“Hunter-Conservationists:” the Most Ridiculous Spin of the Century

The award for Most Ridiculous Spin of the Century goes collectively to Kit Fischer, sportsmen’s outreach coordinator with the National Wildlife Federation (what the hell kind of environmental/wildlife advocacy group hires an outreach coordinator to attract sport hunters?); Dave Chadwick, executive director of the Montana Wildlife Federation; Jim Posewitz, board member of Helena Hunters and Anglers; Casey Hackathorn, president of Hellgate Hunters and Anglers; Chris Marchion, board member of Anaconda Sportsmen and Glenn Hockett, president of Gallatin Wildlife Association. These revisionists recently had the insolent audacity to try to boast that “hunter-conservationists saved bison from extinction a century ago” in their article, Enlist Montana Hunters to Manage Bison Numbers.

Let’s not forget that the vast herds that once blackened the plains for hundreds of miles on end were almost completely killed off by hide-hunters, market meat-hunters or by sport-hunters shooting from trains just for a bit of fun.

The only reason hunters stopped the insanity was that the bison were all but completely wiped out. By the time they ended their killing spree, only 18 wild bison remained, holed up like wrongfully-accused outlaws in the upper reaches of the Yellowstone caldera.

Although Yellowstone National Park is now synonymous with the shaggy bovines, bison would prefer to spend their winters much further downriver, on lands now usurped and fenced-in by cowboys to fatten-up their cattle before shipping them off to slaughter.

If today’s ranchers and hunters had their way, bison, along with wolves and grizzly bears, would be forever restricted to the confines of the park. Rancher-hunters already have such a death-grip on Montana’s wildlife that bison are essentially marooned and forced to stay within park borders, battling snow drifts no matter how harsh the winter, despite an instinctual urge to migrate out of the high country during heavy snow winters.

Instead of making amends for the historic mistreatment of these sociable, benevolent souls, twenty-first-century sport hunters want their chance to lay waste to them again–this time in the name of “tradition.”

______________________________________________

Parts of this post were excerpted from my book, Exposing the Big Game: Living Targets of a Dying Sport

Text and Photo Copyright Jim Robertson

Text and Photo Copyright Jim Robertson

This Labor Day, Take Extinction Off the Grill

 

Tofu kebabsLabor Day is one of the top meat-eating days of the year, giving it one of the biggest environmental footprints of any U.S. holiday. The burgers, hotdogs and other meat grilled over the long weekend are responsible for excessive water use, habitat loss and greenhouse gas emissions.

But Labor Day celebrations don’t have to come at the expense of wildlife. The Center’s Take Extinction Off Your Plate campaign launched Extinction-free BBQ this week to help you take extinction off your grill too. The campaign’s website features meat-free, wildlife-friendly recipes contributed by top vegan bloggers and chefs, including Alicia Silverstone (The Kind Diet), Bryant Terry (Afro-Vegan) and Laura Theodore (aka the Jazzy Vegetarian).

The site also features tips on greening your cookout and facts on how meat consumption affects your health and the health of the planet.

Check out Extinction-free BBQ and let us know how you’re protecting wildlife this Labor Day by using the #extinctionfreebbq hashtag on social media.

 

Once-extinct on Olympic Peninsula, fisher population rebounds

538458_532697610088640_841278349_nBy LYNDA V. MAPES  The Seattle Times
August 11, 2014 – 1:04 pm EDT

SEATTLE — Once locally extinct, fishers are bounding all over the Olympic Peninsula.

First released into Olympic National Park in 2008 in an effort to repopulate the native carnivore, they now range from Neah Bay to Ocean Shores, from Port Townsend to Olympia, preliminary data from remote cameras and hair snags confirm.

It’s a spectacular turnaround for an animal believed to be locally extinct for at least 80 years. Over-trapping of fishers for their luxuriant, lush brown coats and loss of the big, old-growth trees in which fishers like to lounge and den caused populations to plummet. The state closed the trapping season for fishers in the 1930s.

