De-listing of Gray wolf passes House


Congressman Dan Newhouse,

Congressman Sean Duffy (R-WI) and Congressman Dan Newhouse (R-WA) released the following statements after bipartisan legislation they introduced to return management of gray wolves to state control advanced in the House of Representatives. The House Natural Resources Committee approved the legislation in a committee markup today.

“Wisconsin farmers are now one step closer to having the legal means to defend their livestock from gray wolves,” said Congressman Duffy. “I’d like to extend a big thank you to the members of the Natural Resources Committee who also agree that states should be the ones to responsibly manage their own gray wolf populations – not Washington bureaucrats.”

“I thank Chairman Bishop and my colleagues on the House Natural Resources Committee for advancing this important legislation to delist the gray wolf,” said Congressman Newhouse. “The best-available science used by the U.S. Department of Interior and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service shows that the gray wolf has recovered and is no longer endangered. I continue to hear from and work with the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, which has been asking for the federal delisting of the gray wolf since 2013. We must return management of the species to states to allow for more effective and accountable management that responds to the needs of the ecosystem, other species, and local communities.”

Background: Management of these gray wolves was transferred from the state to the federal level following two 2014 U.S. District Court decisions that reinstated gray wolves under the protections of the Endangered Species Act. These designations leave farmers and ranchers in those states without a legal avenue to protect their livestock from wolves.

FoA sues FWS to protect Utah prairie dogs from eradication

For Immediate Release

August 22, 2018

Mike Harris, director, FoA’s Wildlife Law Program; 720 841-0400 michaelharris@friendsofanimals.org<mailto:michaelharris@friendsofanimals.org>

Jennifer Best, assistant director, FoA’s Wildlife Law Program; 720.949.7791/ jennifer@friendsofanimals.org<mailto:jennifer@friendsofanimals.org>
[cid:image002.jpg@01D43A18.8EB798D0]

A change in federal policy that would allow the removal and killing of thousands of threatened Utah prairie dogs imperils the species to appease a relentless local drive for development, Friends of Animals asserts in a lawsuit filed in federal court in Utah.

FoA’s lawsuit against the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service challenges the agency’s April 2018 decision to rollback previous habitat conservation plans and mitigation methods established to protect the prairie dogs, which were declared an endangered species in 1973 after their population dropped to a few thousand.

More than 7,000 prairie dogs could be removed or killed over a 10-year period under the new FWS plan, plus an additional 15,000 independent of development, totaling more than a quarter of the entire population. Between 350-1,750 acres of their habitat would be lost as well.

“Most every move federal wildlife managers in the Trump administration take derails protections for threatened wildlife such as prairie dogs,” said Friends of Animals President Priscilla Feral. “They neglect to see the moral and scientific value of seeing these social, intelligent animals as a benefit to western grassland ecosystems, or worthy of our affection and protection. We’re not about to give anyone a green light to drive these animals to extinction.”

The new FWS plan fails to consider the impact that the killing or relocating will have on the connectivity of the prairie dog habitat and there is no indication there is even sufficient and suitable land to translocate the prairie dogs, FoA said in the complaint. Even if moved, 90 percent of prairie dogs will not survive past their first year in the new location and two-thirds of new sites fail completely.

FWS’s new plan comes despite a federal appeals court victory in 2017 by Friends of Animals. In that decision, the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals overruled a state district court decision that gave Utah the right to override ESA protections with its own management plan that threatened the survival of prairie dogs.

Now, catering to the interests of developers, FWS has devised a new plan that authorizes unlimited removal and killing of prairie dogs across the entire range of their habitat and allows developers to translocate the dogs only when deemed feasible.

Prairie dogs, which are found only in North America and are social animals, play a significant role in the biological diversity of ecosystems. They fertilize and aerate soil, reducing noxious weeds and help create more nutrient-rich grass for other animals. More than 100 species benefit directly from prairie dog habitats including bison, antelope, mice, burrowing owls and predators such as golden eagles, rattlesnakes, bobcats, badgers, coyotes, foxes and ferrets. But humans have continually pushed into their ecosystem, targeting their population for extinction through poison, shooting and habitat destruction. And despite ESA protections, local officials and property developers have continued to try to push for less restrictions from the federal government to get rid of the species.

