As the Population of Humans Doubles, the Number of Animals Halves

It’s unbelievable to me that in the year 2014—going on ’15—the media still does hyperbolic backflips every time some celebrity gets pregnant or decides it might be fun to become a daddy, as if human reproduction is some mysterious miracle we should all be awed by. Well, there’s only so much awe I can take before something becomes truly awful–especially in light of the fact that every new human born equates to less biodiversity for everyone.

That’s something I’ve known for a long time. Now, recent studies have officially confirmed that in the forty-six years since human overpopulation was first recognized as a serious problem, our numbers have more than doubled, while the number of naturally occurring animals is half of what it was then.

I’ve seen countless distressing instances of human “success” negating thatelk-000-home17300 of the rest of Earth’s creatures. The most vivid recent example pitted a new Costco, Home Depot and the site of a soon-to-be future Walmart against an elk herd’s migration corridor. Where stately Roosevelt elk once freely travelled between protected park lands, a lit-up strip mall and associated blacktop parking lots now spell the sad end for wildlife and wilderness alike.

In a scene played over and over across anywhere USA, more land is taken up by more lanes of highway so more people can visit more superstores. More and more road-kill results finally in fatality for a few humans, and before you know it, a “cull” is implemented on whatever wild species dares to stand in the way of human “progress.”

Throughout the land you can hear the battle cry: “Out of the way, animals, we’ve got diapers and baby carriages to buy.”

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What do Wolves, Hunting Accidents and Trophy Hunter Kendall Jones have in Common?

Answer: Well, nothing really, yet. They just happen to be three of the more popularHNTSTK_1_2__66133_1314490481_1280_1280 keywords, and I hoped that if I used them in a title I’d tempt more of you to read some of the recent posts that have been overlooked according to this blog’s stats.

Why, for instance, did an article about Kendall Jones’ trophy hunting pictures receive over 22,000 reads here, whereas posts about climate change, elk or mute swans have only been looked at by a few dozen?

I’m trying to figure out what makes people tick.

Maybe there just aren’t enough hunting accidents involving trophy hunters to keep people reading, so here’s one that someone made up:

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Did the Hunters Get your Wolves’ Elk?

In one of Edward Abbey’s many epic books he mentions seeing a bumper sticker on the back of a gas hog, redneck rig that went something like, “Did the coyotes get your deer?” It was an unabashed show of narcissistic entitlement which spelled out just how the driver felt about nature and the need for a diverse ecosystem.

Although his type doubtless have no qualms about supporting factory farming by buying a nightly meal of meat from the local “Western Family” grocery store, when hunting season rolls around they are right there to lay claim to the wildlife as well, in the form of deer, elk, moose or pronghorn.

It don’t mean shit that apex predators such as wolves, cougars, bobcats and coyotes have nothing else to eat and have evolved over eons to live in harmony with their wild prey. Hunters think of themselves as apex predators, decked out in their best Cabella’s camouflage outfit, tearing up the land on their trusty 4-bys or 4-wheelers, hoping a deer steps out in front of them.

But as a faithful reader pointed out this morning, human hunters aren’t apex predators, they’re apex parasites (Homo parasiticus).

Personally, I’d rather “my” deer went to the coyotes and “my” elk went to the wolves, as nature intended.

Text and Wildlife Photography ©Jim Robertson. All Rights Reserved

Text and Wildlife Photography ©Jim Robertson. All Rights Reserved

Great News for Elk: Hunting Nixed in Ecola Creek reserve

Photo  Jim Robertson

Photo Jim Robertson

By Nancy McCarthy
The Daily Astorian

CANNON BEACH — Hunting will no longer be allowed in the Ecola Creek Forest Reserve.

The Cannon Beach City Council decided Tuesday night to discontinue hunting on the north side of the city-owned 1,040-acre parcel in the Ecola Creek Watershed. The vote was 4-1, with councilors Mike Benefield, George Vetter and Melissa Cadwallader and Mayor Mike Morgan supporting a motion to ban hunting. Wendy Higgins, who said the council should fulfill its commitment to allow hunting for five years, opposed the motion.

