Fortunately for Cougars and Wolves, there’s Only One Washington

From the Capital Press article:

One Washington, two sides

by Don Jenkins    March 26, 2015

OLYMPIA — Residents of Eastern Washington are frustrated with the more populous Westside of the state. And nowhere was that frustration more prominent than one day last month in the Capitol. On the docket were cougars and wolves, two hot-buttoncopyrighted Hayden wolf in lodgepoles issues that split the state right down the center of the Cascade Range.

In one hearing, Eastside ranchers were asking senators to loosen the state’s law against using hounds to chase cougars and keep the predators away from livestock.

In another hearing, an Eastside county commissioner told legislators that his constituents were fed up with wolves.                                                                              …

In the weeks since, lawmakers have agreed to take a close look at the wolf problem. The hounds, however, will remain on the leash. …

More: http://www.capitalpress.com/Washington/20150326/one-washington-two-sides#.VRRp-qw3hjc.facebook

Sea Lions do not have any other food choices

From Sea Lion Defense Brigade:

SLDB observers report that the steller sea lions on the Columbia River are a beautiful sight and one of the best things about the return of the spring Chinook salmon and the Pacific Lamprey.

They have an ancient predator prey relationship that spans back over ten thousand years on the Columbia River. The Pacific Lamprey are the sea lions food of choice and the Pacific Lamprey like the sea lions are today were once deemed “predator” to the Chinook salmon by sport fishermen and completely eradicated from the Columbia River Basin by ODFW from approximately 1960-1980s.

It is absolutely heinous the way the big corporate media portrays the sea lions return to the Columbia River. It is horrifying the way the state and federal policies are written to allow the hazing of the steller sea lions and the trapping and branding and killing of the California sea lions for eating as little as one fish out of the Columbia River at the Bonneville Dam.

Tax payer dollars are being wasted to attack majestic creatures in their native home to scapegoat and kill animals that do not have any other food choices than to eat fish and other aquatic life. Current science supports the importance of crucial top predators and the importance of bio diversity in the Bio Region to increase the chances for all species to be able to survive.

ODFW worked to cause of the eradication of the sea lion’s original and favorite food source. And ODFW also was successful in destroying the Chinook salmon’s original natural predator by clearing the Columbia River basin of the Pacific Lamprey and now they are targeting the native sea lions.

ODFW was successful in destroying 450 millions years of Mother’s Natures work in only twenty years all to appease the cries from the sport fishermen that once stated that the Pacific lamprey were also like what they currently say about the sea ions that the lamprey were eating “to Much” of their salmon.

Today the USDA’s bombing destroys the tranquility of what a day on the Columbia River is supposed to be and Pacific Lamprey is now being produced at the Bonneville Dam hatchery.

The USDA’s assaults destroys any chance a visitor to the area may have who is scouting to see the elusive and shy Big Foot on the City of North Bonneville’s heritage trail walk.

Many visitors travel to Oregon because they are thrilled to get the chance to see wildlife in their native habitat, and by the way this will never happen while the USDA guy is shooting.

There is joy to be had experiencing these animals in their native habitat and getting the opportunity to hear their vocalizations can be life changing for some people. Big Foot and the beautiful sea lions in the Columbia River Gorge need more protection not less SLDB observer report.

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'SLDB observers report that the steller sea lions on the Columbia River are a beautiful sight and one of the best things about the return of the spring Chinook salmon and the Pacific Lamprey.</p>
<p>They have an ancient predator prey relationship that spans back over ten thousand years on the Columbia River. The Pacific Lamprey are the sea lions food of choice and the Pacific Lamprey like the sea lions are today were once deemed "predator" to the  Chinook salmon by sport fishermen  and  completely eradicated from the Columbia River Basin by ODFW from approximately 1960-1980s. </p>
<p> It is absolutely heinous the way the big corporate media portrays the sea lions return to the Columbia River. It is horrifying the way the state and federal policies are written to allow the hazing of the steller sea lions and the trapping and branding and killing of the California sea lions for eating as little as one fish out of the Columbia River at the Bonneville Dam. </p>
<p>Tax payer dollars are being wasted to attack majestic creatures in their native home to scapegoat and kill animals that do not have any other food choices than to eat fish and other aquatic life. Current science supports the importance of crucial top predators and the importance of bio diversity in the Bio Region to increase the chances for all species to be able to survive.</p>
<p>ODFW worked to cause of the eradication of the sea lion's original and favorite food source. And ODFW also was successful in  destroying the Chinook salmon's original natural predator by clearing the Columbia River basin of the Pacific Lamprey and now they are targeting the native sea lions. </p>
<p> ODFW was successful in destroying 450 millions years of Mother's Natures work in only twenty years all to appease the cries from the sport fishermen that once stated that the Pacific lamprey were also like what they currently say about the sea ions that the lamprey were eating “to Much" of their salmon.  </p>
<p>Today the USDA's bombing destroys the tranquility of what a day on the Columbia River is supposed to be and Pacific Lamprey is now being produced at the Bonneville Dam hatchery. </p>
<p>The USDA's assaults destroys any chance a visitor to  the area  may have who is scouting to see the elusive and shy Big Foot on the City of North Bonneville's heritage trail walk.</p>
<p> Many visitors travel to Oregon because they are thrilled to get the chance to see wildlife in their native habitat, and by the way this will never happen while the USDA guy is shooting.</p>
<p>There is joy to be had experiencing these animals in their native habitat and getting the opportunity to hear their vocalizations can be life changing for some people. Big Foot and the beautiful sea lions in the Columbia River Gorge need more protection not less SLDB observer report.'