FWS’s new plan violates the Endangered Species Act and the National Environmental Policy Act, which requires the agency to carefully consider a wide range of alternatives and to vigorously examine the environmental impacts of alternatives, FoA alleges in the lawsuit.

“Any progress that has been made to save Utah prairie dogs after decades of poisoning and other indiscriminate killing is lost with this plan, which contains no real measures to protect these intelligent and valuable animals,” said Jennifer Best, assistant legal director of Friends of Animals’ Wildlife Law Program. “With this lawsuit, Friends of Animals will continue to fight to have science and the inherent value of animals considered by the federal government before it authorizes the plundering and killing of threatened and endangered species.”

Fierce critic of Wyoming grizzly bear hunt scores license

https://www.seattletimes.com/nation-world/fierce-critic-of-wyoming-grizzly-bear-hunt-scores-license/

JACKSON, Wyo. (AP) — A fierce critic of grizzly bear hunting who has made a career photographing the animals has drawn a tag for Wyoming’s first such hunt in 44 years.

The Jackson Hole News & Guide reported Thursday that Tom Mangelsen drew No. 8 on an issuance list that will allow up to 10 grizzly hunters into the field starting Sept. 15. He was up against 3,500 Wyoming residents and 2,327 nonresidents vying for a shot at the tags.

Mangelsen, who credited being chosen to “dumb luck,” was among scores of people from around the country who applied for the tags as a means of civil disobedience intended to slow the hunt. Wildlife managers say the tactic is legal.

The hunt for which Mangelsen’s tag is valid will end after the first female bear is killed. Up to 10 male grizzlies can be killed.

___

Information from: Jackson Hole (Wyo.) News And Guide, http://www.jhnewsandguide.com

Washington to study moving wolves from east to west

Washington lawmakers funded a study on moving wolves and a search to find wolves in the South Cascades

By Don Jenkins

EO Media Group

Published on March 20, 2018 5:36PM

Don Jenkins/Capital Press Washington House Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee Chairman Brian Blake, D-Aberdeen, listened to testimony Jan. 31 in Olympia on a bill to redistribute wolves within the state. Blake opposes translocating wolves to unoccupied regions, but let the bill through his committee, saying current state policy was unfair to northeast Washington.

Buy this photo

The Washington Legislature finished the 2018 session March 8 by passing a spending plan that includes money to study moving wolves from northeast Washington to unoccupied territories to the west.

DON JENKINS/CAPITAL PRESS

The Washington Legislature finished the 2018 session March 8 by passing a spending plan that includes money to study moving wolves from northeast Washington to unoccupied territories to the west.

Buy this photo

OLYMPIA — Washington lawmakers took two tentative steps earlier this month to hasten the day wolves are off the state’s protected-species list.

The spending plan passed on the session’s last day appropriates $183,000 to study moving wolves from northeast Washington to unoccupied territories to the west.

It also allocates $172,000 to the University of Washington to search for wolves in the South Cascades.

If wolves are moved or confirmed in the South Cascades, they would be big steps toward delisting.

Lawmakers are realizing the burden that wolf recolonization has put on four northeast counties, House Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee Chairman Brian Blake, D-Aberdeen, said March 9.

“I think some of the barriers are starting to break down,” Blake said.

Wolves have surpassed recovery goals in the northeast corner, but are too few or non-existent elsewhere to meet the state’s objectives. A decade after the Department of Fish and Wildlife identified Washington’s first pack, the South Cascades doesn’t have a confirmed wolf,

Already on the west side?

Blake said hunters tell him that wolves are in the region.

“We know there are wolves down there, but Fish and Wildlife has been so busy putting fires out in (northeast) Washington that they haven’t had the time or resources to put into the South Cascades,” he said.

The money is for a three-year study. Besides looking for wolves, researchers will study the region’s prey base.

