Exposing the Big Game

Forget Hunters' Feeble Rationalizations and Trust Your Gut Feelings: Making Sport of Killing Is Not Healthy Human Behavior

Exposing the Big Game

COP24: 12 years from disaster


World leaders are gathering in Katowice, Poland, to negotiate the world’s response to climate change. The 24th Conference of the Parties (COP24) will last from December 3-14 and its primary aim is to reach agreement on how the Paris Agreement of 2015 will be implemented. In a year which saw record weather extremes and an extraordinary announcement from the UN that we have only 12 years to limit catastrophe, the need for meaningful progress has never been greater.

To explain how the COP works and what it means for the fight against climate change, we asked our academic experts to share their views.

COP24 venue Spodek arena in Katowice, Poland. Milosz Maslanka/Shutterstock

What will COP24 address?

The urgency to reach key milestones in the Paris Agreement and deal with climate change puts a lot of high expectations on COP24 – Federica Genovese, lecturer in government, University of Essex.

  • Rulebook: this is the conference’s main goal – to establish consensus on how nations should implement the Paris Agreement and report their progress.
  • Emissions targets: COP24 is expected to resolve how emissions will be regulated, although it’s unlikely that sanctions for countries failing to meet their targets will be agreed on.
  • Finance: the rich countries need to find US$20 billion to fulfil their pledge of providing US$100 billion a year in funding to help poorer countries adapt to climate change by 2020. Agreeing when this will be paid is likely to be contentious.
  • Role of “big” states: the international political climate casts a long shadow over the talks. Domestic politics in the USthe UKRussiaand Brazil threaten to undermine climate change leadership among larger emitters at COP24.

How did we get here?

1997: Creation of Kyoto Protocol, which set binding emissions targets. It failed as the US did not ratify it.

2009: COP15 in Copenhagen failed to yield any agreement on binding commitments.

2013: COP19 in Warsaw failed to finalise any binding treaty.

2015: COP21 in Paris generated considerable optimism with agreement reached on a legally binding action plan. But two years later, US president Donald Trump announced his intention to withdraw the US from the Paris Agreement.

COP24 opens in Katowice, Poland. Andrzej Grygiel/EPA

Where are we on the road to catastrophic climate change?

We aren’t facing the end of the world as envisaged by many environmentalists in the late 1980s and early 1990s, but if we do nothing to mitigate climate change then billions of people will suffer – Mark Maslin, professor of Earth system science, University College London

The world’s poorest and most vulnerable people are most at risk from the effects of climate change, with many having to migrate from sea level rise, crop failure and pollution. Sahia – a woman from Bangladesh– lost her home and her family’s livelihood.

“My life has become a living hell” – Sahia. (by Sonja Ayeb-Karlsson, senior researcher, Sussex University)

As global temperatures near 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels, the limit set in the 2015 Paris Agreement, scientists are increasingly anxious about how changes in the environment could work to accelerate the pace at which the rest of Earth is warming.

The Arctic is warming twice as fast as the rest of the planet and strange recent events here, such as heathland turning brown, could be a sign that previous natural stores of carbon are no longer working properly.

Black, observed temperatures; blue, probable range from decadal forecasts; red, retrospective forecasts; green, climate simulations of the 20th century. Global temperatures are fast approaching the 1.5°C limit. The Met Office

Methane released from Arctic permafrost and other rapid changes could take the matter of limiting greenhouse gas emissions out of our hands in the near future. A paper published in 2018 warned that runaway climate change could lead the planet into a “Hothouse Earth” state:

A chain of self-reinforcing changes might potentially be initiated, eventually leading to very large climate warming and sea level rise – Richard Betts, professor of climatology, University of Exeter

Global map of potential tipping cascades, with arrows showing potential interactions. Steffen et al/PNAS

What does the science demand we do to tackle climate change?

Whatever is agreed at COP24 will be what is politically possible, but experts urge us to bear in mind what the science demands to avoid the worst impacts of climate change and keeping global warming below or at 1.5°C.