This chart of rising ocean temperatures is terrifying

http://grist.org/news/this-chart-of-rising-ocean-temperatures-is-terrifying/

This year’s biggest climate change news was that 2014 was hottest year on record. Turns out, there’s bigger news: It was also the hottest year in the oceans, which are warming so fast they’re literally breaking the NOAA’s charts.

Don’t think you mind a little jacuzzification in your ocean? You’re wrong. Warmer oceans matter because “global warming” doesn’t just mean above average air temperatures over the course of a year — it actually refers to an increase in the total amount of heat energy contained in the Earth’s systems. While air temperatures can fluctuate on any given year, they are usually matched by an increase or decrease of the amount of heat stored in the oceans (which, by the way, absorb around 90 percent of total global warming heat). To know whether the system as a whole is getting warmer or not, scientists need to take into account the temperatures of the atmosphere, land, AND oceans.

Luckily, NOAA has been tracking ocean energy data for decades, updating its charts every few months. Unluckily, the newest data shows that, on top of 2014’s record-breaking air temperatures, ocean temperatures have also increased — to put it in layman’s terms — a shit ton. The spike is so significant that NOAA will have to rescale its heat chart.

Ocean heat content data to a depth of 2,000 meters
Ocean heat content data to a depth of 2,000 meters
NOAA

OK, people. We don’t want to sound like a broken record about the reality of climate change … and actually this time we don’t have to. This is one broken record that speaks for itself.

How Hunting is Driving “Evolution in Reverse.”

—Wildlife Photography ©Jim Robertson

—Wildlife Photography ©Jim Robertson

Some of the most iconic photographs of Teddy Roosevelt, one of the first conservationists in American politics, show the president posing companionably with the prizes of his trophy hunts. An elephant felled in Africa in 1909 points its tusks skyward; a Cape buffalo, crowned with horns in the shape of a handlebar mustache, slumps in a Kenyan swamp. In North America, he stalked deer, pronghorn antelope, bighorn sheep and elk, which he called “lordly game” for their majestic antlers. What’s remarkable about these photographs is not that they depict a hunter who was also naturalist John Muir’s staunchest political ally. It’s that just 100 years after his expeditions, many of the kind of magnificent trophies he routinely captured are becoming rare.

Elk still range across parts of North America, but every hunting season brings a greater challenge to find the sought-after bull with a towering spread of antlers. Africa and Asia still have elephants, but Roosevelt would have regarded most of them as freaks, because they don’t have tusks. Researchers describe what’s happening as none other than the selection process that Darwin made famous: the fittest of a species survive to reproduce and pass along their traits to succeeding generations, while the traits of the unfit gradually disappear. Selective hunting—picking out individuals with the best horns or antlers, or the largest piece of hide—works in reverse: the evolutionary loser is not the small and defenseless, but the biggest and best-equipped to win mates or fend off attackers.

When hunting is severe enough to outstrip other threats to survival, the unsought, middling individuals make out better than the alpha animals, and the species changes. “Survival of the fittest” is still the rule, but the “fit” begin to look unlike what you might expect. And looks aren’t the only things changing: behavior adapts too, from how hunted animals act to how they reproduce. There’s nothing wrong with a species getting molded over time by new kinds of risk. But some experts believe problems arise when these changes make no evolutionary sense.

More: http://www.newsweek.com/how-hunting-driving-evolution-reverse-78295

Sea lions adapt to changing climate

Text and Wildlife Photography ©Jim Robertson

Wildlife Photography ©Jim Robertson

http://www.dailyastorian.com/Local_News/20150325/sea-lions-adapt-to-changing-climate

NOAA Northwest Fisheries Science Center  March 25, 2015

Climate change and food shortages are behind an increased push of pinnipeds into the Columbia River.

