Why So Many People Hate Cormorants 

https://www.animalalliance.ca/news/

The late American poet-philosopher Maya Angelou said: “Hate, it has caused a lot of problems in the world, but has not solved one yet.”

I think it’s a safe bet that the quote, and Angelou, are both unknown to newly elected Ontario Premier Doug Ford, who once said: “If she walked by me, I wouldn’t have a clue who she is.” His ignorance in that case was in reference to possibly Canada’s most famous, easily recognized living writer (and a resident of the city whose mayor was Ford’s own brother and who Ford, as a councillor, was helping to govern), Margaret Atwood. She had corrected Ford’s absurd assertion that his ward contained more libraries than Tim Horton’s coffee shops.

That level of ignorance is no virtue. If I may quote Angelou once more: “ <https://www.azquotes.com/quote/1567235> The root cause of all the problems we have in the world today is ignorance of course. But most, polarization.”

To the “populist” politicians and their “base”, their core supporters, it is not what is factual, but what you feel, what your intuition, your “gut”, tells you, that counts.

And in answering the question posed at by the title of this blog, it is important to first understand that hate, ignorance and polarization are not only handmaidens (all puns intended) of each other but exactly what Ford’s plan to wipe out Double-crested Cormorants in Ontario, encompasses. He indeed polarizes.

The issue is that, as is the inclination of authoritarian political leaders, without consultation Ford has proposed a series of Draconian legislative steps that will greatly damage Ontario’s environment, and wildlife, in various ways.

This includes a plan to re-define the Double-crested Cormorant as a “game” bird, with an open season that lasts from March 15 to December 31, and no limit on “possession”.

For the first time in Canadian game management, hunted birds won’t have to be utilized as food. Any hunter with the correct small game hunting license could legally kill well over 13,000 birds per year. At that rate it would take only about 18 hunters to eliminate all the cormorants in the Great Lakes basin in a single year, and with a very few more able to eliminate the species from the entire province. No one hunter could kill that many, but then, while hunters’ numbers are in precipitous decline, there are still a many times more than enough to again eliminate the species in most of Ontario.

In an excellent commentary published by The Toronto Star on December 10, 2018 (see: https://www.thestar.com/opinion/star-columnists/2018/12/10/why-are-cormorants-in-progressive-conservatives-crosshairs.html) political commentator par excellence, Thomas Walkom, asks a similar, related question, why are cormorants in the crosshairs of Doug Ford’s party, the provincial Progressive Conservatives?

Having a majority in provincial parliament, Ford and his party has free rein to enact regressive laws. The party is neither conservative nor progressive, but they can do what they want, so why do they want to kill cormorants and cause horrific suffering and deaths to their orphaned nestlings? What game species is deliberately and legally shot when it has dependent young? Why hate cormorants?

While the answer to the uninformed minds of Ford’s base would simply be “because cormorants eat all the fish”, meaning fish otherwise available to both sport and commercial anglers, as is well known by those who actually study cormorant diets, it is wrong. I think that inaccurate belief is only part of the answer.

But it is not quite what Walkom asked. We’ll get to that.

There is often excessive antipathy toward predators, seen by the environmentally illiterate as competitors for what we humans need or want. Among fish-eating species, seals, sealions, porpoises and other cetaceans, sharks and other mammals have been scapegoated – blamed for declines in commercially “harvested” fish stocks. Among native Ontario birds, Ospreys, pelicans, herons, Belted Kingfishers, loons, grebes, mergansers and other species have, at various times, been targeted for organized killing. They are all now protected, to varying degrees, in response to increasing understanding of basic ecological principles.

But none evoke as much sheer detestation as cormorants; they really are hated, to an irrational, visceral degree, by a significant minority of people. It is not all that unusual, especially for people who lived prior to about the mid-twentieth century, before there was much knowledge about wildlife population dynamics and predator-prey interrelationships and the importance of apex predators to biodiversity, to want to kill all predators. And a few species, like wolves, can still too often arouse such levels of irrational fear and hatred.