Blake said he’s mostly interesting in sniffing out wolves. “If we’re ever going to get wolves delisted, we have to find out how many of them are in the South Cascades,” he said. “I firmly believe wolves are there. It is diverse, rugged country.”

Fish and Wildlife wolf policy coordinator Donny Martorello said the department has followed up on credible reports of wolves in the South Cascades. “It’s kind of like finding a needle in a haystack,” he said. “We expect there are at least a few dispersers.”

The state’s 2011 wolf plan holds out the possibility of moving wolves to energize recovery. The Department of Fish and Wildlife says it’s not necessary. The department maintains wolves will spread out on their own. For several years the department has said recovery goals could be met as soon as 2021.

“I don’t wish wolves on anybody else, but they are not dispersing naturally, like they told us they would,” said Scott Nielsen, president of the Cattle Producers of Washington, many of whose members ranch in northeast Washington. “The wolves are putting an incredible burden on a small portion of the state.”

No state involvement for now

The state won’t start moving wolves soon, if at all. The budget directs Fish and Wildlife to follow the State Environmental Protection Act and report back to the Legislature by the end of 2019. The act requires a study of the environmental consequences of state actions.

The House passed a bill directing Fish and Wildlife to do the study. The bill went nowhere in the Senate, but the House policy survived budget negotiations.

The budget also allocates $80,000 to be split equally between sheriff’s offices in Ferry and Stevens counties for wolf management. Most attacks by wolves on cattle and sheep occur in those two counties.

The counties are dispatching deputies to depredations, even though Fish and Wildlife does the investigations.

Ranchers welcome the involvement of local law officers, Nielsen said.

“I think it will be a tremendously good thing,” he said. “We have confidence in our local sheriffs.”

http://www.chinookobserver.com/co/local-news/20180320/washington-to-study-moving-wolves-from-east-to-west

Why thousands of barred owls are being shot by U.S. conservationists? Is it fair to kill one species to save another? 

CBC Radio · June 22

<https://i.cbc.ca/1.4717739.1529698614!/cpImage/httpImage/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/16x9_780/barred-owl.jpg>

Barred owls are being culled in the Pacific Northwest to save the critically endangered spotted owl. (Toby Talbot, File/AP)

Humans shouldn’t be interfering with nature by killing one species to save another, according to a lawyer who is working to oppose a cull of barred owls.

The owls are being shot by conservationists in the Pacific Northwest in an effort to save their feathered cousin, the critically endangered spotted owl.

“We shouldn’t be choosing sides,” said Michael Harris, the director of the wildlife law program at Friends of Animals. His group opposes the cull and is preparing a second lawsuit to try to stop it.

“We really believe that they need to be given that opportunity to see if they can coexist in their new environment,” he told The Current’s guest host Piya Chattopadhyay.

“We just don’t know what the ultimate outcome would be if these two species were given a chance to figure it out.”

Barred owls are relatively new to the west coast, having spread across the continent via the towns and cities that have grown in the last century. They’re bigger and more aggressive than the spotted owl, and have been pushing them out of their nesting grounds, which is what has prompted conservationists to cull their numbers.

<https://i.cbc.ca/1.1825483.1529696957!/httpImage/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/original_780/spotted-owl.jpg>

The spotted owl, seen here in California’s Tahoe National Forest, is one of the most endangered birds in Canada. (Debra Reid/AP)

About halfway through a six-year experimental cull, roughly 2,000 of the birds have been shot in Oregon, Washington and California.

Harris argued that the barred owl is just doing what it’s supposed to do: finding ways to survive and prosper.

By intervening, he told Chattopadhyay, we’re not giving the barred owl “a fair shake.”

Not ‘natural evolution’

Animal ethicist William Lynn said by destroying the owls’ habitats, humans contributed to the problem in the first place.

“This is not natural evolution,” he told Chattopadhyay.

“This is entirely the product of human actions. It’s a human-caused extinction in the making.”

Lynn was hired by the U.S. government to examine the ethics of killing the birds. While “we can’t kill our way back to biodiversity,” he ultimately came to support the cull. Government conservationists have explored non-lethal ways to manage barred owl numbers, but they just don’t work, he said.

