Auditor General of : Demand cleanup of abandoned telegraph wire that is killing wildlife in Pacific Northwest
‘You could see that this truly epic battle between the wire and the moose had gone on,’ says Ken Knutson
CBC NewsPosted: Sep 15, 2015 6:30 AM CT Last Updated: Sep 15, 2015 6:30 AM CT
This moose was found caught in telegraph wire adjacent to the White Pass and Yukon Route railway on Friday. Ken Knutson, Yukon conservation officer, says it likely had been trapped for a day or two. (Claudiane Samson/CBC)
Something needs to be done about old telegraph wire left in the bush, says a Yukon conservation officer who had to kill a badly-entangled bull moose on Friday.
“Clearly it’s got to be cleaned up,” says Ken Knutson.
“It’s been known for a while that it’s a hazard. Something like this really brings it home where you’ve got an animal alive in front of you … and you’ve got to euthanize it.”
A dog musher called conservation officers after spotting the distressed bull moose caught in telegraph wire adjacent to the White Pass and Yukon Route railway, about three kilometres from the South Klondike Highway.
“You could see that this truly epic battle between the wire and the moose had gone on,” Knutson said.
“It was wrapped numerous times around pine trees that were five, six inches. It had mowed some of them down. On both sides of the track it was all churned up. So he’d put up quite a struggle.”
Knutson says there was no way the moose would have freed itself from the wire on its own.
“There were multiple wraps around its antlers,” he said. “It was around his neck, around its body and its hind legs — there was a big snarl.”
‘I could have literally gone up and touched him’
‘He was in the height of his glory. The kind you want out there breeding,’ says Ken Knutson, Yukon conservation officer, about the nearly 500-kilogram moose he had to euthanize last week. (Claudiane Samson/CBC)
Knutson says the animal had likely been trapped for a day or two.
“He was worn out,” he says. “I could have literally gone up and touched him and he wouldn’t have done anything, which is clearly not normal behaviour.”
Had the situation been different, he says he might have been able to save the moose. But due to the weak physical condition of the animal and the lack of extra resources available to Knutson at midnight on Friday, he made the decision to shoot it.
Knuston says although the meat will be donated, it’s a waste of a healthy 500-kilogram bull.
“He was in the height of his glory; the kind you want out there breeding.”
Knuston says he thinks White Pass and Yukon Railway may own the old telegraph line. The railway company did not immediately return calls on Monday.
Every social and environmental issue is exacerbated by overpopulation. Fifty years ago, there were 3.4 billion people living. Now that number is 7.6 billion. Human population has grown more in the last several decades than in the past three million years. We add 80 million mouths to feed every year. At that rate, world population will grow to 12 billion by 2050.
Five results from overpopulation are: 1) hunger and starvation; 2) squandering natural resources until we run out; 3) landscalping and the loss of land fertility; 4) cultural, economic, and political upheaval; and 5) harm to wild things.
In about 300 years, the acreage needed to feed humans has gone from less than 10 percent to nearly half of Earth’s land acres—more than a five-fold rise. Earth’s atmosphere, seas, and forests can’t soak up our industrial, transportation, and agricultural emissions of carbon dioxide, methane, and other greenhouse gases.
Between 1990 and 2003, U.S. per capita greenhouse gas emissions went up by 3.2 percent. But overall U.S. emissions went up 20.2 percent! How can this be? Our population rose 16.1 percent. So, unless we get a handle on population, we’ll never succeed in reducing greenhouse gas production.
Economist Edwin S. Rubenstein recently wrote “The impact of U.S. population growth on global climate change.” He concludes that, “Over the long run, U.S. population growth is the most important factor in CO2 emissions emanating from this country.”
Experts writing in the Lancet say that “Prevention of unwanted births today by family planning might be one of the most cost-effective ways to preserve the planet’s environment for the future.”
FILE – In this July 25, 2005, file photo, tiny fish, including delta smelt, caught in the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta, are seen through a microscope at a California Department of Fish and Game laboratory in Stockton, Calif. In control of Congress and soon the White House, Republicans are readying plans to roll back the influence of the Endangered Species Act, one of the government’s most powerful conservation tools, after decades of complaints that it hinders drilling, logging and other activities. (AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli, File)(Credit: AP)
BILLINGS, Mont. — In control of Congress and soon the White House, Republicans are readying plans to roll back the influence of the Endangered Species Act, one of the government’s most powerful conservation tools, after decades of complaints that it hinders drilling, logging and other activities.
