Five arrested following hunting incidents

OAKLAND — Maryland Natural Resources Police recently arrested five Garrett County residents on charges related to a string of illegal hunting incidents that reportedly began in 2016 and continued into this year. NRP officers executed search and seizure warrants at several homes last month following tips from social media and the public.

Tyler Michael DeWitt, 21, Swanton, was charged with hunting during a closed season, possessing of deer in a closed season, hunting deer at night, hunting deer with a spotlight, shooting from a vehicle, hunting without written permission, removing the head or hide of a deer before check-in, failing to report a turkey kill and obstructing or hindering a police investigation. He was cited for 30 violations that could lead to a total maximum fine of $45,500 and revocation of his hunting privileges for up to five years.

Dakota Lee Hinebaugh, 29, Oakland, was cited for 24 violations that could lead to fines totaling $39,500 and revocation of his hunting privileges for up to five years. He is accused of hunting without a license, hunting during a closed season, possessing of deer in a closed season, hunting deer at night, hunting deer with a spotlight, hunting without written permission and removing the head or hide of a deer before check-in.

The investigation revealed that Tyler DeWitt and Dakota Hinebaugh engaged in night hunting on several occasions from roads in southern Garrett County. The following men were reportedly implicated in the activities.

Michael Allen DeWitt, 42, Oakland, was charged with obstructing and hindering a police investigation, as well as littering, after his son Tyler (mentioned above) warned him in April to throw away packages of deer meat and antlers kept at the senior DeWitt’s home. He faces a potential fine of $1,500 and up to 30 days in jail.

Donald Lee Hinebaugh Jr., 41, Oakland, received citations for failing to report two deer kills and aiding and abetting hunting without a license. He faces a potential fine of up to $1,500.

Phillip Lyle DeWitt, 58, Mtn. Lake Park, was cited for failing to report a kill and failing to record the kill on his Big Game Harvest Record. He could be fined a maximum of $3,000.

In connection with the investigation, Maryland State Police charged Lukas Isaac Holler, 18, Oakland, and James Wesley Lewis, 19, Accident, each with possession of a rifle or shotgun after conviction of a disqualifying crime and illegal possession of ammunition. The weapons charge carries a maximum penalty of three years in prison and a fine of up to $1,000 fine, and the ammunition charge carries a maximum jail sentence of one year and a fine of up to $1,000.

Officers reportedly searched an area near Graham Road and found approximately a dozen deer carcasses dumped over the embankment. Some of the heads of the carcasses had the skull plate/antlers removed while antlered deer with small racks were intact.

Trial dates in Garrett County District Court are pending.

Advertisements

California Wildlife Win Protection from Federal Trapping, Gunning

Legal Victory Guarantees Analysis of
Wildlife Services’ Killings in Northern California 

Contacts:

Camilla Fox, Project Coyote, (415) 690-0338, cfox@projectcoyote.org
Collette Adkins, Center for Biological Diversity, (651) 955-3821, cadkins@biologicaldiversity.org
Erik Molvar, Western Watersheds Project, (307) 399-7910, emolvar@westernwatersheds.org
Amey Owen, Animal Welfare Institute, (202) 446-2128, amey@awionline.org
Michelle Lute, WildEarth Guardians, (406) 848-4910, mlute@wildearthguardians.org
Natalia Lima, Animal Legal Defense Fund, (201) 679-7088, nlima@aldf.org

SAN FRANCISCO, Calif.— In response to a lawsuit filed by wildlife advocacy groups, a San Francisco federal court today approved a settlement requiring the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Wildlife Services to implement numerous protections for wildlife in Northern California, including a ban on traps and aerial gunning in designated “wilderness areas.”

Today’s settlement also requires Wildlife Services to analyze the environmental impacts of its killing of coyotes, bobcats and other wildlife in 16 counties in Northern California.

The ironically named Wildlife Services is a multimillion-dollar federal program that uses painful leghold traps, strangulation snares, poisons and aerial gunning to kill wolves, coyotes, cougars, birds and other wild animals — primarily to benefit the agriculture and livestock industries.

“This is a big victory for California wildlife targeted by this federal program’s horrifically destructive war on animals,” said Collette Adkins, a Center for Biological Diversity attorney representing the conservation groups involved in the lawsuit. “We’ve saved hundreds of animals that would have suffered and died in traps set by Wildlife Services over the next several years. That feels really good.”

Under the court order approved today, Wildlife Services must provide, by the end of 2023, an “environmental impact statement” that analyzes the effects and risks of its wildlife-killing program in California’s North District. The North District includes Butte, Del Norte, Glenn, Humboldt, Lassen, Mendocino, Modoc, Nevada, Plumas, Shasta, Sierra, Siskiyou, Sutter, Tehama, Trinity and Yuba counties.

Pending completion of that study, which will include robust public commenting opportunities, the court order imposes several measures to protect wildlife in the North District. It bans the use of M-44 cyanide devices, den fumigants and lead ammunition. It bans aerial gunning and any use of body-gripping traps, such as strangulation snares and steel-jaw leghold traps, in designated wilderness and wilderness study areas. The order also requires Wildlife Services to implement several measures to protect California’s endangered gray wolves from being accidentally killed in traps set for other carnivores. These measures include a ban on Conibear traps and non-breakaway snares in areas used by the wolves.

