Emperor Goose Hunting Open for First Time in 30 Years

https://www.usnews.com/news/best-states/alaska/articles/2017-04-19/emperor-goose-hunting-open-for-first-time-in-30-years?src=usn_fb

Shooting emperor geese in Alaska is legal for the first time in 30 years, but officials are hoping hunters take it easy.

| April 19, 2017, at 12:53 p.m.

BETHEL, Alaska (AP) — Shooting emperor geese in Alaska is legal for the first time in 30 years, but officials are hoping hunters take it easy.

Federal managers have opened a subsistence hunt for the birds and are visiting coastal villages to lay down ground rules before the geese migrate, KYUK-AM reported (http://bit.ly/2pg3aVE ).

The rules call for targeting one bird at a time instead of spraying the flock, only taking juvenile birds that are not yet breeding, limiting the number of birds taken and only taking one or two eggs from a nest.

About 80 percent of the world’s emperor goose population breeds along the west coast of Yukon Delta in southern Alaska. The migration is expected to begin in mid to late May.

Officials hope the large number of geese doesn’t get to hunters’ heads, though.

“With the season opening for emperor geese for the first time in 30 years, there is a concern of overharvest of emperor geese, because they’re ignorant to a lot of hunting activities, because they haven’t been harvested, so they haven’t learned how to avoid hunters,” said Bryan Daniels, a waterfowl biologist with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

The six-week hunt is now open and runs until the beginning of June.

The 1980s was the last time hunters could go out for emperor geese, which was before the bird’s population dropped dangerously low.

Now, the population is just above the threshold to sustain a hunt.

___

Information from: KYUK-AM, http://www.kyuk.org

Oregon Wolf Population Growth Stalled First Year After Taken Off Endangered Species List

http://www.wweek.com/news/2017/04/14/oregon-gray-wolf-population-growth-stalled-first-year-after-taken-off-endangered-species-list/

The Oregon Wolf population increased by 1.8 percent this year. The year before they were delisted, the population increased by 33 percent.
Two adult wolves from the Walla Walla Pack were caught on remote trail camera Jan. 16 2016 in northern Umatilla County. (Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife)

A new wolf report from the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife has environmentalists concerned.

The report, the first since Oregon gray wolves were removed from the Endangered Species Act list in 2015, shows the population of wolves in Oregon has stalled, and the number of both breeding pairs and packs in the state declined in 2016. The current population is 112 wolves across 11 packs, a 1.8 percent increase from 2015, when there were 110 wolves.

Though the wolf population has technically increased, environmental groups are worried: Before losing protection in November 2015, the wolf population had a 33 percent increase from 2014 to 2015.

In 2016, there were 11 packs, including eight packs of breeding pairs—which is 27 percent fewer than 2015, when there were 11 breeding pairs.

Though the November 2015 decision to remove wolves from the list won in a 4-2 vote, it has remained controversial. The following month, three environmental groups filed a legal challenge to the removal. 

The lawsuit, filed by Oregon Wild, Cascadia Wildlands and the Center for Biological Diversity, said that the Oregon Fish and Wildlife Commission “violated the law by failing to follow best available science and prematurely removing protections before wolves are truly recovered.”

The Oregon Department of Justice ruled that the lawsuit was a moot point under House Bill 4040, which stated that the ability for wolves to repopulate was not being threatened. But in July 2016, the environmental groups were granted an appeal from the Oregon Court of Appeals to continue the legal challenge. That case is pending.

This year’s report also shows a sharp increase in livestock depredation by wolves in 2016. In 2015, there were just nine incidents, compared to 24 in 2016, a 116 percent increase.

Seven wolf deaths were documented in both 2015 and 2016.

In 2015, none of these deaths came from the department, but in 2016, four wolves were killed by the department in a depredation situation where non-lethal methods proved ineffective. One wolf was killed by a farmer while the wolf was killing a sheep.

“In the years immediately before losing protections, Oregon’s wolf population expanded while livestock conflict went down,” said Rob Klavins, a Field Representative for Oregon Wild based in Wallowa County said in a statement. “Unfortunately, as ODFW and special interests rushed to remove protections from wolves, not only did wolf recovery stall, but wolf killing and livestock conflict increased.”

