A pregnant harbor seal was shot in the head and lost an eye. Now she’s going home.

The seal was shot through the head near the San Juan Islands during a fishing derby. She and her unborn seal pup are lucky to be alive.

A pregnant seal, now without its left eye after being shot with a pellet gun, is heading home to the San Juan Islands Sunday after successful surgery and nearly a month of recovery away from the sea.

A fisherman shot the seal through the head near the Sucia Islands late last month, and the creature only endured the initial trauma of the ordeal through luck and quick emergency care.

The feisty one-eyed seal, who goes by “19-0120” among staff caring for her at the PAWS Wildlife Center, is expected to survive her reintroduction to the wild.

Her plight highlights rising tensions between fishermen and federally protected pinnipeds — seals and sea lions — in the Pacific Northwest, as both compete for their catch of fish.

Suspect identified

The harbor seal was shot during a fishing derby, according to Jennifer Olson, the Marine Mammal Stranding Coordinator for San Juan County.

Deputies with the San Juan County Sheriff’s office, along with a border patrol agent, were the first to reach the seal the afternoon of the shooting on Jan. 26.

“We received a call that somebody was out shooting a seal with a pellet gun,” said Zac Reimer, the office’s undersheriff. “Another person, who was also fishing, observed this happening right in front of them and gave us a call right away.”

Reimer said the person who reported the shooting was close enough to capture video of the events.

When deputies arrived, the suspect’s boat was still there and the seal was “bobbing around, not acting like a healthy harbor seal,” Reimer said. “It just appeared stunned.”

The animal was so listless that deputies were able to get a rope around the creature and haul it onto their 26-foot patrol boat.

No one was arrested at the scene, but deputies were able to talk to witnesses, take photographs and collect evidence, Reimer said. A 40-year-old man is suspected in the shooting, he said. The man’s boat had remained there with several other people onboard.

“Since we were already on marine patrol, we were able to just go right up to the boats and talk to everybody,” Reimer said.

The evidence is in the hands of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s law-enforcement branch, which is investigating and could pursue federal charges. Violations of the 1972 Marine Mammal Protection Act can result in fines of up to $28,520 along with up to one year of imprisonment.

A rare case of survival

Washington state once financed a bounty hunting program that encouraged people to kill harbor seals in an effort to bolster fishermen’s catch, according to the Washington State Department of Fish & Wildlife.

With the program’s end in 1960 and the passage of the federal protection act 12 years later, the population of harbor seals began to multiply many times over.

But the recovery of pinnipeds has also spurred an increase in salmon consumption by the creatures, according to a 2017 paper published in Scientific Reports. In 1975, harbor seals ate an estimated 3.5 million chinook salmon. In 2015, that figure rose to 27.4 million chinook, most of them juveniles.

Conflict with people fishing has increased, too.

“There’s certainly frustration out there, at the slow recovery of salmon, and these animals are using those resources that we also rely on,” said Michael Milstein, a NOAA spokesperson.

Researchers examined pinniped stranding data in the Pacific Northwest from 1991 to 2016 in a recent Aquatic Mammals Journal article.

Strandings — when a pinniped comes ashore dead or is alive and unable to return to the water without help — began to rise in the early 2000s, a trend driven, in part, by a rise in the animals being shot, according to the data.

In 25 years of study, 896 harbor seals were found to have been stranded after interacting with people. More than 21 percent of those seals were shot.

Meanwhile, dead sea lions, with bullet holes, have been washing up across Puget Sound shores.

The Whale Museum, where Olson works as a data specialist, tracks marine-mammal strandings in San Juan County.

Since 1980, the museum has counted 39 confirmed cases in which pinnipeds were shot. Most of the cases are identified in necropsies.

“To have a live seal survive the gunshot wound where there’s time to help them, that’s what makes this case rare,” Olson said.

‘Cross our fingers and hope’

Soon after the shooting, the deputies brought the struggling seal to Olson, who loaded the animal into a crate and drove her to the Wolf Hollow Wildlife Rehabilitation Center on San Juan Island.

“She was moving. I could tell she was alive,” Olson said. But after “giving her a small tap on her back, there was absolutely no response.”

Olson could see entry and exit wounds. Blood and pus were leaking out of the creature’s head, she said. She worried the seal could have suffered brain damage.

Once the seal arrived at Wolf Hollow, Penny Harner, a staff rehabilitator began to treat the “lethargic” animal.

“Basically, all we could do the first night was get some fluids in her, get some medications on board and cross our fingers and hope for the night,” Harner said.

But the next morning, when she flipped the lights, the 128-pound creature stirred and began to look around with her good eye.

When Harner entered the room to treat the seal, “she did what a typical seal would, which was lunge.”

Wolf Hollow staff typically work with injured or orphaned seal pups, but not strong, muscular adults. During treatments, it took four staffers, clad in protective gear, to hold the animal down for medication.

“She gave me a ride around the room at times,” said Harner, who was in charge of using her knees to control the seal’s flippers.

When a veterinarian visited the rehabilitation center, it was clear that the pellet wound, just above the seal’s bugged-out and bloodshot left eye, would require surgery.

Nearly a week after she was shot, the seal was taken in an animal ambulance to the PAWS Wildlife Center in Lynnwood, which treats hundreds of species of injured wild animals.

As snow fell on Seattle on Feb. 4, veterinarians, surgeons and other helpers crowded into a small room that looks like a shabby doctor’s office for surgery. Earlier, an X-ray showed tiny metal fragments of the pellet lodged inside her head, and also a surprise — the seal was pregnant. The scan had revealed the curvature of a tiny spine, rib cage and skull growing inside.

While the seal remained under anesthetic, two surgeons began their work, as the others monitored the animal’s blood pressure, breathing and heartbeat.

The surgeons carved out the damaged tissue, severed the seal’s optic nerve and removed her eye. Then, they scored the seal’s eyelids and sutured them to one another so the skin would heal together.

“It’s a bloody surgery,” said wildlife veterinarian Nicki Rosenhagen, but the seal fared well.

PAWS staffers placed the seal’s eyeball, and some extra tissue, in a plastic gelato container. “We do a lot of educational talks,” Rosenhagen explained.

The pregnant seal has had a smooth recovery, Rosenhagen said. The seal arrived to PAWS plump, strong and healthy, aside from the gunshot wound. The surgical site has been healing well and there’s no evidence of infection. She’s been swimming. And her behavior has been “appropriately aggressive” — normal for a seal and a good indication that no brain damage occurred.

‘Super lucky’ and headed home

On Sunday morning, as long as a blood test comes back clean, PAWS naturalist Jeff Brown will help load the pregnant seal into a giant dog kennel, secure her in the bed of a pickup truck and haul her home.

He’s scouted two locations for a beach release, one in the Sucia Islands and another on San Juan Island with easier access, in case a storm stirs.

By the afternoon, a crew will unload the kennel and release the seal back to her home.

The veterinarians expect the seal to adapt to hunting with one eye and give her good prospects to survive. The baby should also be fine, Rosenhagen said. A radiologist who examined the X-ray said she saw no evidence of fetal death, despite the mother’s ordeal.

