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15 Fascinating Facts About Groundhogs and  3 Videos | Care2 Causes

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 ! ·

 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.

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Pronghorn Deaths Blamed on Japanese Yew | Idaho Fish and Game

Idaho » Department of Fish and Game

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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



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

Petition: Demand Investigation Into Colorado Parks and Wildlife: Save Wildlife – Don’t Slaughter it!

Petition: IUCN: Take Urgent Action to Save Cheetahs from Extinction!

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

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. 

Copyright © 2017, inc. and its licensors. All rights reserved

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.

Source: Save Baby Polar Bears From Toxic Chemicals

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

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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.

Source: Don’t Let the NRA Murder Elephants

China to Ban Elephant Ivory Trade in 2017 

Originally published by
The Chinese government today announced it will close its domestic commercial ivory market by the end of 2017.
Conservationists are applauding the move, calling it a “game-changer” for elephants, which are being rapidly driven toward extinction due to ivory poaching.
Momentum has been building for such action. Earlier this year the United States enacted a law to close its ivory market and both the IUCN and member states at CITES COP17 passed resolutions to close domestic elephant ivory markets.

The Chinese government today announced it will close its domestic commercial ivory market by the end of 2017, a move conservation groups are calling a “game-changer” for elephants, which are being rapidly driven toward extinction due to ivory poaching.

“This is great news that will shut down the world’s largest market for elephant ivory,” said Aili Kang, Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) Asia Executive Director, in a statement. “[This] will help ensure that elephants have a fighting chance to beat extinction.”

“This is a game changer for Africa’s elephants.”

Carter Roberts, President and CEO of World Wildlife Fund (WWF), added: “The large-scale trade of ivory now faces its twilight years, and the future is brighter for wild elephants. With the US also ending its domestic ivory trade earlier this year, two of the largest ivory markets have taken action that will reverberate around the world.”

China’s General Office of the State Council on Friday laid out a timeline for implementing the ban. By March 31, 2017, commercial processing and sale of ivory will be stopped. By the end of 2017, all trade will be barred. The government will step up law enforcement with the intent of curbing smuggling and illegal sales of ivory. China will also launch a public education and outreach campaign to “raise ecological civilization awareness, to guide the public to refuse to buy any ivory and ivory products, and to develop a good social environment to protect elephants and other wildlife,” according to a statement from the government.

Momentum has been building for such action. Earlier this year the United States enacted a law to close its ivory market and both the IUCN and member states at CITES COP17 passed resolutions to close domestic elephant ivory markets. China and Hong Kong have also taken steps to regulate and reduce the elephant ivory trade, including China’s pledge in 2015 to eventually shutter its ivory market and Hong Kong’s statement last week that it would end the ivory trade by 2021.

The news comes as elephant populations are plunging across Africa. A recent survey conducted over two years by the Great Elephant Census found that Africa’s savanna elephant population declined by 144,000 since 2007, equivalent to an population decline of eight percent per year. An earlier study reported that African forest elephant populations declined by 60 percent in just a decade.

Category: Featured, Social Media News Tags: elephant, ivory, mongabay
Copyright © 2017 · All Rights Reserved · Global Justice Ecology Project

Cheetahs are Racing Towards Extinction, Study Finds

The Jaguar

A screenshot of a beautiful cheetah on Wild Safari Live. Watch at A screenshot of a beautiful cheetah on Wild Safari Live. Watch at

The Zoological Society of London (ZSL), Panthera, and the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) recently collaborated on a comprehensive global survey of cheetah populations. Their findings are alarming.

According to this press release from Panthera, there are only 7,100 cheetahs (Acinonyx jubatus) left in the wild. They have lost 91% of their historic range, and 79% of wild cheetah populations number less than 100 individuals. The situation is particularly bad for the Asiatic cheetah; totaling fewer than 50 cats in Iran. In short, the cheetah is running out of time.

A number of factors have contributed to this decline. Habitat loss, poaching, live trafficking for the exotic pet trade, and loss of prey from bushmeat hunting threaten cheetahs throughout their range. Outside of protected areas, human-wildlife conflict (when cheetahs are killed due to…

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petition: IUCN: Save Giraffes from Extinction!

