About Exposing the Big Game

Jim Robertson

There Will Be Blood

If you want to make a conservation biologist squirm, try this question: “How do you think the animal feels?” Scientists usually think in terms of populations and species.”


The pressure to reach for a gun to help save one animal from another is stronger than ever. And it has triggered a conservation problem from hell.

By Warren Cornwall

We usually think conservation means saving animals. But its history is tinged with blood. John Audubon, a patron saint of the American conservation movement, killed hundreds of birds, partly for sport and partly for specimens to pose for his paintings. Aldo Leopold, a father of ecological science, endorsed killing wolves to increase deer populations.

Today, as climate change pushes animals into each other’s overlapping territories and humans drive ever more species to the brink of extinction, the pressure to reach for a gun to help save one animal from another is stronger than ever. In recent years, the federal government has shot Arctic foxes to guard the nests of rare Steller’s eider ducks. In Texas and Oklahoma, hunters blast cowbirds that take over the nests of endangered black-capped vireos. Sea lions have been put to death for the sake of salmon on the Northwest’s Columbia River. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers plans to kill 16,000 double-crested cormorants in 2015 to help those same salmon. But the most controversial case may prove to be the northern spotted owl.

The spotted owl, an icon of the environmental movement, is a shy bird that favors ancient forests. Its declining numbers led to its listing under the Endangered Species Act, bringing a halt to most old-growth logging in Northwest federal forests in the early 1990s. Today, the migration of the barred owl from its original East Coast home poses a potentially fatal threat. Bigger and more aggressive than its smaller cousin, the barred owl has gradually pushed south in a seemingly inexorable wave since arriving in western Canada in the mid-twentieth century. Wherever it turns up in large numbers, spotted owls start to disappear. Biologists suspect spotted owls abandon their nests when they are driven off by the barred owl. In at least one case, a barred owl appeared to have killed and eaten a spotted owl.

Alarmed by the rapid decline of the remaining spotted owls, desperate biologists, federal bureaucrats, and environmentalists have hit upon a last-ditch, bloody scheme: shoot enough barred owls to create breathing room for spotted owls. Last winter, after years of studying the pros and cons of various approaches, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service embarked on a six-year experiment in four small parts of the Northwest (the initial four-year plan stretched to six, due to budget problems). Trained marksmen killed 71 barred owls in the first season, a number that could grow to as many as 3,600 owls over the span of the entire experiment. The tests are designed to show what it would take to really make a difference for the spotted owls. If the experiment is deemed a success, it could pave the way for death warrants for thousands of owls every year for decades, if not forever. It would be the largest known mass killing of raptors.

For bird lovers or for anyone with a soft spot for wild animals, this is a problem from hell. Nobody is happy with the options. Bob Sallinger, conservation director of the Audubon Society of Portland, summed it up neatly: “On the one hand, killing thousands of owls is completely unacceptable. On the other hand, the extinction of the spotted owl is completely unacceptable.”

The shootings have prompted an unusual amount of soul-searching. For the first time ever, the Fish and Wildlife Service—an agency with plenty of blood on its hands—convened people to grapple with the ethics of killing one animal for the sake of another. How should humans get involved in a fight between species? Step into the boots of people on the front lines of the owl wars. Would you open fire?


Finger on the Trigger

The first time Lowell Diller shot a barred owl, he almost couldn’t pull the trigger. He was standing in a grove of Douglas firs and redwoods outside the tiny northern California mill town of Korbel on a damp February afternoon in 2009.

body count graph sm There Will Be Blood

He had lured the bird with a speaker perched on a stump, programmed to send out the barred owl’s haunting eight-note call: who-who, who-whooo . . . who-who, who-whooo. Now the female was perched just 30 meters away, an easy shot with his 20-gauge shotgun. Even in the fading light, he could see the distinctive white and brown stripes down its breast.

Diller had partly hoped no owl would answer his call. He raised the shotgun to his shoulder and tried to take aim. But he was shaking so badly, he feared he would miss. He lowered the gun, taking deep breaths and whispering to himself to calm down, to relax. He braced himself against a tree to steady the gun, told himself it was for the sake of science, and fired.

“It just fundamentally seemed so wrong to be shooting one of these birds,” said Diller, who recently retired from his job as a wildlife biologist with the Seattle-based Green Diamond Resource company. “You just don’t shoot raptors.”