Barred owls are doing great across North America. Spotted owls are critically endangered.- William Lynn. animal ethicist

He argued that when you weigh the value of a barred owl’s life against the chance that the endangered spotted owl species will become extinct, the barred owl loses.

“Barred owls are doing great across North America. Spotted owls are critically endangered,” he said.

The culling is an experiment, he added, and is not expected to continue indefinitely.

“This experiment is to remove some barred owls to see whether spotted owls can form a refugia, a sort of a defensible territory in which they can live and flourish in the wild.

“If they can’t — and this experiment ends — that doesn’t mean that killing barred owls is going to go on.”

https://www.cbc.ca/radio/thecurrent/the-current-for-june-22-2018-1.4716183/why-thousands-of-barred-owls-are-being-shot-by-u-s-conservationists-1.4716188

Grande Cache animal lover ‘devastated’ after bear cub euthanized by provincial officials

Groot, a grizzly bear cub discovered by a highway near Grande Cache, was destroyed after a local animal advocate turned it over to provincial wildlife officials. ORG XMIT: nkDgueFEGHZbedIRnR4d EDMONTON

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A Grande Cache animal advocate is distraught after an abandoned grizzly bear cub she nursed back to health was destroyed by provincial wildlife officials.

“I was absolutely devastated,” said Brandy Gienger of the Grande Cache Animal Society. “I was heartbroken when I passed him over to the fish and game officers because I knew that he was going to be euthanized.

“I knew that (they) were just telling me what I wanted to hear so they didn’t have to create a scene with someone.”

On May 3, a work crew informed Gienger of an abandoned bear cub along Highway 40 near the Sheep Creek Bridge. The animal society called Alberta Fish and Wildlife, who told Gienger to leave the animal because its mother was probably out hunting.

The bear was still there among the rocks three days later. On the fourth day, the cub was gone, so Gienger assumed it had been picked up by its mother or fish and wildlife.

One day later though, someone called to say the bear was still in the same area by the highway. That evening, they went to collect the cub, who they decided to call Groot.

An Alberta wildlife rescue organization said it would work to rehabilitate the starving animal, and instructed Gienger how to care for him. Gienger kept him in a dark kennel to keep him from becoming habituated to humans, and fed him goat’s milk, which the famished bear cub loved.

Groot, a grizzly bear cub discovered by a highway near Grande Cache, was destroyed after a local animal advocate turned it over to provincial wildlife officials.  EDMONTON

By Thursday, they were ready to send the bear to the rescue centre when they got a call that conservation officers were on their way to collect him.

Gienger said she was reluctant because the bear was hours away from heading to a rescue. But she was assured the officials would “take the best interests” of the bear cub and take care of it.

On Friday morning, an apologetic provincial official told Gienger that the bear had been destroyed because he was severely dehydrated and his organs had stopped functioning properly. That ran counter to what Gienger had seen.

In a statement, Alberta Environment and Parks officials said steps were taken to find a facility that would accept a grizzly bear for permanent care, such as a zoo. However, they were unsuccessful, and said they had no choice to euthanize the “emaciated, dehydrated, lethargic” bear which was “near death.”

“This was a very sad situation, but unfortunately, officials felt the most humane thing to do was to limit the animal’s suffering,” the statement reads. “The decision to humanely euthanize this grizzly bear cub was not made lightly.”

Alberta recently approved a rehabilitation protocol for orphaned black bears, the statement added. However, the “rehabilitation requirements for grizzly bears are different, often requiring specialized care for a longer period of time.”

Yellowstone’s grizzlies under threat from controversial hunting proposal

Nature  NEWS  03 MAY 2018

Biologists argue that plan could endanger the bear population in the iconic ecosystem.

https://www.nature.com/articles/d41586-018-05061-9

 

Giorgia Guglielmi

 

On 23 May, Wyoming officials will vote on whether to allow the hunting of up to two dozen grizzly bears around Yellowstone National Park this September. The proposed hunt has reignited controversy over whether or not this population of grizzlies has recovered from decades of hunting and habitat destruction — an issue that was central to the US government’s decision to take the bears in the greater Yellowstone ecosystem off the endangered-species list in 2017.

