Young whale finds its way out of Southern California harbor

 https://www.washingtonpost.com/national/wayward-humpback-whale-stuck-in-california-harbor/2017/05/20/ce924696-3dc8-11e7-a59b-26e0451a96fd_story.html?utm_term=.419b5e375c0b
May 21 at 3:00 PM
VENTURA, Calif. — A humpback whale that made a big splash with boaters after wandering into a Southern California harbor was on the move again Sunday after finding its way back to the open ocean.

“We have great news,” an ecstatic Ventura Harbormaster John Higgins told The Associated Press. “The whale was able to find its way out.”

Authorities may have helped it on its way by playing a continuous loop of humpback whale feeding sounds overnight near the harbor’s entrance-exit point.

The idea was to draw the whale toward the open water under the belief there would be something good to eat.

The 40-foot-long creature had wowed boaters and passers-by on shore for hours Saturday after it arrived in the small fishing harbor north of Los Angeles.

People stood on small boats and docks watching it swim back and forth and occasionally surface.

Whale experts told Higgins it appeared to be a healthy juvenile, although he didn’t know its age.

The Coast Guard, National Parks Service, authorities and volunteers spent hours trying unsuccessfully to shepherd it back to the ocean.

After blocking its path with boats and banging on pipes failed to work, they tried the whale feeding sounds. The tactic finally succeeded after they cleared everyone out of the area and moved the underwater speakers closer to the ocean.

Authorities discovered the whale had left on its own when they returned in the morning, Higgins said.

As far as he knows, the young humpback was the first to pay a visit to Ventura Harbor.

“We’ve had California grey whales just peek into the harbor as they’re going up and down the coast,” he said. “But none have ever gone into the harbor.”

EPIC in Court to Defend Wolves

Organizations Seek Intervention on Industry Challenge to Endangered Status

EPIC and our allies filed a motion today to intervene in a lawsuit seeking to remove California Endangered Species Act protections from wolves. The lawsuit, against the state Fish and Wildlife Commission, was brought by the Pacific Legal Foundation and wrongly alleges that wolves are ineligible for state protection.

The intervenors — the Center for Biological Diversity, Environmental Protection Information Center, Cascadia Wildlands and Klamath-Siskiyou Wildlands Center — are represented by Earthjustice.

“Pacific Legal Foundation’s lawsuit is baseless,” said Amaroq Weiss, the Center’s West Coast wolf organizer. “Gray wolves were senselessly wiped out in California and deserve a chance to come back and survive here. We’re intervening to defend the interests of the vast majority of Californians who value wolves and want them to recover.”

Brought on behalf of the California Cattlemen’s Association and California Farm Bureau Federation, the lawsuit alleges that wolves are ineligible for state protection because wolves returning to the state are supposedly the wrong subspecies, which only occurred intermittently in California at the time of the decision and are doing fine in other states.

Each of these arguments has major flaws. UCLA biologist Bob Wayne found that all three currently recognized subspecies of wolves occurred in California. Also — importantly — there is no requirement that recovery efforts focus on the same subspecies, rather than just the species. The fact that wolves were only intermittently present actually highlights the need for their protection, and the California Endangered Species Act is rightly focused on the status of species within California, not other states.

“The gray wolf is an icon of wildness in the American West, and its return to California after almost 100 years is a success story we should celebrate,” said Earthjustice attorney Greg Loarie. “Stripping wolves of protection under the California Endangered Species Act at this early stage in their recovery risks losing them again, and we’re not going to let that happen.”

Led by the Center, the four intervening groups petitioned for endangered species protections for wolves in February 2012. After receiving two California Department of Fish and Wildlife reports, scientific peer review assessment of those reports, thousands of written comments submitted by the public and live testimony at multiple public meetings, the California Fish and Game Commission voted to protect gray wolves in June 2014.