Diller’s queasiness embodies the profound unease people are feeling in the Northwest. In the end, Diller weighed the options and chose what he felt was the lesser of two evils. Doing nothing, he feared, meant accepting the demise of the spotted owl. And that, for him, meant that the killing experiment was worthwhile. If someone needed to do the dirty work, Diller felt he shouldn’t ask someone else to take that job. Since that first day, he has shot 96 barred owls. It hasn’t gotten much easier.

This past spring, he and a handful of marksmen finished the first season of the experiment. They called it quits around the time eggs hatched, because they didn’t want to orphan chicks. The Fish and Wildlife Service draws the line at leaving young birds to slowly starve. This underscores the odd ways ethics can pop up in wildlife management. The shooters will be back in the fall, trying to kill those same owls.


The Fate of a Species Trumps that of the Individual

How many barred owls would you kill to save a spotted owl? One? A hundred? A thousand? The calculus is straightforward for Dave Werntz: as many as it takes. Werntz is the science and conservation director for the environmental group Conservation Northwest, based in Bellingham, Washington. He sees the spotted owl as a rare, native species threatened by a new arrival that will likely survive quite well even if thousands are killed every year. So he supports an even more ambitious killing program than the one that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is considering. He likens owl removal to pulling a weed. “I don’t see the barred owl as much different [from] addressing Himalayan blackberry or other domineering species that are impacting our landscape,” he said.

killing for conservation There Will Be BloodHis life has been intertwined with northern spotted owls for more than a quarter-century. In the late 1980s, he wandered the forests of southwest Washington, hooting like an owl. He was working for the U.S. Forest Service, counting spotted owls and tracking where they nested. It was the peak of the Northwest’s legendary timber wars, a time when protesters chained themselves to logging equipment to save vestiges of old-growth forest, loggers burned spotted owls in effigy, and federal courts took control of much of the region’s public timberlands—in part to protect the owl.

Repelled by clearcuts, and fascinated with the owls and old-growth forests, Werntz went back to school. He studied under University of Washington ecologist Jerry Franklin, a pioneer of a new understanding of the richness of old-growth forests. Werntz has been on the front lines of the fight over the owls ever since. In the 1990s, Werntz worked with environmental groups to push for stronger owl protections. Later he toiled to stop the timber industry from rolling back logging restrictions.

The politically charged history of owls and old growth makes the case of the barred owl even more fraught with controversy. Since humans destroyed spotted owl habitat and brought the species to this dire moment, Werntz believes people have an obligation to save the last remaining ones.

Nevertheless, Werntz frames the killing of barred owls as primarily a scientific matter, not a political or ethical one. This is a view commonly espoused by conservation scientists trained to think in terms of the fate of entire species rather than individual animals. While he doesn’t relish killing barred owls, Werntz sees it as necessary to protect a native species integral to the forests he loves. Biodiversity trumps squeamishness about bloodletting.


The Individual Matters

If you want to make a conservation biologist squirm, try this question: “How do you think the animal feels?” Scientists usually think in terms of populations and species. Individuals form the raw materials for the grand Darwinian drama of survival and evolution. Feelings are, by and large, beside the point.

But for some, the barred owl is a majestic creature endowed with animal intelligence—not a pest. Fish and Wildlife Service officials learned that at public meetings about the owl removal plan. They came to talk science. Many in the crowd spoke of how they felt about the owls as individuals.

bad year for birds and mammals2 There Will Be Blood

Now a growing number of researchers are trying to bridge those two perspectives. They argue that the conventional approach to conservation risks ignoring the lives and experiences of wildlife—making for poor science and shaky ethics. Their new field, “compassionate conservation,” draws on a body of research documenting the cognitive and emotional lives of animals. Injured chickens self-medicate. Crustaceans learn to avoid pain, and they respond to stress in a way similar to that of vertebrates. And rats and dogs—even bees—are capable of pessimism. The more we learn about how animals think and feel, the more we empathize with them and the less we can ignore the suffering we inflict.