Seventy-three scientists sent a letter to Wyoming Governor Matt Mead on 25 April, asking him to halt the hunt until a panel of independent experts can review data on the size of the grizzly (Ursos arctos horribilis) population in this area.They are concerned that government tallies overestimate the number of bears in the ecosystem surrounding Yellowstone National Park, which spans roughly 80,000 square kilometres and is one of the largest continuous wilderness areas in the contiguous United States.

Critics challenge the federal government’s methods for assessing whether the grizzly population has become large enough to face a hunting season1. Those estimates might be too high because of a number of factors, says David Mattson, a wildlife researcher in Livingston, Montana, who retired from the US Geological Survey (USGS) in 2013. They include increased monitoring efforts in the past 30 years, better visibility of bears to aerial surveys — because of shifts in where the animals look for food — and assumptions that females will continue to reproduce until they die. There’s evidence that as female grizzlies age, they tend to reproduce less, Mattson says.

Wildlife scientist Frank van Manen, who leads the USGS Interagency Grizzly Bear Study Team (IGBST) in Bozeman, Montana, disagrees with critics of the government estimates. The IGBST collects grizzly population data using a range of methods, including aerial surveys and tagging individual bears2, van Manen says, and the numbers from each method agree. He says that the current population estimate of 718 bears is “extremely conservative”.

Restricted hunts

The Wyoming Game and Fish Department proposed the hunt in February on the basis of those population assessments, and gave the public until 30 April to submit comments on draft regulations. If the rules were to pass, hunters could take up to 12 bears in the monitored region surrounding Yellowstone National Park — an area of about 50,000 square kilometres. They would be allowed to kill a further 12 bears outside that monitoring area, but still in the greater Yellowstone ecosystem. The state’s wildlife commission is currently reviewing public comments ahead of the late-May vote.

When the US Department of the Interior ended federal protections for the Yellowstone grizzly bear last year, the agency turned management of the animals over to Montana, Idaho and Wyoming — the three states in which the animals live. Idaho’s Fish and Game Commission is gathering public comments on a possible hunt. But Montana officials decided to skip this year’s hunting season, citing pending lawsuits claiming that the animals remain threatened.

Mattson and the other researchers who wrote to the governor about the hunt listed several concerns in their letter. Some of the bear’s food, including cutthroat trout (Oncorhynchus clarkii) and whitebark pine (Pinus albicaulis), will probably become even scarcer in the future as a result of environmental changes, the researchers say. This will threaten the survival of some bears and push them to hunt livestock or look for food near houses, increasing their run-ins with people, says Mattson. This could lead to a rise in the number of animals killed as a result of these conflicts, which would further shrink the population.

Size matters

Even if the current population estimates are accurate, removing 24 animals through hunting could have detrimental effects, says Andrea Santarsiere, an attorney at the Center for Biological Diversity who is based in Victor, Idaho. In 2017, 56 bears died in the IGBST monitoring area as a result of natural causes or conflicts with people. “If the same amount dies this year, we could be looking at up to 80 bears removed from the population,” Santarsiere says. “That’s about 10% of the current population.”

And killing females might pose even higher risks to the survival of Yellowstone grizzlies, Santarsiere says. The Wyoming proposal would allow the killing of no more than two females in the area around Yellowstone monitored by the IGBST, but it doesn’t put a cap on the number of females that hunters can take outside this area in the greater Yellowstone ecosystem. Females can carry up to four cubs at a time, Santarsiere says, “so killing one female could equal removing five bears from the population”.

The USGS’s Van Manen says the hunting proposal won’t pose a risk to the bear population. Only two hunters at a time would be allowed in the monitoring area, and the hunts would stop as soon as two females had been killed in this region, he says.

Wyoming officials seem to be intent on moving forward with this, says Louisa Willcox, a wildlife activist based in Livingston, Montana, who has been in contact with the state’s Game and Fish Department. “It’s extremely unlikely that the scientists’ comments will make them pause.”

