82-Year-Old Man Seriously Hurt in NH Hunting Accident

An 82-year-old man was shot in the leg during an apparent hunting accident in New Hampshire over the Thanksgiving weekend, officials said.
The man from Wilton had been out hunting with an 83-year-old from Lyndeborough in Lyndeborough on Saturday evening, New Hampshire Fish and Game said. As they returned to their vehicles, a bolt-action hunting rifle fired while the older man was placing it into his vehicle.
The older man failed to remove all the rounds from the gun, a .300 Remington Model 722, officials said.
The bullet traveled across the vehicle and into the 82-year-old’s leg, then out through the door on the driver’s side. The man was seriously injured and his companion provided aid while an ambulance came, but he has since been released from the hospital, officials said.

Groups urge 5-mile wolf hunting and trapping setback around Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks

October 27, 2021
CONTACTS:Stephen Capra, Footloose Montana, 406-370-3027, stephen@footloosemontana.orgBrooks Fahy, Predator Defense, (541) 520-6003, brooks@predatordefense.orgJoselyn Leroux, Western Watersheds Project, 406-960-4164, jocelyn@westernwatersheds.org

MISSOULA, MT — The U.S. Forest Service is being asked to move aggressively to stop the killing of wolves being drawn out of Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks to their deaths, lured by the calling and baiting of local hunters and trappers. More than three dozen organizations and individuals are urging the quick approval of a 5-mile buffer zone near park boundaries where no hunting or trapping would be allowed, to protect wolves, residents and visitors from bullets, traps and snares.
“This insanity of allowing the slaughter of national park wolves and endangering the public was enabled by Governor Gianforte and our legislature and must be stopped by the federal government,” said Stephen Capra, executive director of Footloose Montana. “It is time that they assume their rightful control over these federal forest lands, to protect wolves and all who come to witness their beauty and importance.”
Initiated by Footloose Montana, the organizations and individuals requesting urgent attention to this proposal have sent a letter to Tom Vilsack, U.S. Secretary of Agriculture; Deb Haaland, U.S. Secretary of Interior; Charles Sams III, Director of the National Park Service; Randy Moore, Chief of the U.S. Forest Service; Cameron Sholly, Superintendent of Yellowstone National Park; Palmer “Chip” Jenkins, Jr., Superintendent of Grand Teton National Park; and to regional U.S. Forest Service supervisors for the north region and the five national forests surrounding both national parks.
Their request notes that Yellowstone guides take wolf watchers on the same popular trails into the parks that armed hunters and trappers use to line up on the boundary. The potential for conflict and random bullets from hunters shooting at wolves is high. Hikers could also step into a wolf foothold trap or even a snare and not be able to get out. Any one of those possibilities could be fatal.
Eliminating wolf trapping in this transition zone will also reduce human-grizzly bear conflict and mortality in important core grizzly habitat, furthering the shared goals of wildlife managers across jurisdictions.
“A five-mile no wolf hunting zone around Yellowstone National Park is a no-brainer under these dire circumstances,” said Brooks Fahy, executive director of Predator Defense. “It’s high time Secretary Vilsack stands up and does something other than catering to the livestock industry. Without immediate action all Yellowstone wolves that step over the Park’s imaginary boundary line are at extreme risk.”
Recent actions by Idaho and Montana state legislatures allow for extreme measures to collectively kill more than 2,000 wolves, destroying wolf populations in both states. Outside of Yellowstone in Wyoming, wolves have already been decimated. During the first weeks of Montana’s hunting season six wolves in Yellowstone’s most-viewed wolf pack were killed. Fifty percent of the wolves killed by hunters so far are in Wolf Management Units that directly border Yellowstone. Hunters are using electronic callers to lure wolves out of the park to kill them, which wolf advocates argue is not sport, but slaughter.
“This year’s legislative agendas in Montana and Idaho have proven that the states are incapable of properly managing gray wolves,” said Jocelyn Leroux, Washington and Montana director for Western Watersheds Project. “The five-mile hunting and trapping setback is a common sense move that the Forest Service can take to ensure Yellowstone wolves retain protections that the states callously removed.”
The four U.S. National Forests bordering the parks are Custer-Gallatin, Caribou-Targhee, Bridger-Teton and Shoshone. This five-mile setback is an important step in recognizing the importance of keystone species such as wolves and the cooperative relationship between the National Park Service and the U.S. Forest Service.
Allowing the killing of wolves on park borders can also seriously harm the economies of surrounding communities. Tourists come from around the world come to see the iconic wolves of Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks. They contributed $500 million to local economies in 2020 alone, according to the National Park Service, and a recent analysis estimated revenue from the wolf-watching industry at $65.5 million annually.
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Footloose Montana is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization founded in 2007 that promotes trap-free public lands for people, pets and wildlife.
Predator Defense is a national nonprofit advocacy organization championing essential native predators with science, sanity, and heart since 1990. They are also devoted to ending America’s war on wildlife and helping people learn to coexist with wild animals..
Western Watersheds Project is a nonprofit environmental conservation group founded in 1993. They work to protect and restore western watersheds and wildlife through education, public policy initiatives, and legal advocacy.