While environmental groups are worried about the stall in population, an item on the ODFW’s newly revised Oregon Wolf Conservation and Management Plan also raises concerns.

In a draft of the plan, which is revised every five years, one section discusses wolves as “special status game animals,” a classification which came from Oregon legislators in 2009, under ORS 496.004 (9).

The classification “allows the use of controlled take through hunting and trapping (under two circumstances) in response to management concerns.” It specifies that “general season hunts are not permitted.”

The Center for Biological Diversity refers to the plan as a proposal “to create a sport trapping and hunting program for these iconic animals.”

Last month, 19 Oregon legislators sent a letter to ODFW to urge the department to reconsider the classification, calling it a “slippery slope to an open hunting and trapping season.”

Threatened Utah prairie dogs have their day in court … and win

http://www.msn.com/en-us/news/us/threatened-utah-prairie-dogs-have-their-day-in-court-and-win/ar-BBz1QOl?OCID=ansmsnnews11

Environmentalists praised the three-judge appeals court panel’s decision overturning an earlier ruling and protecting the foot-long rodents, which property rights activists say threaten farm animals and development with their massive underground colonies.

“This is huge, not only for the prairie dog but for the Endangered Species Act,” Michael Harris, legal director for Friends of Animals, a conservation group involved in the case, said in a phone interview Wednesday.

The plaintiffs in the case, People for the Ethical Treatment of Property Owners, had argued that the federal government did not have authority over a species that existed only in one state.

They said that while they acknowledge the importance of the species, known to build vast underground networks of tunnels, which have been found under cemeteries and golf courses, they would ask for a review of the panel’s decision by the full court.

“Let it be on the prairie, let it be on land away from the developments,” Brett Taylor, the group’s vice president, told Reuters.

Distinguished by a black “eyebrow” marking over each eye, Utah prairie dogs numbered about 95,000 around 1920, but by 1972 their population had fallen to about 3,300 due to disease and people killing them.

The extremely social species was declared endangered the following year, but after its numbers grew again it was reclassified as threatened. Populations remain precariously low, according to the National Park Service.

Wednesday’s ruling affirmed the existing standard of allowing the federal government to limit local development using the Endangered Species Act, the 1973 law intended to protect species at risk of extinction.

In the majority opinion, Judge Jerome Holmes wrote that overturning the earlier ruling was in line with actions by previous circuit courts, which have ruled uniformly to protect the Endangered Species Act in similar cases.

(Reporting by Tom James in Seattle; Editing by Patrick Enright and Andrew Hay)

B.C. grizzly bears could be shipped to Washington State

Kendra MangioneWeb Journalist / Digital Content Editor, CTV Vancouver

@kendramangione

Published Tuesday, March 14, 2017 7:08PM PDT 

Washington State is looking at ways to boost its grizzly population, including bringing in bears from north of the border.

proposal from the National Parks Service suggests shipping in grizzlies from a nearby area with bruins to spare, like British Columbia or Montana.

If approved, some of the roughly 15,000 grizzly bears living in B.C. could be captured and sent south, to a part of the state that used to be flush with the species.

Ann Froschauer with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service says they estimate there are fewer than 10 grizzlies in the Northern Cascades ecosystem, an area in northern Washington east of the I-5 corridor. The bears chosen to head to the area would be selected for the sole purpose of repopulating.

“We’d be looking to have a self-sustaining population of bears that would then continue to grow that population over the years,” Froschauer said.

The proposal is currently open for public input, and Canadians are welcome to share their thoughts, by clicking “Comment Now” on the page they’ve set up for the project.

More than 100,000 people have weighed in on the debate so far, largely due to an online campaign started by a Seattle cartoonist. Matthew Inman, the man behind theoatmeal.com, used social media and his website to get signatures from supporters of the plan. On Twitter, he wrote that he’d spoken with the National Park Service Monday to get the deadline for feedback extended.

While some in the States are fully supportive of the idea, other advocates north of the border are not yet on board with the plan.

“We want to see grizzly bears thrive wherever they are,” said Rachel Forbes, executive director of the Grizzly Bear Foundation.

“But we think the B.C. government has a lot more questions to answer before we decide to export populations of grizzly bears. We need to do a better job of managing them here first.”