Nature 557, 148-149 (2018)

doi: 10.1038/d41586-018-05061-9

 


 


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“The big challenge is still to deliver emissions reductions at the pace and scale needed, especially in a world where economies are driven by consumption.”

Sonja van Renssen.The inconvenient truth of failed climate policies. Nature Climate Change  MAY 2018

Published online: 27 April 2018 https://doi.org/10.1038/s41558-018-0155-4 
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Bollywood star jailed for hunting endangered species

 

Bollhttps://www.cbsnews.com/news/salman-khan-blackbuck-hunting-bollywood-star-prison-sentence-endangered-species/ywood actor Salman Khan (2nd L) arrives at a court in Jodhpur in the western state of Rajasthan, India, April 5, 2018.

 REUTERS

NEW DELHI — Bollywood star Salman Khan was convicted Thursday of poaching rare deer in a wildlife preserve two decades ago and sentenced to five years in prison. The busy actor contends he did not shoot the two blackbuck deer in the western India preserve in 1998 and was acquitted in related cases.

He was in court for the ruling in the western city of Jodhpur on Thursday. He is expected to be taken to a local prison while it could take days for his attorneys to appeal the conviction and seek bail.

Four other stars also accused in the case — Saif Ali Khan, Sonali Bendre, Tabu and Neelam — were acquitted by Chief Judicial Magistrate Dev Kumar Khatri. They were in the jeep that Salman Khan was believed to be driving during the hunt. Tabu and Neelam both use just one name.

Khan had been sentenced to prison terms of between one and five years in related cases before being acquitted by appeals courts for lack of evidence.

salman khan

Bollywood actor Salman Khan is seen in a June 9, 2007 file photo.

 GETTY

The blackbuck is an endangered species protected under the Indian Wildlife Act.

Khan has had other brushes with the law.

In 2014, the Mumbai High Court acquitted him in a drunken-driving, hit-and-run case.

The judges found that prosecutors had failed to prove charges of culpable homicide, in which they accused Khan of driving while intoxicated in 2002 and running over five men sleeping on a sidewalk, killing one of them.

The government of Maharashtra state, of which Mumbai is the capital, has challenged his acquittal in the Supreme Court.

Washington to study moving wolves from east to west

Washington lawmakers funded a study on moving wolves and a search to find wolves in the South Cascades

By Don Jenkins

EO Media Group

Published on March 20, 2018 5:36PM

Don Jenkins/Capital Press
Washington House Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee Chairman Brian Blake, D-Aberdeen, listened to testimony Jan. 31 in Olympia on a bill to redistribute wolves within the state. Blake opposes translocating wolves to unoccupied regions, but let the bill through his committee, saying current state policy was unfair to northeast Washington.

Don Jenkins/Capital Press Washington House Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee Chairman Brian Blake, D-Aberdeen, listened to testimony Jan. 31 in Olympia on a bill to redistribute wolves within the state. Blake opposes translocating wolves to unoccupied regions, but let the bill through his committee, saying current state policy was unfair to northeast Washington.

Buy this photo

The Washington Legislature finished the 2018 session March 8 by passing a spending plan that includes money to study moving wolves from northeast Washington to unoccupied territories to the west.

DON JENKINS/CAPITAL PRESS

The Washington Legislature finished the 2018 session March 8 by passing a spending plan that includes money to study moving wolves from northeast Washington to unoccupied territories to the west.

Buy this photo

OLYMPIA — Washington lawmakers took two tentative steps earlier this month to hasten the day wolves are off the state’s protected-species list.

The spending plan passed on the session’s last day appropriates $183,000 to study moving wolves from northeast Washington to unoccupied territories to the west.

It also allocates $172,000 to the University of Washington to search for wolves in the South Cascades.

If wolves are moved or confirmed in the South Cascades, they would be big steps toward delisting.

Lawmakers are realizing the burden that wolf recolonization has put on four northeast counties, House Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee Chairman Brian Blake, D-Aberdeen, said March 9.

“I think some of the barriers are starting to break down,” Blake said.