Benefits for hunting outfitters snuck into FWP bill headed for Gianforte’s desk



At the end of the session, the Legislature passed a bill that had language inserted at the last minute that basically guarantees hunting outfitters more nonresident hunting clients. Other bills carrying the same language died in committee.

On Thursday, House Bill 637 was on its way to the governor’s desk after the House and Senate voted to pass subsequent amendments on mostly party-line votes on the last day of the session.

Sportsmen’s groups including the Backcountry Hunters and Anglers and the Montana Wildlife Federation are telling their members to ask Gov. Greg Gianforte to veto the bill, partly due language added Tuesday that is a handout to hunting outfitters.

It would give thousands of big game licenses – elk and deer – to nonresidents who agree to hunt with an outfitter, thus exceeding the limit of 17,000 nonresidents allowed to hunt in Montana. It also gives extra preference points for future license drawings to any nonresident who hunts with an outfitter.

Both actions encourage nonresidents to hunt preferentially with outfitters.

These are similar to changes that sportsmen opposed in Senate Bill 143 and House Bill 505. Dozens of sportsmen spoke in opposition to both bills and both were eventually tabled in committee.

On Wednesday, the Montana Wildlife Federation issued a statement saying, “Public hunters made it clear this session that everybody should have an equal opportunity to hunt in Montana, and this provision is just another attempt to put outfitted clients at the front of the line.”

In mid-march, HB 637, sponsored by Seth Berlee, R-Joliet, started as a “clean-up” bill clarifying several definitions and requirements of Fish, Wildlife & Parks regulations, such as who needed nonresident bear and mountain lion licenses, when boats could be used in hunting and reclassifying wolves as furbearers.

Many sportsmen had issues with the bill to begin with, because it did little to preserve Montana’s wildlife resources. For instance, it increased the number of nonresident mountain lion licenses while allowing nonresident large landowners or their guests to hunt lions without a license to use dogs.

Still, the bill flew through the House even though a fiscal note estimated FWP would lose a half-million dollars a year due to fewer nonresidents being required to buy licenses.

The bill was amended in the Senate, adding a section that would increase payments to landowners participating in FWP’s Block Management program.

By the time the Senate sent the amended bill back to the House on April 26, it was getting late in the game. Legislators were already talking about making “Sine die” motions to end the session as the budget got closer to being finished.

After the House voted against the bill as amended, House Speaker Rep. Wylie Galt, R-Martinsdale, sent the bill into a special conference on Monday. When the conference committee returned the bill to the House on Tuesday, the outfitter big game licenses were suddenly part of the bill.

Sen. Pat Flowers, D-Bozeman, tried to call attention to the change.

“This is being introduced on maybe the 2nd to last day of the legislature… Senate Bill 143 got tremendous interest,” Flowers said Tuesday on the Senate Floor. “To add this on as a simple amendment to what was a quote ‘agency clean up bill’ is disingenuous and does a disservice to sportsmen and women who don’t know this is happening.”