Oh Karma… Trophy Hunting Italian Vet Meets His Demise While Hunting Wild Birds | One Green Planet

Oh Karma… Trophy Hunting Italian Vet Meets His Demise While Hunting Wild Birds

Michelle Neff
December 15, 2016

A veterinarian who posed next to a lion he had killed recently died after falling off a 100-foot ravine while shooting birds. For a story like this, one would probably assume that we would take some sort of almost celebratory stance in the face of a hunter facing karma, but we’re kinda not going to go there. A man is dead, lions are being hunted for trinkets and the entire thing is pretty much awful.
Luciano Ponzetto is a veterinarian who received massive backlash after posting this photo.

After posting the photo of him with the lion, Ponzetto was forced to step down as medical director of a kennel business, even though he felt he “did nothing wrong.” Sadly, this is a fallacy that many trophy hunters believe, but it doesn’t change the fact that African lions are highly endangered in the wild. According to a report in National Geographic, “Approximately 600 lions are killed every year on trophy hunts, including lions in populations that are already declining from other threats.” It is easy for trophy hunters to see their kill as “just one animal,” but that fails to recognize that these animals exist in an ecosystem. Adult male lions are the favorite of hunters because of their prowess, but males play a very important role in stabilizing the pride. Reportedly, the death of a male lion, “can lead to more lion deaths as outside males compete to take over the pride.”
Further, the practice of “canned” hunting has gained traction in the past few decades. Here, lions are bred in captivity for the sole purpose of being auctioned off to trophy hunters who gun them down within the safety of an enclosure that animals have no hope of escaping from. According to Born Free USA’s Adam Roberts, despite the fact that lions have experienced a rate of decline of 50 percent in the past three generations, the trade in lions continues to rise — from 5,418 declared exports of lion specimens from 2003-2007 to 9,400 from 2008-2013 — elevating the threat that international trade represents for the species. With this in mind, it is never okay to glorify the killing of a lion for the sake of our entertainment.

While we can definitely understand the sentiments of those who regard Ponzetto, and those like him, with fury, we don’t celebrate anyone’s death (human or animal) and see the entire situation as utterly senseless. Ponzetto passed away after falling down a 100-foot ravine while shooting birds. Yes, it might seem karma-tic, but the fact is, he should have never been in that situation in the first place. We have to ask ourselves if the “thrill of the hunt” is really worth risking your own life – while deliberately taking that of another.

Here’s a novel concept that can keep this situation from happening in the future. Let’s leave the wildlife alone. Instead of going to shoot big game, why not take a trip to simply appreciate these animals in their natural state? You can also support organizations like the World Society for the Protection of Animals and the World Wildlife Fund who are working towards conservation – without killing.

Petition: Tell Congress To Save Wild Tigers From Extinction

Rest In Peace To Cecil The Lion’s Brother Jericho, You Will Be Missed! – World Animal News

Rest In Peace To Cecil The Lion’s Brother Jericho, You Will Be Missed!
By Margot Ryan –
November 2, 2016

“Many were saddened by news of the passing of what may have been the best known lion in the world after Cecil. Many were also puzzled by the lack of available information about the circumstances of Jericho’s death, and questioned the authenticity of the source. World Heritage Species has gathered together what is known about the discovery of Jericho’s death. People will still have questions – especially about the cubs and what will happen to them – and all we can say is that nature has and will continue to take its course, sometimes cruel, sometimes kind, but always a miracle.

Jericho was part of the Hwange Lion Research Project being conducted by Andrew Loveridge and Jane Hunt, of which Brent Stapelkamp had also been a part until he left to pursue his own goals. A detailed report released on Monday by the team said Jericho’s body had been discovered on Saturday at about 5pm local time during routine monitoring of collared lions by the Project. Jericho had been fitted with a GPS collar on July 5, 2016.
The report reveals that Jericho’s dead body was found in the Kennedy area, where he had established his territory, under a shaded ‘rest site’ frequently used by animals to shelter from the harsh African sun.

’The way in which he was positioned when found suggests he had died while resting at this point,’ Hwange Park spokesperson Caroline Wahaya-Moyo said.