Although the council had agreed in 2012 to allow bowhunting, and in 2013 to allow shotgun hunting in the reserve for five years, several councilors said they wanted to reconsider the decision. They pointed out that only five hunters – none of them Cannon Beach residents – had hunted in the area in the past two years.

“I did vote for the bond measure (providing $4 million for the Ecola reserve); I like to hike; I’m not a hunter, although I don’t have opposition to people who are hunters; and I definitely agree that hunting does not fit the definition of passive recreation,” said Councilor Mike Benefield.

Noting that a majority of those responding to a survey conducted when the reserve was initially proposed said they didn’t want hunting and wanted to allow only “passive recreation” in the area, Benefield called the idea of hunting “intimidating.” Benefield, who was appointed to the council to fill a vacancy several months ago, didn’t originally vote to allow hunting.

“I think the City Council made a mistake allowing hunting on the property, and I will vote to eliminate it,” Benefield said.

Morgan called it a “contentious issue” in the community.

“I think it’s barely worth the effort,” said Mayor Mike Morgan. “I think it’s time to end it.

“We’ve had only five hunters,” he added. “For all the angst and anxiety this has caused in this community, I don’t think it’s worth it.”

Those in the audience who supported hunting said they would have hunted in the reserve, but they weren’t able to acquire a tag from the Oregon Department and Fish and Wildlife, which issues tags on a lottery basis. However, the tags aren’t specifically for the Ecola Reserve but for all 800 square miles of the Saddle Mountain Unit, where hunting is allowed.

They also said the fee the city charged was a deterrent. The city charged $200 for a hunting permit during the first year and $50 last year.

“Why are you discussing this today when you agreed hunting would be allowed for five years?” asked Troy Laws, a hunter from Seaside. “It’s a matter of integrity.”

Despite hikers’ fears of potential harm when hunters are in the reserve, no problems have occurred so far, said Herman Bierdebeck, ODFW wildlife biologist. Bierdebeck said land where hunting has been allowed for generations – including the Ecola Forest Reserve before the city acquired it from the state Department of Forestry – is increasingly being removed from hunters’ access.

“You can continue this experiment,” he told the council. “There haven’t been any problems that we’re aware of, so why not let it continue?

Councilor Melissa Cadwallader, who opposed hunting in the reserve when the council originally approved it, noted that the reserve was a “very small piece of land” in the Saddle Mountain Unit. She pointed out that the city-approved management plan for the reserve provides for “adaptive management” that allows policy adjustments for the reserve’s management if changes occur.

“The surveys are not in favor of hunting, and the bond measure approving the creation of the reserve calls for passive recreation,” Cadwallader said. “I thought we had defined it.”

Although Councilor George Vetter suggested that the council consider adding a “sunset” clause allowing hunting for another year, no motion was made, and it wasn’t considered.

No More Mr. Nice Guy

I sent this letter to the editor to the Daily Astorian, over a week ago, a few days before the seal was run over on a nearby beach, but they don’t seem inclined to print it  I guess I shouldn’t have taken the nice guy approach. To tell the truth, I don’t care if their tourist trade goes under, the town dries up and blows away for good…

Dear Editor,

It seems there are a lot of reasons people can dream up to hate the wildlife their area is blessed with—especially if they already have their minds made up to be intolerant. Lately we’ve been reading a lot in the news about the sea lions in Astoria and the elk in Gearhart. If residents there would decide to accept their animal neighbors, they would find that the draw of watchable wildlife is worth any perceived problems that might come from having a few animals around.

Here’s part of a comment I read from a fellow wildlife photographer about the sea lions: “We talked to several people in nearby shops who expressed such hatred for the animals and spewed such misinformation, I swore I’d never return to Astoria. I realize not everyone who lives there shares these sentiments, but you’d think the citizens would understand (or care) what a wretched image this creates for their town.”