The National Park Service with other partners began a relocation effort in 2008, in an effort to bring the animals back. From 2008 to 2010, 90 fishers were moved from central British Columbia to the Sol Duc and Elwha Valleys.

The population today isn’t known, and the question remains as to whether births are keeping pace with losses, building a population that is self-sustaining over the long term.

But the indications from a monitoring effort by federal, state and tribal biologists so far are promising. “I’m cautiously optimistic,” said Patti Happe, chief of the wildlife branch for Olympic National Park.

Tracking in such remote, wild country is tricky. The batteries in radio collars initially fitted to the animals are all dead by now, so biologists in 2013 began utilizing remote, motion-triggered cameras pointed at survey stations, including hair snags, baited with chicken drumsticks. The hair samples allow scientists to analyze fisher DNA to track the growing family tree of the initial, founder population.

Some of the new kits have ranged as far as 43 miles from their mothers’ home territory, and cameras have found fishers using habitat where the radio-collared animals were never tracked, documenting that the fishers continue to gain ground.

Sharp toothed and clawed, fishers are related to minks, polecats and martens. They hunt the small mammals that are abundant in the Olympics.

The cameras mounted to detect fishers also documented a menagerie of teaming wildlife in the Olympics: Some 43 species of animals in 2013 were captured on camera in more than 37,000 images, from spotted skunks to coyotes, cougars, bobcats, raccoons, black-tailed deer, elk, flying squirrels, mountain beavers, snowshoe hares, mice and wood rats. Black bear were the single most frequently spotted animal.

Fishers do face perils in their new home. Cougars, bobcats and coyotes take their toll. Several fishers were apparent road kill, including one carcass recovered along Highway 101 on the outskirts of Port Angeles.

Two fishers were released from live traps by a licensed trapper seeking bobcats.

But with an abundant source of food in the forests, fishers are expected to do well. Wolves are now the only mammal still missing from the original suite of life in the Olympics, after being shot and trapped to local extinction in the early 1900s. Wolves are slowly recolonizing Washington wild lands but are not yet known to have reached the Olympic Peninsula.

Fishers once occupied coniferous forests at low to middle elevations throughout much of the Western U.S. The goal of the relocation program is to restore fishers to the Olympic National Park within 10 years.

Radio-tracking initiated in the first phase of the project documented the fishers’ far-ranging travels, including one female released in the Elwha Valley at Altair campground in January 2008. She was the first animal set loose in a public event, where school children cheered as she sprang to freedom from her carrying box.

Biologists followed her “on the air” thanks to her radio collar for 2½ years, from the Elwha Valley to the northeastern portion of the Olympic Peninsula. She settled down in the upper Dosewallips in the summer of 2008, making it home until March 2009.

After a two-month walkabout in the southeastern Olympics, she cruised back down to the lower Elwha, back where she first sprang from her box. There she stayed through June 2010.

She went off the air in 2014, when the batteries on her collar died. But she is perhaps still out there, rewilding her bit of the Olympics.


Information from: The Seattle Times, http://www.seattletimes.com

We’re Eating Pangolins Off the Face of the Earth

http://www.care2.com/causes/were-eating-pangolins-off-the-face-of-the-earth.html

We’re Eating Pangolins Off the Face of the Earth

While we’ve been focused on the poaching crisis that’s threatening the future for charismatic animals like elephants, rhinos and tigers, another species now faces the threat of extinction thanks to human appetites and could disappear before most people even hear of it.

The pangolin, which includes eight species who live in Africa and Asia, are unique little creatures in a number of ways. They’ve been described as walking artichokes and because they’re insectivores they’ve been dubbed “scaly anteaters.” These toothless animals are also the only mammal covered in true scales, which are made of keratin, and the the fact that they walk like a miniature T. rex only adds to their charm.

