About Exposing the Big Game

Jim Robertson

Minnesota Bans Commercial Trapping of Wild Turtles

ST. PAUL, Minn.— Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz today signed into law a ban on commercial collection of wild turtles in the state. Each year, for-profit trappers have collected thousands of turtles from the state’s waterways, mostly to sell for food, traditional Asian medicines or pets.

“Tens of thousands of Minnesota’s turtles are now safe from trappers out to make a quick buck,” said Collette Adkins, a biologist and senior attorney at the Center for Biological Diversity. “The science shows that even a small number of turtle traffickers can quickly devastate turtle populations. This ban is a big victory for all of us who care about the health of our state’s wildlife and waterways.”

About two decades ago, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources placed a moratorium on issuing new licenses for commercial turtle trappers. Since then, the remaining licensees have continued to collect and sell tens of thousands of turtles using baited turtle traps. For example, in 2021,19 licensees removed approximately 10,000 painted turtles from the wild in Minnesota.

Minnesota study found lower turtle population levels in lakes where commercial turtle trapping had previously occurred. Many studies have shown that wild turtles cannot withstand commercial exploitation without facing severe declines because, unlike deer and other traditional “game” animals, turtles take many years to mature and reproduce.

“It’s time to shellebrate,” said Christopher Smith, conservation committee chair for the Minnesota Herpetological Society. “Minnesota’s ban on the commercial harvest of wild-caught turtles has been a long time coming and has been a group effort spanning over two decades.”

As part of a campaign to protect freshwater turtles in the United States, advocacy by the Center and its partners has led to bans or important restrictions on commercial turtle trapping in Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Iowa, Missouri, New York, Nevada, South Carolina and Texas. Prior to enactment of this new legislation, Minnesota was one of just six states that still allowed unrestricted commercial collection of wild turtles.

The legislation enacted today goes into effect on January 1, 2024.

The Center for Biological Diversity is a national, nonprofit conservation organization with more than 1.7 million members and online activists dedicated to the protection of endangered species and wild places.


Group says it plans to sue state, feds because they’re failing to protect grizzlies from trapping

BY: DARRELL EHRLICK – MAY 11, 2023 5:36 PM


A grizzly bear in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem.

 A grizzly bear in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem. (Photo by Frank van Manen / USGS / Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 / Unedited)

A citizens’ task force says that it plans on suing both the state and federal government for not protecting grizzly bears because of the state’s zeal to enact expanded trapping and hunting laws without regard to the bears.

The Flathead-Lolo-Bitterroot Citizen task force has sent the 60-day notice of intent to sue the United States Fish and Wildlife Service as well as the Montana Department of Fish, Wildlife and Parks because it says that as the state expanded trapping, snaring and hunting regulations, it failed to take safety precautions that would protect the fragile grizzly bear population, which is protected by the Endangered Species Act, but is being considered for delisting in two areas of Montana.

The 60-day notice is a requirement in order to bring a lawsuit in federal court, and puts the agencies on notice so that they may opt to correct or modify plans to avoid a lawsuit.

Neither the United States Fish and Wildlife Service, nor the Montana FWP responded to the Daily Montanan’s requests for comment.

“The (notice) claims the illegal unregulated taking of grizzly bears is occurring as a consequence of Montana’s Wolf and Furbearer Trapping regulations and that this taking may threaten … grizzly bear recovery,” the letter said.

The concern, which was voiced as Montana expanded greater hunting and trapping laws during the 2021 Legislature, is that traps set for other animals, such as wolves, may accidentally ensnare and kill “non-target” species like grizzly bear or Canada lynx. While such accidental killings are considered illegal under federal law, the “incidental takings” – the term for such a killing – must be addressed in plans, and reasonable rules to mitigate them must be enacted at either the federal or state levels.

“FWS and the State of Montana are in violation of the Endangered Species Act Section 9 by allowing unregulated illegal takings of grizzly bears in Montana as a result of wolf and furbearer trapping seasons administered by (Montana FWP),” the letter said. “No required incidental take statement has been prepared and no required incidental take permit has been issued.”

Because of that, the citizens group said that both have failed to implement a mitigation plan that would offset the hunting impact.

“Under Section 9, it does not matter how many total animals are taken or how many are injured, any unpermitted takings are illegal,” the letter states.

The letter doesn’t just point out the theoretical possibility that grizzlies will be accidentally killed or “taken,” but notes that the state’s own data shows that between 2012 and 2022 six bears were “non-target captures” of traps, including one grizzly caught in a leg-hold trap set for wolves.