But there have been signs of tolerance recently in this paper, on both the sea lion and elk fronts. The article “Sea lion sanctuary a proven possibility” informs us that a haul out built specifically for sea lions would benefit both the animals and the town’s tourist trade. Meanwhile, in the poll “Elk: Love them or let them leave?” the most popular solution by far was simply, “better signage.” Clearly, in cases, the old adage, “live and let live” is in the best interest for all and is the right thing to do.

littleboyc09

 

Poachers kill more than wolves do, Idaho officials say

[Enough said? Now, how many do trophy hunters kill compared to wolves?]

Wildlife Photography ©Jim Robertson

Wildlife Photography ©Jim Robertson

>But he said if predators were killing as many game animals as poachers do, people would take action. “Holy buckets, we would be setting budgets aside,” Cummings said. “We would develop a group to figure out what it was and we would develop a plan to deal with it, but we won’t even talk about what impact this has on wildlife.”<

http://www.spokesman.com/stories/2014/apr/19/poachers-kill-more-than-wolves-do-idaho-officials/

LEWISTON – Poachers are likely killing far more game animals than wolves are, state wildlife officials in North Idaho say.

Officials told the Lewiston Tribune that last year in North Idaho they confirmed poaching of 30 elk, four moose, 13 mule deer and 57 whitetail deer, the newspaper reported Friday.

Officials say a realistic detection rate is 5 percent, meaning poachers are likely killing about 600 elk, 80 moose, 260 mule deer and 1,000 whitetail annually.

“It’s real easy for people to blow a gasket about wolf predation,” said Idaho Fish and Game District Conservation Officer George Fischer. “They are very passionate about it, they are very irate about it and they are livid about it. Yet there is a two-legged wolf out there that is probably killing as many or more than wolves. Wolves are causing an impact, there is no doubt about it; I don’t want to downplay that at all, but two-legged wolves are probably killing more or stealing more game than wolves. That is the shock-and-awe message.”

Barry Cummings, an Idaho Fish and Game conservation officer, said many people don’t report wildlife crimes because they don’t consider it a crime against them. The fine in Idaho for illegally killing an elk is $750, while the fine for illegally killing a moose is $10,000.

But he said if predators were killing as many game animals as poachers do, people would take action.

Mark Hill, a senior conservation officer for the Idaho Department of Fish and Game at Lewiston, said it’s not completely clear why people who are aware of poaching don’t turn lawbreakers in.

“I don’t know if it’s because they almost look at themselves in the mirror and say, ‘If I turn in so and so, I’m going to be reflecting on some of the things I do and they will turn me in,’ ” Hill said.

Buck Fever

Robert Scheer/The Star

This is X-Factor, an Indiana deer that in his prime was worth an estimated $1 million.

His value as a stud comes not from research and not from the quality of his venison. Instead, his value is in those freakish antlers, the product of more than three decades of selective breeding.

In less than 40 years, a relatively small group of farmers has created something the world has never seen before — a billion-dollar industry primarily devoted to breeding deer that are trucked to fenced hunting preserves to be shot by patrons willing to pay thousands for the trophies.

An Indianapolis Star investigation has discovered the industry costs taxpayers millions of dollars, compromises long-standing wildlife laws, endangers wild deer and undermines the government’s multibillion-dollar effort to protect livestock and the food supply.

To feed the burgeoning captive-deer industry, breeders are shipping an unprecedented number of deer and elk across state lines. With them go the diseases they carry. Captive-deer facilities have spread tuberculosis to cattle and are suspected in the spread of deadly foreign deer lice in the West. More important, The Star’s investigation uncovered compelling circumstantial evidence that the industry also has helped accelerate the spread of chronic wasting disease, an always-fatal deer disease similar to mad cow. CWD now has been found in 22 states.

CWD’s spread roughly coincides with the captive-deer industry’s growth. In half of the states where CWD was found, it first appeared in a commercial deer operation. Officials in Missouri, Nebraska, New York and Canada think captive deer or elk introduced the disease to the wild.