“She got super lucky,” Rosenhagen said, “if getting shot in the head is lucky.”

Amid seal and sea lion boom, group calls for hunt on B.C. coast

Quickest way to reverse declining salmon stocks is to introduce a harvest: Pacific Balance Pinnipeds Society

Some fishermen want to see a cull of sea lions and seals which they say are overpopulated on the B.C. coast. (Nic Amaya/CBC)

For the first time in decades, a small-scale seal hunt is taking place on Canada’s West Coast — all in the hopes that it leads to the establishment of a commercial industry to help control booming seal and sea lion populations and protect the region’s fish stocks.

In early November, a group called the Pacific Balance Pinnipeds Society (PBPS) started using First Nations hunting rights as part of a plan to harvest 30 seals. The society plans to test the meat and blubber to see if it’s fit for human consumption and other uses.

“We can look at opening up harvesting and starting a new industry,” said Tom Sewid, the society’s director and a commercial fisherman. “Since the [West Coast] seal cull ended in the 1970s, the population has exploded.”

Sewid, a member of the Kwakwaka’wakw group of Indigenous peoples, points out that the animals have been hunted for thousands of years. Recent decades with little or no hunting have been an anomaly, he said, pointing to research that shows seal numbers are even higher now than in the 1800s.

Out go the nets, in come the sea lions

What’s become an ongoing battle between humans and sea lions played out on a recent nighttime fishing expedition, when Sewid and a crew of commercial fishermen set out in a 24-metre seine boat to fish for herring off the coast of Parksville, B.C.

The crew’s goal was to catch about 100 tonnes of herring, which rise to the surface to feed after dark. But the faint barking of sea lions was soon heard over the thrum of the boat’s diesel engine.

“All them sea lions out there are all happy — [they’re] all yelling, ‘Yahoo, it’s dinner time!'” Sewid said.

Once the crew spotted the herring, they let out hundreds of metres of net, while a smaller boat helped to circle it around the huge mass of fish. The crew then closed the bottom of the net, capturing the herring.

Watch sea lions pillage fishermen’s nets:

Sea Lions feeding in fishing nets

00:00 00:27

Many Sea Lions are caught in fishing nets, as they try to feed. 0:27

But the catch also provided some uninvited visitors with a captive dinner: Dozens of sea lions jumped over the floats holding up the net and started to gorge.

“These guys, it’s just a buffet for them,” said Sewid, as the bodies of the sea lions glistened in the boat’s floodlights. “Just like pigs at a trough.”

Sewid said the sea lions have learned there’s an easy meal to be had whenever they see or hear the fishing boats.

“They’re not afraid of us. They’ve habituated themselves to seeing that humans and fishing equates easy access to food, which is not right,” he said. “The animal kingdom is not supposed to be like that.”

Restarting a banned hunt

The hunting of seals and sea lions — which are collectively known as pinnipeds — has been banned on the West Coast for more than 40 years. It’s one reason their numbers have exploded along the entire Pacific coastline of North America.

According to one study, the harbour seal population in the Salish Sea is estimated at 80,000 today, up from 8,600 in 1975. The study also says seals and sea lions now eat six times as many chinook salmon as are caught in the region’s commercial and sports fisheries combined.

That adds up to millions of tonnes of commercially valuable fish.

Sewid’s group is proposing to cull current populations of harbour seals and sea lions by half, which would see thousands of the animals killed each year.

Tom Sewid is leading the effort to secure what he calls a sustainable harvest of seals and sea lions along the B.C. coast. (Greg Rasmussen/CBC)

The society’s small-scale “test” harvest is taking place between B.C.’s southern Gulf Islands and as far north as Campbell River, on Vancouver Island. It’s being carried out under the provisions of the Aboriginal Fisheries Strategy, which gives some First Nations harvesting and management rights for food and ceremonial purposes.

Testing the meat to see if it’s safe for human consumption is a first step in a plan to eventually gain permission for what the PBPS envisions as a sustainable, humane commercial hunt, which would largely be carried out by coastal First Nations.

“All the meat that’s in there, you’re looking at the high-end restaurants [that would sell it],” Sewid said. “The hides can also be used.”

Seal blubber is particularly valuable, he said, because it can be rendered down into an oil that’s in demand because of its high Omega-3 fatty acid content.

Watch fishing crew struggle to free sea lions entangled in their nets:

Sea Lions freed from fishing nets

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Watch as fishing crew struggles to free sea lions trapped in their nets. 0:49

One of the biggest hurdles facing the group is convincing the federal Department of Fisheries and Oceans to open a commercial hunt on the West Coast.

The seal hunt that takes place in the Atlantic and Arctic is controversial, and has long been subject to protests and fierce opposition from animal rights groups. The group expects a West Coast harvest to also face fierce confrontations.

Canadian Inuit have been waging a counter-campaign, highlighting the importance of the animal and the longstanding tradition of their hunt.

Most Canadian seal products are also banned in Europe and a handful of other countries, but the society says demand is strong in Asia.

Supporters and opponents

The PBPS does have a growing list of supporters, including 110 First Nations groups, a number of commercial fishing organizations, and some sectors of B.C.’s economically important sport fishing sector.

However, one key player, the Sport Fishing Institute of B.C., opposes a large commercial hunt, fearing it would generate public outrage and might not achieve the goal of enhancing fish stocks.

The institute’s director, Martin Paish, says the group sees some value in targeting some seals and other fish predators at specific times of year in a number of key river systems; he believes a limited hunt would help protect salmon stocks and boost the billion-dollar-a-year B.C. sport fishing industry.

“Our goal is to use predator control in a careful manner to improve chinook [salmon] production where it is needed,” said Paish.

Carl Walters is a fish biologist and UBC professor who supports cutting B.C.’s population of seals and sea lions by half. (Nic Amaya/CBC)

Fisheries scientist Carl Walters, a professor emeritus with UBC, believes culling the regions sea lions and seals could dramatically boost salmon stocks. He points to numerous studies showing how pinniped populations have been increasing, while salmon numbers have been plummeting.

“They’re killing a really high percentage of the small salmon shortly after they go into the ocean, about half of the coho smolts and a third of the chinooks,” he said.

Advocates of a hunt are also pitching it as a way to help B.C.’s endangered southern resident killer whales, which feed mainly on salmon.

“The thing that would benefit southern resident killer whales is to see improved survival of small chinook salmon — and I think the only way we can achieve that is by reducing seal numbers,” Walters said.

Peter Ross, from the Coastal Ocean Research Institute, says there would be little benefit to salmon from a seal and sea lion cull. (Nic Amaya/CBC)

Others disagree, including Peter Ross, the vice-president of research and executive director of the Coastal Ocean Research Institute.

“Killing of seals and sea lions is not going to have any positive impact for any salmon populations in coastal British Columbia,” he said.

While a few localized populations of salmon might benefit from a cull, Ross said climate change, habitat destruction and overfishing are all bigger factors in the overall decline of stocks.

Other subspecies of orcas, however, feed mainly on seals, so a hunt would reduce their access to prey.