The 11-page letter which outlines the group’s concerns also lists examples from other nearby states and Canadian provinces which have reported similar issues with grizzly bears and trapping.

The letter also outlined concerns with Montana’s specific trapping guidelines.

“In Montana, snares for most species are required to break loose with more than 350 pounds of dead pull strength, while for wolves, this requirement is 1,000 pounds,” the letter reads. “However, (a 2022 study) found that on average an adult grizzly bear has about 342 pound of dead pull weight, not enough to break free.”

The group also said other states and Canadian provinces have developed more sophisticated traps to target certain species, but prevent bears. For example, marten traps have elevated boxes that are too narrow for a grizzly foot.

“In Montana, there are no regulations or recommendations specific to preventing bycatch of grizzly bears,” the letter read.

Studies show a link between bird flu and climate change

The Extinction Chronicles

MORTON OBRIEN MAY 30, 2023 LEAVE A COMMENTTweet on TwitterShare on FacebookGoogle+Pinterest

The world is now facing the worst bird flu outbreak in history, with more than 140 million domestic birds killed since October 2021. In the UK alone, over 4 million farmed birds have been destroyed and around 50,000 wild birds have died.

The true number of wild bird deaths is likely to be much higher, as many die at sea on an island with a vast range of seabirds such as England and their carcasses are never found.

There are fears that the UK’s world-famous sea lion population could be irretrievably reduced. Since 1986, local populations of breeding seabirds have declined by nearly a quarter, and they are already under tremendous pressure from overfishing, habitat loss and climate change.

Birds are not the only…

View original post 767 more words

Penned dog hunting has no place in Ontario

Committee to Abolish Sport Hunting Blog

May 29, 2023

Penned hunting is incredibly cruel to the coyotes, foxes, and rabbits that are used as live bait. It also poses risks to the dogs being trained.No other Canadian province permits penned dog hunting.

QUEEN’S PARK — Ontario Greens leader and MPP for Guelph Mike Schreiner released the following statement as the Ford government prepares to pass legislation that will expand the practice of penned dog hunting in Ontario.

“Ontario Greens are deeply disturbed about the Ford government’s proposal to allow new licences and transfers for penned dog hunting facilities, or ‘train and trial’ areas, in Ontario.

A previous PC government began to phase out new train and trial areas in 1997 – for good reason.

Twenty-five years later, the Ford government’s move to grant licences for new train and trial spaces, and to allow existing licences to be…

View original post 97 more words

Genetic change increased bird flu severity during US spread, shows study

The Extinction Chronicles

by St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital


Genetic change increased bird flu severity during U.S. spread
Pathogenicity of North American HPAI Influenza A(H5N1) clade Wigeon/SC/21 and Eagle/FL/22 viruses in ferrets.AExperimental design of ferret pathogenesis and transmission. At 0 dpi, ferrets (n = 9 per virus) were inoculated with 106EID50units of A(H5N1) virus. Three inoculated ferrets were individually co-housed with 3 naïve contact ferrets beginning 1 dpi. Clinical course of infection was monitored, and nasal wash samples were taken at indicated time points from both inoculated and contact ferrets. The remaining inoculated ferrets were euthanized at 3 dpi and 5 dpi (n = 3 per time point per virus) for viral titration in tissues.BSurvival andCweight changes of inoculated ferrets (n = 3 per virus). Ferret weights every ≈48 h were used to calculate percentage of weight change from the initial mean weight at 0 dpi. Ferret weight values are the average ± SE for each group.P

View original post 931 more words

Man Who Released Bobcat from Trap Receives Probation

Committee to Abolish Sport Hunting Blog

Adam Roich, Sublette County Sheriff’s Office photo

ROCK SPRINGS—A Boulder resident was placed on probation after he let a bobcat out of a legal trap back in November of 2022.

Adam Roich, 40, pleaded no contest to a misdemeanor charge of unlawful release/removal of a furbearer/predator from a trap in the Circuit Court of Judge John Prokos last week.

Roich was given a 180 day suspended jail sentence with credit given for 3 days served and was placed on six months unsupervised probation. He was also ordered to pay $1,000 in fines, $61.15 in restitution, and $70 in court costs and fees. As part of his probationary conditions, Roich was ordered not to go near any legally set traps or monitors and to stay at least 500 yards from them at all times.