The foundation says there are several areas of B.C. where the species is threatened, and others where populations have disappeared entirely.

“Before we say yes to this, we need to take a better look at the cumulative impacts here in B.C.,” Forbes said.

The U.S. government expects to make a decision early next year. The B.C. Ministry of Environment says the province will work with U.S. officials at that time to determine its level of involvement.

With a report from CTV Vancouver’s Scott Hurst

National Park Service - potential release area

Photo@ Jim Robertson

Midwest, Wyoming lawmakers target wolf protections again

 https://www.washingtonpost.com/national/energy-environment/midwest-wyoming-lawmakers-target-wolf-protections-again/2017/02/26/5e4ce15c-fc50-11e6-9b78-824ccab94435_story.html?utm_term=.73e2d4001ac9
February 26
MINNEAPOLIS — Pressure is building in Congress to take gray wolves in the western Great Lakes region and Wyoming off the endangered list, which would allow farmers to kill the animals if they threaten livestock.

Representatives from Minnesota, Wisconsin, Michigan and Wyoming have asked House Speaker Paul Ryan of Wisconsin for a fast floor vote before the season during which most cows and sheep will give birth begins in earnest. That followed testimony before a Senate committee a week earlier from the president of the Wisconsin Farm Bureau Federation, who said producers need to be able to defend their livestock and livelihoods.

Meanwhile, both sides in the debate are waiting for a federal appeals court to decide whether to uphold lower court rulings that put wolves in the four states back on the list or to let the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service return management of the species to the states, which it has wanted to do for years.

Here’s a look at some of the issues:

THE LETTER

 U.S. Rep. Collin Peterson of Minnesota, the ranking Democrat on the House Agriculture Committee, sent a letter co-signed by seven of his colleagues from the four states to House leaders urging a quick floor vote on a bill to return their wolves to state management. A key component of both is language that would prevent the courts from intervening.

The representatives said it’s urgent because calving season is when cows and calves are most vulnerable.

“As you know, cows and their calves can easily be worth several thousand dollars, so each instance of a wolf attack has devastating economic impacts on ranchers and their families. Currently, ranchers and farmers have no legal actions available to deal with gray wolf attacks because these predators are federally protected,” they wrote.

Peterson said in an interview that they very nearly passed a similar provision in the last Congress and that he thinks they have a decent shot at persuading Ryan to grant an early floor vote. Otherwise they’ll try to attach the language to a bigger appropriations bill later. The legislation is similar to what Congress used to delist wolves in Montana and Idaho in 2011 after courts blocked the federal government’s attempts to lift protections in those states.

“Wolves are not endangered,” Peterson said.

THE HEARING

The Senate’s Committee on Environment and Public Works held an informational hearing Feb. 15 billed as “Modernization of the Endangered Species Act.” Jim Holte, president of the Wisconsin Farm Bureau Federation, complained that it’s been illegal for farmers in the region to kill wolves that prey on their livestock since wolves went back on the list.

“As wolf populations continue to increase, interactions between farmers, their livestock, rural residents and wolves continue to escalate without a remedy in sight,” Holte testified.

THE COURTS

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has long contended that wolves in Minnesota, Wisconsin, Michigan and Wyoming have recovered to the point where they’re no longer threatened, so hunting and trapping can be allowed under state control.

Gray wolves were once hunted to the brink of extinction in the lower 48 states, but they recovered under Endangered Species Act protections and reintroduction programs to the point where they now number around 5,500, according to the service. The combined gray wolf population of the three western Great Lakes states is now about 4,000, while Wyoming has roughly 400. The agency describes wolf numbers in those states as “robust, stable and self-sustaining.”

But federal courts have blocked multiple attempts to take them off the endangered list, most recently in 2014. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit last fall heard oral arguments in challenges to those rulings but hasn’t ruled on them yet.

THE OPPOSITION

Groups that support the federal protections say it’s premature to lift them because wolves are still missing from most of their historical range. They’ve been able to persuade the courts that the terms of the Endangered Species Act requires recovery in more than just a few states, even though the Fish and Wildlife Service disagreed.

Brett Hartl, government affairs director of the Center for Biological Diversity, said he’s skeptical that the latest congressional efforts will get much traction. He said Peterson and the other representatives who sent the letter are just sending a message to their constituents that they’re still trying.