Unfortunately, these curious creatures are being hunted to the brink for both their meat, which is considered a delicacy by the affluent, and for their scales, which are believed to have medicinal properties.

Even with protection and international trade bans in place, pangolins are still widely traded illegally on the black market. Just days ago, 1.4 tons of pangolin scales were seized by officials in Vietnam and are believed by customs officials to have come from as many as 10,000 animals.

According to the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Species Survival Commission (SSC) Pangolin Specialist Group, more than one million pangolins are estimated to have been taken from the wild over the past decade alone, which has made them the most illegally traded wild mammal in the world.

Until this week, only two species had been listed on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species as endangered, while the remaining four were listed as threatened and species of least concern. Now they’ve all been upgraded over concerns that their populations are plummeting. Chinese and Sunda pangolins are now listed as “Critically Endangered,” while the Indian and Philippine pangolins are “Endangered” and all four species in Africa are listed as “Vulnerable.”

In an effort to get immediate conservation work going, the Pangolin Specialist Group also published a new action plan this week, ‘Scaling Up Pangolin Conservation,’ that outlines steps that need to be taken now to to stop the illegal trade and keep pangolins from disappearing forever.

Among many measures it hopes to see completed, the group has recommended stronger tracking of pangolin parts, more studies to get a better understanding of pangolins and their movements in the wild and working with local communities to ensure they don’t have to turn to poaching to survive.

What the group believes is the single most important step to conserving these species is reducing the demand for their meat and scales in China and Vietnam, which it hopes to do through awareness campaigns and by engaging the conservation community to help spread the word and change opinions.

“In the 21st Century we really should not be eating species to extinction – there is simply no excuse for allowing this illegal trade to continue,” Professor Jonathan Baillie, Co-Chair of the IUCN SSC Pangolin Specialist Group and Conservation Programmes Director at ZSL, said in a statement.

For more info on how to help pangolins, visit pangolins.org.

Read more: http://www.care2.com/causes/were-eating-pangolins-off-the-face-of-the-earth.html#ixzz39UZ0K5co

America’s Earliest Elmers Overhunted Elephants

Early Americans dined on four-tusked elephant relative, say scientists

Archaeologists have unearthed 13,400-year-old weapons crafted by the Clovis people mixed in with bones from an extinct elephant relative.

By Becky Oskin,

LiveScience Senior Writer July 15, 2014

  • A gomphothere jawbone as it was found in place, upside down, at the El Fin del Mundo site in Mexico. Vance Holliday/University of Arizona

     

There’s a new mega-mammal on the menu of America‘s first hunters.

On a ranch in northwestern Sonora, Mexico, archaeologists have discovered 13,400-year-old weapons mingled with bones from an extinct elephant relative called the gomphothere. The animal was smaller than mastodons and mammoths, but most had four sharp tusks for defense.

The new evidence puts the gomphothere in North America at the same time as a prehistoric group of paleo-Indians known as the Clovis culture, whose beautifully crafted projectile points helped bring down giant Ice Age mammals, including mammoths. This is the first time gomphothere fossils have been discovered with Clovis artifacts.

Recommended: Are you scientifically literate? Take our quiz

“The Clovis stereotypically went out and hunted mammoth, and now there’s another elephant on the menu,” said Vance Holliday, a co-author on the new study, published today (July 14) in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

More: http://www.csmonitor.com/Science/2014/0715/Early-Americans-dined-on-four-tusked-elephant-relative-say-scientists

The meat industry could be driving wildlife extinct

http://www.salon.com/2014/03/21/its_not_just_cows_the_meat_industry_could_be_driving_wildlife_extinct/?source=newsletter

by Lindsay Abrams

Ok, so you don’t feel bad about cows having to die in order for you to enjoy a hamburger. That’s fine — most people feel the same way. But what about the grizzly bears? Or the wolves? Or the 175 other species threatened by extinction? Would you keep eating that burger if you found out it was endangering all of those animals, too?