Advertisement – Story continues below…

Contact Rock Springs Auto Body…

View original post 556 more words

A new interpretation regarding the origin of Homo sapiens

The Extinction Chronicles

Philip Guelpa28 May 2023

Newly published research appearing in the journalNature(Ragsdale, A. P. et al., “A weakly structured stem for human origins in Africa,Nature[2023]) proposes a new interpretation regarding the origin of our species—Homo sapiens.

The current dominant theory holds thatHomo sapiensevolved from a single, local population of a previous species of the genusHomosomewhere in Africa, between roughly 300,000 and 100,000 years ago. According to this scenario, the new species then spread widely, eventually replacing the other existing species of genusHomo. However, the relatively small number of human fossils known from Africa and the lack of ancient DNA during that time period have made a more precise tracing of the evolution of modern humans problematic. The new interpretation, based primarily on detailed genetic studies of recent populations, posits thatHomo sapiensemerged from the…

View original post 900 more words

Will the World Hit Net Zero by 2050?

The Extinction Chronicles

byAndreas Exarheas


Rigzone Staff



Tuesday, May 30, 2023




submit to reddit



Will the World Hit Net Zero by 2050?

‘We view the next decade as critical’.

Image by NVS via iStock

BMI currently does not see enough progress on the decarbonization of the power mix, emissions reduction, or adoption of low carbon technology to reach net zero emissions by 2050.

That’s what Thomas van Lanschot, BMI’s Head of Power and Low Carbon Energy Research, told Rigzone, adding that BMI views the current spread of renewable targets and pledges to not reduce the share of high emitters significantly enough in multiple sectors, “leaving a substantial demand for mitigating emissions from sources such as coal”.

“We view the next decade as critical as the development of key technologies will need to be accelerated to have a meaningful impact over that time frame,” Lanschot said.

“These include commercializing and scaling up low carbon gas (such as hydrogen)…

View original post 616 more words

Goldilocks Galore: Hundreds of Millions of Planets in the Milky Way Could Potentially Harbor Life


TOPICS:AstronomyExoplanetPlanetsUniversity Of Florida



Render Earth Like Exoplanet

A new study suggests that one-third of the planets orbiting common dwarf stars in the Milky Way could potentially harbor life. Dwarf stars are the most common type of stars in the galaxy and billions of planets orbit them.

University of Florida astronomers find that hundreds of millions of planets orbiting dwarf stars in the Milky Way could potentially harbor life, occupying a ‘Goldilocks’ orbit that allows them to withstand extreme tidal forces and retain liquid water, according to data from NASA’s Kepler and Gaia telescopes.

Our familiar, warm, yellow sun is a relative rarity in the Milky Way. By far the most common stars are considerably smaller and cooler, sporting just half the mass of our sun at most. Billions of planets orbit these common dwarf stars in our galaxy.


To capture enough warmth to be habitable, these planets would need to huddle very close to their small stars, which leaves them susceptible to extreme tidal forces.

In a new analysis based on the latest telescope data, University of Florida astronomers have discovered that two-thirds of the planets around these ubiquitous small stars could be roasted by these tidal extremes, sterilizing them. But that leaves one-third of the planets – hundreds of millions across the galaxy – that could be in a Goldilocks orbit close enough, and gentle enough, to hold onto liquid water and possibly harbor life.

UF astronomy professor Sarah Ballard and doctoral student Sheila Sagear published their findings the week of May 29 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Ballard and Sagear have long studied exoplanets, those worlds that orbit stars other than the sun.

“I think this result is really important for the next decade of exoplanet research, because eyes are shifting toward this population of stars,” Sagear said. “These stars are excellent targets to look for small planets in an orbit where it’s conceivable that water might be liquid and therefore the planet might be habitable.”

Sagear and Ballard measured the eccentricity of a sample of more than 150 planets around these M dwarf stars, which are about the size of Jupiter. The more oval shaped an orbit, the more eccentric it is. If a planet orbits close enough to its star, at about the distance that Mercury orbits the sun, an eccentric orbit can subject it to a process known as tidal heating. As the planet is stretched and deformed by changing gravitational forces on its irregular orbit, friction heats it up. At the extreme end, this could bake the planet, removing all chance for liquid water.

“It’s only for these small stars that the zone of habitability is close enough for these tidal forces to be relevant,” Ballard said.

Data came from NASA’s Kepler telescope, which captures information about exoplanets as they move in front of their host stars. To measure the planets’ orbits, Ballard and Sagear focused especially on how long the planets took to move across the face of the stars. Their study also relied on new data from the Gaia telescope, which measured the distance to billions of stars in the galaxy.