It has been suggested that some of the excoriation directed against cormorants reflects deep-seated bigotry of the worse kind. The theory points to the fact that cormorants were once called nigger goose in some quarters (you can imagine which) and to a situation in Australia, where there are two small cormorant species very similar in size, shape and diets, but one is black and white while the other is all black, the latter being far less tolerated than the former. Other black birds, such as crows, grackles and starlings, also seem to attract disproportionate dislike, where they dare to be common. “Black” is, as people in support of civil rights have been known to observe, seen as negative, the colour that depends on an absence of light, thus the antheses to what light represents, as symbolized in the word, “enlightenment”, or in religious texts associating light with grace, goodness and God. White pelicans, which eat more fish per bird than any cormorant (because they are bigger; they need more) are, like swans and egrets, more fondly considered.

Maybe, but that didn’t stop assailants from killing both cormorants and American White Pelicans at a mutual nesting colony Manitoba, stomping on eggs and babies, and has not prevented demonization of Mute Swans and Snow Geese, both white.

The “blackness” theory is all too speculative for me and I think the answer is simpler, although not entirely simplistic.

To help understand the hatred, we need a little history.

The species was twice reduced to virtually endangered status in Ontario. The first reduction happened, I theorize, hot on the heels of colonization by European “settlers”. They carried with them guns and a combination of fear and ignorance about the wilderness, which was to be tamed and conquered. Because of their devotion to their nesting duties cormorants are extremely vulnerable to persecution. It’s inconceivable that they would be found from Alaska to Florida and the West Indies, and from Newfoundland to California and Mexico, and yet be absent from the largest source of fresh water fish in the world, quite near the centre of that vast range. As mostly European “pioneers” filled the land, cormorants, and a vast number of other wildlife species, gave way. Cormorants were easily destroyed.

Following the end of the War of 1812, commercial fisheries began in the Great Lakes and no cormorant nest site would have been safe from persecution, happening before qualified naturalists arrived on the scene to record the presence of nesting birds. This led to the oddly absurd belief that cormorants therefore were never present!

But they were, and there are indications of them nesting in Sandusky Bay, Ohio, which is part of Lake Erie, late into the 19th Century. By the time qualified observations were being made, direct evidence of Great Lakes nesting was scarce to absent, east of Lake of the Woods, until some were found in Lake Superior in 1913, where locals said they had nested all along.

The “official” version is that from there they spread eastward, reaching Lake Ontario and the upper St. Lawrence River by 1945.

On its website Environment Canada says, “Historically, it is thought that the Double-crested Cormorant did not nest in the Great Lakes. Archaeological excavations in aboriginal settlements have not shown any evidence of the bird. Although cormorants have nested in Lake of the Woods (in northwestern Ontario) for hundreds of years, the first suspected nesting on the Great Lakes did not occur until 1913, at the far western end of Lake Superior. From there colonies spread eastward to Lake Nipigon in the 1920s, to Lake Huron and Georgian Bay in the early 1930s and finally to Lakes Ontario and Erie in the late 1930s (Figure 1: Cormorants first nested on Lake Superior in 1913, and spread eastward to Lake Ontario and the upper St. Lawrence River By 1945.”

Environment Canada’s website ignores any evidence contrary to what it says and misstates that there is no archeological evidence of the bird in the Great Lakes prior to then. That is simply not true (their bones have, in fact, been found in kitchen middens – remains of animals eaten by native peoples centuries ago, albeit not often; they are not good to eat) but it promotes the idea that the bird did not historically occur in the Great Lakes, and thus is an intruder, an “invader”, an immigrant, as it were.

Then Minister of what was at the time called the Ministry of Natural Resources, David Ramsay, said, in 2004, that the cormorants were not native, but an “invasive” species. Again, that is not remotely true. That ridiculous claim has since been dropped by the provincial government although it seems still to be believed by some who so thoughtlessly hate cormorants.

Following the end of WWII, DDT was introduced into the environment with disastrous results, as the pesticide bioaccumulated up the food chain, to render several fish-eating bird species unable to produce viable eggs. The same Environment Canada website is probably far more accurate in saying, “The cormorant disappeared as a nesting bird on Lakes Michigan and Superior and only about ten pairs remained on Lake Ontario.”

However, by 1973, recovery was well underway, again.

And there is what is a significant part of the real origin of fear and hatred directed against Double-crested Cormorants. The ecological niche that cormorants occupy was already there, and in fact had increased. Cormorants tend to eat coarse fish species that are abundant, and several such species had newly entered the ecosystem, including the herring-like Alewife, a truly invasive species.

I saw my first cormorants, as a kid, in 1957, and the beach I was standing near, at Presqu’ile Provincial Park, Lake Ontario, was covered in rotting piles of dead Alewives. Alewives’ food consists of plankton and other tiny organisms at or near the base of food chains upon which larger fish depend, along with small fish and other organisms of various other species, including the young of species of interest to anglers.