Teen arrested for killing a bald eagle

HARRIS COUNTY, TEXAS – A Harris County teenager was arrested Tuesday after allegedly killing a bald eagle in a north Harris County neighborhood.

Orlando David Delgado, 17, is charged with a hunting misdemeanor. Killing a bald eagle is normally a federal crime, but the U.S. Attorney’s Office declined to prosecute Delgado because of his age.

Delgado bonded out of jail on Wednesday.

A resident called the Harris County Sheriff’s Office after finding the dead eagle behind his home, which runs along White Oak Bayou.

The man told deputies he had seen three males near the tree where the eagle nested and one of them had a rifle.

While waiting for deputies, the man said the three males came back, pulled a feather from the eagle’s body and drove away in a white pickup truck.

Thanks to a tip from a mail carrier, Deputy A. Ebrahim found the truck a block away in front of Delgado’s home.

Investigators say Delgado admitted he shot the eagle with a high-powered Gammo pellet rifle. The first shot did not kill the federally protected bird, so he shot it several more times.

Neighbors are upset and heartbroken after hearing the news.

“It really hurts my stomach, it’s like a family member,” said Monette Villegas.

Villegas and her family watched the bird for years, along with another eagle they believed was his mate.

The family named the birds, Steve and Mary.

One of them is now memorialized with a stuffed animal eagle the family brought to the tree on Wednesday.

“Steve I kind of made up out of nowhere,” said Albert Villegas. “Mary, my mom gave me the idea because of America.”
(© 2017 KHOU)

Biodiversity: The ravages of guns, nets and bulldozers

http://www.nature.com/news/biodiversity-the-ravages-of-guns-nets-and-bulldozers-1.20381?WT.mc_id=TWT_NatureNews

August 10  2016

The threats of old are still the dominant drivers of current species loss, indicates an analysis of IUCN Red List data by Sean Maxwell and colleagues.

Here we report an analysis of threat information gathered for more than 8,000 species. These data revealed a contrasting picture. We found that by far the biggest drivers of biodiversity decline are overexploitation (the harvesting of species from the wild at rates that cannot be compensated for by reproduction or regrowth) and agriculture (the production of food, fodder, fibre and fuel crops; livestock farming; aquaculture; and the cultivation of trees).

On the list

Since 2001, the categories and criteria of the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species — a standard for the evaluation of extinction risk — have guided assessments, now for 82,845 species. Assessors assign species to categories, including ‘near-threatened’, ‘vulnerable’, ‘endangered’ or ‘critically endangered’ depending on their population size; past, current and projected population trends; geographic range and other symptoms of extinction risk. Species in the latter three groups are collectively referred to as ‘threatened’.

To assess the relative prevalence of current hazards to biodiversity, we quantified threat information for 8,688 near-threatened or threatened species belonging to species groups in which all known species have been assessed (for complete list of taxa included, see Supplementary Information).

The basic message emerging from these data is that whatever the threat category or species group, overexploitation and agriculture have the greatest current impact on biodiversity (see ‘Big killers’).

Of the species listed as threatened or near-threatened, 72% (6,241) are being overexploited for commerce, recreation or subsistence.

The Sumatran rhinoceros (Dicerorhinus sumatrensis), Western gorilla (Gorilla gorilla) and Chinese pangolin (Manis pentadactyla, a scaly mammal), for instance, are all illegally hunted as a result of high market demand for their body parts and meat. These are just three of the more than 2,700 species affected by hunting or fishing, or by people collecting live specimens for the pet trade. At the same time, unsustainable logging is contributing to the decline of more than 4,000 forest-dependent species, such as the Bornean wren-babbler (Ptilocichla leucogrammica), India’s Nicobar shrew (Crocidura nicobarica), and the Myanmar snub-nosed monkey (Rhinopithecus strykeri).

More: http://www.nature.com/news/biodiversity-the-ravages-of-guns-nets-and-bulldozers-1.20381?WT.mc_id=TWT_NatureNews

 

Together, we can protect Alaska’s wildlife

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An amendment to a federal bill could put grizzly bears, wolves, lynx and other wildlife on over 96 million acres of taxpayer-funded land at risk.