We’re failing to cut down our emissions, the technologies for NETs [Negative Emissions Technologies] don’t exist at any meaningful scale yet, and there are no political drivers in place to enforce their deployment. There is also a real risk of a dramatic rise in methane in the near future. COP24 will have to consider emergency plans – Hugh Hunt, reader in engineering, University of Cambridge.

Limiting warming to 1.5°C or 2°C requires mitigation (energy efficiency and renewable generation) and CO₂ removal. MCC

A more radical approach at COP24 could highlight the ample opportunity there is for slowing climate change by restoring habitats. For many countries, reforestation is a more immediate way to slash emissions and make society happier and healthier in the process.

Forest cover in England has fallen sharply over the last 1,000 years. Fighting climate change presents an urgent opportunity for reforestation. DEFRAAuthor provided

However, while the climate has changed radically since global warming was first declared a man-made phenomenon 30 years ago, international efforts to tackle it haven’t. Many experts argue that the involvement of commercial interests at COP24 limits what is possible for mitigating climate change.

Ten years after the financial crisis, COP24 should not legitimise large financial investors as the architects of a transition where sustainability rhymes with profitability – Tomaso Ferrando, lecturer in law, University of Bristol

Representatives from pension funds, asset managers and large banks will be lobbying world leaders to favour investments in infrastructure and energy production as part of the transition towards a low-carbon economy.

Finance sector sees this transition as an opportunity to generate profit. If climate change is fought according to the rules of Wall Street, says Ferrando, people and projects will be supported only on the basis of whether they will make money.

Social movements need to fill the leadership gap left by wavering politicians. Facundo Arrizabalaga/EPA

If COP24 can’t save us, what can?

At COP24 environmental movements have an opportunity to use their platform to highlight the relationship between economic growth and environmental impact, and even to discuss radical alternative futures that are not dependent on a growth-based economy – Christine Corlet Walker, PhD researcher in ecological economics, University of Surrey

To bring about radical action on the environment, many academics believe we need an equally radical social movement. They argue that protesters should seize the initiative to attack the root causes of climate change, such as economic growth.

Economic growth and carbon emissions are tightly linked. To limit one we must limit the other. International Energy Agency

Debunking the climate change denialists

2018 marks 30 years since climate change was first declared a man-made phenomenon, during a congressional committee in Washington DC. The testimony of NASA climatologist James Hansen was met with both concern and scepticism at the time, but the science is in: anthropogenic climate change is incontrovertible.

Climate change is happening and is being caused by humans. This is the academic consensus, backed by science. But for climate change deniers:

The 97%

  • 97.5% of scientists who had published peer-reviewed research about climate change agreed with the consensus that global warming is human-caused (2010 study from Princeton University).
  • 97.1% of relevant climate papers published over 21 years affirmed human-caused global warming (2013 study involving multiple institutions).
  • 97% consensus in published climate research found to be robust and consistent with other surveys of climate scientists and peer-reviewed studies (2016 study involving multiple institutions).

What do the other 3% think?

There is no consistent theme among the reasoning of the other 3%. Some say “there is no warming”, others suggest the sun, cosmic rays or the oceans as a reason.

Studies from 2004-2015 show near unanimous confidence in the scientific evidence for climate change. John Cook/Wikimedia CommonsCC BY-SA

Why do some still not believe in human-caused climate change?

The fossil fuel industry has spent many millions of dollars on confusing the public about climate change. But the role of vested interests in climate science denial is only half the picture. The other significant player is political ideology – John Cook, research fellow in climate change communication, George Mason University

An analysis by American professor Robert Brulle found that from 2003 to 2010, organisations promoting climate misinformation received more than US$900m of corporate funding a year. From 2008, funding through untraceable donor networks (so-called “dark money ATM”) increased. This allowed corporations to fund climate science denial while hiding their support.