Alewives spawn at the same time cormorants are feeding, and spawning Alewives are an ideal size for cormorants. As cormorant numbers went up, on average the number of dead and rotting Alewives on the beaches went down, and the kinds of fish that anglers pursue had more food, to their benefit. The return of the cormorants was good news indicating environmental healing.

No one now alive was around when cormorants were here prior to nearly vanishing at the end of the 19th century, and few if anyone alive would recall their growing numbers prior to World War II. Thus, the perception is that the “normal” number of cormorants is what is remembered from our youth, which in many lakes and rivers, would be none at all.

Thus the “norm” to such folks is not what a healthy ecosystem looks like, cormorants, fish and all, but what it looks like when a key species, the cormorant, is endangered or absent. Add to that, a lack of understanding that in naturally evolved predator-prey relationships, prey population size determines how many predators there are, not the other way around.

Currently most water that cormorants could occupy lacks them; most fish cormorants could eat don’t get eaten by them; most islands and headlands where cormorants might nest, they don’t.

However, when and where they do occur, they may do so in large numbers. They are a species that is very “social” and that tends to occur in large concentrations. Large numbers of wildlife is not a sight anyone alive today is used to seeing. We might read about the vast numbers of wildlife that greeted the first European settlers, but we have no memory of them. The vast seabird breeding colonies, the schools of cod so thick they impeded the progress of ships, the massive herds of bison whose sheer weight shook the earth, the unimaginably enormous numbers of Passenger Pigeons eclipsing the sun, the wide flocks of migrating Eskimo Curlews and other shorebirds, the expanses of caribou across the tundra, numbers of deer, bear, moose, waterfowl…and cormorants…gone now, many, including some that were once the most numerous, are extinct, extirpated or endangered.

But some do recover. When a species does occur, even locally, in large numbers, it tends to be perceived as an anomaly, an abomination, an affront to our own self-important domination of an environment we still want to control, to dominate. The number of people in the Greater Toronto Area is more than the number of Double-crested Cormorants continent-wide, and yet Premier Ford thinks there are “too many”.

There is also the “squeamish factor”. With our cellophane-wrapped meat and air-conditioned or gas-heated homes and the support of unprecedented technologies upon which we have rapidly become dependent, we are isolated from the true nature, the texture, the essence of life and life processes. The concentrations of excrement that are so normal and typical a part of any concentration of any species, our own included when modern plumbing is not to be had, offends us. The un-sanitized world is just too “dirty”, it can smell unpleasant; the reality of life and death is disagreeable and disturbing, dangers lurk…an unwelcome intrusion into our technologically barricaded womb of equanimity.

But while I think all of that goes into explaining hatred of cormorants, where it exists, it does not answer Thomas Walkom’s more probing question: why are cormorants in the crosshairs of the Ontario Progressive Conservatives?

The key to the answer is, I believe, embedded in the question. Crosshairs is a reference to shooters, and while we don’t have the “gun culture” to be found in the U.S., it is not entirely missing. Whereas our southern neighbours have the National Rifle Association, the NRA, a major political force down there, in Ontario we have the Ontario Federation of Anglers and Hunters, OFAH. Both organizations share a problem and do so with the respective governments of the jurisdictions in which they operate and with various business interests.

That problem is a precipitous decline in hunters. Hunters pay license fees that go into government coffers, and membership fees and donations that fund the NRA and OFAH and payments to outfitters, and equipment suppliers such as gun, ammo and hunting gear producers and retailers. It’s a symbiotic relationship of intertwined and interdependent interests.

I can’t think that the more knowledgeable of OFAH’s advisors really are as ignorant of ecology as their anti-cormorant indicates, but they know they depend on the hook and bullet fraternity for

Double-crested Cormorant Slaughter

double-crested cormorant

For more than 10 years, Animal Alliance of Canada, Born Free FoundationZoocheckEarthroots and other groups have been working to gain protections for cormorants. These unfortunate birds have been scapegoated for everything from water pollution to environmental destruction to the decimation of fish populations. All of these claims are false.

Double-crested cormorants are native Ontario birds that have repopulated parts of their former range and they fulfill a valuable ecological role. Not only do they benefit biodiversity, they help generate healthy fish populations and should be considered a integral component of Ontario’s natural heritage.