Back on the boat, Sewid concedes a hunt would be controversial — but he firmly believes it’s necessary.

“All the indicators are there,” he said. “It’s time to get the balance back.”

The fishing crew from the Western Investor are shown harvesting herring in November. But they say they are being hampered by dozens of sea lions in their nets almost every night. (Nic Amaya/CBC)

Letter: Mandatory trap checks needed in MT

    •  https://missoulian.com/opinion/letters/mandatory-trap-checks-needed-in-mt/article_916d9166-c08c-5bc7-811e-72007a5158fe.html

According to the Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies, trappers should check their traps at least once every day.

The American Society of Mammalogists states, “Snares or foot-hold traps should be checked a least daily, but more frequent depending upon target species, the potential for capture of non-target species, and environmental conditions. Frequent checking of traps is the most effective means of minimizing mortality or injury to animals in live traps.”

Montana has no mandatory trap check time. Trapped animals can suffer for days, even weeks, injured and exposed to the elements. Only bobcat trap sets in designated lynx protection zones and traps set for wolves require checking every 48 hours.

“The longer that animal is in a trap, the more likely you have foot injury, shoulder sprains, vascular damage, neural damage,” said Carter Niemeyer, a retired wildlife biologist.

Thirty six states have 24-hour/daily trap checks in their trapping regulations. House Bill 287 requires daily trap checks and allows for exceptions if a trapper cannot tend to the traps. HB287 helps end prolonged suffering of trapped animals and gives the trap-released non-targets, i.e. raptors, mountain lions, grizzly, deer, lynx and beloved pets a chance to survive.

Trapping is a bipartisan issue.

KC York,


A tale of three dogs

Coyotes, dingoes and wolves are all dogs, as intelligent and loyal as our familiars. Our treatment of them is unconscionable

Brandon Keim

is a science, nature and technology writer whose work has appeared in The AtlanticWIREDNational Geographic NewsScientific American Mind and the Guardian, among others. He divides his time between Bangor, Maine and Washington DC.

4,200 words

Edited by Brigid Hains

Drinking her coffee one sunny winter morning, Pamela Karaz looked out the window of her home in upstate New York and saw a coyote walking up the driveway. It was an uncommon sight – coyotes tend to be secretive – but what happened next was even more surprising. The coyote marked a tree with his scent, strolled across her yard, sniffed at a few tracks and then noticed a bright blue plush toy Karaz had bought a few days earlier for Bristol, her golden retriever.

Bristol had left the toy outside, as was her habit. Now the coyote sniffed it, picked it up in his mouth, dropped it, picked it up again. Then the coyote started to have fun. ‘He tossed it up in the air. It fell down. He picked it up again and bucked around,’ Karaz said. ‘At no point do I ever think he thought it was prey. He wasn’t trying to tear it apart. He was literally playing with it, like a dog.’ This went on for about 10 minutes before the coyote trotted away with the toy still in his mouth.

Karaz is a wildlife photographer, and the photos she took had a moment of internet fame. They resonated: a fierce wild animal, behaving like a pet! Or, as Karaz noted, like a dog. Which of course coyotes are, albeit dogs who embody the very complicated relationship of humanity to canines.

Some dogs exist inside the circle of human domesticity: beloved companions and friends, respected and often pampered. They sleep in our homes, sometimes in our beds. We buy them plush toys. Other dogs live outside, free and independent. They possess the essential cognitive and emotional faculties as our dogs; domestication has introduced refinements, but the raw material was already there. They have personalities, memories, love their pups, and are devoted to their packs. Every so often, they play with toys we don’t bring inside.

They’re also treated arbitrarily: sometimes respected, sometimes ignored, and frequently persecuted with extreme prejudice if not outright cruelty. It’s a dissonant state of affairs, and one that sometimes makes me wonder about the future of wild dogs. Not about whether they’ll survive through this century and beyond, but what sort of lives they’ll lead. Whether they’ll thrive or live on our margins, fearful and broken, a perpetually abused canine underclass.

Karaz, who considers her dogs to be family, is a coyote advocate. To her, they’re just wild dogs trying to survive. But if she’d wanted to kill that coyote and had a hunting licence, she could have. For $22, or $100 for out-of-state residents, people can kill as many coyotes as they want for six months a year in nearly all of New York state – which, compared with most parts of the United States, is quite restrictive. In many states, coyotes can be killed year-round, day or night, in just about any way: poisoned, lured into range with electronic calls that mimic their voices, chased from planes, shot with semi-automatic assault weapons or sniper rifles. They live in killing fields.

Coyote-killing is different from hunting deer, elk or so-called game birds, traditions that are steeped in an ethos of stewardship, provision and even fairness. It’s killing for fun. YouTube abounds with videos that revel in the death of a coyote; in many parts of the western US, so-called coyote derbies are common, documented in photographs of stacked bodies – the kinds of photos we associate with the rapaciousness of the 19th-century frontier.

The advocacy group Project Coyote in northern California estimates that 500,000 coyotes are killed every year in the US, roughly one-fifth by the federal government for the purpose of reducing harm to livestock (the effectiveness of which is scientifically debatable) and the rest for their fur, to increase populations of prey animals we’d prefer to shoot ourselves, or simply for pleasure. ‘Think of a 35-pound dog, lying on the couch, and people doting on it,’ said the ecologist Shelley Alexander, leader of the Canid Conservation Science Lab at the University of Calgary in Canada. ‘But coyotes, some people enjoy killing, even torturing. And they’re the same animal.’

For Alexander, this disparity challenges the fundamentals of conservation – not just the obvious institutions and organisations, but the mindset guiding human concern with the natural world. A few small advocacy groups and the Humane Society, which is powerful but generally viewed as an animal welfare organisation, raise objections to the cruelty of coyote killing. But mainstream conservationists tend to be silent on it or, in the case of governmental wildlife agencies, actively support it. Even among those who don’t like it, says Alexander, wanton killing is tolerated because coyotes reproduce quickly. Their populations are not threatened. It’s populations and species rather than individuals that are the focus of wildlife management for conservation.

In cities and suburbs across the US, coyotes have been greeted with unease and fascination, symbols of wild nature in unexpected places

That animals have inner lives, a fact made abundantly clear by cognitive science and animal behaviour research, is not considered in these calculations. Nor are the ethical considerations that naturally follow from those insights. Which isn’t to say conservationists don’t care about animals as thinking, feeling individuals – many do – but those concerns are considered separately. Individual lives matter only when there’s few of them, and coyotes are in no danger of extinction.

Quite the opposite. Indeed, coyotes respond to persecution by increasing their breeding rates. Kill some, and soon there’s more than before, though survivors endure the pain of loss and upheaval. ‘These are animals who are intelligent, have unique personalities and family lives,’ said Kevin Bixby, executive director of the Southwest Environmental Center in New Mexico. ‘Individuals are not just automatons. One coyote is not necessarily replaceable.’

In the past few decades, coyotes have taken up residence in cities and suburbs across the US. There, they’ve been greeted with both unease and fascination, symbols of wild nature in unexpected places. I’m sometimes uncomfortable with that characterisation: coyotes might be symbolic, but they’re also, like Karaz said, just dogs trying to survive. Of more importance is a little-asked question: what sort of lives are urban coyotes leading?