State protection makes it illegal to kill a wolf, including in response to livestock depredations — a major issue for the livestock industry. But despite the industry’s concerns, a growing body of scientific evidence shows nonlethal deterrence measures are more effective and less expensive than killing wolves. In addition, the Department of Fish and Wildlife has been allocated federal funding that can be used for nonlethal conflict-deterrence measures and to compensate ranchers for livestock losses to wolves, which make up a very small fraction of livestock losses.

“The cattle industry has made clear that it views wolves as pests and that they filed suit to allow killing of wolves,” said Tom Wheeler, executive director at the Environmental Protection Information Center. “Wolves are a vital part of American’s wilderness and natural heritage, helping to restore balance to our ecosystems by regulating elk and deer populations. The path to restoring wolves is through protecting fragile recovering populations.”

Wolves once ranged across most of the United States, but were trapped, shot and poisoned to near extirpation largely on behalf of the livestock industry. Before wolves began to return to California in late 2011 — when a single wolf from Oregon known as wolf OR-7 ventured south — it had been almost 90 years since a wild wolf was seen in the state. Before OR-7 the last known wild wolf in California, killed by a trapper in Lassen County, was seen in 1924.

Since 2011 California’s first wolf family in nearly a century, the seven-member Shasta pack, was confirmed in Siskiyou County in 2015, and a pair of wolves was confirmed in Lassen County in 2016. An additional radio-collared wolf from Oregon has crossed in and out of California several times since late 2015.

The Environmental Protection Information Center (EPIC) advocates for science-based protection and restoration of Northwest California’s forests, using an integrated, science-based approach, combining public education, citizen advocacy, and strategic litigation.

The Center for Biological Diversity is a national, nonprofit conservation organization with more than 1.2 million members and online activists dedicated to the protection of endangered species and wild places.

Cascadia Wildlands educates, agitates, and inspires a movement to protect and restore Cascadia’s wild ecosystems. We envision vast old-growth forests, rivers full of wild salmon, wolves howling in the backcountry, and vibrant communities sustained by the unique landscapes of the Cascadia bioregion.

The Klamath-Siskiyou Wildlands Center is an advocate for the forests, wildlife and waters of the Klamath and Rogue River Basins of southwest Oregon and northwest California. We use environmental law, science, collaboration, education and grassroots organizing to defend healthy ecosystems and help build sustainable communities.

Earthjustice, the nation’s premier nonprofit environmental law organization, wields the power of law and the strength of partnership to protect people’s health, to preserve magnificent places and wildlife, to advance clean energy, and to combat climate change.
EPIC advocates for the science-based protection and restoration of Northwest California’s forests and wildlife.

Rebounding California gray wolf holds onto protection

SF Chronicle

December 7, 2016

FRESNO, Calif. (AP) — The California gray wolves will keep their endangered species protections even once the rebounding animal hits a population of at least 50, state wildlife officials said Wednesday.

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife published its plan for managing wolves late Tuesday, setting its policy for the species that is making a comeback to the state after it was killed off in the 1920s.

“Wolves returning to the state was inevitable,” said Charlton Bonham, director of the California Department of Fish and Wildlife in a statement. “It’s an exciting ecological story, and this plan represents the path forward to manage wolves.”

The plan marks a shift in course, dropping language from an earlier draft that directed officials to remove wolves from the list of animals protected once they reached the critical mass.

Wolves in California were hunted to extinction nearly a century ago, but a lone wolf called OR-7 crossed the northern border from Oregon in 2011. OR-7 and his mate have had a litter for each of the last three years, and cameras caught another family pack in Northern California, but it hasn’t been spotted in several months, wildlife advocates say. Officials say it’s hard to say how many wolves roam the state today, but their numbers remain small.

In response, state officials in 2014 granted the wolf protections under the state’s endangered species act, despite opposition from hunting and livestock groups who fear the predator will kill deer and valuable cattle. Under California’s protections, gray wolves can’t be killed or hunted.

U.S. law also protects wolves in most of the nation, except for Idaho, Montana and parts of Washington, Oregon and Utah, but there is a pending proposal to strip federal protections from most of the Lower 48 states, including California.