Now, Premier Ford and his government are proposing one of the most regressive wildlife “management” decisions in Canadian history.  The proposed changes are rooted in an irrational hatred for cormorants that will fuel their persecution and drive them back to the brink of extinction, or worse, in the province.

A recent Environmental Registry of Ontario posting (https://ero.ontario.ca/notice/013-4124) announced that the Government is seeking input on a proposed change to the province’s Fish and Wildlife Conservation Act that will:

  • designate double-crested cormorants as a “game” bird species,
  • create a province wide annual hunting season from March 15 until December 31,
  • allow anyone holding a valid Ontario Outdoors Card and small game hunting license to kill up to 50 cormorants per day (1,500 per month or more than 14,000 per season) and,
  • allow the carcasses to spoil (i.e., rot).

The Government’s proposal would:

  • cause unimaginable cruelty by allowing the wholesale, uncontrolled, impossible to monitor, slaughter of cormorants across the province,
  • devastate and possibly eradicate a recovered native wildlife species,
  • result in disturbance, destruction and death of numerous federally protected non-target bird species such as Great Blue Herons, Great Egrets and White Pelicans,
  • irreparably damage natural ecosystems,
  • encourage the worst form of “slob hunting,” and
  • endanger the public by allowing hunters to discharge firearms throughout the spring, summer and fall season when lakes and natural areas are populated by cottagers and tourists.

Why?

The Government of Ontario says it is responding to concerns about too many cormorants, depleted fish stocks and environmental damage. But those concerns are largely just anecdotes, complaints from a small, radical segment of the fishing community, and unsubstantiated claims that were debunked long ago. There is no substantive body of evidence proving that cormorants are depleting fish stocks or causing any ecological problems whatsoever.

The reality is that cormorants are a natural part of Ontario’s rich biodiversity and an ecologically beneficial species, being major predators of invasive fish species, like round gobies and alewives, attracting other waterbirds to their nesting sites, and serving other important functions in the ecosystems they inhabit.

A Recovered Species

Persecution by humans and pesticide poisoning all but wiped out cormorants in Ontario on two previous occasions but, in recent years, they have returned and populated those habitats that will support them.  They are a recovery success.

Far from being overabundant, cormorant numbers are relatively modest, have stabilized and are dropping in some areas. The entire North American double-crested cormorant population is estimated to be less than the population of Toronto, with about 250,000 in the entire Great Lakes Basin and considerably less residing in Ontario.

At Risk of Extinction

Because they are conspicuous birds that congregate in colonies to nest on exposed islands and peninsulas (only about 3% of potential island sites in the Great Lakes are suitable), they are particularly vulnerable, being easily targeted and killed. Small congregations could be wiped out in just a few minutes or an hour, while larger colonies could be destroyed in just a few days or a week.  Years of effort and thousands of dollars to recover the species will have been for nothing.

Radical cormorant-haters have already attacked colonies under cover of night, destroying nests, stomping on chicks and killing adults. Once the proposed changes to the law come into effect, people will be given free rein to destroy as many cormorants as they want. It wouldn’t take many people very long to wipe out most cormorants in the province, leaving just a tiny remnant of their population in a few protected areas. And driving them back to near extinction or even worse in Ontario is a real possibility.

How You Can Help:  Oppose This Plan!

  1. Comment on the Environmental Registry posting.  There’s a 45 day comment period which ends on January 3rd , so please visit https://ero.ontario.ca/notice/013-4124 to submit your comments.  It’s critically important that the posting receive as many comments as possible.  You can say as much or as little as you want (even a single sentence will be helpful).  If you want to send comments by mail, see address below this alert.
  2. Call or Write to the Premier. Let Premier Doug Ford know what you think of the plan to allow the mass killing of cormorants in Ontario.   See Premier’s contact information below this alert.  A quick phone call or a brief email are the most effective.
  3. Contact your Member of Provincial Parliament (MPP). It doesn’t matter what party they represent or what their views (pro or con) are.  Let them know what an unnecessary, outdated, environmentally damaging, wasteful and cruel idea this is.   Ask what they’re going to do about it.  Find your Ontario MPP using your postal code at elections.on.ca
  4. Spread the word.  Tell everyone you know who loves birds, wildlife and nature about what’s going on.  Write a letter to the editor of your local newspaper or, if you can, an Opinion Editorial or article.  Make sure you mention your MPP and what they are doing, or not doing, to protect cormorants and other wildlife in your letter.
  5. Donate.  Opposing this Draconian, destructive and completely unnecessary plan to allow the unfettered killing of cormorants won’t be easy or cheap.  That’s why we’re asking you to make a contribution of whatever you can afford in support of our efforts to protect cormorants.  Donate to Zoocheck at www.zoocheck.com/donate/ or donate to Animal Alliance of Canada at www.animalalliance.ca/donate

