird Conservancy


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Petition: Don’t Let Trump Kill the Endangered Species Act


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Pronghorn Deaths Blamed on Japanese Yew | Idaho Fish and Game

                
Idaho » Department of Fish and Game

Restore Boise River WMA
Black’s Creek Range

Press Release
Pronghorn Deaths Blamed on Japanese Yew
By Evin Oneale, Regional Conservation Educator
Wednesday, January 18, 2017 – 5:00 PM MST

Just two weeks ago, a group of eight elk died in the Boise foothills after feeding on Japanese yew plants. This week, a herd of 50 pronghorn antelope have been found dead in the town of Payette, victims of the same toxic shrub.

The pronghorn were reported to Fish and Game staff early Tuesday afternoon, January 17th; conservation officers located the 50 animals in one large scattered group later that day. Cause of death was not immediately evident, and four of the carcasses were transported to the Fish and Game Health Laboratory for evaluation.

Fish and Game wildlife veterinarian Dr. Mark Drew confirmed the cause of death on Wednesday. “All four animals were in good body condition, but with congested lungs and kidneys,” Drew noted. “All had Japanese yew twigs and needles in their esophagus and rumen; cause of death was yew toxicity.”

Earlier in the week, a larger herd of pronghorn bedded on an ice jam in the Snake River, crossing to the Idaho side on Monday near Centennial Park. They then moved south along the river towards Payette Pond. “There are a number of residences along this route where they may have encountered the shrub,” Fish and Game conservation educator Evin Oneale said. “Like other big game species that graze on Japanese yew, they died quickly after ingesting the plant.”

Japanese Yew or Taxus cuspidate is a common landscaping shrub, despite the fact that its soft, waxy needles are fatal to a variety of species, including elk, moose, horses, dogs and even humans. In some locations, this year’s winter weather is pushing big game animals into more urban neighborhoods increasing the likelihood that Japanese yew plants will be encountered.

Because of the risk to big game animals, the department urges homeowners to inventory their property and remove and landfill any Japanese yew that might be growing at their residence. Alternatively, the plants can be wrapped with burlap to prevent access by big game animals.
Pronghorn (Antilocapra americana)

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Thirty pronghorn die trying to cross frozen Idaho river | Reuters

 

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Environment | Tue Jan 17, 2017 | 7:49pm EST

Thirty pronghorn die trying to cross frozen Idaho river

By Laura Zuckerman | SALMON, Idaho

Thirty pronghorns, close cousins to antelope, died while crossing a frozen river in south central Idaho, in a very rare event for the sure-footed mammals, state wildlife managers said Tuesday.

About 500 pronghorns, which look like small deer and are famed for being the fastest land animal in North America, were seeking to cross the frozen Snake River near a wildlife refuge in Idaho on Sunday when part of the herd began slipping and falling on the ice, according to the Idaho Department of Fish and Game.

Roughly 200 of the pronghorns, so named for the short, forked horns on their heads, had successfully crossed the stream before a group of 47 became stranded on the ice, prompting hundreds of others to turn back to shore.

Idaho wildlife managers mounted a rescue mission on Monday, by which time just 36 pronghorns remained on the ice sheet. Ten of those had been killed and partially eaten by coyotes, 20 were so severely injured that they had to be euthanized on the spot and six survivors were taken by airboat to shore and released, Fish and Game officials said.

Although deer and elk periodically die seeking to cross frozen waterways, such incidents are rare when it comes to pronghorns, state wildlife officials said.

“I have never seen anything like it in my 26-year career,” Daryl Meints, regional Idaho Fish and Game wildlife manager, said in a statement.

The agency’s Gregg Losinski said pronghorns have traditionally been called antelope even though they are technically just a relative to both antelope and goats.
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Pronghorns, which are subject to regulated hunting in Idaho and elsewhere, are nicknamed “speed goats” for a swiftness of hoof that can see them reach speeds of nearly 60 miles per hour (97 kph), said Losinski.