Kirk Wilbur of the California Cattlemen’s Association said ranchers in California are prohibited from taking meaningful steps against the predator that kills their livestock. They can’t throw a rock in their general direction — let alone shoot one that’s killing cattle, he said.

“The options are very limited to the way a rancher can protect his livestock,” Wilbur said. “That can be absolutely devastating for a rancher who is a small business owner.”

Wolf advocates, however, praise the plan. Amaroq Weiss of the Center for Biological Diversity said wolves are in the early stage of making a historic comeback, and it’s too soon to consider stripping away protections.

“It’s one of those conservation moments you don’t know if you’re going to get in your lifetime,” she said. “We’re getting it in California, and it’s really exciting.”

Wolves are coming; Regional meeting held in Quincy to alert ranchers

News from Project Coyote

The news was shocking – a coyote in Los Angeles, gunned down by a sniper on a residential street. As reported on July 1st in the Los Angeles Times, the gunman shot the coyote in the city’s Silver Lake neighborhood, in what the Times called an act of “coyotecide.”

As Los Angeles’s Animal Cruelty Task Force looks into the shooting, and the Department of Animal Services investigates, Project Coyote is offering a $1,000 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the suspect(s) responsible.
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Our reward offer is helping to generate news coverage about this act of barbarity, while exposing the stark reality that coyotes are the target of so much hatred and violence and have no protections as afforded their domestic cousins.

Had the killer shot a domestic dog, it would be considered a felony under state anti-cruelty laws. 

Ironically, just last week Project Coyote’s Southern California Representative, Randi Feilich testified before the Los Angeles City Animal Welfare Committee in support of a proposed non-lethal coyote management plan being considered by the Committee. The plan emphasizes public education and coexistence. At the meeting, Feilich offered the support of our Coyote Friendly Communities program, which provides tools and expertise to peacefully live with coyotes and other wildlife.

Since the shooting, media coverage has increased public awarness of the cruelty suffered by coyotes and other wildlife, as well as the threat this poses to human safety.

Please help us prevent such senseless acts and help us change laws so that coyotes are no longer treated as vermin that can be killed in unlimited numbers. 

With your support we can continue to equip communities across the country with the information, support and tools they need to live peacefully with wild animals who also call this planet home.

donate now

After Oregon, California Pharmacists Can Prescribe Birth Control Pills to Women

world-population-through-history-to-2025

http://mainenewsonline.com/content/16048198-after-oregon-california-pharmacists-can-prescribe-birth-control

California has finally cleared the way for women to get and easy access to birth control pills, without needing a prescription from a doctor. California has become the second state in the United States to allow pharmacists to offer birth control pills to women.

Oregon as the only state which gives right to its pharmacists to prescribe birth control to women will be joined by California. A 2013 law that allows California pharmacists to directly provide prescription contraceptives went into effect. However, there are some critics who oppose the newly introduced practice.

Senate Bill 493, introduced by Sen. Ed Hernandez, D-West Covina, allows pharmacists the authority to furnish oral (the pill), transdermal (the patch), vaginal (the ring), and Depo-Provera injection prescription birth control methods for women. This means that there is no more need to fix appointment with gynecologist to seek the best prescription for birth control. This could also give wrong message to the teens according to opponents of the law.

“Community pharmacies are the face of neighborhood healthcare — open beyond normal business hours, and patients do not need an appointment to see their pharmacist. That means pharmacists providing contraception will go a long way to expand women’s birth control,” said Jon Roth, CEO of the California Pharmacists Association, which sponsored the original legislation on behalf of the state’s 6,500 community pharmacies.

There are certain things pharmacies have to be prepared for. Some pharmacies have even started training their employees for the new challenge. It is mandatory for pharmacists to ask a patient to complete a health questionnaire and to consult with the patient about the most appropriate form of birth control. In some cases, taking a patient’s blood pressure is required by pharmacists.

Among the opponents is California Right to Life. They say that availability of birth control from another source could not benefit young people and would build gap between a mother and a child communication over the matter.