Environmental Registry of Ontario

Proposal to establish a hunting season for
double-crested cormorants in Ontario

*45 day comment period ends January 3, 2019*

Submit comments by mail to:

Public Input Coordinator
Species Conservation Policy Branch
300 Water Street, Floor 5N
Peterborough, ON   K9J 8M5

Submit comments online:    https://ero.ontario.ca/notice/013-4124


Premier Doug Ford Contact Information

Website Feedback Form:  https://correspondence.premier.gov.on.ca/en/feedback/default.aspx

Mailing Address:  Premier of Ontario, Legislative Building, Queen’s Park, Toronto, ON, M7A 1A1

Phone:  416-325-1941  /    TTY/Teletypewriter: (for hearing impaired):  1-800-387-5559


Find Your Own Member of Provincial Parliament by using your postal code

www.elections.on.ca

(If you are not computer accessible, please call Animal Alliance at 416-462-9541.)


Additional Information

Animal Alliance of Canada (416) 462-9541

Zoocheck (416) 285-1744

Fighting for cormorants:  Talking and Letter Writing Points

  1. The Ontario government’s proposal will allow individuals with a small game license to kill up to 50 cormorants per day. That works out to approximately 1,500 cormorants per month or up to 14,250 cormorants for the entire proposed annual hunting season.
  2. The presence of cormorants benefits other colonial water birds, such as federally protected herons, egrets and pelicans, all of which are stable or growing populations where cormorants are found.
  3. The mass killing of cormorants will not be beneficial. In fact, the process of killing them will force other bird species to vacate the colony sites they share.
  4. There is no way to kill cormorants humanely. Even controlled, organized culls in other regions have resulted in large numbers of injured and crippled birds being left to die of their wounds or starve to death, including nestlings.
  5. Cormorants are beneficial because their diet consists of very large numbers of primarily invasive fish, such as alewives and round gobies, as well as other non-commercial, non-forage species.  It is the commercial fisheries in Lake Erie and other lakes that are depleting fish populations, not cormorants.
  6. The mass killing of cormorants will damage the environment and disrupt natural ecosystem processes.
  7. The return of cormorants, a native wildlife species, to the Great Lakes Basin is part of a natural process and should be celebrated
  8. Cormorants are not overabundant in the Great Lakes. In fact, their numbers are modest, now stabilized and are dropping in many areas.
  9. Changes in the composition of vegetation in and around bird colonies are a sign of  vibrant, healthy, dynamic natural ecosystem processes.
  10. The number of trees that die in colonial waterbird colonies across the province is minuscule and wouldn’t even equal the number of trees in a single modestly-sized woodlot or taken in one day by Ontario’s logging industry.
  11. Only a small number of islands (less than 3%) and peninsula sites are available for cormorants and other colonial waterbirds to nest on.
  12. The mass killing being proposed by the Ontario government is a political response to anecdotes, unsubstantiated claims and complaints by a small group of radical fishermen, supported by special interest groups. There is no substantive body of scientific evidence supporting their position.
  13. Instead of making cormorants a scapegoat for environmental problems they have nothing to do with, attention should be given to addressing the issues that actually do affect fish populations and aquatic environments, such as climate change, pollution, shoreline and habitat destruction, over-fishing and a broad range of other issues.
  14. The proposed designation of cormorants as game animals, along with a non-utilization exemption that allows the carcasses to rot should be an affront to every hunter who believes in sportsmanship, fair chase and ethics.
  15. There are very real safety issues where hunters are permitted to discharge firearms throughout the spring, summer and fall season when lakes and natural areas are populated by cottagers and tourists.
  16. The proposed “hunt” will cause unimaginable cruelty by allowing the wholesale, uncontrolled slaughter of cormorants across the province, wounding adults (video of cormorant with a broken bill:  www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z0pBs6XjtSg&list=PL1asTRKubtRuAy7LWUpMFubz97ydJTEhM&index=3) and orphaning thousands of baby birds who will die from starvation and exposure to the elements.