Wolves have surpassed recovery goals in the northeast corner, but are too few or non-existent elsewhere to meet the state’s objectives. A decade after the Department of Fish and Wildlife identified Washington’s first pack, the South Cascades doesn’t have a confirmed wolf,

Already on the west side?

Blake said hunters tell him that wolves are in the region.

“We know there are wolves down there, but Fish and Wildlife has been so busy putting fires out in (northeast) Washington that they haven’t had the time or resources to put into the South Cascades,” he said.

The money is for a three-year study. Besides looking for wolves, researchers will study the region’s prey base.

Blake said he’s mostly interesting in sniffing out wolves. “If we’re ever going to get wolves delisted, we have to find out how many of them are in the South Cascades,” he said. “I firmly believe wolves are there. It is diverse, rugged country.”

Fish and Wildlife wolf policy coordinator Donny Martorello said the department has followed up on credible reports of wolves in the South Cascades. “It’s kind of like finding a needle in a haystack,” he said. “We expect there are at least a few dispersers.”

The state’s 2011 wolf plan holds out the possibility of moving wolves to energize recovery. The Department of Fish and Wildlife says it’s not necessary. The department maintains wolves will spread out on their own. For several years the department has said recovery goals could be met as soon as 2021.

“I don’t wish wolves on anybody else, but they are not dispersing naturally, like they told us they would,” said Scott Nielsen, president of the Cattle Producers of Washington, many of whose members ranch in northeast Washington. “The wolves are putting an incredible burden on a small portion of the state.”

No state involvement for now

The state won’t start moving wolves soon, if at all. The budget directs Fish and Wildlife to follow the State Environmental Protection Act and report back to the Legislature by the end of 2019. The act requires a study of the environmental consequences of state actions.

The House passed a bill directing Fish and Wildlife to do the study. The bill went nowhere in the Senate, but the House policy survived budget negotiations.

The budget also allocates $80,000 to be split equally between sheriff’s offices in Ferry and Stevens counties for wolf management. Most attacks by wolves on cattle and sheep occur in those two counties.

The counties are dispatching deputies to depredations, even though Fish and Wildlife does the investigations.

Ranchers welcome the involvement of local law officers, Nielsen said.

“I think it will be a tremendously good thing,” he said. “We have confidence in our local sheriffs.”

Killing the myth of hunting as conservation

http://www.all-creatures.org/articles/ar-myth-hunting-conservation.html

by Fran Silverman, FOA Friends of Animals
March 2018

The Trump administration is making it easier for Americans to go to Africa, shoot elephants and lions and bring their body parts home as trophies to mount on walls – all in the name of conservation….

Hunter supporters use unscientific bear sightings to inflate numbers and livestock conflicts to scare the public to justify bear hunting.

elephant and calf
Image from Memories of Elephants

If it sounds ridiculous, it likely is. So say this out loud and tell me how it sounds.

Shooting endangered and threatened species will help save them.

Here’s another one.

Hunters are helping keep you safe by killing black bears.

In honor of National Wildlife Week, let’s parse these statements.

Supporters of black bear hunts assert that the bears are a nuisance at best and a safety hazard at their worst. They point to unscientific bear sightings to inflate numbers and livestock conflicts to scare the public. Killing them will solve this, they say. And the hunters then get to take home the bears to mount or use as rugs. Nice reward for saving all of us.

On a national level, the Trump administration is making it easier for Americans to go to Africa, shoot elephants and lions and bring their body parts home as trophies to mount on walls – all in the name of conservation.

The thing is, the science doesn’t back any of this up. This month a new study published in Science Advances found issues with the science cited in the “North American Model of Wildlife Conservation,” which guides hunting policies. The study found that what counts for science is rarely defined. In fact, a majority of the science in management plans surveyed — 60 percent — contained fewer than half of criteria for the fundamental hallmarks of science, which include measurable objectives, evidence, transparency and independent review. The report reviewed 62 U.S. state and Canadian provincial and territorial agencies across 667 species management systems.

“These results raise doubt about the purported scientific basis of hunt management across the U.S. and Canada,’’ it concluded.