Amendment #11 to the House Interior Appropriations bill would block professional scientists from finalizing rules aimed at protecting animals from the most inhumane and unsporting hunting methods on National Wildlife Refuges and National Park Service lands in Alaska. The amendment would clear the way for spotting and chasing grizzly bears from planes and then shooting them and also allowing people to go into wolf dens and shoot pups on national wildlife refuges and national parks — activities inconceivable anywhere, but especially on the most important federally protected lands.

Please make a quick call to the office of Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler at (202) 225-3536 right away and urge opposition to this dangerous amendment. You can simply say, “As a constituent, I am urging my representative to please protect Alaska’s wildlife by opposing Representative Don Young’s amendment #11 to the House Interior Appropriations bill.”

Jim, Alaska is home to some of the most beautiful wild places and species in America — we need to stand together to protect it. After you call, please send a quick follow-up message.

Jane Goodall Among 58 Scientists Urging Government to Halt Grizzly De-Listing

http://ecowatch.com/2016/05/06/jane-goodall-grizzly-de-listing/

| May 6, 2016

Dr. Jane Goodall is one of 58 prominent scientists and experts who have signed a letter asking the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) to retain Endangered Species Act protections for Yellowstone-area grizzly bears.

Incidentally, their letter was released around the same time that Montana wildlife officials announced draft grizzly hunting regulations that, once approved, would offer $50 permits to local residents and $1,000 permits for out-of-state hunters to shoot the bears, The Guardian reported. The state’s grizzly hunting plan would be implemented if the bears are taken off the federal endangered species list.

USFWS has proposed de-listing the Yellowstone grizzlies, saying that their numbers have recovered to a point where federal protection is no longer needed.

However, opponents argue that the iconic animals are not ready for de-listing because climate change and other human-caused factors have threatened their food sources. The letter states:

Grizzly bears face multiple threats to persistence including the loss of their primary food resources. Currently, whitebark pine seeds, native cutthroat trout, huckleberries, army cutworm moths, elk and bison are either declining and/or are expected to decline in the foreseeable future as a result of habitat loss, climate change, drought, invasive species and other anthropogenic causes.

Goodall recently delivered a recorded video message to the House Natural Resources Committee in Washington DC to urge protection for the grizzlies, which were put on the endangered species list in 1975.

“Forty years ago when the grizzlies at the Yellowstone ecosystem numbered less than 150 individuals and their survival seemed precarious, it was thanks to protection under the Endangered Species Act in 1975 that their number today has risen slowly to around 700,” the renowned primatologist and conservationist said.

“But their future isn’t secure yet because they face so many threats to survival. Two of their four major foods have all but been wiped out due to climate change, disease and invasive species. And they may be killed if they prey on livestock in their increasingly difficult search for food.”

Wildlife biologist David J. Mattson, who also signed the letter, explained to NPR that the plight of the whitebark pine trees is at the center of the Yellowstone grizzly fight. The seeds from the tree are a major source of food for the grizzlies but climate change is wiping out the trees.

Mattson told NPR that climate change has also forced the bears to roam further away from protected areas in search of food thus increases the risk of bear encounters with ranchers and big-game hunters.

In March, USFWS director Dan Ashe announced the “historic success” of the recovering Yellowstone grizzly bear population. However, because of this “success,” this means that if grizzly bears that wander outside of their protected areas, they could be legally hunted if they are de-listed.

“If the grizzlies are de-listed and the state opens a hunting season, ‘399’ [a beloved mother grizzly living in Grand Teton National Park] might be shot by a trophy hunter so that her head can be mounted on a wall, her skin laid on the floor for human feet to trample,” as Goodall lamented in her video message. “I think many hearts would break. I know mine would.”

According to The Guardian, “officials in the three states that surround Yellowstone—Wyoming, Idaho and Montana—have insisted the re-opening of hunting after 40 years won’t harm the grizzly population.”

Care2 noted that UFWS tried to de-list grizzly bears in 2007 but environmental groups sued. In 2009, a federal judge in Montana ruled that Yellowstone grizzly bears should continue to be protected because not only were the safeguards promised by the USFWS unenforceable, but due to climate change, bears were losing a major part of their diet due to whitebark pine trees dying off.

The USFWS is taking public comment until May 10 on whether to de-list Yellowstone-area grizzlies.