READ MORE ABOUT THE HISTORY OF OUR FIGHT TO PROTECT THIS NATIVE BIRD

Letter: Peril of fishing debris

Peril of fishing debris

Friends of Animals has followed your profoundly sad, but important story about an osprey rescue ending tragically, (Hearst Connecticut Media, Aug. 7, 2018) followed by your excellent “Thumbs down” editorial, plus an article in which the state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP) warned that wildlife gets tangled up in the nearly invisible fishing line, “causing serious harm or death.”

Without prompting anglers to dispose of fishing lines, hooks and garbage properly, as your editorial says, there’s a “huge threat to wildlife,” including sea birds, sea mammals, turtles, fish and others. It’s astonishing that the first effort to avert this littering disaster comes from “a proactive student group in Fairfield that is building fishing line bins,” and that two conservation groups will install them at beaches and marinas.

Cheers for that productive action. Others can quit fishing and fish consumption.

There are facts about the tons of plastic floating in our waterways that may be underreported.

First, those piles are mostly made of abandoned fishing equipment, which means many anglers are undisciplined slobs.

Microplastics make up only 8 percent of the total tonnage of garbage in the “Great Pacific Garbage Patch” (between Hawaii and California), while fishing nets account for 46 percent. The rest is other fishing gear, and debris from the tsunami that hit Japan in 2011, according to National Geographic.

Banning things such as single-use plastic bags and straws feels productive, but it’s not the best way to stop plastic pollution of our oceans. We need fishermen to stop treating our oceans like trash cans.

And developing countries must do a better job of putting trash in landfills and converting plastics to energy, according to the Ocean Conservancy.

Priscilla Feral

The writer is president of the Darien-based Friends Friends of Animals.

Trump admin to expand hunting access on public lands

STORY HIGHLIGHTS

  • Order aims to allow broader access to public lands to hunters, fishers
  • Interior Department says Obama administration was too restrictive

Washington (CNN)Interior Department Secretary Ryan Zinke signed an order Friday morning aiming to expand access for hunters and fishers to public lands and monuments.

In what is being described as an “expansive” secretarial order, Zinke’s rule would ultimately allow broader access across the board to hunters and fishers on public lands managed by the Interior Department, according to the order.
A section of the order also amends the national monument management plan to include or expand hunting and fishing opportunities to the “extent practicable under the law.”
The order cites a 2007 executive order from President George W. Bush to “facilitate the expansion and enhancement of hunting opportunities and the management of game species and their habitat.” It directs agencies to to create a report and plan to streamline how best to enhance and expand access to hunting and fishing on public lands.
The Interior Department oversees national parks, wildlife refuges and other federal lands.
The secretarial order also aims to expand educational outreach for hunting and fishing to “under served” communities such as minorities and veterans as well as increase volunteer access to federal lands.
“Today’s secretarial order is the latest example of how the Trump administration is actively moving to support hunting and other forms of outdoor recreation on public lands,” Zinke said in a statement.
“Hunting and fishing is a cornerstone of the American tradition and hunters and fishers of America are the backbone of land and wildlife conservation,” he said.
Interior said Obama administration policies were too restrictive.
“Through management plans made under the previous administration, which did not appreciate access to hunting and target shooting like this administration does, access and usage has been restricted,” said Interior spokeswoman Heather Swift.
Zinke’s rule will not have to go through a formal rule-making process.
It is the second major action from Interior in the last few weeks.
In August, Zinke recommended shrinking the boundaries of a handful of national monuments, but stopped short of suggesting the elimination of any federal designations following a review ordered by President Donald Trump.
At Trump’s direction, Zinke earlier this year launched a review of 27 national monuments, a controversial move that could undo protections for millions of acres of federal lands, as well as limits on oil and gas or other energy production. Interior and the White House have so far resisted releasing the contents of Zinke’s full recommendations.
However some groups are arguing that the new order is a “stunt” by the department, aimed at moving the dialogue away from other recent controversial actions they’ve taken — including recommending the shrinking of national monuments and supporting increased fracking and logging.
“The real story is that, with this announcement, the Trump administration is trying to create a distraction from their plans to dramatically reduce the size of America’s national monuments, which would be the largest elimination of protections on wildlife habitat in US history,” said Matt Lee-Ashley, a senior fellow at the Center for American Progress, a left-leaning think tank.
He added that according to the Congressional Research Service, every national monument “that the Trump administration claims to be opening to hunting and recreational fishing is already open to hunting and recreational fishing.”
Drew McConville, a senior managing director at the Wilderness Society, called the order a “red herring.”
“This issue is … completely unnecessary, since national monuments are typically open to hunting and fishing already,” McConville said. “The Trump administration ‘review’ of places protected as national monuments is nothing more than an excuse to sell out America’s most treasured public lands for commercial gain by oil, gas and other extractive industries. This agenda inherently means a loss of access to premier places for hunting, fishing and other outdoor pastimes.”

Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke’s Hunting And Fishing Revival

https://www.nraila.org/articles/20170912/interior-secretary-ryan-zinkes-hunting-and-fishing-revival

TUESDAY, SEPTEMBER 12, 2017

Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke's Hunting And Fishing Revival

Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke is leading a revival. It’s not the kind that occurs under a big tent full of folding chairs, fiery sermons, and hallelujahs, but the kind that occurs when hunters, fishermen, and outdoorsmen in general feel liberated from the shackles of an overbearing federal government; when they experience anew the freedom to take their guns and gear into America’s wild places and fish and hunt the way their fathers and grandfathers fished and hunted before them.

Zinke set the tone for this revival on his first day as Interior Secretary. He did so by repealing the Obama administration’s lead ammunition ban—a ban which served as a last slap in the face to hunters and fishermen everywhere.

The Obama-era ban was contained in National Fish and Wildlife Service’s Director’s Order 219. The order came from Director Dan Ashe and required regional directors to work with state-level agencies to begin phasing out the use of lead ammunition on federal land. This included requiring the “Assistant Director, Migratory Birds, in consultation with National Flyway Councils and individual states, … [to] establish a process to phase in a requirement for the use of nontoxic ammunition for recreational hunting of mourning doves and other upland game birds.”

The Obama administration avoided calling the order an all-out ban by fashioning it so that its implementation occurred over a period of time rather than all at once.

On March 3, 2017, Breitbart News reported that Zinke had repealed the ban and that the repeal was one of his first actions as interior secretary.

The reason Zinke made this one of his top priorities upon taking office is that he understands that hunters and fishermen are a crucial part of wildlife conservation: They preserve a balance in nature whereby fish and wildlife are kept at sustainable levels, rather than being able to overpopulate and ruin food supplies and habitat. And he also understands that hunters and fishermen bring a tremendous amount of money into the U.S. economy annually.

On Sept. 1, 2017, Fox News published a column by NRA-ILA’s Chris W. Cox, in which Cox observed:

Zinke knows that America’s hunters and anglers are the backbone of successful fish and wildlife management in the United States. In 2016 alone, $1.1 billion in hunter and angler excise revenues was invested by the 50 state fish and wildlife agencies to fund wildlife projects benefiting all wildlife—game and non-game species alike.

Crucially, Zinke also acknowledges the role hunting and fishing play as traditions in America. For example, a childhood in a state like Kentucky is marked by the time a son and his father spend getting ready for hunting season. They plan the hunt, tend the food plot, build the tree stand, study the movement and habits of the deer, then go out on opening day intent on bringing home food the family can eat and stories the father and son will share for the rest of their lives.

Cox put it this way:

[Zinke] also understands … within our own local communities, hunting and angling is an important tradition that’s often passed down through the generations and enjoyed by the entire family, helping to forge lifelong support of wildlife conservation and the full appreciation of our fish and wildlife resources.

In short, Zinke’s convictions about the importance of hunting and fishing mean more opportunities for outdoorsmen. This is seen via announcements like the Department of the Interior’s Aug. 9, 2017, announcement that Secretary Zinke was expanding “hunting and fishing opportunities at 10 national wildlife preserves.”

This expansion will result in responsible conservation practices, money for the U.S. economy and traditions that link generations together over time.

Fisherman dies from gun shot wound after getting caught in a bear trap

By The Siberian Times reporter
12 September 2017

47 year old man killed after investigating a barrel which was a lethal makeshift trap with firearm attached.

A makeshift trap with a gun attached

The fisherman and a friend had stopped their car 80 kilometres from their village of Magistralny in Irkutsk region.

One of the friends walked into the forest and evidently checked out a makeshift trap with a gun attached.