“The guiding principle of compassionate conservation is ‘First, do no harm,’ which means the life of each and every individual animal is valued,” writes Marc Bekoff in his “Animal Emotions” column at Psychology Today. Bekoff, a University of Colorado professor emeritus and animal behavior researcher, is a leading voice in the compassionate conservation field. “Trading off individuals of one species for the good of individuals of another species isn’t acceptable,” he says. That means no killing of barred owls.

Yet for many people, the owl dilemma falls into a gray area in which there is tension between the fate of the individual and the survival of a species.

Bill Lynn started out suspicious of the idea of shooting owls. An ethicist at Loyola Marymount University and Clark University in Massachusetts, he was hired by the Fish and Wildlife Service to run stakeholder meetings about the ethics of the lethal experiment. At first, he suspected the government’s killing program was a knee-jerk response that showed little regard for the animals. But the spotted owl’s dire situation changed his mind. He concluded that the experiments, if done as humanely as possible, would be a “sad good”—something unfortunate yet worth doing to help save a species. But he won’t endorse a region-wide war on barred owls until he sees how high the death toll would be.


What’s the Exit Strategy?

Even if we manage to negotiate the moral thicket of killing one owl to save another—and emerge at the other end with gun at the ready—we run headlong into a practical question: What’s the exit strategy? Can we kill 10,000 barred owls every year forever?

That’s the figure some experts in the field use when they talk about what it will take to truly help spotted owls recover in the Northwest. On the optimistic side, some (such as Diller and Werntz) believe that as Pacific Northwest forests continue to recover from logging and more owl habitat opens up, the killing could slow down or stop after a few decades. Others worry that new habitat will just fill up with even more barred owls, creating a never-ending killing operation.

“I think in the long run we simply can’t control barred owl populations on a large scale,” said Eric Forsman, a U.S. Forest Service wildlife biologist and pre-eminent spotted owl researcher. “It would be incredibly expensive and essentially you’d have to do it forever.”

To date, studies on the effectiveness of lethal barred owl removal have been limited in scope and scale. In small tests on private forestland in northern California, spotted owls returned to nearly all their former nest sites after people shot barred owls that had taken over, according to Diller, who took part in the experiment. Where barred owls were left alone, he said, spotted owl numbers continued to fall. Those results have yet to be published.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, for its part, hasn’t offered a long-term plan of attack. They’re awaiting the results of their six-year experiment. That experiment is expected to cost $4 million—more than $1,000 per dead bird. And it will cover only two percent of spotted owl habitat in Washington, Oregon, and northern California. The other 98 percent is the worrisome part.

The logistics alone are daunting. First, there’s the problem of finding enough qualified shooters. It’s tricky to tell the difference between a barred owl and a spotted owl. For the experiment, the government is relying on trained gunmen. But declaring open season on barred owls could be a recipe for unacceptable collateral damage.

Then there’s the politics. Even if it is technically feasible, will the public get behind an open-ended mass owl killing with no clear exit strategy? Kent Livezey, a retired Fish and Wildlife biologist, has his doubts. “Even if you got the public to agree the first year, you just need some photographer to go out with them and show a bunch of dead owls,” he said.

Livezey worked for years to save spotted owls, helping to craft the plan for their recovery. But he’s personally repelled by the shooting plan, and he bowed out of the owl work when it came time to devise the experiment. For him, there were just too many dead raptors, and the plan set a bad precedent for other clashes between wildlife. He would rather see people pick a fight that can be won. He imagines using guns to halt the advance of barred owls south into the territory of the California spotted owl, a species that’s not rare yet. But it also means leaving the northern spotted owl without armed bodyguards. “Personally, I would just let nature run its course,” he said.


Warren Cornwall is an environmental and science journalist living in Bellingham, Washington

U.S. proposal to “protect” African lions hands their heads to hunters

Vier Pfoten/Lionsrock Sanctuary

WASHINGTON D.C.––“Wild” African lions may in the future exist only as a species cultivated for trophy hunting, anticipates an October 29, 2014 U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service proposal to list them as a “threatened” species.

Published in the October 29, 2014 edition of the Federal Register, the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service notice of proposed rulemaking is open for 90 days of public comment, ending in January 2015, before taking effect.

The listing proposal was hailed as a victory for the trophy hunting industry by Safari Club International, and was mourned as an at least partial defeat by the Humane Society of the U.S., Humane Society International, International Fund for Animal Welfare, Defenders of Wildlife, and Born Free USA, whose 2011 petition to the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service initiated the “threatened” species listing process.