“Wolves are just starting to return to their native habitats in Northern California, and this settlement provides needed interim protections to protect wolves while a detailed environmental study examines whether lethal wildlife ‘management’ options should even be on the table,” said Kristin Ruether of Western Watersheds Project. “It is long past time that federal agencies stop the killing of native wildlife at the behest of the livestock industry, and ultimately we hope that the added public scrutiny will force a shift to nonlethal options.”

Last year Wildlife Services reported killing 1.6 million native animals nationwide. In California alone this total included 3,893 coyotes, 142 foxes, 83 black bears, 18 bobcats and thousands of other creatures. Nontarget animals — including protected wildlife such as wolves, Pacific fisher and eagles — are at risk from Wildlife Services’ indiscriminate methods.

“For over two decades, Wildlife Services has relied on cruel and outdated methods, such as steel-jaw leghold traps, in California — despite a statewide ban on private use of such devices,” said Tara Zuardo, Animal Welfare Institute wildlife attorney. “Today’s decision from the court ensures the environmental analysis of the program’s killing of wildlife will receive a much-needed update. California wildlife deserves this protection.”

“Wildlife Services’ lethal ‘control’ is ineffective, wasteful and cruel,” said Michelle Lute, wildlife coexistence campaigner for WildEarth Guardians. “We are changing this clandestine government program state-by-state until wildlife and people are safe on our public lands.”

“With this victory for wildlife we have demonstrated that Wildlife Services has failed to use the best available science and continues to rely on ecologically destructive and ethically indefensible management practices,” said Camilla Fox, founder and executive director of Project Coyote. “It is past time that this rogue agency shifts to more effective, humane, and ecologically sound ways of reducing conflicts between wildlife and agricultural interests.”

“Thousands of California wildlife will now have a much needed reprieve from the federal killing agency,” said Animal Legal Defense Fund Executive Director Stephen Wells. “This settlement sends the powerful message that Wildlife Services’ indiscriminate killing programs will not go unchallenged.”

The victory announced today is the result of a lawsuit filed in June by the Center for Biological Diversity, Western Watersheds Project, the Animal Legal Defense Fund, Project Coyote, the Animal Welfare Institute and WildEarth Guardians.

READ THE SETTLEMENT AGREEMENT HERE.

#

The Center for Biological Diversity is a national, nonprofit conservation organization with more than 1.5 million members and online activists dedicated to the protection of endangered species and wild places.


The Animal Legal Defense Fund was founded in 1979 to protect the lives and advance the interests of animals through the legal system. To accomplish this mission, the Animal Legal Defense Fund files high-impact lawsuits to protect animals from harm; provides free legal assistance and training to prosecutors to assure that animal abusers are punished for their crimes; supports tough animal protection legislation and fights harmful legislation; and provides resources and opportunities to law students and professionals to advance the emerging field of animal law. For more information, please visit aldf.org.


The Animal Welfare Institute (awionline.org) is a nonprofit charitable organization founded in 1951 and dedicated to reducing animal suffering caused by people.  AWI engages policymakers, scientists, industry, and the public to achieve better treatment of animals everywhere — in the laboratory, on the farm, in commerce, at home, and in the wild.


Project Coyote is a national nonprofit organization and a North American coalition of wildlife educators, scientists, ranchers, and community leaders promoting coexistence between people and wildlife, and compassionate conservation through education, science, and advocacy. For more information, visitwww.projectcoyote.org.


Western Watersheds Project is an environmental conservation group working to protect and restore western watersheds and wildlife


WildEarth Guardians works to protect and restore the wildlife, wild places, wild rivers and health of the American West.

Animal rights group, Native Americans to meet in Atascadero to oppose hunting amendment

https://pasoroblesdailynews.com/animal-rights-group-native-americans-meet-atascadero-oppose-hunting-amendment/76052/
“California Fish and Game Commission meets in Atascadero, allowing GPS
tracking on hunting dogs is on the agenda”

“Randal Massaro, President of Union Members for the Preservation of
Wildlife, said that the GPS collars are approved hunters will have “no
incentive to keep up with their dogs in wildlife habitat and terrain
when they can sit in vehicles and watch a screen indicating their
dogs’ ranging one to seven miles, or more.” Massaro also said the
devices violate Fish and Game codes that require dogs be kept under
control.
“Roger Dobson, President of the Northern California organization
Protect the Wolves and member of the Washington Cowlitz Tribe said,
“It is inhumane treatment of both the dogs and the wildlife to let
dogs run loose where there are real predators that have to eat. No
hunter is going to be able to get to any dog fast enough to save that
dog from another predator.”