Well, would you?

A new campaign from the Center for Biological Diversity is presenting a broader perspective on the environmental damage wrought by the livestock industry. NPR has the scoop:

The conservation group says that some populations of grizzly bears and wolves have already been driven extinct by the livestock industry, and an additional 175 threatened or endangered species, like the prairie dog, could be next. Most of this drama is playing out on federal lands, where the needs of wildlife conflict with the needs of grazing cattle, says [population and sustainability director Stephanie Feldstein].

The federal government has for decades promoted and subsidized cattle grazing on 270 million acres of public lands in 11 Western states. According to Feldstein, one of the hot spots of livestock-wildlife conflict is predator species like wolves and bears preying on cattle.

The California grizzly subspecies, for example, was driven extinct in the 1920s by hunters assisting farmers and ranchers, according to historical documents at the University of California, Berkeley.

Ranchers also all but wiped out the Mexican gray wolf, the most endangered wolf species in the world, in the U.S. (A few survived in Mexico and in zoos, and scientists have been trying to bring them back through breeding, the group Defenders of Wildlife says.)

A study published back in January adds large carnivores, like pumas, lions and sea otters, to the list of meat industry casualties. All that, of course, comes along with the major impact our growing demand for meat has on the climate. Taken together, it’s worth considering whether that burger is, in fact, worth it.

Photo Copyright Jim Robertson

Photo Copyright Jim Robertson

Good News for the Earth: Humans Will Soon Be Extinct

http://www.eutimes.net/2010/06/human-race-will-be-extinct-within-100-years-claims-leading-scientist/

    on    Jun 21st, 2010

As the scientist who helped eradicate smallpox he certainly know a thing or two about extinction.

And now Professor Frank Fenner, emeritus professor of microbiology at the Australian National University, has predicted that the human race will be extinct within the next 100 years.

He has claimed that the human race will be unable to survive a population explosion and ‘unbridled consumption.’

Fenner told The Australian newspaper that ‘homo sapiens will become extinct, perhaps within 100 years.’

‘A lot of other animals will, too,’ he added.

‘It’s an irreversible situation. I think it’s too late. I try not to express that because people are trying to do something, but they keep putting it off.’

Since humans entered an unofficial scientific period known as the Anthropocene – the time since industrialisation – we have had an effect on the planet that rivals any ice age or comet impact, he said.

Fenner, 95, has won awards for his work in helping eradicate the variola virus that causes smallpox and has written or co-written 22 books.

He announced the eradication of the disease to the World Health Assembly in 1980 and it is still regarded as one of the World Health Organisation’s greatest achievements.

He was also heavily involved in helping to control Australia’s myxomatosis problem in rabbits.

Last year official UN figures estimated that the world’s population is currently 6.8 billion. It is predicted to exceed seven billion by the end of 2011.

Fenner blames the onset of climate change for the human race’s imminent demise.

He said: ‘We’ll undergo the same fate as the people on Easter Island.

‘Climate change is just at the very beginning. But we’re seeing remarkable changes in the weather already.’

‘The Aborigines showed that without science and the production of carbon dioxide and global warming, they could survive for 40,000 or 50,000 years.

‘But the world can’t. The human species is likely to go the same way as many of the species that we’ve seen disappear.’

A map of the world from an atlas which concentrates on population rather than land mass released last year. The Earth’s population is due to hit 7bn by next year

Retired professor Stephen Boyden, a colleague of Professor Fenner, said that while there was deep pessimism among some ecologists, others had a more optimistic view.

‘Frank may well be right, but some of us still harbour the hope that there will come about an awareness of the situation and, as a result the revolutionary changes necessary to achieve ecological sustainability.’

Simon Ross, the vice-chairman of the Optimum Population Trust, said: ‘Mankind is facing real challenges including climate change, loss of bio-diversity and unprecedented growth in population.’