Lions down by half since 1980

The International Union for the Conservation of Nature estimates that there are now about 32,000 to 33,000 African lions, down from 75,000 circa 1980. Most of the remaining African lions, the IUCN believes, are concentrated in 10 regions of eastern and southern Africa. Barely 400 lions are believed to survive in the whole of west Africa.

The IUCN numbers are conservative. Laurence Frank of the University of California in a September 2003 article for New Scientist argued that the African lion population had plummeted from as many as 230,000 circa 1980 to just 23,000.

Vier Pfoten/Lionsrock Sanctuary

Accepting the IUCN figures, the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service population analysis also took into account that, “Captive-held African lions, including those that are managed for trophy hunting in South Africa and lions held in captivity in zoos, are believed to number between a few thousand and 5,000 worldwide.”

Wild vs. captive

Failing to distinguish fully wild and free-roaming African lions from lions raised in captivity or quasi-captivity for much of their lives, the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service lion population analysis concluded––almost by default––that lions have little or no future as a part of the African wildlife ecology, except within protected habitat.

The U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service lion population analysis also did not qualitatively differentiate between habitat protected as a complete working ecosystem, as in large national parks, and habitat protected exclusively to propagate hunted species.

In effect, the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service lion population analysis puts animal advocates in the awkward position of having to argue against a proposal which for the most part assigns equal status to both wild and captive lions.
Animal rights and welfare philosophies, and animal rights and welfare organizations, mostly hold that wild and domesticated animals should have equivalent moral standing, with equivalent protection from exploitation.

Lion_March498a1923cfeb3274cbEffectively opposing the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service lion population analysis would appear to require either overturning much of the scientific data it incorporates, frequently taken from some of the same sources used by the Humane Society of the U.S., Humane Society International, International Fund for Animal Welfare, Defenders of Wildlife, and Born Free USA in their petition to protect African lions, or arguing that wild and free-roaming African lions should be regarded as intrinsically different and more valuable than those raised in captivity to be shot.

Captive hunting

The animal advocacy organizations contended in petitioning for African lions to be protected that the existence of the lion trophy hunting industry jeopardized wild lions in several different ways: among others, by directly encouraging the deaths of wild lions; by encouraging African nations to allow populations of wild and free-roaming lions to be replaced by populations of short-lived captives; and by permitting the growth of a lion bone export industry which––for a time, anyhow––might be supplied by the bones of wild lions as well as those of lions who had in effect been farmed.

The petitioners hoped that obtaining a “threatened” designation for African lions from the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service would close the U.S. to all imports of lion trophies. This would not only have protected wild African lions, but also have all but closed the “canned lion” hunting industry, a longtime focus of humane concern.

David Macdonald of the Oxford University Wildlife Conservation Research Unit, editor of the Encyclopedia of Mammals, in a September 2003 address to the Zoological Society of London mentioned that hunters caused 63% of the lion mortality he had recently documented in a five-year study of lions in Botswana and Zimbabwe.
Macdonald’s findings helped to fuel a decade of activism leading to the petition for African lions to be listed as threatened.

Lions in Kenya.  (Elissa Free photo)

Indigenous hunting

But the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service recognized hunting as a threat to the survival of African lions as a species only in contexts involving indigenous African people.

“The lion’s prey base has decreased in many parts of its range for various reasons, “ the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service lion population analysis said, “but a large factor is due to competition for meat from humans…Historically, subsistence hunting with spears was traditionally used to hunt wildlife, which had minimal impact to wildlife populations. Spears have since been replaced by automatic weaponry, allowing for poaching of large numbers of animals for the bushmeat trade.”

Among the species most often poached for bushmeat, most of which is exported to cities and sold for cash, are the hooved animals forming most of the African lion prey base.

The U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service also recognized threats to African lions from farmers and pastoralists trying to protect livestock.

“In Tanzania, which is home to more than 40% of the African lion population, conversion of rangeland to agricultural use has blocked several migratory routes for wildebeest and zebra populations,” the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service observed. As both wildebeest and zebras are staples of the African lion diet, this “likely forces lions to rely more on livestock.”