In 2016, an analysis of more than 40,000 texts from contrarian sources by Justin Farrell, another American professor, found that organisations who received corporate funding published more climate misinformation.

At an individual level, however, there is considerable evidence that shows that political ideology is the biggest predictor of climate science denial. People who fear the solutions to climate change, such as increased regulation of industry, are more likely to deny that there is a problem in the first place.

Consequently, groups promoting political ideology that opposes market regulation have been prolific sources of misinformation about climate change, as three American academics found.

Five Techniques used by climate change deniers to look out for:

Five characteristics of science denial. Dr John CookAuthor provided
  • Fake experts: create the general impression of an ongoing debate by casting doubt on scientific consensus.
  • Logical fallacies: logically false arguments that lead to an invalid conclusion. These usually appear in myths, in the form of science misrepresentation or oversimplification.
  • Impossible expectations: demand unrealistic standards of proof before acting on the science. Any uncertainty is highlighted to question the consensus.
  • Cherry-picking: best described as wilfully ignoring a mountain of inconvenient evidence in favour of a small molehill that serves a desired purpose.
Going down the up escalator. Source: skepticalscience ‘The Escalator’. Data: NASA GISS
  • Conspiracy theories: if the evidence is against you, then it has to be manipulated by mysterious forces in pursuit of a nefarious agenda. It is central to denial.

Relevant articles written by academics

DEC revising permit requirement for bobcat hunting, trapping


DATA: New York hunters and trappers no longer required to obtain special permit

RAY BROOK — Having collected enough data on bobcat populations, a special permit will no longer be necessary for hunting and trapping bobcats in certain parts of western New York.

But hunters and trappers who pursue bobcats in designated Harvest Expansion Areas (HEAs) are still required to have a hunting or trapping license and to have the animal pelt sealed, according to a press release.


Upon completion of the Bobcat Management Plan in 2012, regulations were adopted to establish a hunting and trapping season in select Wildlife Management Units in central and western New York, referred to as the “Harvest Expansion Area.”

In areas open to bobcat hunting and trapping, individuals are required to have a license and to have the animal “pelt sealed” — have a plastic tag affixed by DEC staff — after harvest.

However, to hunt or trap bobcats in the HEA, licensed hunters and trappers were also required to obtain a free special permit from their regional wildlife office.


This requirement allowed biologists to collect information on participation, harvest, harvest pressure — number of days afield, number of traps set, etc. — through a diary or “log,” and to collect biological samples.

This robust data set allows biologists to assess the status of the bobcat population and evaluate harvest.

After three seasons of data collection, sufficient information on harvest pressure and take has been collected and the special permit is no longer needed.

Bobcat hunting and trapping regulations can be viewed on DEC’s website at on.ny.gov/2tS2sNO for hunting and on.ny.gov/2tORSbO for trapping.

The Notice of Adoption for the revised regulation can be viewed in the New York State Register at on.ny.gov/2ulcpVZ.

Hunter-Funded Wildlife Agency Quietly Announced Before BC Election

Steve Thomson, Former Minister of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations announcing the new wildlife agency proposal on March 22, 2017.

By Judith Lavoie.  This article is from DeSmog Canada.

A plan to form a new, independent wildlife management agency in B.C., which would relieve the provincial government from managing contentious wildlife issues such as grizzly, wolf and caribou populations, is generating anxiety among some conservation groups who fear the structure of the new program could prioritize the interests of hunters over wildlife.

The proposal for the new agency, first announced in March, was scant on details, but Steve Thomson, then minister of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations, set a fall start-up date and set aside $200,000 for consultations with conservation and hunting groups.

“Government is afraid to manage wolves, for example, or afraid to manage grizzly bears in some cases because of the politics of that,” then energy and mines minister Bill Bennett, an avid hunter and supporter of the controversial grizzly bear trophy hunt, told an East Kootenay radio station.

“Hopefully an agency that is separate from government can make decisions that are in the best long-term interest of wildlife and just forget about the politics and do what is best for the animals,” Bennett said.