In Southern California hundreds of starving sea lion pups are washing up on beaches, filling marine mammal care centers that scarcely can hold them all.

Meanwhile thousands of adult male California sea lions are surging into the Pacific Northwest, crowding onto docks and jetties in coastal communities.

How can animals from the same population be struggling in one region while thriving in another? The answer lies in the division of family responsibilities between male and female sea lions, and the different ways each responds to an everchanging ocean, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Northwest Fisheries Science Center in Seattle.

“We’re seeing the population adjust to the environment as the environment changes,” said Sharon Melin, a sea lion biologist with the fisheries science center.

The environmental changes affecting the sea lions can be traced to unusually weak winds off the West Coast over the last year. Without cooling winds, scientists say, the Pacific Ocean warmed as much as 2 to 5 degrees Celsius (35.6 to 41 degrees Farenheit) above average. What started as a patchwork of warm water from Southern California to Alaska in 2014 has since grown into a vast expanse, affecting everything from plankton at the bottom of the food chain to sea lions near the top.

“The warming is about as strong as anything in the historical record,” said Nathan Mantua, who leads the Landscape Ecology Team at the Southwest Fisheries Science Center.

Struggle for food

The Channel Islands rookeries where nearly all California sea lions raise their young off Southern California sit in the middle of the warm expanse. Female sea lions have strong ties to the rookeries. They take foraging trips of a few days at a time before returning to the rookeries to nurse their pups.

But the unusually warm water has apparently shifted the distribution of their prey, making it harder for females to find enough food to support the nutritional needs of their pups. Their hungry pups, it now appears, are struggling to gain weight and have begun striking out from the rookeries on their own. Many do not make it and instead wash up on shore dead or emaciated.

Since the early 1970s the California sea lion population underwent unprecedented growth. The species is protected by the 1972 Marine Mammal Protection Act and is estimated to number about 300,000 along the U.S. West Coast. But the growth has slowed in recent years as ocean conditions have turned especially unfavorable for juvenile survival. That could lead to population declines in coming years, biologists say.

“We are working on data to look at whether the population might be approaching its resource limits,” Melin told reporters in a recent conference call.

Sea lions serve as an indicator of ocean conditions because they are visible and are sensitive to small environmental and ecological changes, Melin said. The warm temperatures may well be affecting other species in less obvious ways.

“There are probably other things going on in the ecosystem we may not be seeing,” she said.

Bachelors

Unlike female sea lions, males have no lasting obligations to females or young. After mating at the rookeries in midsummer, they leave the rookeries and roam as far as Oregon, Washington and Alaska in search of food.

“They’re bachelors,” said Mark Lowry of the Southwest Fisheries Science Center in La Jolla, California. “They just go wherever they can to find something to eat.”

Male sea lions search out prey with high energy content, especially oily fish such as herring and sardines, said Robert DeLong, who leads a program to study the California Current Ecosystem at the Alaska Fisheries Science Center. Increasing numbers have found their way to the mouth of the Columbia River to feed on increasingly strong runs of eulachon, also called smelt, and have taken up residence on docks and jetties near Astoria.

“More sea lions learned last year and even more will learn this year that this is a good place to find food,” DeLong said of the Columbia River. “They’ve learned these fish are there now and they won’t forget that.”

DeLong and Steve Jeffries, a research biologist with the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, attached satellite-linked tracking tags to 15 sea lions feeding on salmon near Bremerton (Wash.) in November and December. Four of those sea lions are now at the mouth of the Columbia, Jeffries said.

Counts around Astoria rose from a few hundred in January to nearly 2,000 in February, exceeding numbers in previous years at the same time. The count includes some animals from the eastern stock of Steller sea lions, removed from the List of Endangered and Threatened Wildlife in 2013. The California sea lions also feed on spring chinook salmon and steelhead. Some of the chinook and steelhead stocks are listed under the Endangered Species Act and NOAA Fisheries is working with state officials to address sea lion predation.

By the beginning of May, the male sea lions depart for the summer breeding season at the rookeries in Southern California.

“It’s like flipping a switch,” DeLong said. “Suddenly it’s time to go.”

Warm conditions may continue

The warm expanse of ocean extends to depths of 60 to 100 meters, Mantua said, and will likely take months to dissipate even if normal winds resume. Biologists expect poor feeding conditions for California sea lions will likely continue near their rookeries while warm ocean conditions persist. A more typical spring and summer with strong and persistent winds from the north would cool the water and likely improve foraging conditions along the West Coast.

The tropical El Niño just declared by NOAA is one wild card that may affect West Coast ocean conditions over the next year. If the El Niño continues or intensifies through 2015, it would favor winds and ocean currents that support another year of warm conditions along the West Coast.