Kenya Wildlife Service deputy director Samuel Kasiki and Elly Hamunyela, director of the Natural Resources Department of Namibia, estimated in April 2014 that loss of prey and retaliatory killing by pastoralists accounted for 95% of lion mortality in Kenya. Kasiki and Hamunyela reported that Tanzania had allowed trophy hunters to kill about 2,000 lions from 1999 through 2008, 870 lions had been shot for trophies in Zimbabwe during the same years, and 168 had been killed in Namibia.

Trophy hunting

As of May 2014, 18 nations allowed lion hunting for trophies, the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service found, but only nine of them had any actual lion trophy hunting activity––possibly because they no longer had lions. Twelve nations had suspended or banned lion trophy hunting.

Vier Pfoten/Lionsrock Sanctuary

The British organization LionAid told Reuters earlier that lions have been extirpated from 25 African nations, and have nearly disappeared from 10 more, leaving only about half a dozen nations whose lion populations are not in imminent jeopardy.

“South Africa has not set a quota for the take of wild lions,” the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service noted, “since 99% of the trophy-hunted lions [in South Africa] are reportedly not of wild origin, but captive-born.”

South Africa has about 2,800 wild lions, plus as many as 3,500 captive-bred lions, of whom 680 to 1,000 per year are shot for trophies, according to Kasiki and Hamunyela––markedly more than were killed in South Africa a decade ago, according to data reported in 2007 by Humane Society International wildlife director Teresa Telecky.

“Most of the nearly 1,200 lion trophies exported from South Africa from 1994 to 2005 went to the U.S.,” Telecky said then. “In 2005, 206 of the 322 lion trophies exported were captive-bred. One hundred twenty of those went to the U.S.”

Money talks

Altogether, 480 lions were known to have been killed in South Africa in 2006, 444 of them bred in captivity.
Hunters paid from $6,000 and $8,000 to shoot a female, and $20,000 and $30,000 to shoot a maned male.

The U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service acknowledged the amount of money involved in lion trophy hunting. “Lions are reported to generate the highest daily rate of any mammal hunted (USD $2,650 per day), the longest number of days that must be booked, and the highest trophy fee ($24,500),” the population analysis mentioned.

The United Nations Food & Agricultural Organization has separately estimated that the average price of a lion trophy is $29,000.

Vier Pfoten/Lionsrock Sanctuary

“Given the financial aspects of sport hunting,” the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service allowed, “it is reasonable to assume that corruption and the inability to control it could have a negative impact on decisions made in lion management by overriding biological rationales with financial concerns.”

U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service director Daniel M. Ashe told media that his agency “will want to know what’s happening to the revenue” derived from hunting.

“Does it go back to support the conservation of the species in the wild?” Ashe asked. “What do [lion trophy hunting nations] have to show us to determine if there’s a clear conservation benefit?”


But the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service lion population analysis assigned greatest weight to the numbers of lions purportedly conserved, rather than to the conditions in which the lions exist.

“Results of modeling indicate that by 2050 about 43% of lion populations in unfenced reserves may decline to less than 10% of the carrying capacities of the unfenced reserves, including those in Botswana, Kenya, Cameroon, Ghana, Tanzania, and Uganda,” the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service summarized, naming several of the nations––Botswana, Kenya, and Cameroon––which prohibit lion trophy hunting.

Josphat Ngonyo,  founder of Youth for Conservation in 1999 and the African Network for Animal Welfare in 2005,  has long fought the trophy hunting lobby to preserve the Kenyan ban on sport hunting.  (ANAW photo)

Kenya banned all sport hunting in 1977. The ban has been under almost constant political attack from Safari Club International, the African Wildlife Federation, and other pro-hunting organizations ever since. Botswana suspended lion hunting from 2001 to 2005, but lifted the suspension for two years after intensive lobbying by former U.S. President George H. Bush, former U.S. Vice President Dan Quayle, and retired U.S. Army General Norman Schwarzkopf, on behalf of Safari Club International. Lion hunting in Botswana was again suspended in 2008.

“According to the same modeling results,” the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service continued, “lion populations in fenced reserves are expected to remain at or above the carrying capacity of the fenced reserves for the next 100 years, although most are small protected areas with small lion populations,” typically maintained by captive breeding among a limited gene pool.