According to Thomson, the agency would receive an initial government investment of $5 million and be further funded by hunting licence revenues to the tune of $9 to $10 million annually — money which currently goes into general revenue.

The plan was welcomed by hunters as a way to increase funding for cash-strapped conservation and management programs

The NDP previously tabled a bill calling for dedicated conservation funding, so, in the flurry of pre-election announcements, the plan didn’t get much attention, even though Thomson was flanked by representatives of pro-hunting groups as he made the announcement.

Then, days before the election, five of B.C.’s pro-hunting and trapping organizations — B.C. Wildlife Federation, Guide Outfitters Association of B.C, Wild Sheep Society of B.C, Wildlife Stewardship Council and the B.C. Trappers Association — announced they had signed a memorandum of understanding to work together.

“The collaborative efforts of our five organizations will help ensure the province follows through on its commitment to enhance wildlife management,” Jim Glaicair, president of the 50,000-member B.C. Wildlife Federation, said in a news release.

The organizations emphasized that the MOU was sparked by concern about the ongoing decline of wildlife.

“This is a great opportunity for our organizations to work together for the betterment of wildlife in the province,” said Michael Schneider, Guide Outfitters Association of B.C president.

Hunter-Funded Wildlife Management ‘Huge Step Backwards’

But to other groups and especially those waiting to see whether the new government will stop the grizzly hunt, the MOU appeared to indicate a pro-hunting team lining up to take over the new agency.

Alan Burger, president of B.C. Nature, which represents 53 clubs, with a total of more than 6,000 members, said in an interview that it is a major concern that the only people rooting for the new agency appear to be hunters and trappers.

“If they can dominate an agency like this it is going to be a huge step backwards,” Burger told DeSmog Canada.

“The last thing we need is greater emphasis on big game. We need to focus our attention on the ecosystem,” he said, questioning how the proposal could get so far without consultation.

“Hunting and fishing licences are an important source of revenue and B.C. Nature agrees that there should be a greater share contributed to wildlife management,” Burger said.

“But there is much greater input to the B.C. economy from the non-consumptive users of wildlife — the tourism and wildlife watching industry, people selling binoculars, camera gear, field guides, outdoor gear and, most importantly, the vast majority of British Columbians that spend money travelling and camping to simply enjoy seeing animals alive in the wild,” he said.

Valhalla Wilderness Society has come out swinging against the proposed agency, calling it a thinly disguised attempt by the B.C. government to privatize wildlife management and hand over responsibility to hunters, trappers and guide outfitters.

Funding for wildlife management should not be contingent on hunting licence revenue or special interest groups, a news release from Valhalla says.

“Notwithstanding the poor job the B.C. government has been doing in growing wildlife, wildlife should be managed by government,” it says. “The above-mentioned special interest groups lack the technical expertise to make wildlife decisions based on scientific evidence and are even unwilling to apply the precautionary principle, which, in the face of climate change, is needed more than ever.”

B.C.Wildlife Conservation Funds Desperately Needed

One lesson from the growing controversy is that conservation groups need to work together and find out whether a new model could provide desperately needed funds for conservation, said Val Murray of Justice for B.C. Grizzlies.

“We need to see animals as individuals within communities rather than numbers within a natural resource group,” she said.

“We need a cross-discipline panel of conservation biologists and scientists to bridge the values of consumptive and non-consumptive residents. There is no shortage of good science — what we lack is proper funding to implement what we know, plus good listening skills to apply the ideas.”

Letters asking for more information and setting out objections to the proposal have been sent to all three party leaders, but, until the outcome of the election is clarified, none are willing to jump into the fray.

A spokeswoman for the Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations Ministry said the previous government was looking at similar model to the agreement between the province and Freshwater Fisheries Society of B.C where revenue from fishing licences goes into research, conservation and education programs.

The intention is to hold public consultations before decisions are made, she said.

From DeSmog Canada, by way of the Rossland Telegraph.