Over the past eight years, GOP lawmakers sponsored dozens of measures aimed at curtailing the landmark law or putting species such as gray wolves and sage grouse out of its reach. Almost all were blocked by Democrats and the White House or lawsuits from environmentalists.
Now, with the ascension of President-elect Donald Trump, Republicans see an opportunity to advance broad changes to a law they contend has been exploited by wildlife advocates to block economic development.
“It has never been used for the rehabilitation of species. It’s been used for control of the land,” said House Natural Resources Committee Chairman Rob Bishop. “We’ve missed the entire purpose of the Endangered Species Act. It has been hijacked.”
Bishop said he “would love to invalidate” the law and would need other lawmakers’ cooperation.
The 1973 act was ushered though Congress nearly unanimously, in part to stave off extinction of the national symbol, the bald eagle. Eagle populations have since rebounded, and the birds were taken off the threatened and endangered list in 2007.
In the eagles’ place, another emblematic species — the wolf — has emerged as a prime example of what critics say is wrong with the current law: seemingly endless litigation that offers federal protection for species long after government biologists conclude that they have recovered.
Wolf attacks on livestock have provoked hostility against the law, which keeps the animals off-limits to hunting in most states. Other species have attracted similar ire — Canada lynx for halting logging projects, the lesser prairie chicken for impeding oil and gas development and salmon for blocking efforts to reallocate water in California.
Reforms proposed by Republicans include placing limits on lawsuits that have been used to maintain protections for some species and force decisions on others, as well as adopting a cap on how many species can be protected and giving states a greater say in the process.
Wildlife advocates are bracing for changes that could make it harder to add species to the protected list and to usher them through to recovery. Dozens are due for decisions this year, including the Pacific walrus and the North American wolverine, two victims of potential habitat loss due to climate change.
“Any species that gets in the way of a congressional initiative or some kind of development will be clearly at risk,” said Jamie Rappaport Clark, president of Defenders of Wildlife and a former Fish and Wildlife Service director under President Bill Clinton. “The political lineup is as unfavorable to the Endangered Species Act as I can remember.”
More than 1,600 plants and animals in the U.S. are now shielded by the law. Hundreds more are under consideration for protections. Republicans complain that fewer than 70 have recovered and had protections lifted.
President-elect Trump has announced his pick for head for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency – Republican Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt. The twist? Pruitt is currently suing the agency he’ll soon lead. He has helped lead the battle against key climate-change initiatives such as the Clean Power Plan, which 29 state attorneys-general are contesting. Pruitt and other attorneys-general are also suing the agency over a rule regulating methane emissions from oil and gas production, as well as over other rules meant to curb mercury and arsenic emissions, reduce smog, and protect streams and wetlands.
Pruitt joins Oklahoma GOP senators James Inhofe and Tom Coburn in questioning the need to act on climate change. In an op-ed in The National Review earlier this year, Pruitt wrote that the debate is “far from settled” and called the Clean Power Plan an example of “advancing the climate-change agenda by any means necessary.” In 2014, he sent the EPA a letter claiming that the agency had greatly overestimated the air pollution produced by natural gas drilling in Oklahoma. The New York Times later reported that the letter was actually written by lawyers for Devon Energy, one of the biggest energy companies in the state – and that Pruitt and a dozen other Republican attorneys general had teamed up with energy companies to push back against what they saw as regulatory excesses by Obama.
Pruitt’s pro-energy stance and aggressive fights against federal regulations helped him get the nod. “You are going to want to have someone who has had state experience, who really understands the issues and has had to deal with an overreaching EPA as a federal agency,” George “David” Banks, executive vice president of the American Council for Capital Formation, told E&E News in September.
Environmental groups such as the Natural Resources Defense Council and Defenders of Wildlife immediately denounced the “absolute wrong choice” of Pruitt to lead the 15,000-employee agency. Rep. Raul Grijalva, D-Ariz., wrote in a press release that “he’s bragged about suing, trashing and manipulating the agency he’s now supposed to lead.” And the American Sustainable Business Councilstated in a press release that “Pruitt’s selection signals a rollback of policies that have stimulated innovation and progress. In addition to clean energy, clean water and chemical regulation are under threat as a result of preferential treatment these regulated industries are expected to receive.”
Sierra Club executive director Michael Brune wore an expression of indignation as he articulated a post-election message for Sierra Club’s 2.4 million members: Acknowledge the pain and alienation you feel over Donald Trump’s victory and then gird yourself for a fight.