(Reporting by Laura Zuckerman; Editing by Dan Whitcomb and Sandra Maler
© 2017 Reuters. All Rights Reserved.
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Watch “The Elephants that came to dinner | Mfuwe Lodge, Zambia” on YouTube

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Petition: Urgently stop all hunting in Freshwater Lagoon, Ca, to protect the threatened pochard!


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All Those Nice Houses We’re Building Are Affecting Songbird Reproduction | Care2 Causes


By: Susan Bird
Here’s something to think about whenever you pass by a new housing development. Researchers now say that as we continue to add to burgeoning suburban sprawl, we’re cheating songbirds out of the prime years of their reproductive lives.
University of Washington (UW) researchers released a study in December 2016 that paints a sad picture for certain types of songbirds. It seems that as we keep building houses and other infrastructure, we often disrupt their lives in ways they have a tough time recovering from.

The research team spent a decade following the movements and breeding habits of six types of birds who live in areas east of Seattle. Between 2000 and 2010, some of these sites transitioned from forested areas to new suburban developments. What happened to the hundreds of birds tracked in this study is a cautionary tale for us all.

Songbirds tend to fall into two types:
Avoiders – These birds mate monogamously, avoid places where humans are, and need groundcover and brush like felled trees, shrubs, ferns and root balls in order to breed. The Pacific wren and Swaison’s thrush are two examples of “avoider” songbirds in the Pacific Northwest.
Adapters/Exploiters – These birds do well around humans, aren’t always monogamous, and often live in backyards or birdhouses. They seem not to be bothered at all by the loss of forested areas or increased human activity. Bewick’s wren, the song sparrow, the dark-eyed junco and the spotted towhee are examples of “avoiders” or “exploiters”living in the Seattle area.

As you might expect, the “adapters” and “exploiters” studied by the team did pretty well when formerly forested areas underwent development. These birds are flexible and adaptable. They’re prepared to live, mate and begin a family nearly anywhere.
Photo credit: Thinkstock

Photo credit: Thinkstock
The “avoiders” didn’t fare as well. The loss of underbrush and trees proved devastating enough that they left the newly developed area entirely. For them, leaving means relocating to areas about the size of one and a half football fields away.

For a monogamous bird, having to flee home often ends up splitting mated pairs permanently. That meant the birds had to spend time finding a new home and then finding a new mate.

The life span of a bird isn’t particularly long. Unfortunately, UW’s researchers found that “avoider” birds lost up to half of their breeding years when forced to relocate. That’s not good. For rarer species, it’s especially problematic.

“The hidden cost of suburban development for these birds is that we force them to do things that natural selection wouldn’t have them do otherwise,” the study’s lead author, UW professor John Marzluff, said in a UW news release.

Most of us don’t even consider an impact of this type when we buy a parcel of property and build houses or a shopping center on it. We don’t think about the animals and birds who make a home in the trees and underbrush on that property. Maybe we assume they’ll head for the hills and find a new place to live.

                             

Photo credit: Thinkstock

Most probably do, but we’re often blissfully unaware of the long-term damage we might be doing to creatures like “avoider” birds. Without question, there are fewer of them around because our desire for more and more development affects their lives in profound ways.

“To conserve some of these rarer species in an increasingly urban planet is going to require more knowledge of how birds disperse,” Marzluff said in the UW news release. “I expect that as we look more closely, we will find birds that are compromised because of us.”

Losing your lifelong mate and half your breeding years is no small matter. As we continue to sanction urban sprawl, we risk compromising more and more bird species. 

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Save Baby Polar Bears From Toxic Chemicals

Baby polar bears are exposed to more than 1,000 times the safe limit of toxic chemicals through their mothers’ milk. Sign this petition to save the polar bears.

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Petition: Keep Botswana a Safe Haven for wildlife. So no to European demands for Trophy Hunting!


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Petition · Don’t make bears and mountain lions pay for human overdevelopment · Change.org


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Don’t Let the NRA Murder Elephants

The National Rifle Association wants to continue killing off the last wild elephants on earth. These majestic, extremely intelligent animals are nearly gone from this world due to hunting and poaching for the ivory trade. Demand the NRA be denied the right to kill.

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