Big game hunter is crushed to death when an elephant he was hunting in Zimbabwe is shot and falls on top of him

  • Theunis Botha was crushed to death by one of the elephants he was hunting
  • He was hunting with a group in Zimbabwe when they came across animals
  • The group began to shoot, which spooked the elephants which began running
  • Botha was then reportedly picked up by one of the elephants he was shooting at
  • Another hunter then shot that elephant, which fell over on top of Botha  

Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-4528048/Big-game-hunter-crushed-death-shot-elephant.html#ixzz4hmDBGGmr
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A South African safari leader and big game hunter was crushed to death Friday afternoon when an elephant was shot and fell and on top of him.

Theunis Botha, 51, was hunting with a group in Gwai, Zimbabwe, when they came across a breeding herd of elephants.

They quickly began to shoot, according to News 24, spooking the animals and causing the elephants to charge at the hunters.

Theunis Botha (pictured right with his wife, Carika), 51, was hunting with a group in Gwai, Zimbabwe, when they came across a breeding herd of elephants

One of the elephants is then said to have picked up Botha with its trunk.

A member of his group shot the elephant, hoping it would put Botha down. Instead, the wounded and dying animal fell on top of him,  crushing him to death.

This little-noticed court settlement will probably save millions of animals

October 13 at 2:57 PM

Somewhere in America, a wild animal is about to die.

A leg trap has been set. Bait laced with poison has been laid out. A cage that no one will check for days is open and inviting with food inside. A little-known division of the federal Agriculture Department called Wildlife Services kills about 4,000 animals every day. Many of them are invasive species that don’t belong in the United States, but to the dismay of conservationists, native animals such as beavers, bears, wolves, bobcats, alligators, prairie dogs, otters and owls are also being snuffed out.

Last year, 3.2 million animals were killed. Over the past 10 years, the toll surpasses 35 million. But a recent settlement reached at a federal court in Nevada might one day dramatically lower these numbers. A small animal rights group, WildEarth Guardians, argued in a lawsuit that the science in an analysis that Wildlife Services uses to justify its kills in state wilderness and wilderness study areas is out of date, and the agency settled by agreeing to an update that will probably take two years.

Until the new analysis is drafted, debated in public forms and finalized, Wildlife Services will not operate in 6 million acres of Nevada wilderness — remote areas where no roads exist. “They will send instruction to everyone who works for them that they can no longer use that assessment,” said Bethany Cotton, the wildlife program director for WildEarth. “They will post that commitment on their website. That’s why this has much broader implications than just Nevada.”

“I think it’s a significant shift in how the program operates, and my hope is that officials will embrace the science and the modern ethics around the treatment of wildlife,” Cotton said.

WildEarth Guardians, based in New Mexico, told the court that some of the the science in the analysis used by Wildlife Services, which often kills animals such as coyotes and weasels at the request of farmers and ranchers, is 80 years old and does not reflect how foresters and biologists view wilderness today. The court declined to grant the government’s motion to dismiss the case, saying instead that WildEarth demonstrated that its interests were being harmed, Cotton said.

CONTENT FROM BLEECKER STREETIs denial on the rise in America?

Sometimes denial is easier than being afraid or confused.

The settlement was certified the first week of October and announced by WildEarth this week. Wildlife Services would not discuss the court case when representatives were contacted, but a spokeswoman, Lyndsay Cole, released a statement acknowledging that the agency has “begun the process of developing a new” assessment known as the National Environmental Policy Act for managing statewide predator damage in Nevada.

“Wildlife Services is dedicated to resolving human and wildlife conflicts with the most up-to-date information and best scientific analysis available,” Cole wrote.

Like other conservationists, Cotton said Wildlife Service’s efforts to remove harmful invasive and nuisance species from the wild is vital. Birds at airports smash into planes. Hoards of blackbirds are known to menace cattle and steal their feed. Vultures often pour into suburban communities for warmth in winter. Feral cats roam the streets, killing nearly a billion birds each year.