USFWS conclusion favors hunters

Concluded the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, “Although there is some indication that trophy hunting could contribute to local declines in lion populations through unsustainable quotas, corruption, and possible disruption of pride structure through infanticide and take of males who are too young, we do not find that any of these activities rises to the level of a threat to the African lion subspecies at this time…Because habitat loss has been identified as one of the primary threats to lion populations, it is notable that trophy hunting has provided lion range states incentives to set land aside for hunting throughout Africa…The total amount of land set aside for trophy hunting throughout Africa exceeds the total area of the national parks, providing half the amount of viable lion habitat…Therefore, we conclude, based on the best scientific and commercial information available, that trophy hunting is not a significant threat to the species.”

The U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service rejected the idea that the lion bone export trade, supplied mainly by the captive hunting industry, might be contributing to pressure on the lion population.

Vier Pfoten/Lionsrock Sanctuary

“Lion products, such as the trade in lion bone, seem to be primarily byproducts of trophy hunting; hunters are primarily interested in the trophy and skin, and therefore the bones and other parts are sold separately,” the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service said.

Summarized Washington Post environment reporter Darryl Fears,  “The proposal by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service would make the African lion the last big cat to receive federal protection under the Endangered Species Act,” but affords African lions little or no protection from trophy hunters.

“Hunting an animal listed as ‘endangered’ in Africa is legal if the host nation permits it,” Fears explained, “but the remains of the animal cannot be imported to the U.S. for a trophy. Hunting and trophies are allowed in the U.S. for ‘threatened’ animals, but hunters must apply for permits and the government can refuse a permit if it believes the plight of the species has worsened.

“Under the ‘threatened’ designation,” Fears wrote, the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service “will put in place a new permitting system for importing lion hunting trophies. Such trophies will be permitted only from nations that [convince USFWS that they] carefully use hunting as a way to manage lions to help preserve the species. The proposal takes about a year to become final.”

Petitioners respond

Said IFAW North American regional director Jeff Flocken, “We thank the U.S. government for acknowledging that this iconic species is in grave trouble, but to allow trophy hunting to continue unabated is kicking an animal while it’s already down.”

Humane Society International wildlife department director Teresa Telecky took a more optimistic view. “While we are disappointed that the U.S. government appears poised to continue allowing the import of some lion trophies,” Telecky said, “it is vital that protective trophy import standards be put in place and that there will be transparency in that process. American hunters import about 400 trophies of wild lions each year, so we hope that the Endangered Species Act protection will significantly curtail this destructive activity.”

Pledged Born Free USA chief executive Adam Roberts, “Born Free and our partners on the ground in Africa will keep vigilant watch on lions and lion trade to ensure that the government’s decision today enhances conservation. The lion has no margin for error.”


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Oregon Woman Killed by Her Father in Hunting Accident


Sheriff IDs woman killed in hunting accident

MYRTLE CREEK, Ore. – A 20-year-old woman died when her father accidentally shot her while the two hunted near Clarks Branch Road Thursday, about 10 miles north of Myrtle Creek, the Douglas County Sheriff’s Office said.

The sheriff identified the victim as 20-year-old Rachel Frerichs of Roseburg.
She was hunting with her father Don Frerichs, 49, when she suffered a gunshot wound just before 11 a.m. Thursday.
Lifesaving efforts by the father and first responders were not successful. pronounced dead at the scene.

The Douglas County Major Crimes Team is continuing their investigation into the incident.