“The distance is really the key piece of information we were missing before that allows us to do this analysis now,” Sagear said.

Sagear and Ballard found that stars with multiple planets were the most likely to have the kind of circular orbits that allow them to retain liquid water. Stars with only one planet were the most likely to see tidal extremes that would sterilize the surface.

Since one-third of the planets in this small sample had gentle enough orbits to potentially host liquid water, that likely means that the Milky Way has hundreds of millions of promising targets to probe for signs of life outside our solar system.

Reference: “The orbital eccentricity distribution of planets orbiting M dwarfs” 29 May 2023, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
DOI: 10.1073/pnas.2217398120

Delightful Experiment Shows Parrots Love to Video Chat With Their Friends

NATURE30 May 2023



Parrot Video Chats On Phone(Matthew Modoono/Northeastern University)

Parrots can get a lot out of video calls with their feathered friends just like we can from Zoom meetings with our favorite humans.

Findings from a recent study by researchers from Northeastern University and MIT Media Lab in the US and the University of Glasgow in the UK could point to ways to better look after the tens of millions of parrots around the world kept domestically as pets.


The research involved 15 parrots voluntarily initiating calls to a selection of other parrots on smart phones and tablets. The birds typically used as much calling time as they were allowed, and showed increased movement, preening, singing, and play while the calls were happening.

Friendships were formed too, with the birds showing strong preferences for which parrot to call when given a choice. The most popular parrots were also the ones that initiated the most calls, hinting at some level of social reciprocity.

“Video-calling technology helped a lot of people through the early days of the COVID pandemic where self-isolation was vital to slowing the spread of the virus,” says computer scientist Ilyena Hirskyj-Douglas from the University of Glasgow in the UK.

“There are 20 million parrots living in people’s homes in the US, and we wanted to explore whether those birds might benefit from video-calling too. If we gave them the opportunity to call other parrots, would they choose to do so, and would the experience benefit the parrots and their caregivers?”

Parrots are some of the smartest animals around, making them perfect for this study. As well as having vision that’s good enough to interpret movements on a screen in front of them, they happen to be very vocal.

Parrot pad
One of the parrots on a call. (Matthew Modoono/Northeastern University)

In an initial two-week training period, the parrots were taught to ring a bell to prompt their caregiver to bring them a tablet for making a video call. The bell gave the birds a way to initiate a call voluntarily, which could last as long as five minutes or end sooner at any sign of stress, disengagement, or simply by leaving the space.


The parrot owners reported increased bonding with their pets too, and some parrots even formed attachments to the humans on the other end of the video call. The birds seemed to enjoy the extra attention they were getting from people as well as parrots.

Over the next two months, 147 calls were logged in a series of calls described by some of the owners as “transformative”.

Parrot Taps Phone
A parrot in the experiment. (Matthew Modoono/Northeastern University)

“We saw some really encouraging results from the study,” says computer scientist Jennifer Cunha, from Northeastern University in Massachusetts. “The parrots seemed to grasp that they were truly engaging with other birds on screen and their behavior often mirrored what we would expect from real-life interactions between these types of birds.”


“We saw birds learn to forage for the first time, and one caregiver reported that their bird flew for the first time after making a call. All the participants in the study said they valued the experience, and would want to continue using the system with their parrots in the future.”

Parrots live in large flocks in the wild, but are obviously much more isolated when kept domestically – which isn’t helped by various transmissible diseases that makes it unsafe for parrot owners to meet up locally with their birds.

Isolation and boredom can lead to psychological problems for parrots, which manifest in a variety of ways: they might chew the bars of their cages for example, or pluck their own feathers, or rock excessively on their perches.

The researchers say that they noticed the birds engaging in the same call-and-response activities that they would in the wild, suggesting that these video chats can help give them something they’re missing.


While the researchers advise against anyone trying this at home for the time being, without the training and necessary monitoring, there’s a lot of promise here based on some of the great stories that came out of the study.

One such story involves two elderly and rather sickly macaws, who formed a deep bond during their video calls. Prior to the study, the birds barely interacted with others of their kind. They would dance and sing together, and even call “Hi! Come here! Hello!” when their partner would move out of the video frame.

“It really speaks to how cognitively complex these birds are and how much ability they have to express themselves,” says Hirskyj-Douglas. “It was really beautiful, those two birds, for me.”

The research was presented at the 2023 ACM CHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems and can be found online.