I put the question to Alexander. It depends where they are, she said. Some live peacefully amid lots of green space. Many live in constant fear and stress. They’re harassed by people and our dogs, hit by cars, spooked by strange noises, and end up eating garbage. Yet Stan Gehrt, an ecologist at Ohio State University who studies the Chicago area’s booming coyote population, offered a different view. Suburbs, he said, are great life for coyotes. Even downtown, where there’s traffic, human disturbance and other hardships, Chicago’s coyotes are in excellent health.

‘All of it is much better than unprotected rural areas,’ said Gehrt, ‘where they will be shot and killed.’ Not long ago, Chicago’s city council passed an ordinance forbidding animal control officers from harming coyotes unless they had a track record of threatening or attacking people. It’s the opposite of the traditional approach, and suggests that cities could become oases of peace and security for creatures persecuted in more rural areas.

As for Karaz’s coyote, he trotted away with the toy in his mouth. She hasn’t seen him again, but her own dogs still have a habit of leaving their toys outside. Occasionally, she finds them in the woods nearby.

Shortly after his arrival at the Evelyn Downs cattle station in South Australia, on a routine patrol of the nearly 900-square-mile property, the ecologist Adam O’Neill encountered a pack of dingoes. Roughly a dozen of the tawny, medium-sized dogs were tearing a dead calf to pieces: five feeding on the body, and the rest skulking nearby, fighting for their turn. Watching the scene, O’Neill considered whether to shoot them. After all, though he and his fellow ecologist Arian Wallach were at Evelyn Downs to study its natural communities, they were also tasked with managing its cattle.

Before becoming a scientist, O’Neill had made his living as a professional hunter, hired by Australian landowners to kill invasive and unwanted animals. He knew how to use his gun. He was also tired of killing, which is why he’d become an ecologist. Reflecting on the cruelty often shown to animals in that part of the world, O’Neill used his rifle’s scope to examine one of the dingoes. The dog, he thought, looked desperate.

It’s an impression that might once have been denounced as anthropomorphic. In a few shrinking circles, it might still be. Who’s to say whether an animal is desperate? Yet to anyone who’s known a dog well it won’t seem implausible at all, and the Evelyn Downs dingoes likely had good reason.

In Australia, killing dingoes is a basic part of livestock management. Between poisoning, shooting and fencing, there are few places where dingoes are left alone. The constant assault disrupts pack relationships and atomises families, leaving behind what O’Neill would describe as ‘young, unruly, displaced refugees… just a bunch of poor lost souls living in a world of turmoil’. He lowered his gun.

Apart from being compassionate, it was also a sensible research decision. The ubiquity of dingo persecution has made it difficult to appreciate their natural behaviours and roles. Even when present, they’re often not functioning in stable packs. O’Neill and Wallach were especially interested in understanding the ecology of a landscape with healthy dingoes, and even hoped to show that a successful cattle operation might be run without killing them.

In the months following O’Neill’s mercy, the dingoes found their level. They formed packs, established territories and stopped killing calves, instead focusing their attentions on wild prey. O’Neill regularly encountered their tracks, but only rarely saw them in the flesh. ‘When they’re socially stable, they virtually disappear from sight,’ he said. ‘I’ve noticed this throughout the whole of my working life.’

O’Neill attributes it to the development of a local canine culture, with lessons passed down between generations: don’t mess with the two-legs and their property. In healthy families, he said, ‘they are invariably well-behaved. I guess what it all comes down to is mutual respect. We respect their right to keep breathing, and they respect our rights as owners of resources in a shared landscape.’

Which might again seem like anthropomorphism. People don’t usually think about animals possessing such sophisticated value systems. Yet dingoes, like other wild dogs, routinely navigate complex social scenarios, and animal culture is a burgeoning area of research. Customs taught to offspring and shared between groups can shape local behaviour in important ways. What O’Neill suggests is at least a plausible hypothesis. And dingoes living in stable packs, learning their landscapes and passing hunting lessons between generations would certainly have less need for the risky pickings offered by livestock.

The Evelyn Downs dingoes soon assumed their natural position as apex predators, a term for creatures who live at the top of food chains, eating other animals but not themselves being eaten. It’s a role they’ve played for the past several thousand years, and – along with hunting and habitat management by the continent’s indigenous inhabitants – one that shaped Australia’s thriving pre-colonial communities of life.

As a rule, apex predators are the bosses of nature’s regulatory system, promoting ecological richness and stability by suppressing irruptions of prey and smaller predators. ‘They allow the number and variety of species occupying any given area to be higher,’ said Wallach, now a research fellow at the University of Technology Sydney and co-founder with O’Neill of the Dingo for Biodiversity Project. ‘In a nutshell, large predators make the world green.’

As a conservation strategy, killing foxes and cats has caused extraordinary suffering while failing in its aim of reducing their populations

In their uninterrupted presence, ecologies gravitate towards what once would have been called balance, but is better understood as dynamic equilibrium: nothing gets out of control. There are many examples. Eliminating mountain lions from a landscape, for example, can lead to dramatically increased deer populations, which in turn means a loss of streamside vegetation and declines in aquatic life. After sea otters were hunted to near-extinction off North America’s western coast, exploding sea-urchin populations devoured the great kelp beds that formed aquatic forest ecosystems; when otters returned, so did the kelp and the life they supported. And at Evelyn Downs, the presence of dingoes regulated, among many other creatures, foxes and cats.

That observation – also described in other studies elsewhere on the continent – is especially relevant in light of the country’s ongoing ecological turmoil. Australia has the world’s highest mammalian extinction rate; dozens of native species are declining or endangered, a fact blamed in part on an onslaught of foxes and cats, which were introduced by European colonists and found rich pickings among creatures unprepared by evolution to withstand their predations.

‘Having dingoes is a great and very practical way to effectively control the smaller predators,’ said Mike Letnic, a conservation biologist at the University of New South Wales whose own research traces many of Australia’s ecological problems to the absence of dingoes. More dingoes means more of the species now declining so precipitously – more bilbies and rock wallabies and kowari, more malleefowl and painted dragons – and more stable populations of species such as kangaroo and emu that are prone to overpopulation remedied by controversial extermination campaigns.

Until now, the conservation approach to feral predators has been to focus on killing foxes and cats, a strategy that’s caused extraordinary suffering while failing miserably in its aim of reducing their populations. Wallach considers this ethically reprehensibleecologically senseless and a terrible way of getting people to respect the natural world. She identifies as a compassionate conservationist: part of a small but growing movement in conservation to promote biodiversity while respecting animals as individuals.

‘Dingoes will do a better job of it than we’ll ever do,’ said Letnic of their biodiversity-protecting ways. Yet they’re not allowed to do that job. Not only are dingoes killed by the livestock industry, says Wallach, but also as a form of environmental management, either as a favour to sheep and cattle pastoralists or inadvertently, with poisons intended for the animals they would otherwise keep under control.