A post mortem was done. Samples were taken from the body, which was severely decayed, and sent for testing. Jericho’s head was also removed and taken back to Hwange’s main camp for safe keeping. The rest of Jericho’s remains were buried at the site in a deep hole to prevent him being devoured by scavengers. The team did not see any evidence to suggest that he had died due to any kind of traumatic injury such as gunshot, snare and wounds from fighting and did not appear to have struggled prior to death. It is believed that the death was due to natural causes.

“This is very feasible because the lion was 12 and-a-half years of age (born June 2004) at the time of death, which is old for a male lion living in the wild,” the report said.

From World Heritage Species:

The above account suggests that Jericho died just like any number of other lions would have died in this part of the continent – anonymously and in accordance with the laws of nature. The difference in this case was that Jericho was not “just any lion”, but someone many of us felt we had come to know. Still, nature took its course: it had been reported he was looking “frail” during a game count of Hwange animals in September, the years were advancing upon him, the severe drought in this part of the continent may have been taking its toll.

As he fell into eternal sleep under his shady tree, we like to think this feisty warrior, loyal companion, and proud and loving father went peacefully. R.I.P.”

Brent Stapelkamp, a photographer who has been studying the lions in Zimbabwe for years, this is what he had to day:
“It is with a heavy heart that I confirm the death of yet another iconic lion, Jericho. It is almost certain that he died of natural causes. The Lion project staff tracked his collar and found that he had died a few days before. Th guides said that they’d thought he was “panting strangely” but I only heard that after the fact. We must appreciate that 12 years is a long time for a wild lion and especially with all the “life” that hejammed into those dozen years. My wife and I are very sad because he is probably the last lion of the generation of lions that we found here when we arrived in 2006/2007 and so knew him very well. My wife named him and his brothers.”

By: World Heritage Species

Photo Credit:, World Heritage Species,

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BREAKING: 10,000 Critically Endangered Frogs Found Dead | The Rainforest Site Blog

posted 1 week ago By The Rainforest Site
BREAKING: 10,000 Critically Endangered Frogs Found Dead

Something is in the water at Lake Titicaca, and it isn’t anything healthy. 10,000 Titicaca water frogs have been found dead across a 30 mile area between Bolivia and Peru.

This particular species of frog is incredibly unique, in that it is entirely aquatic and lives permanently underwater. It is also critically endangered.

The frogs use their skin to absorb oxygen from the water they live in, and because of the many folds and wrinkles they have, their effective surface area is increased drastically to help increase their underwater breathing ability.

According to Peru’s National Forestry and Wildlife Service, the group is currently evaluating what has happened and will likely be performing a formal investigation.
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The Committee Against the Pollution of the Coata River has believed for some time that the most recent deaths are due to rampant pollution. And it isn’t the first time something like this has happened. Another mass-death occurred a little more than a year ago in the same area.

“I’ve had to bring them the dead frogs,” said protest leader Maruja Inquilla to AFP. “The authorities don’t realize how we’re living. They have no idea how major the problem is. The situation is maddening.”

In 2015 when the first mass-death event occurred, it went largely unnoticed by the Peruvian authorities despite the plentiful reports on the situation.

According to Arturo Muñoz of the Bolivian Amphibian Initiative, the deaths are likely a result of high sulfur levels in the lake which have been made worse by strong winds and heavy rains.
“In December 2014, there was a bloom of algae that turned the water in the area completely green,” Muñoz said to IFLScience. “The bloom of the algae also causes an unbalance in all water parameters.”

Muñoz believes the high sulfide levels and the previous algae bloom were the two main causes for the frog deaths.

This explanation however does little to explain the largely unchecked pollution levels that have been previously reported in Lake Titicaca.

On the southeastern shore of the lake in Bolivia, pollution has run rampant from the quickly-growing city of El Alto.

There are 130 factories operating in El Alto, and nearly seventy percent of them are run illegally with zero pollution monitoring.

Despite there being an authority to manage to lake, the group is poorly funded and understaffed, making it nearly impossible to make any real changes to the surrounding area.