A report published in LA Times said, “Many public health advocates and doctors say that birth control is extremely safe and point to studies that show that women can generally choose one that works well for them. The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, the largest group representing OB/GYNs, supports legislation that would make birth control truly over-the-counter.”

Women requesting birth control will have to complete a health questionnaire. A pharmacist will also consult with the patient about the most suitable form of birth control. In some cases, they will have to take the woman’s blood pressure before issuing a prescription.

U.S. Food and Drug Administration can decide if a medicine can be available over-the-counter. The most state legislators can do to increase access to birth control is to allow medical providers other than doctors, such as pharmacists, to furnish the medication.

 

Fish and Game upheaval reveals shift in California wildlife policy

http://www.sfchronicle.com/science/article/Upheaval-at-Fish-and-Game-highlights-shift-in-6759859.php?t=94e724585b&cmpid=fb-premium
By Peter Fimrite |
January 15, 2016 | Updated: January 15, 2016 4:34pm

California Department of Fish and Wildlife Warden Ryan McCoy checks the shotguns of hunters during daily patrols on the California Delta near Brentwood, Calif. on Sat. January 9, 2016, Photo: Michael Macor, The Chronicle
Photo: Michael Macor, The Chronicle
California Department of Fish and Wildlife Warden Ryan McCoy checks the shotguns of hunters during daily patrols on the California Delta near Brentwood, Calif. on Sat. January 9, 2016,

The sudden resignation of the most adamant defender of hunting and fishing on the California Fish and Game Commission could put the finishing touches on a sweeping philosophical shift in the way the state views wildlife, sets rules for fishing and controls predators like mountain lions and wolves.

Chaos at Fish & Game

Photo taken Sept. 30, 2015 shows one of the offspring of ex-California wolf OR-7. The photo was taken in the Southern Oregon Cascade Mountains.
Wolf conservation plan drawn up for California

In this photo taken Thursday, Nov. 12, 2015, crab pots fill a large section of a parking lot at Pillar Point Harbor in Half Moon Bay, Calif. California has delayed the Nov. 15 start of its commercial crab season after finding dangerous levels of a toxin in crabs. Officials in Oregon and Washington are testing crab samples and will decide soon whether to open its coastal season by Dec. 1 as planned. (AP Photo/Eric Risberg)
Sour talk as lawmakers, crabbers meet over Dungeness shutdown

A bobcat with a severe case of ringworm is being rehabilitated at Sonoma County Wildlife Rescue Monday August 10, 2015 in Petaluma, Calif. California wildlife advocates like the staff at Sonoma County Wildlife Rescue are celebrating the ban on bobcat trapping and are now setting their sights on protecting other species like foxes and coyotes.
Wildlife advocates expand target after bobcat ban

Commissioner Jim Kellogg retired in late December in frustration over what he termed a lack of consideration for the sportsmen and women he represents. The resignation — combined with the unrelated recent departures of commission President Jack Baylis and Sonke Mastrup, the commission’s executive director — sets the stage for Gov. Jerry Brown to appoint conservationists to the increasingly pivotal state board.

Such a move may, observers say, complete the transformation of the commission from an organization that advocates for fishing and hunting to one that safeguards endangered species, preserves habitat and protects California’s top predators from slaughter.

But it won’t happen without a fight. While environmentalists say they are finally getting a fair shake in the high-stakes political game of wildlife management, advocates for outdoor sports fear they have lost their voice and that the role they have played in the protection of species is being forgotten.

The five-member commission, whose job is to recommend policies to the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, has been wading through divisive issues that could profoundly impact the future of the state, including what to do about diminishing salmon populations, sick sea lions and disappearing sea otters.

http://www.sfchronicle.com/science/article/Upheaval-at-Fish-and-Game-highlights-shift-in-6759859.php?t=94e724585b&cmpid=fb-premium

December auto sales soar 9% in record year

[It seems some folks aren’t getting the message about climate change…]

by Nattan Bomey and , USA TODAY 7:08 p.m. EST January 5, 2016

Automakers posted a solid 9% sales gain in December, an exclamation point that sealed 2015 as the biggest sales year ever for the industry, they reported Tuesday.