Killing, say Letnic and Wallach, offers an easy and misleading out. Meanwhile, the Australian government announced last year its intent of killing 2 million wild cats in the next several years. Ecologists recently began trials of a trap designed to spray poison onto cats, who will then lick it off their fur and die after days of seizures and vomiting. Somehow this is preferable to simply allowing wild dogs to live. It continues to be easier to kill than to coexist.

Whereas most coyotes and dingoes live and die in anonymity, many wolves are known as individuals – tracked by scientists, even named and followed by a fascinated, often adoring public.

There’s OR-4, the alpha male of Oregon’s Imnaha pack, who was killed this spring after, old and sick, he turned to hunting livestock. Or his son, OR-7, whose 1,000-mile walkabout made him the first known wolf in nearly a century to visit California. He eventually returned north, met a mate and sired a litter of pups – a much happier story than that of Echo, the first wolf seen in the Grand Canyon in more than 70 years, who was shot in late 2014 by a hunter who supposedly mistook her for a coyote.

Most emblematic of all, though, are the wolves of Yellowstone National Park. Canine celebrities since their mid-1990s reintroduction, their histories are as detailed and dramatic as Nordic sagas, but have taken a tragic turn over the past several years as hunting groups and western state wildlife agencies lobbied to remove gray wolves from the federal list of endangered species. Many of Yellowstone’s wolves have been shot and killed after stepping outside the park’s boundaries; they literally cross from one world into another, from a place where their lives are respected to one where they are not.

That dynamic captures tensions surrounding wolves throughout much of the US. Nearly a century after being almost completely exterminated, protection under the Endangered Species Act has allowed their numbers to rise again. The rise is relative – there are still just a few thousand in the continental US, occupying a small fraction of their historical range – but their species-level existence is not quite so precarious. Across the western and upper midwestern states, people are now fighting over what to do with them.

The nitty-gritty of wildlife agency proposals, court decisions and voter referenda are confusing to trace, but certain themes are universal. From one point of view, the lives of individual wolves have value, and should not be taken except to prevent otherwise unavoidable human harm. From another, individual wolves are members of populations that might annually be reduced without eliminating them altogether. And others would be happy to see the entire wolf population reduced. Wolves who previously were protected are now being killed for fun, or for reasons poorly supported by fact.

Killing wolves to prevent attacks on livestock, for example, doesn’t seem to work very well. It makes sense if individuals misbehave, as in the case of OR-4, but quota-based killing with no regard for which wolves are being targeted is likely to backfire: packs are destabilised, territorial fights ensue, and livestock attacks tend to rise. The social fabric is torn. And in places where wolves are killed to enhance populations of deer or elk, there are usually better alternatives available.

Take the case of 527, a famed Yellowstone wolf shot by a man who said he wanted to help elk. Many hunters blamed wolves for dramatic regional elk declines over the past two decades; the real culprits, though, turned out to be a loss of summer habitat and a change in predation by grizzly bears, who’d turned to elk after non-native trout released by fishermen into Lake Yellowstone outcompeted native fish on whom the bears had feasted. Wolves made a convenient scapegoat. Ditto in Idaho and British Columbia, where killing wolves is largely a distraction from more important habitat issues.

Again and again, research shows that rationales for state-sanctioned wolf hunts are flimsy. Yet that science, say wolf advocates, is ignored or applied inconsistently. This was a recurring frustration at a Humane Society-organised carnivore research conference I attended last year: having expected that the best available science would be used to guide decisions, researchers and advocates find that it’s not.

A deeper issue was evident too: one that gets at the very fundaments of how human society interacts with the non-human world. Almost invariably, government wildlife agencies are funded by sales of licences for hunting, fishing and trapping, and are strongly biased towards the treatment of wild animals as resources to be managed for human consumption. Many wolf advocates argue that such agencies, especially at the state level, can’t be trusted to be fair or – crucially – democratic.

That arrangement is the foundation of what’s known as the North American Model of Wildlife Conservation, codified early in the 20th century following the precipitous decline of now-common animals such as white-tailed deer, bison and elk, and focused on managing predator populations in order to maximise hunters’ favoured species. In many ways, that model has been successful, yet it’s also showing its age. Hunting is less popular than it once was; at the same time, there’s an ever-swelling number of people who care about animal welfare. At present, they’re largely excluded from wildlife management. At best, their views might be entertained by officials, but rarely are they shared.

As noted in ‘Predators and the Public Trust’ (2015), an article published in the journal Biological Reviews by researchers critical of the North American model, government wildlife agencies tend to see those who advocate for animal welfare as a threat to their work. And indeed, those values do challenge the treatment of animals as a resource – yet they also mean that those agencies no longer represent the public they’re supposed to serve, but just one interest group.

Rather than thinking of wolves as belonging to us, we might think of them as citizens of their own wild nation

To the authors of that Biological Reviews paper, including the ecologist Adrian Treves of the University of Wisconsin-Madison and the environmental scientist Jeremy Bruskotter of the Ohio State University, recreational wolf hunting violates the bedrock legal principle that wildlife belongs to everyone, not just a few people who would claim them. The Yellowstone wolves have embodied this literally. Inside the park, they belong to every American; outside it they belong to people who would hunt them. And that, in turn, is a microcosm of the passage of wolves from federal endangered-species protection to state-level management.

There are complications to this view that wildlife is a matter of public trust and shared ownership. There’s a case to be made that, so long as wolves are not completely eliminated, hunting them is compatible with the public trust: it’s not individual animals who belong to everyone, the argument goes, but populations and species across time. From the other end of the spectrum, animal rights advocates object to the idea that animals might be owned by anybody apart from themselves. As Sue Donaldson and Will Kymlicka arguein Zoopolis: A Political Theory of Animal Rights (2011), the logic guiding our treatment of wild animals is broadly that of colonialism – or perhaps even slavery. We do with them as we please, regarding them as subject entirely to the human realm. Rather than thinking of wolves as belonging to us, we might think of them as citizens of their own wild nation.

In practical terms, though, Zoopolis and ‘Predators and the Public Trust’ end up in the same place: calling for political institutions and processes to include people who speak for animal welfare and interests. For every hunter on a state wildlife commission there should be someone who argues on behalf of the animals. Rather than starting with a stacked deck, the full range of both science and ethics would be considered.

If this sounds radical, it’s not. Something similar is already happening in California, where the state’s five-person Fish and Game commission now includes two who don’t hunt. Contrary to some fears, many types of hunting do continue in the state – but practices that are socially unpopular and offer no ecological benefit, such as coyote derbies and bobcat trapping, have been banned. Wolves remain protected as endangered.

But California is a progressive state. Such an arrangement will not come so easily elsewhere, especially in relation to wolves. ‘The 21-year old controversy over wolf restoration in the West is not really about wolves,’ wrote Ralph Maughan, the founder of the Greater Yellowstone Coalition conservation group, in an op-ed published this spring in the Idaho State Journal. ‘It has become another “values” contest.’