If these already endangered frogs are to be preserved, there needs to be a significant change in the governing bodies that are in change of the lake in both Bolivia and Peru.
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BREAKING: Romania Bans Trophy Hunting Of All Brown Bears, Wolves, Lynx & Wild Cats – World Animal News

BREAKING: Romania Bans Trophy Hunting Of All Brown Bears, Wolves, Lynx & Wild Cats
By Margot Ryan –
October 6, 2016

Romania has just banned trophy hunting of all brown bears, wolves, lynx and wild cats!

This was a surprise decision from the country and gives Europe’s largest population of large carnivores a reprieve from its most severe and immediate threat which is hunting.

Since Romania’s accession into the European Union in 2007, the amount of large carnivores being shot for sport had been growing year after year. In 2016, Romania’s largest hunting quota to date allowed hunters to shoot 550 bears, 600 wolves and 500 big cats over 12 months.

Hunting has grown in Romania over the last decade to be a multimillion-euro industry with hunters from around the world who pay up to €10,000 (£8,800) to be able to claim a ‘trophy’.

There is a loophole in the European law which has enabled Romanian Government to allow for the culling of wild animals who have posed a danger to humans. Under the habitats directive, all large carnivorous animals are protected in European Union member states, however the state can allow the killing of specific animals if there has been an attack to a person or damage to a private property.

“Hunting for money was already illegal, but it was given a green light anyway,” environment minster, Cristiana Pasca-Palmer, told the Guardian. ‘The damages [clause in the habitats directive] acted as a cover for trophy hunting.”

Every year, hunting associations from across the country need to submit two numbers. One is the total population of each large carnivore species, and the total number which they believed to be likely to cause damages. The second would then act as a basis for a government-issued hunting quota for each species. This data is then dispersed to hunting companies and sold as rights to the public.

“This method raised some questions,” says Pasca-Palmer. “How can hunting associations count how many animals are causing damages – before the damages have happened? By introducing the ban, what we are doing is simply putting things back on the right track, as the habitats directive originally intended.”

Wildlife NGOs claim that the estimated numbers of large carnivore populations could be largely miscalculated due to the strategy in which they are collected. Hundreds of hunting associations are responsible for collecting data from small areas of land, and because animals are prone to wondering, individual animals may then be counted numerous times by different associations. This misrepresentation could potentially push the total population statistics up by thousands.

This new ban is expected to divide Romania’s population and pitch rural and urban dwellers against each other. Larger cities are in strong support of the government’s decision however, villagers who live in Romania’s countryside see large carnivores as a daily threat and a persistent nuisance livestock farmers. These villagers see hunting these animals as their only solution.

Csaba Domokos, a bear specialist with wildlife protection NGO Milvus group, puts the success or failure of this ban in the hands of the government and their ability to help with the rural population’s fears.

“Damages caused by large carnivores are a very real concern in the countryside,” he said. “The system up until now did not work; hunting does not reduce conflicts between carnivores and humans; in fact many studies show that with wolves and large cats, it can actually increase the problem.”

“But the rural population believes that hunting is the answer, and unless they can be convinced otherwise, people may well start to take the problem into their own hands. The ban is a great step, but we don’t want hunting to be replaced by poaching.”

Domokos points out that hunters also have a vested interest in the protection of their quarry. “To some extent, hunting acts as a financial incentive for wildlife management, from preventing poaching to conserving habitats. There is some concern that once you take that away, the government will not invest enough to replace it.”

The government intends to take management of wildlife incidents into its own hands. They will set up a special unit within the paramilitary police force who will evaluate nuisance and damage reports made buy large carnivores and deal with that animal directly. The ministry of environment has discussed the possibility of relocating the animals out of the country into counties who work to ‘rewild’ them.

The government ruled for this ban after there had been a growing push to protect Romania’s wild mountains which has seen anti-corruption officers convict dozens of foresters, hunters and local officials in recent years.

“The Carpathian mountains are home to more biodiversity than anywhere else in Europe, but for too long they have been ruthlessly exploited for forestry and hunting. Let’s hope the government’s decision is a sign of things to come,” says Gabriel Paun, an activist and conservationist. He was behind a petition that collected 11,000 signatures in the weeks before the hunting ban was decided.

Paun sees the government’s decision as a step towards a safer future for Europe’s wild spaces.

We thank Romania’s Government for issuing this ban and hope that countries around the world follow in the footsteps of those who are making wildlife conservation efforts.