“But we object to their killings of native animals,” she said. “They admitted killing 17 domestic dogs because they use traps, and they’re indiscriminate.”

The analysis, conservationists have long argued, fails to take into account the benefits of predators the agency kills, such as wolves, Cotton said. When wolves that had all but disappeared from the West were reintroduced into the wild a few years ago, they triggered a cascade effect that improved the health of the landscape.

Herds of elk and deer, on which wolves prey, are forced to move rather than shelter in a single place, where they denude areas of leafy vegetation that smaller animals need to survive. Deer and sheep munching everything in sight in a single location throws a habitat out of balance, because mice disappear for lack of shelter, leaving less food for birds of prey, foxes and other predators.

When wolves bring down a deer or elk carcass, hungry bears benefit by stealing it. Killing wolves based on outdated science ignored other key biological realities, Cotton said. Removing key members of a pack often leaves it shorthanded and unable to take down big prey.


Costs of Oregon hunting, fishing licenses keep climbing; License sales drop but ODFW says price not main factor

The change in demographic is the prime driver for the economic spiral state wildlife management agencies face nationwide. They have never been more vulnerable for change. Reforming state wildlife commissions to represent more than just hunters is key to this evolution.


NM “Game” Commission caters to hunters, ranchers

Letters to the editor

Published: Tuesday, September 8th, 2015 at 12:02am
Commission caters to hunters, ranchers
AT THE N.M. Game Commission hearing on Aug. 27, opponents of increased mountain lion and bear killing outnumbered the hunters, trappers and ranchers at least 4 to 1. Yet, while some of the environmental/animal groups were allowed to speak, many of us individual citizens were not.
It was obvious to many that the commission was changing the rules to fit its biased needs. Not only are numerous ranchers and hunters on this commission, but there are two Safari Club International members as well.
Anyone surprised that the “vote” was unanimous in favor of more killing?
We cannot help wildlife by changing these game (commission’s) names, or funding structure, or by continuing to accept their barbaric “game management policies” as something worthy of support.
Game agencies were started in the early 1900s. Aldo Leopold – a longtime wolf killer – literally wrote the textbook on game management. Yes, he was “sorry” for killing one wolf too many, but he was responsible for the atrocious model of today’s “modern game management,” which views wild animals as “commodities and resources.”
Terms such as “harvest” and “game quotas” are designed to artificially maintain wild species for trophy/trapping – keeping just enough of them for human exploitation/killing.
The N.M. Game (and Fish) Department comes up with pseudo-statistics to rationalize its use of wildlife. Some so-called wildlife groups are collaborating with the enemies of wildlife – the hunting, trapping and livestock industries – to establish a so-called sustainable level of wildlife killing. The wildlife of New Mexico has enough to contend with without wildlife organizations joining the killing machine.
The World Wildlife Living Planet Report states that populations of fish, birds, mammals, amphibians and reptiles measured for the report have declined by 52 percent since 1970; and freshwater species have suffered a 76 percent decline – an average loss almost double that of land and marine species.
We are developing a campaign against trophy hunting, and the state game departments that support it, on our EARTH for Animals website.
Santa Fe
Protect our wildlife from trophy hunters
I FIND IT despicable that the N.M. Game Commission could be dominated by the lobbying of hunters. Bears, cougars and other native species are magnificent wildlife creatures that have no voice, no vote, no money and no guns with which to fight back.
Shame on the commission for considering any killing, let alone killing by traps. Anyone with a degree in biology knows that predator/prey populations enter population equilibrium if humans do not interfere by hunting. It is unnecessary to kill them.
I will work to defeat those on the commission with my time, effort and money if they refuse to protect our wildlife from trophy hunters.
Hunting is not motivated by a need for food but by a need for power and satisfaction of personal ego. Allowing these kills satisfies the self interest of the few over the common interest of the many, the greater public.
Listen to the people who support the common interest, people who want these creatures to live, not die.
Santa Fe
Game Commission OKs exterminations
SHAME ON THE New Mexico Game Commission for its continued assault on our wildlife. It is tragically pathetic that even though the taxpaying public has loudly voiced opposition to the commission’s plans to exterminate all forms of wildlife from our lands (commissioners) continue their quest to do so and get away with it.
How sad for the rest of us.
All commissioners ignored will of people
A PERVERSION OF democracy in order to kill cougars. Just one fact makes that statement sadly accurate.
Seventy-five percent of voters (polled) don’t want trapping of cougars, and furthermore, 75 percent of voters (polled) don’t want trapping of cougars, even considering it would bring in revenue. And yet, the N.M. Game Commission voted, unanimously, to allow trapping of cougars.
Let that sink in. Seventy-five percent of voters polled don’t want trapping of cougars in New Mexico, and yet, the N.M. Game Commission voted unanimously to allow it anyway. Unanimously.
All of the game commissioners ignored the will of the people.
And while maybe the Game Commission doesn’t have to adhere strictly to democratic principles, the fact that all commissioners ignored the will of the people shows that absolutely none of them give democracy any consideration.
It seems like that would be impossible. Impossible that none of the commissioners would vote according to the will of the people. This, folks, is a sad commentary on the arrogance of these officials. Ignoring democratic principles. Surely one would think that at least one commissioner would acquiesce to the will of the people, but no. Not one considered democracy when voting.
Add to that the petition results opposing trapping of cougars and the questionable handling of public comments, it is accurate and fair to say that the decision to allow trapping of cougars in N.M. is a perversion of democracy here in New Mexico. Just so a few people can torture and kill.
How sad.
Time to get some new commissioners
THE NEW MEXICO Game Commission is charged with managing wildlife for all of us. Recent decisions show there is no representation for those of us who think wildlife, including the top predators, should be protected from slaughter. We are the majority yet completely unrepresented on the commission.
The terms of three of the commissioners expire on Dec. 31. All New Mexicans who believe wildlife has a right to more than a brutal death should implore Gov. Susana Martinez to appoint at least one commissioner to represent the majority.