Anti-wolf sentiment is frequently intertwined with conservative politics, gun rights, rural disenfranchisement and a distrust of government. Which could help to explain why research on non-lethal prevention of wolf/livestock conflicts hasn’t found much traction among ranchers. It also hints at a troubling possibility: Maughan speculates that regional ecologies might eventually be shaped as much by political as by natural features, producing red state/blue state distributions of wildlife.

Yet there’s reason for optimism, too. The Wood River Wolf Project, an Idaho-sited collaboration of ranchers, wildlife officials and conservationists working to show how wolves and livestock can coexist, has been successful. Though it’s usually the methods, such as guard dogs, range riders and remotely monitored packs, that get the headlines, the project’s success is as much about people and relationships.

‘You start small and build from there,’ said Suzanne Stone, a wolf restoration officer with the advocacy group Defenders of Wildlife. ‘It takes time. Being able to sit down and have a cup of coffee.’ Which applies to democracy generally, and is its saving grace. Whatever our disagreements in principle with strangers, we can often sit down and figure out something in good faith with neighbours. And if political representation of animal interests might not yet be practical everywhere, for every species, it might at least start with wolves, coyotes and dingoes.

After all, to speak on their behalf reflects both the spirit of democracy and the inescapability of animal intelligence, especially among these close cousins of humankind’s best friends. To treat them so differently from the dogs we love is hypocritical. It sets a bad example – one that makes it a little easier to stigmatise and mistreat fellow human beings. As the ethicist William Lynn argues: ‘Wolves are not just good for ecosystem health. They are critical to the moral health of a society.’

Animals, Workers and Consumers Suffer Under USDA Slaughter Programs

One of the US’s most dangerous industries is becoming even more hazardous for workers, as animal welfare and consumer safety are also put on the line. The federal government is allowing more and more slaughter plants to kill animals at increasingly dangerous rates.

At the end of September, the Trump administration announced that the Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) of the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) would be granting waivers allowing chicken slaughter plants to operate at higher kill speeds — going from a staggering 140 birds killed per minute (or more than two birds every single second) to 175.

This misguided decision benefits only the profit-driven meat industry. It does so at the expense of millions of animals, workers and consumers.

Four waivers have recently been granted to chicken plants that will join 20 already killing as many as 175 birds each minute. A gut-wrenching new undercover investigation by my organization, Compassion Over Killing (COK), reveals high-speed horrors behind the closed doors of one of those initial 20 plants, and why these waivers must come to a screeching halt.

Reckless High-Speed Slaughter Exposed

Marking the second time in just three years that a COK investigator has exposed the alarming consequences of high-speed slaughter, this heartbreaking hidden-camera footage was filmed inside Amick Farms in Hurlock, Maryland.

COK’s investigator documented workers punching, shoving or throwing birds down the hurtling line; birds slowly drowning in electrified stunning baths during equipment breakdowns; and “red birds,” chickens who were not fully bled out before entering the scalding tank — evidence that they entered the tank while still alive.

“Birds can be seen — still hanging from the shackles — in the water bath. … It is likely that the birds would have experienced prolonged, possibly painful electrical shock while they died of drowning,” said Dr. Sara Shields, a farm animal behavior and welfare specialist at Humane Society International, in an expert statement in response to COK’s footage. “This situation is totally unacceptable from an animal welfare perspective.”

Birds are moved quickly down the line.
Birds are moved quickly down the line.
A panicked bird is roughly grabbed on the quickly moving line.
A panicked bird is roughly grabbed on the quickly moving line.

COK submitted its video evidence to local authorities as well as to FSIS, urging the agency to revoke increased line speeds at Amick Farms and other high-speed plants, and stop issuing any further waivers. Though the criteria for receiving a waiver specifies that plants “must be able to demonstrate that … faster line speeds will maintain or improve food safety,” among other requirements, COK’s new investigation has shown that faster lines lead to enormous animal suffering.

Amick Farms responded to The Washington Post’s coverage of the investigation, neglecting to take any real responsibility for the cruelties happening behind the doors of its slaughterhouse.

At current rates of 140 birds slaughtered per minute at most plants, birds are already enduring horrific suffering. In addition, workers, who must keep up with the fast-paced assembly line environment, are forced to take inhumane shortcuts. Yet, with the government’s recent announcement, we’re moving quickly backward from bad to much worse.

Other COK investigations have documented birds being improperly shackled, dumped onto the conveyor belt and being roughly handled by workers struggling to keep up with rapidly moving lines. Birds suffer during this short and tragic journey to the kill line — already having endured severely overcrowded and filthy conditions on factory farms where they were bred for unnaturally rapid growth.

After these birds spend their lives standing, eating and sleeping in their own waste (often causing painful ammonia burns on their skin) and possibly even having their legs collapse under the unnatural weight of their own genetically manipulated bodies, the life of a “broiler” chicken farmed for food culminates in the horror of painful slaughter.

In addition to the obvious cruelty toward farmed animals in the final moments of their short lives, high-speed slaughter lines also pose grave danger to workers. Many employees at slaughter plants are already vulnerable undocumented workers exploited in one of the nation’s most dangerous industries to work. Even at current line speeds, they’re often denied bathroom breaks to keep up the pace at all costs, and can suffer painful medical issues and severe injuries — even amputations.

But instead of taking pause to address the dangers of this reckless program, the USDA is expanding it — and not just for chickens.

The Public Speaks Out Against High-Speed Pig Slaughter

In late 2015, a COK undercover investigator worked at Quality Pork Processors (QPP) in Austin, Minnesota, a pig slaughterhouse that exclusively supplies to Hormel, the maker of SPAM and other pork products. Held up as a model plant for the USDA’s high-speed pig slaughter program — the Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point-Based Inspection Model Project — QPP kills approximately 1,300 pigs every hour.

The terrifying truth revealed in undercover footage paints a picture very much like the horrors seen at Amick Farms: pigs being beaten, shocked and dragged to the kill floor. Many were also improperly stunned, possibly leading them to enter the scalding tank alive — just like the “red birds” documented at Amick. In this fast-paced environment, pigs covered in feces or pus-filled abscesses were also seen processed for human consumption — all with a USDA inspection seal of approval.

In April 2018, Compassion Over Killing’s former investigator, now out from behind the camera after his work at QPP and other slaughterhouses, delivered a quarter-million signatures to the USDA demanding it to end its regressive high-speed pig slaughter program.

Yet the USDA continues to frame its high-speed program as a “modernization” of the meat industry. There’s nothing modern about reducing already minimal protections for consumers, animals and workers.

Though animal organizations and workers’ rights advocates alike are fighting these reckless speed increases, and the USDA has received more than 83,000 comments regarding this program — many opposed to it — the enormous lobbying power of the National Chicken Council continues has put pressure on the USDA to eliminate speed caps altogether. The USDA has denied a countrywide increase so far, but there’s little stopping the agency from granting waivers for individual slaughter plants across the United States.

To stand in solidarity with exploited workers, tortured animals and unknowingly duped consumers, the easiest solution is to leave these cruelly mass-produced animal products off our plates. By voting with our dollars and avoiding these products altogether, we show the USDA, National Chicken Council and huge corporations running these plants that we do not support these cruel practices that harm human and non-human animals in the name of profit.