So far, government programs have failed to halt CWD’s spread, largely because there is no reliable way to test live animals for the disease. So infected deer may be shipped into disease-free states, where they can infect other animals, captive or wild. The Star’s investigation uncovered examples of deer escaping from farms, shoddy record keeping and meager penalties for those caught breaking the rules, which further undermine state and federal efforts to contain the disease. Plus, in less than a decade, more than a dozen people have been charged with smuggling live deer across state lines.

More: http://www.indystar.com/longform/news/investigations/2014/03/27/buck-fever-intro/6865031/

 

3 elk shot and left to die near Fernie, B.C.

Photo  Jim Robertson

Photo Jim Robertson

Conservation officer Frank DeBoon says someone went for a drive recently in
the Baynes Lake area south of Fernie, spotted a herd of elk and shot into
it, dropping three cows where they stood.

Deboon says the three females, who were likely pregnant, were then left
there to die. In 26 years as a conservation officer, DeBoon says he’s never
seen anything like it.

“It’s pretty upsetting to see somebody who would just go and shoot animals
and leave them to waste,” he told CBC News.

Deboon estimates it happened about a week ago. He says the shooter or
shooters didn’t take anything.

“The elk were all in good health, probably pregnant with this year’s calves.
There’s no reason for it other than somebody deciding to shoot them.”

DeBoon says they’ll likely get away with it too. The site of the shooting is
off a fairly remote logging road and unless there was more than one person
in the vehicle, there are likely no witnesses.

Still DeBoon wants the story out there. He’s hoping someone either heard the
shots, or or perhaps stories from someone bragging about their hunting
prowess.

The shooting comes after nearly a dozen elk were shot and butchered by
poachers on Vancouver Island last year.

https://ca.news.yahoo.com/3-elk-shot-left-die-near-fernie-b-140233256.html

California Poachers Confess to Multi-State Crimes

News from the Colorado Division of Wildlifeelk-000-home17300
News from Colorado Parks and Wildlife

Contact Name: Mike Porras
Contact Phone: 970-255-6162

CALIFORNIA POACHERS CONFESS TO MULTI-STATE CRIMES

MEEKER, Colo. – After a Colorado Parks and Wildlife investigation
spanning several states and two hunting seasons, a trio of men from
California have pleaded guilty to numerous wildlife violations in
Colorado and New Mexico, dating back to 2011 through 2013. Upon being
confronted with extensive evidence of their crimes, the three men
admitted to their illegal activities and accepted a plea bargain in Rio
Blanco County Court in late February.

Throughout their crime spree, the men hunted on private property without
permission, illegally killed an elk, nine mule deer, one turkey and a
blue grouse. In several instances, the poachers only removed the head,
cape and antlers from their illegal kills, or abandoned the entire
animal leaving the meat to waste, which could have brought felony
charges and a prison sentence.

During the investigation, wildlife officials gathered a variety of
evidence including taxidermy mounts from their homes and numerous photos
of the men posing with the illegally taken wildlife.

“These individuals showed complete disregard for the wildlife laws of
several states in a brazen and arrogant manner,” said Northwest Regional
Manager Ron Velarde of Colorado Parks and Wildlife. “Citizens have every
reason to be outraged by their destructive behavior and we, along with
the other agencies we worked with on this case, are satisfied to see
that these individuals have been brought to justice”

Ringleader Anthony Bauer, 35, of Palm Desert, California, was convicted
of willful destruction of big game wildlife – a felony in Colorado, four
counts of hunting without a proper and valid deer license and illegal
take of a mule deer. He was ordered to pay $5,754 in fines, make a
$10,000 donation to the Meeker Sportsman’s Club [Ironically, the ringleader had to make a
$10,000 donation to the Meeker Sportsman’s Club. It's not like he shot one of them!]
and forfeit all evidence
seized, including hunting gear and personal computers. Bauer also
pleaded guilty for the illegal take of a bull elk in New Mexico. As part
of his plea, Bauer was ordered to return the illegally taken elk mount,
a mule deer mount and a Barbary sheep mount to New Mexico.

