In October of 2015, Florida plans a massive massacre of black bears. The hunt was approved by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, whose commissioners are appointed by Republican Florida Governor Rick Scott. Watch Florida activist Julie Watkins tell the sordid inside story below.
SHAME ON DENMARK! The bloody, barbaric massacre of whales leaves the Faroe Islands waters blood red! The world is revolted! JaneUnChained.com’s youngest correspondent, Lila Copeland, reports from a Los Angeles area protest as West Wing star Martin Sheen writes a letter to Denmark’s Prime Minister condemning the government’s cowardly support of this horror. Learn about the Sea Shepherd activists arrested for trying to stop it!
PETA’s 35th birthday party in Hollywood this week drew an astounding array of stars including: Jason Biggs, George Lopez, Beck, Bill Maher, Kesha, Joaquin Phoenix, Moby, Anjelica Huston, Emily Deschanel, Pamela Anderson, Jillian Michaels, Joanna Krupa and….. Sir Paul McCartney, who played a fabulous set. JaneUnChained was delighted to receive an award as well. What a night!
In an attempt to reduce the overpopulation of deer, the county is allowing hunting of deer with bows and arrows, which studies have shown is cruel and inefficient.
For every deer struck by an arrow, another may be crippled, but not killed. Studies have also shown that lethal means of population control in deer do not work. Deer have a high reproductive rate and their numbers quickly bounce back to previous levels. Residents are not only upset by the cruel killing of these sweet, gentle animals, they are also fearful of walking in the parks and allowing their children and dogs to walk in the parks.
by Gary Mason
Ninety-one per cent of British Columbians oppose trophy hunting, according to a new poll conducted by Insights West, and disdain for the practice runs equally high in rural areas of the province as it does in urban centres.
The pollster found attitudes towards killing animals for sport were similar in neighbouring Alberta, where 84 per cent of those surveyed said they opposed the idea.
The poll comes amid a growing debate in B.C. over the trophy hunting of the province’s iconic grizzly bear – a practice that has not been allowed in Alberta for nearly 10 years. Recently, B.C. Premier Christy Clark defended her province’s position, saying B.C. has a record number of grizzlies and the hunt is “scientifically managed.” She added that the province did a better job of handling the grizzly population “than anywhere else in North America.”
However, critics of the government’s stand say there is considerable disagreement in the scientific community about the actual size of B.C.’s grizzly population.
Beyond that, they say it’s not about numbers, it’s a question of whether it is morally right to kill a bear, or any other animal, solely to become someone’s den-wall trophy or cabin rug. The Insights poll suggests most people in the two Western provinces find that notion archaic and objectionable, with only 7 per cent of British Columbians and 12 per cent of Albertans openly favouring trophy hunting.
“Grizzly bear populations in B.C. are healthy and we have confidence in our science-based management of this population,” said Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations Minister Steve Thomson, when he was asked to respond to the poll results.
“B.C. will continue to carefully manage these hunts and only allow the activity where populations are sustained and unthreatened.
“The hunting industry contributes about $350-million annually to the province – comprised of resident hunters and guide outfitters, supporting small and rural communities that depend on jobs from outdoor recreation activities of which hunting is a key component,” Mr. Thomson said.
Meantime, large majorities in the two provinces were supportive of eating animals (85 per cent in B.C., 88 per cent in Alberta) and hunting animals for meat (73 per cent in B.C., 81 per cent in Alberta). The survey also asked respondents how they felt about killing animals for their fur. It, too, was unpopular, with 81 per cent of British Columbians and 75 per cent of Albertans saying they oppose the practice.
The B.C. government has often suggested that opposition to trophy hunting is largely based in Metro Vancouver, and that there is much stronger support for it outside of that region. However, the poll results expose that as myth.
Asked whether they were opposed to or in favour of hunting animals for sport (trophy hunting), 89 per cent of those living in Metro Vancouver who responded said they were opposed. The number jumped to 92 per cent on Vancouver Island and 93 per cent in the rest of the province. Only 2 per cent of respondents across all three regions said they were “strongly” in favour of trophy hunting.
“There is an inherent problem with assuming that the thoughts of a small but motivated group of residents actually represent the views of the entire population,” said Mario Canseco, vice-president, public affairs, for Insights West. “A conversation with two hunters does not create a provincewide trend, in the same way a conversation with two vegans does not create a provincewide trend. The argument of urban versus rural has been thrown about with no evidence whatsoever to try to create a controversy over trophy hunting.
“There is no controversy. There is a minuscule number of residents who are in favour of this practice, both in British Columbia and Alberta. It was important to look at this within the context of other issues related to animals. Our views can shift, for instance when assessing aquariums and zoos or hunting for meat. But trophy hunting is thoroughly despised throughout the province.”