All told, automakers sold 17.47 million new vehicles for the year, Autodata reported, besting the previous record set in 2000 by 68,138 vehicles. Low gas prices, cheap credit, low unemployment, soaring consumer confidence and warm weather fueled a rush into showrooms in December.

“The U.S. economy continues to expand, and the most important factors that drive demand for new vehicles are in place, so we expect to see a second consecutive year of record industry sales in 2016,” said Mustafa Mohatarem, GM’s chief economist, in a statement.

Meanwhile…

Porter Ranch Methane Leak Spreads Across LA’s San Fernando Valley

http://ecowatch.com/2016/01/15/porter-ranch-methane-leak-spreads/

It now looks like the catastrophic Porter Ranch gas leak, which has spewed more than 83,000 metric tons of noxious methane for nearly three months, has spread across Los Angeles’s San Fernando Valley.

On Wednesday, Los Angeles City Councilman Mitchell Englander called on the Southern California Gas Co. to extend residential relocation assistance to residents in Granada Hills, Chatsworth and Northridge who live near the Aliso Canyon gas leak above Porter Ranch. These residents reported symptoms related to the exposure of natural gas such as nausea, vomiting, headaches and respiratory problems.

porterranchgasleakmap
The researchers have developed the Valley’s first comprehensive map of methane exposure. Photo credit: HEET

More: http://www.usatoday.com/story/money/cars/2016/01/05/auto-sales-2015/78302038/

 

 

 

Rat poison killed the mountain lion known as P-34

http://www.msn.com/en-us/news/us/we-killed-the-mountain-lion-known-as-p-34-and-rat-poison-was-the-weapon/ar-CCfxJN?ocid=spartandhp

Martha Groves4 hrs ago

Encounters between rats and mountain lions generally have predictable outcomes. The prey dies so that the predator can live.

But as civilization continues to push into landscapes once populated mainly by non-human species, the balance has shifted. People use highly toxic poisons to kill rats, then the low-on-the-food chain rodents take the apex-predator big cats down with them.

On Tuesday, this upending of the natural order gave Southern California activists another poster animal for their movement, as the National Park Service confirmed that the once-photogenic mountain lion known as P-34 died of exposure to rat poisons.

A necropsy of the puma, whose carcass had been found by a trail runner in Point Mugu State Park on Sept. 30, validated the initial suspicions of biologists who found blood running freely inside the dead female.

Rat poisons, or rodenticides, are designed to kill rodents by thinning their blood and preventing clotting. They lead to uncontrollable bleeding.

In addition to proving deadly for their intended targets, these poisons can wreak havoc as they work their way up the food chain. A mountain lion might devour a ground squirrel that consumed the bait or an animal such as a coyote that had eaten another animal that had the bait in its system.

“This is the latest indication that local wildlife continues to be exposed to these rodent poisons,” said Seth Riley, a wildlife ecologist who has led a long-term study of mountain lions in the park service’s Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area.

Scientists said Tuesday that evidence was mounting that California’s July 2014 ban on retail sales of certain highly toxic rat poisons – called second-generation anticoagulant rodenticides – has not produced the far-reaching benefits that researchers had hoped.

“I thought there would be more improvement than I’m actually seeing,” said Stella McMillin, senior environmental scientist with the California Department of Fish and Wildlife. “We’re still seeing non-target exposure at pretty high levels.”

Although consumers may no longer buy these “super toxins” off the shelf, farmers and licensed pest-control companies regularly use them. Bait boxes have become ubiquitous accessories outside restaurants, hotels and grocery stores.

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Moreover, other rat poisons that consumers are still allowed to use are increasingly showing up in wildlife, said Jonathan Evans, environmental health legal director with the Center for Biological Diversity, a nonprofit advocacy group in Oakland.

Wildlife deaths continue to demonstrate the “need to ban these products from the market,” he said. He and other activists have met with the California Department of Pesticide Regulation to point out loopholes in the ban.