Bauer is the owner of ‘Live2Die’, an outdoor-themed hat and clothing
company based in California. The company’s website is where
investigators discovered the incriminating photos, eventually removed
from the site under the terms of the plea bargain.

“Ironically, it was the discovery of two hats emblazoned with the
company’s logo found hidden in some brush on private property near two
poached deer that led us to these individuals,” said Area Wildlife
Manager Bill de Vergie of Meeker. “The landowner found the hats and let
District Wildlife Manager Jon Wangnild know right away. It once again
shows how important the public’s help can be in bringing violators to
justice.”

De Vergie praised the work of all of the officers and investigators
involved in the case, including wildlife officers from New Mexico and
California and a forensics laboratory in Wyoming. He noted the
outstanding work of DWM Wangnild of Meeker who initiated the two-year
investigation after receiving a tip from a local outfitter.

Wangnild passed away after being injured in a horseback riding accident
in June, 2013, eight months before the case was resolved in court.

“Jon was very well respected by his fellow officers because of his
dedication and tenacity in bringing violators to justice,” added de
Vergie. “His diligence and hard work on this case, both here and in
California, is a testament to his legacy.”

Wangnild and an investigator traveled out-of-state to assist California
State Fish and Game officers search the suspects’ residences and a local
taxidermist shop where a substantial amount of evidence was seized.

Also pleading guilty in the case was Frank D’Anna, 29, of San Diego and
Hank Myll, 33, of Palm Desert. Myll pleaded guilty to hunting mule deer
without a proper and valid license and illegal take of a mule deer.
D’Anna agreed to pay a citation for hunting blue grouse without a
license, hunting mule deer without a license, illegal take of a blue
grouse, illegal take of a mule deer and hunting on private property
without permission.

Several other men allegedly involved in illegal hunting with Bauer,
D’Anna and Myll and are facing possible charges in New Mexico, pending
further investigation

On the Live2Die website, Bauer states that he “…built his brand on the
principles of living life to the fullest. With a goal to get more kids
off of the video games, and get them outdoors.”

“One of the most important aspects of enjoying the outdoors is being
responsible and ethical around wildlife,” continued de Vergie.
“Unfortunately, considering the extent of Mr. Bauer and his companion’s
illegal activity, this was the complete opposite of what we are trying
to teach our younger generations.”

The three men now must meet with a CPW Hearings Commissioner where they
face the possibility of permanently losing their hunting and fishing
privileges in Colorado and 41 other Interstate Wildlife Violator compact
states, including New Mexico and California.

Colorado Parks and Wildlife asks the public to report possible illegal
wildlife activity to their nearest CPW office or Colorado State Patrol.
To remain anonymous, call Operation Game Thief at 877-265-6648 . Rewards
may be available if the report leads to a citation.

Ignorance Abounds

Because I love wildlife and wilderness, I’ve always chosen to live in the wildest places I could find; places where nature reigned (as much as humanly allowable); the kind of places about which rural real estate agents routinely advertise that “wildlife abounds”.

Well, if you spend much time in rural America, you know that wherever wildlife abounds, ignorance is even more abundant.

Yesterday, I came across another dead beaver, killed by an ignorant ruralite who enjoys dispatching any wild animal that crosses their path. The excuse? “Beavers eat our trees; seaDSC_0128 lions eat our fish; coyotes and wolves eat our deer and elk, prairie dogs eat our livestock’s grass,” etc., etc.

The real reason? It’s “fun” to shoot, snare or run over them as happened to the last four beavers I’ve seen dead along the road.

I’ll never forget, while I worked as a substitute school bus driver for the local district, when we passed a beaver carcass on the shoulder of the road, the students all jumped for joy and screamed “Oh, cool!” The kids have the excuse that no one has ever taught them any respect for life, or that everything in nature has its place. I still haven’t figured out what excuse their parents have for remaining so ignorant.

Text and Wildlife Photography ©Jim Robertson, 2014. All Rights Reserved

Text and Wildlife Photography ©Jim Robertson, 2014. All Rights Reserved