Professor Fenner’s chilling prediction echoes recent comments by Prince Charles who last week warned of ‘monumental problems’ if the world’s population continues to grow at such a rapid pace.

And it comes after Professor Nicholas Boyle of Cambridge University said that a ‘Doomsday’ moment will take place in 2014 – and will determine whether the 21st century is full of violence and poverty or will be peaceful and prosperous.

in the last 500 years there has been a cataclysmic ‘Great Event’ of international significance at the start of each century, he claimed.

In 2006 another esteemed academic, Professor James Lovelock, warned that the world’s population may sink as low as 500 million over the next century due to global warming.

He claimed that any attempts to tackle climate change will not be able to solve the problem, merely buy us time.

Source

Bonobo’s hurtling towards extinction

Wednesday, November 27, 2013, 16:20

Washington: A study, which is the most detailed range-wide assessment of theelephant-range-map
bonobo- formerly known as the pygmy chimpanzee- ever conducted, has revealed
that this endangered great ape is quickly losing space in a world because of
forest fragmentation and poaching.

The research was conducted by University of Georgia, University of Maryland,
the Wildlife Conservation Society, ICCN (Congolese Wildlife Authority),
African Wildlife Foundation, Zoological Society of Milwaukee, World Wildlife
Fund, Max Planck Institute, Lukuru Foundation, University of Stirling, Kyoto
University, and other groups.

Using data from nest counts and remote sensing imagery, the research team
found that the bonobo avoids areas of high human activity and forest
fragmentation.

According to the model developed by the researchers in the study, as little
as 28 percent of the bonobo’s range remains suitable.

“This assessment is a major step towards addressing the substantial
information gap regarding the conservation status of bonobos across their
entire range. The results of the study demonstrate that human activities
reduce the amount of effective bonobo habitat and will help us identify
where to propose future protected areas for this great ape,”
lead author Dr. Jena R. Hickey of Cornell University and the University of
Georgia, said.

The bonobo is smaller in size and more slender in build than the common
chimpanzee. The great ape’s social structure is complex and matriarchal.
Unlike the common chimpanzee, bonobos establish social bonds and diffuse
tension or aggression with sexual behaviors.

Second author of the study, Dr. Janet Nackoney, said Bonobos that live in
closer proximity to human activity and to points of human access are more
vulnerable to poaching, one of their main threats. The results point to the
need for more places where bonobos can be safe from hunters, which is an
enormous challenge in the DRC.

The study is published in journal Biodiversity and Conservation.

http://zeenews.india.com/news/eco-news/bonobo-s-hurtling-towards-extinction_

892729.html

Columbus Day: Humanists’ Holiday, Misanthropists’ Lament

No matter how you celebrate it, Columbus Day is a holiday for humanists. By “humanist,” I’m referring to “the concern with the needs, well-being, and interests of people.” Non-humans be damned, this holiday is a celebration of and for “people.”

Some who don’t like the moniker “Columbus Day,” (because of the implication that Columbus “discovered” the Americas and consequently set off the chain of events that led to the demise of the “native” Americans) want to see the name of the day changed to “Explorer’s Day,” or some such. The problem to us biocentrists is that any branching out and exploring of new territory by human beings, arguably the most destructive of all species ever unleashed on the planet, bar none—including the unwieldy dinosaurs—has resulted in the extinction or damn-near eradication of untold other incredible species.

Others want the name changed to “Native American Day,” conveniently ignoring the fact that the first Homo sapiens to make it over here (in their case, across the Bering Land Bridge), were big game hunters who followed their migratory prey species and laid waste to all the isolated, uncorrupted animals they could train a spear on. Animals like horses, camels, ground sloth and mastodon were victims of the “American Blitzkrieg,” the first stage of our ongoing anthropogenic mass extinction event.

No, to those of us who delight in the diversity of life on Earth and pine for the good old days, before the noxious spread of humanity, any day celebrating discovery for the species is a day of grief and sorrow, not festivity.

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