Brune gathered with other national environmental leaders at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C. on Wednesday. When they scheduled the press conference before the election, they expected it to be a celebration of Hillary Clinton, who had pledged to make clean energy and addressing climate change a priority. Instead they mourned the major threat the environment faces. “Make no mistake; the election of Donald Trump could be devastating for our climate and our future,” said Brune, after declaring solidarity with women, minorities and religious groups who were similarly dismayed by Trump’s win.
Like many other people, environmental leaders were stunned by a presidential election that defied the polls and put into power a man who calls climate change a hoax and has vowed to do away with the Environmental Protection Agency, take the United States out of the Paris Climate Agreement and cancel President Obama’s Clean Power Plan and much of the rest of his climate legacy.
Despite a huge gap between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump on climate change, the issue was not prominent during the campaign. Journalists moderating the presidential debates failed to ask even one question about it. Trump has yet to articulate his environmental agenda. As a result, “we don’t know what he stands for,” said Kevin Curtis, executive director, NRDC Action Fund, the political arm of Natural Resources Defense Council.
Perhaps the clearest view of Trump’s energy and environmental agenda came on the day in July when he seized the nomination. He made a contradictory pledge to save coal while also bolstering natural gas—the main reason for coal’s downturn.
Despite the lack of detail from the president-elect, GOP Congressional leaders assert that Trump’s election is a mandate to undo President Obama’s environmental initiatives. Jim Inhofe, R-Okla, chairman of the Senate Environment Committee, said in a statement that the election proves that Americans reject the Paris Agreement and the rest of Obama’s climate change legacy. He predicts Trump will fill the vacant Supreme Court seat with a conservative who will help kill the Clean Power Plan. After Tuesday’s election it’s guaranteed that President Obama’s climate legacy “will be remembered for being built on hollow commitments,” Inhofe says.
But environmental leaders underscore that Trump’s pronouncements cannot change the fact that the planet is heating up – intensifying wild fires and floods, making habitats inhospitable for plants and animals, raising sea levels and threatening public health. Nor can the election change the fact that coal is being outcompeted in the marketplace by wind and solar power. And states such as California, Washington, Oregon and Colorado are moving forward on clean energy and climate policies.
The environmental leaders make no attempt to sugarcoat their defeat. League of Conservation Voters, NextGen Climate Action, the Sierra Club, EDF Action, the NRDC Action Fund and Environment America collectively spent more than $100 million on the 2016 election in large part to elect Clinton and help green-minded Democrats take control of the Senate. Still, the environmental leaders claim some important victories in the election and reelection of governors who are committed to lead their states to combat climate change—Montana’s Democratic Governor Steve Bullock was re-elected even though his state went for Trump. Washington GovernorJay Inslee also was re-elected. Roy Cooper, the Democratic candidate for governor of North Carolina, has declared victory, although his lead is so slight that a recount has been called. These governors will continue the trend of recent years, with states and localities taking the lead on climate action as the U.S. Congress has been gridlocked, environmentalists say.
With Republicans retaining control of the House and Senate, the environmental leaders do not expect any near-term legislative wins but they stress that the Democrats they helped to elect to the Senate — including Nevada Senator-elect Catherine Cortez Masto, who will be the first Latina senator, and California Senator-elect Kamala Harris — will block legislation that would be damaging to the planet.
Some hold out hope that once in power, Trump will drop his anti-environment agenda. Anna Aurilio, the D.C. director for Environment America, urged Trump to work with environmentalists to promote clean energy, and the good jobs it will bring, and help America meet its commitments under the Paris Agreement to cut greenhouse gas emissions 26 to 28 percent by 2025 from 2005 levels.
But if he doesn’t, Aurilio said, environmentalists will do what they did after the 1994 elections, when Republicans took charge of the U.S. House. Led by then-Speaker Newt Gingrich, who is now rumored to be a top pick for Secretary of State, they tried to do away with the EPA and weaken protections for clean air, clean water and public lands. Aurilio brought along a prop from that battle: a small red stop sign with the words “stop the rollbacks.”
Aurilio recalled how environmentalists went to congressional districts of House Republicans, educated people about the GOP onslaught on the environment and helped then-President Clinton force Republicans to give up their anti-environment agenda. “This election, nobody went to the ballot box voting for dirtier air and dirtier water,” she said. As in the mid-1990s, people will not support an effort by Trump and the Republicans to weaken environmental protections, she says. “So we have to mobilize.”