While bear meat can be eaten, the B.C. government does not condone the practice because of concerns that predators such as grizzlies could be carrying a parasite which can cause trichinosis, an intestinal disease that can lead to extreme abdominal pain among other symptoms. Consequently, trophy hunters usually chop off the parts of the bear they want to take home (head, paws, fur) and leave the rest of the corpse to rot.
The head of the B.C. Association of Guide Outfitters recently told The Globe and Mail that trophy hunting for grizzlies would likely soon be banned, and that the association is recommending that anyone buying a guiding operation in the future not factor in any profits from grizzly bear hunting into their economic equations.
The Insights poll also canvassed Albertans and British Columbians on other issues related to the treatment of animals and found some surprising results. Nearly two-thirds of Albertans (64 per cent) favoured keeping animals in zoos and aquariums, but only 48 per cent of British Columbians did. While 55 per cent of Albertans supported using animals in rodeos, only 32 per cent of British Columbians shared that opinion.
Insights West said it interviewed 1,003 British Columbians and 590 Albertans of voting age. The margin of error is plus or minus 3.1 per cent for B.C. and 4.1 per cent for Alberta.
A new political battle is brewing over Mexican wolves, a species that was hunted and poisoned to extinction in the U.S. Southwest, but reintroduced to the wild by the federal government in 1998. Earlier this week, the New Mexico Game Commission upheld an earlier decision denying the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) permits to release Mexican wolves onto federal land in southwestern New Mexico. According to FWS and independent scientists, such releases are critical for diversifying the gene pool of the increasingly inbred wolf population.
State officials have said they are unwilling to approve new releases until FWS updates its recovery plan for the wolf, which was written in 1982. Concerned about impacts to ranchers and elk hunters, they’ve pressed FWS for the total number of wolves it aims to restore to the landscape in the long-term. But the agency doesn’t have that number yet, and though it is updating the recovery plan, the process is likely to take at least 2 years.
Now, the federal agency must decide whether to release the wolves against the state’s wishes. Federal policy requires FWS to consult state agencies and comply with their permitting processes when releasing endangered animals from captivity, even when releases are made on federal land. But there’s one exception: If a state agency prevents the service from fulfilling its statutory responsibilities, the feds can go over the state’s head.
In this case, “our responsibility is to recover the Mexican wolf,” says FWS spokesman Jeff Humphrey. “Our recovery could be stalled, at best, by failing to be able to insert a more diverse gene pool into the existing wild population.”
Still, the agency is remaining vague about its next move. The agency’s top brass would have to reach a formal decision that it can’t recover the wolf without new releases for them to proceed without the state’s blessing, Humphrey says.
The effort to restore wolves to the Southwest has always been mired in controversy. In the Northern Rockies, gray wolves were reintroduced into Yellowstone National Park, a large protected area where neither cattle grazing nor big game hunting are allowed. In the case of the Mexican wolf, however, the 18,100-square-kilometer recovery area straddling Arizona and New Mexico is national forest land that is both grazed and hunted, which has increased human conflict with the animals.
Over the years, the feds have made concessions to the states. In the beginning, for example, New Mexico rejected the release of captive animals within its borders (though wolves could wander in on their own), so the feds didn’t try. But because most of the recovery area is in New Mexico, that left only a small swath of Arizona for the animals. Wolves populated that area fairly quickly, making it difficult to make additional releases, which became few and far between.
On top of that, any wolves that roamed outside the official recovery area were captured and kept in captivity, or released back into their approved wild habitat. Wolves that killed cattle also were removed from the wild, sometimes by killing them. Wolves were poached, and some were baited by ranchers to predate on cattle and violate a “three strikes” rule, which allowed the feds to kill them.
When wolves were removed from the wild, however, their genetic value to the population was never considered. And a series of removals in the mid-2000s left only one pack on the landscape that had high reproductive success, says Rich Fredrickson, an independent population geneticist based in Missoula, Montana, who serves on the recovery team.
That pack’s dominance has created inbreeding problems. The individuals in the wild population today are, on average, as related as siblings, Fredrickson says. “This is the poster child, in my mind at least, in North America for the need to pay close attention to genetic management,” he says.
Last year, FWS biologists estimated the population of Mexican wolves at 109 animals, the highest it’s been since reintroduction and double its size in 2010. It’s important to try to diversify the gene pool while the population is still small, biologists say; the larger it gets, the less likely management actions are to be effective.
The agency had hoped to introduce some greater genetic diversity this summer by “cross-fostering” pups; that’s a process in which pups born in the wild are removed from dens and replaced with pups born in captivity. It also wanted to release a mating pair currently being held at the Sevilleta Wolf Management Facility in La Joya, New Mexico, if they had pups.