Allowing slaughterhouses to run their kill lines at even faster speeds is a reckless decision by this administration that will lead to increased animal suffering, continued worker exploitation and compromised food safety. Tell the USDA: Not so fast. Take action and sign the petition at HighSpeedHorrors.com.

This article was produced by Earth | Food | Life, a project of the Independent Media Institute, and originally published on Truthout.

China’s latest monkey cloning tests are considered ‘monstrous’

China’s latest monkey cloning experiment has sparked outrage and been labeled “monstrous” by animals welfare advocates.

Researchers at the Chinese Academy of Sciences Institute of Neuroscience have cloned five monkey babies from a single donor with genes edited to cause diseases.

The Chinese scientists tinkered with a specific gene in the original donor monkey to produce the unhealthy animals which they say will help medical research.

The gene is BMAL1, which helps regulate the circadian rhythm but scientists made it inoperative using a gene-editing tool, known as CRISPR. With the gene turned off, the animals are at greater risk of developing sleeping problems, hormonal disorders and a host of diseases.

Researchers said the monkeys demonstrated increased anxiety and depression, reduced sleep time, and even “schizophrenia-like behaviors,” according to a pair of papers published by the scientists in the National Science Review.

All five macaques were born with identical genes, which include the mutation.

“Disorder of circadian rhythm could lead to many human diseases, including sleep disorders, diabetic mellitus, cancer, and neurodegenerative diseases, our BMAL1-knock out monkeys thus could be used to study the disease pathogenesis as well as therapeutic treatments” said Hung-Chun Chang, senior author and investigator of the Chinese Academy of Sciences Institute of Neuroscience in a statement.

Researchers used a cloning technique known as somatic cell nuclear transfer to produce the five macaques, the same method they used to generate the first two cloned monkeys this time last year.

It is also the same general method used to clone Dolly the sheep more than two decades ago.

The experiment to clone the two healthy monkeys, reported in the journal Cell in January last year, also caused some apprehension among the broader scientific community.

“The genie’s out of the bottle now,” said Jose Cibelli at the time, a cloning expert at Michigan State University in the US.

Animals rights advocated have slammed the latest experiment. Dr. Julia Baines, Science Policy Adviser at PETA UK, said: “Genetically manipulating and then cloning animals is a monstrous practice that causes animals to suffer.”

But speaking to news.com.au in June, Director of the Chinese Academy of Sciences Institute of Neuroscience and co-author of the latest papers, Dr Mu-ming Poo, defended the practice of using cloned animals for medical research.

“More cloned monkeys will soon be produced,” he said at the time. “Some of them will carry gene mutations known to cause human brain disorders, in order to generate useful monkey models for drug development and treatment.”

It’s important to note that because primates share approximately 95 percent of human genes and a number of physiological and anatomical similarities, biomedical research currently uses a large number of monkeys, sometimes up to 100,000 annually around the globe.

“This number will be greatly reduced by the use of monkeys with uniform genetic background that reduces the noise in experimental studies,” Dr. Poo said, pointing to the example of testing drug efficacy before clinical trials.

“This will greatly help the ethical use of non-human primates for biomedical purposes.”

The team behind the latest experiment reiterated that position in the statement this week, saying the institute is following strict international guidelines for animal research.

The gene-edited monkey clones come hot on the heels of a rogue Chinese scientist announcing he used CRISPR technology to create the world’s first gene-edited human babies.

The controversial doctor made headlines last November after claiming he altered human embryos resulting in the birth of genetically edited twin girls.

This story originally appeared in news.com.au.

Urge Ridgeland, Wisconsin Officials to Stop Chicken Toss

Chicken being tossed from the roof of a building into a crowd of people.

United Poultry Concerns is joining Wisconsin-based Alliance for Animals again this year in politely urging the village of Ridgeland in Dunn County, Wisconsin to cancel the “Chicken Toss” in February (most likely Saturday, Feb. 16th since it is always held in mid-February although we could not confirm the date as yet).

The chicken toss consists of throwing many chickens, one or two at a time, up in the air from a roof. Crowds scramble to grab the birds as they fall to the ground. The chickens huddle together, freezing and fearful, in crates and bags waiting to be thrown by participants who consider this activity fun.

There is no similarity between a chicken being pulled from a container and thrown roughly up in the air from a roof in the midst of a screaming mob, and a chicken fluttering voluntarily to the ground from a perch in a quiet place.

What Can I Do?

Please call these Dunn County officials, and politely urge them to prohibit the “chicken toss” this year. Whether you reach a live person or a recording, leave a brief, clear, and respectful message expressing your concern for the chickens: their fear and possible injury and the frigid weather.


Thank you for taking action for these birds.
– United Poultry Concerns


Montana Trap Check Bill, Trapped Mtn Lion


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Sorry for our absence and the length of our trapping news but….

Montana HB787 for MANDATORY DAILY TRAP CHECKS is almost complete and should then be scheduled for a hearing soon!

TFMPL partnered with our good friends at Wolves of the Rockies to make this happen!  Now we need you to be contacting your legislator!We know from our many diverse supporters that trapping is bipartisan issue! Regardless of your legislator’s party affiliation, mark our words, they need to hear from you and NOW! 

Montana Legislators & contact info can be found at find a Montana legislator.  It is best to call. Let them know you are in their district and that you urge them to vote for HB 787 Mandatory Daily Trap Checks! If necessary, leave a message as such. Let us know if you have any difficulty looking them up. Legislators want to be re-elected so it matters what their constituents want!

Trust us, make absolutely no assumption the Democrats will support it and Republicans will vote against it! Start calling NOW as their vote is often decided ahead of the hearing! You can follow-up with an email to them but best to use your own words and keep it brief.

Currently in Montana, traps set for bobcats in designated lynx protection zones and traps set for wolves are the only traps that are required for the trapper to check every 48 hrs. Other traps and snares can remain unattended for days even weeks with trapped animals legally suffering. 36 other states have 24 hr/daily trap checks in their regulations. 3 states have none, Montana included.

All of you should know by now we oppose trapping. We hope to see it end in our lifetime! However, that doesn’t mean there is not a lot we can do to help end the suffering of trapped animals and enable those released from traps a better chance at survival whether that be an eagle, lynx, mountain lion or your lost beloved dog!

HB787 also has a limited exception if the trapper cannot tend to his/her traps daily. Once the language is approved by legal, it will be of public record and we will provide it to you. Our deepest appreciation to Representative Bridget Smith of Wolf Point for sponsoring this bill!Please let us know if you plan to attend the hearing or want to. The House Fish & Wildlife Committee meets on Tues. and Thurs. at 3:00 to hear the bills.

 * We are also working with any interested parties on the language for Mandatory Trapper Education LC538, too!