Wildlife managers assessing fire impacts


Scorched landscape threatens many animal species

By Ann McCreary

For a second consecutive year, state wildlife managers are scrambling to assess the damage caused by massive wildfires that scorched four state wildlife areas in north central Washington, including the Methow Valley.

Since mid-August, this year’s record-setting wildfires in Okanogan County have burned more than 505,000 acres, destroyed about 200 residences, and killed three firefighters.

As of early this week the largest fires included the Tunk Block Fire, burning 10 miles northeast of Omak and listed at 167,840 acres and 79 percent contained; the North Star Fire, 25 miles north of Coulee Dam, which had consumed 215,406 acres and was 47 percent contained; and the Okanogan Complex Fire, west of Omak and Okanogan,Featured Image -- 10312which was 133,142 acres and 85 percent contained. The Twisp River Fire, fully contained, burned 11,211 acres in August.

The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) estimates that wildfires have scorched more than 25,000 acres of wildlife lands maintained by the department for wildlife and outdoor recreation in Okanogan and Chelan counties.

That exceeds the amount of state wildlife land burned by last year’s massive Carlton Complex Fire by about 1,000 acres, said Jim Brown, WDFW regional director for north central Washington.

“Several wildlife areas are completely burned over,” Brown said. “The vegetation that supports deer, sharp-tailed grouse and other wildlife is gone. I’d call it déjà vu, except that this year’s fire took a different path and has aggravated the problems we’ve been working to address since last year.”

This year’s damage to WDFW lands was concentrated in the Scotch Creek Wildlife Area, east of Conconully; the Methow Wildlife Area where the Twisp River Fire burned; the Chelan Wildlife Area, primarily around Chelan Butte; and the Sinlahekin Wildlife Area between Loomis and Conconully, Brown said. In some areas, trained department staff worked alongside regular firefighters to control the blaze.