New Mexico says no
A federal rule change earlier this year opened the door for releases in New Mexico, and also expanded the territory where wild wolves would be allowed to roam. But in June, Alexa Sandoval, director of New Mexico’s Department of Game and Fish, declined to issue permits for the release of the mating pair, or cross-fostering pups, arguing that the feds have not provided specific criteria which must be met for recovery of the wolf to be considered successful, nor detailed the steps it must take to get there.
The Game Commission, a seven-member body appointed by the governor that oversees Sandoval’s agency and sets its policies, upheld her decision on 29 September after hearing an appeal from FWS last month. In August, the Arizona Game and Fish Commission also voted to not allow the release of adult wolves from captivity, but to allow as many as six pups per year to be cross-fostered.
On its own, however, cross fostering won’t solve the wolves’ genetic woes, researchers say. For it to help at all, the pups have to survive and breed. “In general, lots of pups die in captivity and the wild,” Fredrickson says.
Cross-fostering introduces additional complications: Genetically valuable pups must be born in captivity at almost exactly the same time as a wild litter, and managers have to closely monitor wild wolves to know that has happened. The pups then have to be swapped within 2 weeks of birth. “To the extent they can do cross-fostering, that’s great, but it’s not going to be enough,” Fredrickson says. “They need to increase releases.”
A trip to town yesterday was pretty amazing, wildlife-wise. Unfortunately I didn’t bring my camera. From the north side of the Astoria bridge we saw the humpback whale who’s been seen hanging out around in the lower Colombia River for a few days.
Then, after visiting the sea lions who reside on the East Moring Basin docks, we went to Hammond, by to Fort Stevens State Park, and watched a friendly herd of elk close up in a scene reminiscent of Mammoth Village in Yellowstone National Park.
For a grand finale, we stopped to walk the dog at the “Dismal Niche”* rest area (*a name indicative of Lewis and Clark’s lack of appreciation of the area), and saw a group of around 30 harbor seals just offshore in a channel of river. They were treading water, popping up and going under, probably looking for fish though we never saw them catch any). Perhaps they were just enjoying the gentle current in the eddy they found there.
Wildlife officials won’t allow people to kill wolves in eastern Oregon’s Mount Emily pack despite five confirmed attacks on a sheep herd this summer.
Jeremy Bingham of Utopia Land and Livestock formally requested permission to kill the animals that he says are “massacring” his sheep, reported the East Oregonian, but the department turned him down.
The pack killed at least seven sheep and a guard dog in June and August, but the Oregon Department of Fish & Wildlife said non-lethal control measures have worked since the last attack, according to department spokeswoman Michelle Dennehy.
Although the state wolf recovery plan allows “lethal control” of wolves after two confirmed livestock losses, non-lethal measures must prove unsuccessful before killings are authorized. In this case, wolves have not killed any livestock on the property since the end of August, Dennehy said. Bingham did not request lethal control until nearly a month after the last livestock attack, she added.
The wolves also have to be present routinely on the property and propose a significant risk to livestock for the state to authorize killing them. In this case, Dennehy said, the wolves have moved to the central and southern part of the range, and the sheep are in the northeastern edge.
In addition, Dennehy said, the seasonal use on the rancher’s grazing allotment ends Oct. 19, so the sheep will be gone from the range in a couple of weeks.
The department hasn’t authorized killing any wolves since there were two in 2011.
“We are sorry your experience with Oregon’s forest lands has been problematic this year,” wildlife biologist Mark Kirsch wrote in a letter the department sent to Bingham. “It is our hope you complete your grazing season with no further loss.”
Bingham does have the right to use lethal force if a wolf is caught in the act of biting, wounding, killing or chasing his sheep or dogs. This does not require a permit from the state.
Bingham called the officials dishonest and told the Capital Press that “the only interest to them is that the wolves eat the economy of Eastern Oregon.”
He said he’s followed the state guidelines even while losing an estimated 100 ewes to wolves over the past two years. In addition to the guard dog killed this year, two were injured last year and another disappeared and is presumed dead.
“We have not harmed any wolves but we are not in the business of sacrificing assets to feed (the wildlife department’s) pet dogs,” Bingham told the Capital Press by text.
There aren’t wildlife department reports to corroborate all of Bingham’s claimed losses, but he said he didn’t report many of the attacks. According to the East Oregonian, other farmers suspect wolves kill many more cattle and sheep than are confirmed by the state.
The Department of Fish & Wildlife follows a strict protocol to confirm wolf attacks, including an examination of wounds and measuring bite marks and tracks.