January 3,2019 – Square Butte, Montana

A large male mountain lion was found dead on a Square Butte trapline near town of Great Falls. TFMPL obtained more specifics and learned the mountain lion was killed in a snare. The trapper was not charged as the warden deemed the mountain lion was unintentional. TFMPL also learned the trapper did follow the law and reported.

photo courtesy GreatFalls Tribune

Snares only cost a couple of dollars and so are a favorite weapon trappers like to set in large quantities and leave to strangle any animal to death, eventually. No matter the victim, routinely, trappers are not charged since traps and snares by nature do not discriminate. A Montana Trapping Advisory Committee (TAC)member has been asking about allowing the keeping of trapped mountain lions.  In just 2 years, 2013-2015, 48 mountain lions were known “accidentally” trapped in Montana. Over 80% were dead or reported noticeably injured. Meanwhile, another TAC member continues to push for the legal snaring of wolves which is currently illegal.


The sweet goofy boy, Ralph, from Laurel, Montana who lost his leg to a snare after missing for a couple of days is recovering!

Thanks to your donations, Trap Free Montana was able to donate $1,000 towards Ralph’s reduced veterinarian bill of $1,125! Please remember Ralph and all the other trapped pets and the need for mandatory daily trap checks. We continue to hear of yet another precious dog in Montana trapped! Think too of all their medical bills and who pays those costs? Certainly, not the trappers. Keep this in mind with LC/HB2007 a bill for “Wolf Trapper Expense Reimbursement”.

Check out this wonderful educational coloring book, award winning, “Endangered Species Have Feelings, Too”!

It’s 32 pages front and back of wildlife and teachings promoting knowledge and compassion. “Endangered Species Have Feelings Too” is a wildlife coloring book unlike anything else on the market. Not only does it provide an opportunity for children to bring each page to life, but to also develop their morals and “feelings vocabulary” along the way.”

The author, Dr. Delis-Abrams, has generously offered 25% of sales to Trap Free Montana.
 at http://bit.ly/2S1xnp2  Please be sure to mention Trap Free Montana in your purchasing! 

The Montana Trapping Advisory Committee (TAC) will have their final meeting in Great Falls on 1/31 and 2/1. To review the previous meetings and the upcoming agenda http://bit.ly/2FNMyvR. The meetings are open to the public and we are given 3 minutes to speak. People can submit a written comment to the TAC urging them to support mandatory 24hr/daily trap checks and support HB 787, mandatory reporting of all trapped animals, closure of trapping on rare species such as swift fox and fisher, trapping limits and protections for beaver, mandatory trapper education for all trappers with all stakeholders equally providing oversight and supporting LC/HB 538 for Mandatory Trapper Education.

Send your respectful comment & in your own words to FWP:
 jvore@mt.gov with subject line: Public Comment for TAC

TFMPL was given the honor and privilege to speak up for wildlife and for support for HB787 Mandatory Daily Trap Checks at the Helena Women’s March on Saturday 1/19/19!http://bit.ly/2DmNGox It was a great experience with excellent speakers promoting necessary changes!

Trap Free Montana, our 501(c)(3) affiliate now has added Great Falls and Billings to the list of “End the Suffering” billboards on major highways across our state. To learn more and be one of the proud owners of a billboard visit: trapfreemt.org/our-work

Thank you friends of Trap Free Montana Public Lands.

Deer Being Trapped and Slaughtered in Texas Community—Stop the Massacre


act now for deer

Deer in a residential community in Yantis, Texas, are being netted and killed in a misguided attempt to reduce their population. Every minute spent trapped is a terrifying eternity for these easily frightened prey animals, who can badly injure themselves in frantic attempts to get free. Families of deer are torn apart, leaving young and weak animals vulnerable to starvation and dehydration. Your voice is needed now.


see the bears now

Video: One Year Later, Rescued Bears Swim, Play, and Bob for Apples

After enduring a decade of deprivation and frustration, Ben and Bogey are now free to play and explore the lush environment around them. See video footage of the bears at The Wild Animal Sanctuary in Colorado, where they’re currently hibernating (wait until you see them playing and swimming!), and then learn how you can help other bears who are still languishing at roadside zoos or forced to perform.


help cold dogs

Dogs Are Desperately Cold

Winter’s chilliest weeks are still ahead of us—and dogs forced to live outside are suffering tremendously.


Bob Katter’s $2m plan for children to use rifles to hunt cane toads

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Katter’s plan to reduce cane toad numbers

Queensland MP Bob Katter wants children to become cane toad bounty hunters, armed with low-powered air rifles in the hunt for pocket money.

Under Mr Katter’s $2 million plan, young people would collect 40 cents for every toad they kill in a bid to save the environment from the introduced pest.

“It’ll give a bit of fun for our kids and a bit of pocket money for them as well,” the crossbench MP told reporters in Townsville on Thursday.

Bob Katter cane toad hunting children planUnder a $2 million plan, Queensland MP Bob Katter wants children armed with low-powered air rifles to hunt cane toads in a bid to save the environment. (9NEWS)

Asked whether it was appropriate for children to be using air rifles, Mr Katter stressed the weapons would be low power before breaking out in laughter.

“Some of my friends have tried to hurt people but that’s not going to happen – they’re pretty harmless,” he said.

He believes his solution will teach young people the value of earning money by improving the environment.

Asked whether it was appropriate for children to be wielding potential weapons, Mr Katter claimed the rifles are 'pretty harmless'.Asked whether it was appropriate for children to be wielding potential weapons, Mr Katter claimed the rifles are ‘pretty harmless’. (Getty Images)

“Up close it’s just squeeze the trigger – end of story,” Mr Katter said.


“That’s simple instead of running around with golf clubs and spades, plastic bags and suffocating and pouring stuff on them – it’s just not working.”

Mr Katter has significantly upped the ante on Pauline Hanson’s call for a 10c toad bounty, a day after the One Nation leader revealed her three-month plan to punish pests.

Mr Katter's calls come days after One Nation leader Pauline Hanson called for a 10c cane toad bounty, also urging children to help reduce the numbers of the pest.Mr Katter’s calls come days after One Nation leader Pauline Hanson called for a 10c cane toad bounty, also urging children to help reduce the numbers of the pest. (9NEWS)

“All those people out there, ‘Work for the Dole’ doing absolutely nothing, or even kids on holidays, put down the iPads, get out there, collect the cane toads, take them to your local council, put them in the freezer, get rid of them and clean up our environment,” she told the TODAY Show this week.

But the Queensland politicians’ competing cash-for-cane-toad schemes could struggle to get off the ground with state and federal governments unlikely to hop on board.

Experts have also expressed their doubts over the plans. Professor Rob Capon from the University of Queensland’s Institute for Molecular Bioscience told 9News a bounty on toads was simply “not practical”.

Cane toads have had huge impacts on native animals, particularly in Queensland, after being introduced from Hawaii in 1935 in a failed bid to eradicate beetles.Cane toads have had huge impacts on native animals, particularly in Queensland, after being introduced from Hawaii in 1935 in a failed bid to eradicate beetles. (ACT Parks and Conservation Service)

“From an ecological point of view it’s unlikely to have an impact on the cane toad population. On a practical level there are all manner of problems,” he said.

Cane toads have had a huge impact on native animals since being introduced from Hawaii in 1935 in a failed bid to eradicate beetles infesting sugar cane and spreading across most of northern Australia.