Gray wolf reported at Grand Canyon for first time in decades


Thursday, October 30, 2014 LAURA ZUCKERMAN FOR REUTERS
(Reuters) – A gray wolf was recently photographed on the north rim of the Grand Canyon in Arizona in what would be the first wolf sighting in the national park since the last one was killed there in the 1940s, conservation groups said on Thursday.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service was sending a team to try capturing the animal in order to verify its species and origin, although federal biologists are assuming it is a wolf unless otherwise determined, a spokeswoman said.
The agency later issued a statement saying a collared “wolf-like” animal had repeatedly been observed and photographed on U.S. forest land just north of Grand Canyon National Park, and that wildlife officials were “working to confirm whether the animal is a wolf or wolf-dog hybrid.”
It said the collar “is similar to those used in the northern Rocky Mountain wolf recovery effort,” and that feces would be collected for DNA analysis.
Several photos of the animal were taken over the weekend by a Grand Canyon park visitor who shared them with conservation activists and park staff, according to the Center for Biological Diversity, which first made the findings public.
A note accompanying images viewed by Reuters said two wolf biologists and “an experienced wolf observer” who reviewed the photos concluded they “appear to depict a radio-collared northern Rocky mountain gray wolf.”
Any wolf roaming the Grand Canyon, in north-central Arizona, would be protected under the U.S. Endangered Species Act. If confirmed to be a western gray wolf, it would presumably have ventured hundreds of miles (km) south from the Northern Rockies, where the animals were reintroduced in the 1990s and are now estimated to number nearly 1,700.
A separate smaller population, from a subspecies called the Mexican gray wolf, inhabits southeastern Arizona and western New Mexico, hundreds of miles (km) in the opposite direction. But the animal in question appeared larger than a typical Mexican wolf, experts said.
The sighting comes as the Obama administration is weighing a proposal to lift Endangered Species Act protections for all wolves but the Mexican gray subspecies, even in states where wolves are not known to have established a presence.
Center for Biological Diversity executive Noah Greenwald said the new wolf sightings helped show such a move would be premature.
“It highlights … that wolves are still recovering and occupy just a fraction of their historic range,” he said.
(Reporting by Laura Zuckerman in Salmon, Idaho; Editing by Steve Gorman, Peter Cooney and Sandra Maler)

ACTION ALERT: US Democrat Senators, Up For Re-Election, Who Voted For The 2011 Wolf Delisting Rider

Originally posted on Howling For Justice:

Avenge wolves delist Congress Justin F 1.

October 30, 2014

Vote these Democrat bums out of office!! They sold wolves down the river for Jon Tester’s Senate seat, in the Spring of 2011, by voting for the budget bill/ wolf delisting rider. Only 3 US Democrat Senators voted no. Why did they do this? To hold onto their Senate majority. President Obama signed the bill into law.

What the rider says:

(“SEC. 1713. Before the end of the 60-day period beginning on the date of enactment of this Act, the Secretary of the Interior shall reissue the final rule published on April 2, 2009 (74 Fed. Reg. 15123 et seq.) without regard to any other provision of statute or regulation that applies to issuance of such rule. Such reissuance (including this section) shall not be subject to judicial review and shall not abrogate or otherwise have any effect on the order and judgment issued by the United…

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Teach Your Children Well


A PETITION TO TEACH CHILDREN RIGHT—HAVING A CHILD READ ABOUT “BAMBI”, and then teaching them to kill animals, or partake in what others kill, is a destructive to their psyches and their bodies….please, sign and share below, to say we must teach ANIMAL RIGHTS IN SCHOOLS…this is the only way, to ensure a kinder and GENTLER WORLD….thanks, Animal Freedom Fighters…


Montana man pulls knife on hunting partner after sexual advances rebuffed: police


Ravalli County Sheriff’s Offic. Robert Saunders, 31, was found drunk by police and refusing to leave his hunting partner’s property, according to an affidavit.

A Montana man allegedly pulled out a knife on his hunting partner when the friend turned down his drunken sexual advances after a day of hunting and drinking together, according to police.

Robert Dale Saunders, 31, was charged with felony assault with a weapon Monday.

Saunders reportedly “became verbally abusive and aggressive” with hunting partner Michael Smith when they returned to Smith’s home in Hamilton, Montana, Sunday night, according to an affidavit obtained by The Smoking Gun.

After cursing at Smith, Saunders allegedly grabbed him around the neck and pushed against his body. Saunders then grabbed his own groin and said, “You know what this is about.”

Smith told police he rebuffed Saunders’ sexual advances and asked him to leave, but Saunders refused.

As his hands were around Smith’s neck, Saunders allegedly pulled a 4-inch hunting knife from a sheath on his hip.

Fearing for his safety, Smith said he reached for his own knife. The two men entered into a stand-off, each holding a knife in the other’s direction, according to the affidavit.

Full story: http://www.nydailynews.com/news/national/montana-man-threatens-hunting-partner-police-article-1.1992402

And to think Teddy Roosevelt called it a “manly sport.”

This cartoon that appeared in The Washington Post led to the creation of the first "Teddy Bear" stuffed toy.