He looked inside the barrel where there was bait for bears, and disturbed the trap sufficiently for the gun to shoot. He died on the spot, according to the Russian Investigative Committee.

His friend heard the shot and rushed to find the man.

The man loaded his friends body into the boot of his  VAZ-2121 car and drove back to the village which is 470 kilometres northeast of the village.

Fisherman dies from gun shot wound after getting caught in a bear trap

Fisherman dies from gun shot wound after getting caught in a bear trap

The probe continues to find the owner of the gun, and builder of the trap


Pictures of the trap with the man’s blood were released by police. Investigators say neither man owned the gun which shot the man.

The probe continues to find the owner of the gun, and builder of the trap.

The area is known to be full of wild bears.

Island Nation Burns Boats to Deter Illegal Fishing

The president of Palau decries those who are “raping our marine environment.”

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Petition to cancel a show that glorifies killing sharks

NBC @NBCSN : Cancel #SharkHunters #sharks

Andrew Mills
Carmel, Indiana

The NBC Sports show Shark Hunters glorifies and promotes the killing of sharks, amazing animals already under pressure from overfishing, finning and environmental pollution. And all three of the species hunted on Shark Hunters are listed as “Vulnerable” by The International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN).

The show features three tournaments that give financial prizes for bringing in dead sharks from 3 species: mako, thresher and porbeagle. NBC should not be glamorizing the killing of vulnerable sharks under the pretense of “sport” or “sustainable fishing”.

Programs like this not only glamorize shark hunting and killing but also make the whole action “OK”. Sharks play an important role in our oceans and if we continue to hunt them, our ocean’ss health will continue to decline.

Change.org petitions have successfully convinced other channels, like National Geographic and the Discovery Channel, to cancel other violent hunting shows. I’m sure with enough signatures, we can get NBC to listen.

Please join me in asking NBC and it partners to cancel Shark Hunters!

Fisherman charged for underwater assault on scuba diver

Jul 31, 2014 http://www.hawaiinewsnow.com/story/26168287/fisherman-charged-for-underwater-assault-on-scuba-diver

 KONA, HAWAII (HawaiiNewsNow) –

Charges have now been filed in the scuba scuffle caught on tape in the waters off Kona.

Hawaii County Prosecutors have charged fisherman Jay Lovell with terroristic threatening in the second degree. He is accused of ripping the regulator out of Rene Umberger’s mouth eliminating her ability to breathe.

Lovell was collecting reef fish last May for the aquarium trade. Umberger is an environmentalist against the practice and says the incident isn’t stopping her from documenting aquarium fishermen.

“Violence is never appropriate but also people who are out there trying to expose and document the destructive practices on the reefs aren’t going to be intimidated by this kind of activity. Stooping to violence only hurts the cause it doesn’t help their cause,” said Rene Umberger, Reef Consultant and Diver.

The incident stirred debate around the country. Umberger says it helped people learn that aquarium fish do not always come from farms and has bolstered support against the trade.

Meanwhile Jay Lovell’s brother says he will fight the charges.

“Jay is actually looking forward to the court so all the facts of the case can actually come out. The fact that these people are targeting the industry, they’ve been threatening for over a year,” said Jim Lovell, Jay’s brother, who is also a reef fisherman. “They provoked us, they caused it, it’s on their table. It’s on their agenda and this is what they want to do.”

Jay Lovell’s court date on the misdemeanor charge is September 2nd.

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Poachers and Pedophiles are Like Apples and Oranges

Comparing poachers to pedophiles may seem like comparing apples and oranges; but like the two fruits, there are more similarities than differences. Both apples and oranges are round, grow on trees, have a skin, contain seeds, are about the same size, etc. By the same token, the poacher and the pedophile both engage in socially unacceptable or illegal behavior for self-serving purposes, without regard for their victims. 

Likewise, the catch and release fisherman can be compared to the serial rapist: both put their pleasures over the suffering of their targets. The more their prey struggles, the more exciting the event for the perpetrator. Only when the victim has been completely conquered and has lost all will to fight are they set free, the vanquisher having no more use for them. 

And the analogy between a trophy hunter and a serial killer has been well established: both are single-minded in their quest for the kill, placing their own perverse desires above the self-interests—indeed, the very lives—of their victims. Both perpetrators like to take souvenirs from their kills, and neither one cares what the rest of the world thinks of their actions.

Text and Wildlife Photography ©Jim Robertson

Text and Wildlife Photography ©Jim Robertson