The claims of hunting as conservation of endangered and threatened species also don’t stand up to scientific scrutiny. There aren’t any documented, peer-reviewed studies that show that lawful hunting does not overall disadvantage the species being hunted. Emerging studies, in fact, indicate that legal hunting can increase demand, promote black-market trade of sport-hunted animals and reduce the stigma associated with killing wildlife.

The African elephant population has plummeted by 30 percent in seven years, with just 350,000 left in the world where once there were millions. The population of lions has declined by 42 percent, with just about 20,000 left. Additionally, a new study by Duke University found that poaching and habitat loss have reduced forest elephant populations in Central Africa by 63 percent since 2001.

Yet, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced it was lifting a ban on trophies from several African nations and will allow them on a case-by-case basis. This action, coupled with the Department of Interior’s creation of an International Wildlife Conservation Council comprised of hunting industry representatives whose stated goal is to advise the agency on the benefits of international hunting, removing barriers to the importation of trophy-hunted animals, and reverse suspensions and bans on trade of wildlife, sends the message that the only way to save these majestic creatures is to make sure it’s easier to shoot them to death.

On a local level, here in my home state of Connecticut where FoA is headquartered, I listened intently as supporters of a bill to kill 5 percent of the black bear population in the lovely Litchfield County region insisted it was necessary to prevent bear-human conflict. Bears are killing livestock! Bears are getting into garbage cans! Knocking over bird feeders! Scaring hikers on trails! Lions and tigers and bears. Oh my!

I’m not making light of a bear encounter. They are formidable. But the science and the math for a shoot-first approach doesn’t add up. First, bears are shy and attacks are more associated with human behavior than the population of bears, studies show. To ward them off if you are a hiker, wear bear bells, carry bear spray. Worried about your backyard farm animals? Install an electric fence. Certainly, don’t feed bears, keep your doors shut and remove bird feeders in the spring.

The truth is black bear attacks are super rare. In the past 20 years, there’s been 12 fatal black bear attacks in the U.S, yet thousands of black bears have been slaughtered in legal hunts. More than 4,000 bears were killed in New Jersey alone since bear hunts were legalized there under Governor’s Christie’s reign before the new governor halted them. In New York, more than 1,000 black bears were killed in hunts last year.

Yet, along with that news in New York about the success of its 2017 bear hunt, there was this item buried in a press release from the N.Y. Department of Environmental Conservation: 19 humans were injured by hunters last year and one was fatality shot, a woman who was just walking her dogs in the woods by her house. In fact, between 2011-2017, there’s been 14 humans killed by hunters and 131 injured in New York. In Connecticut, hunters have killed one human and injured 13 between 2011-2016. The number of bear fatalities in both these states? Zero.

The more I dug into fatal black bear attacks verses fatal hunting incidents, the more alarmed I became. In just six states I reviewed where bear hunting is allowed or being considered, there have been 500 humans injured by hunters and 63 killed. The stories are sad. People who were fishing when they got shot by an errant hunter’s bullet. Hunters shooting each other and themselves. And there was Rosemary Billquist, a 43-year-old hospice volunteer who was the woman from upstate New York shot dead last fall by her neighbor.

When FoA testified against a black bear hunt in Connecticut, pointing out the hundreds of injuries and startling number of humans killed by hunters, dispelling the myth that bear sightings at all indicate bear populations and showing there is a weak correlation between the number of bears in a region and bear-human conflict, the majority of lawmakers on the state’s environment committee saw the light and voted down the hunt.

But black bear hunts are still legal in a majority of states. It’s estimated that 40,000-50,000 black bears have been killed in hunts. But the fact is the number of fatal black bear attacks are rare.

Human hunting related deaths and injuries – not so rare.

The number of U.S. residents who hunt is dwindling every year. Yet, the damage they are doing to wildlife and other humans is astounding.

Elephants are becoming rare. So are lions. Shooting them to hang on walls doesn’t conserve them.

The math is the math and the science is the science.


Friends of Animals’ Communications Director Fran Silverman oversees FoA’s public affairs and publications. Her previous experience includes editor of a national nonprofit consumer advocacy site, staff writer and editor positions and contributing writer for The New York Times.


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