Those four wildlife areas support thousands of deer, many of which will seek food outside the areas scorched by wildfires, said Matt Monda, WDFW regional wildlife manager. Like last year, the department plans to work with landowners to protect their crops from deer displaced by the fire, he said.

“We are looking at the carrying capacity of habitat for wintering deer,” Monda said. “We know we need to take additional steps to align the herds with available habitat. That effort will involve allowing the habitat to recover and minimizing conflicts between deer and agricultural landowners.”

Drought having impact

The statewide drought, one of the most severe on record, is both causing and compounding the wildfire damage, Monda said. “The drought is going to have an effect on vegetation recovery. That’s why we had the big fires and it’s going to make things more difficult for wildlife.”

Hunting seasons for archers are now underway, and WDFW may draw from its existing list of special-hunt applicants to increase the number of modern-firearms permit hunts in October, Monda said.

Brown said WDFW encourages hunters to take advantage of those hunting opportunities, but recommends that they check local access restrictions before they leave home. Key contact numbers are included on the state governor’s website at www.governor.wa.gov/news-media/washington-wildfire-resources.

In the months ahead, the department will consider setting up localized deer-feeding stations and other measures to protect agriculture crops on a case-by-case basis, Brown said.

“There are a lot of good reasons not to feed wildlife, but we’ll assess each situation on its merits once we have a better idea of the environmental conditions in fall and winter,” he said.

In the meantime, the department will continue to update its damage assessment as a first step toward qualifying for federal disaster relief. Besides burning thousands of acres of wildlife habitat, the fire has destroyed 90 miles of WDFW boundary fencing, several outbuildings, and hundreds of informational signs.

“This fencing serves two purposes: to keep livestock where they’re supposed to be — either on or off wildlife areas — and to identify the boundaries of wildlife areas,” Monda said.

It is very important — and expensive — to restore the lost fencing, he said. “A mile of fence costs many thousands of dollars to replace,” he said.

Also damaged were two of the three pastures in Okanogan County that WDFW leased to livestock producers displaced by last year’s fires.

“We want to help our neighbors whenever we can, but I don’t know whether we’ll have any grazing areas available this year,” Brown said.

Looking ahead to the fall rains, Brown recommends that area landowners promptly assess their own properties to determine whether fire damage has clogged culverts, destabilized slopes, or created other dangerous situations. If so, landowners may qualify for an emergency permit — called a Hydraulic Permit Approval (HPA) — to address risks in or around state waters.

Landowners in north central Washington seeking more information on emergency HPAs can contact WDFW at (509) 754-4624.

“These record-breaking fires will have a major impact on both the wildlife and the human residents of north central Washington for years to come,” Brown said. “The vegetation will eventually grow back and the wildlife will return, but we all need a break from these massive fires.”

Control Cruel Special Interest Groups, Not the Wild Animals.

Letter from Rosemary Lowe to the Albuquerque Journal:
NM Game Dept. Killing Machine
“Mexican Wolves belong on New Mexico lands, but there are special interests within the hunting & livestock industries which have a long history of prejudice about this (& other) wonderful native species. It is time to bring back the Lobo, and give it the priority & protection it needs. These cruel special interest groups need controlling, not the wild291789_400428663360054_2105335387_n animals.
The livestock industry grazes on public lands, at taxpayer expense, denuding & damaging water resources, native grasses, while demanding that the government slaughter native wild animals including wolves, bears, coyotes, mountain lions, & other innocent wildlife: a mindless hatred of so-called “predators.” Many of these species are in decline, despite the “pseudo-science” misinformation from the Game Dept.& other anti-wildlife interests.
Native wild animals are facing further declines as Climate Change worsens, affecting the health of remaining ecosystems, but the Game Dept. continues its antiquated “management” schemes to appease their special interest buddies.
Based upon the anti-wildlife mentality of the Game Dept. it does not belong in the 21st century. It must be abolished, if wildlife is to survive at all.