More info.:

For more information on sea lion strandings, visit http://tinyurl.com/nxqhwkw. For information on field research in the sea lion rookeries, visit http://tinyurl.com/no7heje. For information on det

Portland Audubon Society Votes to sue Army Corps of Engineers and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service: Stop the Slaughter!

Originally posted on earthwhispererconservation:

image Double-crested cormorant

Photo’ by Jim Cruce

US Army Corps of Engineers announces it will move forward with plan to slaughter 11,000 cormorants.

March 20, 2015: The US Army Corps of Engineers has issued a final record of decision announcing it will move forward with the decision to slaughter nearly 11,000 Double-crested Cormorants and destroy more than 26,000 Double-crested Cormorant nests on East Sand Island in the Columbia River Estuary.

Cormorants will be shot out of the sky with shotguns as they forage for food and with rifles at close range as they tend to their nests. The Corps still must obtain permits from the US Fish and Wildlife Service to commence the killing, and the Audubon Society of Portland urges the Fish and Wildlife Service to deny those permits. However, if those permits are issued, the Audubon Society of Portland’s Board of Directors has voted to sue the Corps and…

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“THE TOXIN THAT KEEPS ON GIVING”

Originally posted on Wisconsin Wildlife Ethic-Vote Our Wildlife:

toxins image

“Sick Swan rescue spotlights severity of lead-poisoning problem”

A touching story of a mother Trumpeter Swan saving the life of a lead-poisoned Cygnet on the ice of the St. Croix River (Source: St. Croix 360, Feb., 2015). Discusses pushback from hunting organizations, retailers and manufacturers; superiority of copper; cascading effects of lead in wildlife species; impacts on human population and ultimately a call to action. By not banning the use of lead, our legislators, state and federal agencies are violating their fiduciary responsibilities as trustees of our natural resources. See “Lead Exposure in Wisconsin Birds” (WDNR; Strom et. al, 2009); and the WDNR’s “Precautions for lead ammunition”. Lastly, take action by contacting your U.S. Senators and Representatives to OPPOSE the Bipartisan Sportsmen’s Act of 2015: prohibits EPA from regulating lead ammunition, opens up increased public lands to hunting, shooting ranges, importation of polar bears and much more.

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Welfare Ranchers, Riding High (Again)

Originally posted on Vickery Eckhoff:

Stewart and BundyNearly a year ago, following Forbes response to my writing about Cliven Bundy and the federal grazing program, I was approached by AlterNet with a proposition.

There had been some speculation that my Forbes departure had been spurred by Steve Forbes having grazing leases or that people with influence at Forbes did and that my exposing the federal grazing program was not to their liking. Would I be interested in writing a piece on rich welfare ranchers?

The idea of exploring that topic was attractive, even though I knew it would be challenging, so I agreed.

Today, almost a year later, I’m proud to publish “Forbes Billionaires Top US Welfare Ranchers List” on AlterNet and also the Daily Pitchfork.

The article is the fourth part of the Daily Pitchfork’s “SourceWatch” series on ranchers in the media (you can read the first three parts here, here and here).

SourceWatch was created to address the media’s twin habits of…

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Genesis 9:2, Part 2

Text and Wildlife Photography ©Jim Robertson

Text and Wildlife Photography ©Jim Robertson

Continued from, “and the Fear of Thee and the Dread of Thee Shall Be upon Every Living Thing…”

On a hopeful note, wild animals can unlearn their conditioned response of fearing the worst when they see humans. The other day we surprised a familiar flock of geese, who instinctively took flight. “It’s okay; It’s just us,” we told them. As one, they must have all thought, “Oh yeah, we know them. They’re not Elmers or Elmerettes out to get us. It’s just that friendly couple that walks their dog every day.  And anyway, it’s not hunting season.” They instantly hit the brakes and gently landed back down while we gave them a wide berth and continued to tell them how glad we were to see them again.

That’s the way it should be, humans and non-humans getting along and sharing the planet.

Although I wouldn’t dream of telling anyone what they should or shouldn’t do, perhaps if we all treat the Earth and its non-human inhabitants with a little kindness and respect—stop shooting and gassing geese, and for that matter, stop treating all other animal life like they’re expendable playthings; stop calling yourselves sportsmen when all you really want to do is kill; stop pretending that primates are supposed to be predators; stop assuming everything has been put here for your benefit; stop heating up the climate by burning fossil fuels like there’s no tomorrow;  and not to shock anyone, but why not slow down to 55 or less for the sake of migratory wildlife, if not the climate; and last but definitely not least, the unmentionable, stop having babies—we may all survive for another century or two.

In short, stop thinking only of your own species’ immediate gratification and treat the natural world with a little love and humility. Oh, and an apology to the Earth for past abuses might be in order, as well.

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