“We continue to call on state regulators to ban these poisons to protect California’s most iconic and imperiled wildlife,” Evans said. Consumers and businesses, he added, must consider using other rodent-control methods that “do not involve killing predators that are part of the solution.”

P-34, who was not quite 2 years old, showed evidence of exposure to five compounds, “an impressive number,” Riley said.

Last December, P-34 made news when she was discovered lounging under a trailer in a Newbury Park mobile home community. A resident photographed the lion ambling along the top of a wall in her backyard.

P-34’s was the first puma death conclusively linked to rat poisons since 2004, when scientists confirmed that two siblings died because of exposure to the toxic chemicals. Those lions, P-3 and P-4, spent most of their time in the Simi Hills, north of the 101 Freeway.

In 2012, a hiker in Point Mugu State Park found the carcass of a female lion known as P-25. The cause of death was never determined, but toxicity from rat poisons was strongly suspected, given that she showed no sign of disease or having fought with another lion.

P-34’s sibling, the male P-32, was struck and killed by a motorist in August while attempting to cross Interstate 5 near Castaic.

P-32, who was about 21 months old, was the only male mountain lion known to have dispersed out of the Santa Monica Mountains and wander north into other habitat areas. He had managed to cross the 101 Freeway, State Route 23, Highway 118 and Highway 126.

Park service researchers have documented the presence of rodenticide compounds in 12 of 13 mountain lions they have tested, including a 3-month-old kitten.

Scores of bobcats, coyotes and other animals are known to have died from internal bleeding likely caused by the toxins.

In 2014, P-22, the Griffith Park mountain lion, famously developed a case of mange that biologists said was probably caused by exposure to rat poisons. A park service biologist applied a topical treatment and injected Vitamin K to offset the effects. Recent images of P-22 indicate that he remains mange-free.

World’s Largest Wildlife Corridor to Be Built in California

James William Gibson, Earth Island Journal | September 27, 2015

Earlier this month an obscure Los Angeles area regional public lands agency—the Mountains Recreation and Conservation Authority—announced the first stages of a five-year plan to build one of the largest wildlife corridors in the world. The goal is to create a natural looking bridge that will allow a small cougar population in the Santa Monica Mountain National Recreation Area the chance to escape north into much larger public lands, while at the same time allowing northern mountain lions the chance to move south and help out the badly inbred and lethally infighting Santa Monica cougars.

Although a young female from the Santa Monica Mountains, P33, did successfully cross Highway 101 in March this year, her escape north is a rare event. Photo credit: Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area
Although a young female from the Santa Monica Mountains, P33, did successfully cross Highway 101 in March this year, her escape north is a rare event. Photo credit: Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area

The proposed bridge will leap over Highway 101, an eight-lane, east-west freeway in LA’s northern suburbs that sees 175,000 car trips a day. The bridge will be built at Liberty Canyon in the suburb of Agoura and when completed will be 200 feet-long and 165 feet-wide. It will be landscaped to blend in with the brushy hills and sound walls along the edge of the bridge will “mitigate traffic noise and block light in order to make the crossing more conducive to wildlife,” says the project study report. The bridge will extend beyond the 101, reaching over an access road south of the highway, necessitating the construction of a tunnel. Estimated cost of the entire project: about $57 million.

Despite the report’s dull bureaucratic language—mountain lion sex is blandly described as “the exchange of genetic material”—at its heart the proposed Liberty Canyon wildlife corridor represents an astonishing effort to reverse decades of suburban sprawl and fragmentation of the region’s surviving open spaces.

The campaign’s iconic poster boy is the famous “Hollywood lion,” also known by its wildlife ID number, “P22.” In 2012, P22 crossed two major freeways and migrated roughly 40 miles from the Santa Monica Mountains along the coast to Los Angeles’s 4300-acre Griffith Park on the city’s eastside. There he took up residence, feeding on the park’s mule deer and soon became a national celebrity of sorts.

More: http://ecowatch.com/2015/09/27/worlds-largest-wildlife-corridor-california/