Lawsuit aims to end commercial fur trapping in California

Dear Jim,

That was the headline of the Los Angeles Times article (“Lawsuit aims to end commercial fur trapping in California”) that featured our joint lawsuit with the Center for Biological Diversity last week when we sued the California Fish and Game Commission and the Department of Wildlife for improperly managing and illegally subsidizing the state’s commercial trapping program. Our suit argues that California law requires that the state’s costs of managing a commercial trapping program must be fully recovered through trapping license fees. As stated in the complaint and supporting exhibits, current license fees cover a small fraction of the trapping program costs; taxpayers are left to foot the bill for the shortfall. Yesterday’s Wall Street Journal article adds, “fees would have to be increased at least 10-fold to comply with the state law [and] such a fee boost wold effectively end the practice of trapping animals.”

The fee recovery mandate became effective in 2013, and the initial petition to force the agencies to comply with the mandate was filed almost two years ago, in December 2015. This was followed by months of effort by Project Coyote, CBD and allies to compel compliance. Because the Commission and the Department failed to act, we were forced to sue.

If successful, this lawsuit could set a nationwide precedent and presage the end of commercial trapping in California, as few trappers could likely afford the adjusted licensing fees. As I stated in the Los Angeles Times article regarding the lawsuit, “We hope the filing of this lawsuit will be remembered as the moment California said goodbye to the handful of people who still kill mammals so that their pelts can be auctioned off in foreign markets and then made into slippers and fur-trimmed coats.”

Many thanks to all who signed our Change.org Trapping Petitionwhich was yet another effort to compel the agencies to act in accordance with the law. We presented your signatures to the Commission and made our case bringing youth and educators with us through our Keeping It Wild Program to speak for California’s bobcats, coyotes, and foxes. Although that effort wasn’t successful in and of itself, it made a decisive statement that California’s citizens no longer support cruel and inhumane trapping in our state, and compelled us to proceed with the lawsuit.

Lawsuit Challenges California’s Mismanagement of Commercial Trapping Program

September 13, 2017

Contact:

Jean Su, Center for Biological Diversity, (415) 770-3187, jsu@biologicaldiversity.org
Camilla Fox, Project Coyote, (415) 690-0338, cfox@projectcoyote.org

Lawsuit Challenges California’s Mismanagement of Wildlife Trapping Program

Public Agencies Illegally Subsidize Private Profiteering Off
Fox, Coyote, Badger Pelts
 

SACRAMENTO, Calif.— The Center for Biological Diversity and Project Coyote sued the California Fish and Game Commission and Department of Fish and Wildlife today for improperly managing and illegally subsidizing the state’s commercial trapping program.

Thousands of coyotes, foxes, badgers and other fur-bearing animals are trapped each year in California so their pelts can be sold overseas. Today’s lawsuit notes that the two state agencies have illegally diverted as much as half a million dollars since 2013 to subsidize commercial fur trapping in California.

“Commercial trapping is a cruel, destructive practice that shouldn’t be subsidized by California taxpayers,” said attorney Jean Su, the Center’s associate conservation director. “It’s wrong that a handful of trappers slaughter our wildlife for private profit while the state foots the bill. These animals are far more valuable as essential species in California’s web of life than as skinned pelts shipped to Russia and China.”

In 2015, conservationists celebrated the Fish and Game Commission’s decision to ban the commercial trapping of bobcats, whose pelts are some of the most lucrative on the international fur market. But more than a dozen other furbearing animals still experience cruel trapping under the state’s mismanaged trapping program.

California law requires that the states’s costs of managing a commercial trapping program must be fully recovered through trapping license fees. The state spends hundreds of thousands of dollars a year on wardens, biologists and administrators to oversee and enforce trapping regulations, yet license fees cover only a tiny fraction of the program’s total costs. Taxpayers foot the bill for the shortfall.

Since the fee-recovery mandate became effective in2013, the commission and the fish and wildlife department have illegally diverted upwards of half a million dollars to subsidize commercial fur trapping in California.

“The illegal subsidization of the state’s commercial trapping program violates not just the letter of the law, but the will of the California people,” said Camilla Fox, executive director of Project Coyote. “An overwhelming majority of Californians do not support commercial trapping.”

In the 2015-2016 license year, approximately 200 trappers purchased commercial licenses. Of those, 50 reported killing the nearly 2,000 animals trapped for fur that year, according to a department report. To ensure undamaged pelts, trappers often kill animals through strangulation, gassing and anal electrocution.

If the illegal subsidy of trapping licenses is eliminated, trapping license fees would have to be set at a level that few if any trappers would likely be willing to pay, resulting in a de facto end to commercial fur trapping in California.

“It’s shocking that California still permits the inhumane slaughter of our wildlife for fur,” Su said. “It’s time the state is held accountable for its poor management of a program that benefits only a few.”

Today’s lawsuit targets the California Fish and Game Commission and Department of Fish and Wildlife for failing to raise license fees to the levels adequate to recoup the entire commercial trapping program’s costs, as mandated under law. If the illegal subsidy of trapping licenses is eliminated, trapping license fees would have to be set at a level that few, if any, trappers would likely be willing to pay, resulting in a de facto end to commercial fur trapping in California.

Recognizing the ecological importance of carnivores, the Center and Project Coyote use science-based advocacy to defend these magnificent animals from persecution, exploitation and extinction. Find out more about the Center’s Carnivore Conservation campaign here and aboutProject Coyote’s Predator Protection Programs here.

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.
_______________________________

_______________________________
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