The Backcountry Hunters and Anglers had already opposed HB 637 because it allowed hunters to pursue black bears and mountain lions on the same day they purchase their tags, setting up an opportunity for less reputable hunters to shoot first and tag later.

Because wildlife is part of the public trust that FWP should manage for future generations, BHA opposed allowing nonresident landowners to hunt lions and bears on their property without a license.

But the outfitter license giveaway was the last straw for sportsmen, according to a BHA website post.

“Both chambers, in record time, passed 2nd and 3rd readings last night- all within the same day as the bill taking an entirely new form, and all without public comment or a public hearing with public testimony. The NO votes deserve our thanks; the YES votes have some explaining to do,” the post said.

Fox, coyote and turkey hunting proposed at Potomac River wildlife refuges


  • Apr 16, 2021 Updated Apr 16, 2021
Occoquan Bay NWR
The scene from a wildlife viewing platform at Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge in Woodbridge.By Casey Pugh

U.S. Fish and Wildlife is seeking public comment on new plans for fox, coyote, waterfowl and turkey hunting, along with expanded deer hunting and fishing opportunities, at the Potomac River National Wildlife Refuge Complex in Woodbridge and southern Fairfax.Trending on InsideNoVa https://c5x8i7c7.ssl.hwcdn.net/vplayer-parallel/20210408_1900/ima_html5/index.htmlhttps://c5x8i7c7.ssl.hwcdn.net/vplayer-parallel/20210408_1900/videojs/show.html?controls=1&loop=30&autoplay=0&tracker=a400ac00-21b7-4967-adeb-951c15739530&height=352&width=625&vurl=%2F%2Fd14c63magvk61v.cloudfront.net%2Fvideos%2Fdgv_insidenova%2F20210418054149_607bc4b07dee4%2Fdgv_insidenova_trending_articles_20210418054149_607bc4b07dee4_new.mp4&poster=%2F%2Fd14c63magvk61v.cloudfront.net%2Fvideos%2Fdgv_insidenova%2F20210418054149_607bc4b07dee4%2Fdgv_insidenova_trending_articles_20210418054149_607bc4b07dee4_new.jpgXPowered By 

The complex includes the Elizabeth Hartwell Mason Neck, Occoquan Bay, and Featherstone National Wildlife Refuges. The USFW is inviting the public to review and comment on the draft plan for proposed hunts and fishing access.

The proposed plan includes:

  • Open fishing opportunities on non-motorized watercraft in designated areas of Occoquan Bay NWR, Mason Neck NWR and Featherstone NWR. Additionally, Featherstone NWR will also open fishing opportunities to motorized watercraft in designated areas.
  • Expanded deer hunting hours at Occoquan Bay NWR.
  • Open opportunities for mentored turkey hunting and mentored archery deer hunting on Occoquan Bay NWR.
  • Open fox and coyote hunting opportunities in conjunction with permitted deer hunt days at Occoquan Bay NWR.
  • Open waterfowl hunting opportunities in designated areas of Featherstone NWR.

A “hunt application/permit” (FWS Form 3-2439) will be required for hunting deer on E.H. Mason Neck NWR and Occoquan Bay NWR. No more than $10 application fee and $20 permit fee for deer and turkey hunts would be established to defray the costs of operation.

Deer hunt permit applications would most likely be administered by a contracted company that will feature online, mail, and telephone services to collect hunter information, required fees, and issue permits, the release said.

Draft documents for review are available here.

You can contact the refuge at 703-490-4979 to request more information. Submit your comments to the refuge by mail at 12638 Darby Brooke Court, Woodbridge, VA 22192 or by email at HuntFishRuleComments@fws.gov with the subject line of “Potomac River NWR Complex.”

The comment period will be open through the end of the 2021-2022 federal hunting and sport fishing regulations open comment period to be announced in the Federal Register, USFW said in a news release. Federal officials expect the comment period to be open through mid-June. 

“Across the country, national wildlife refuges work closely with state agencies, tribes, and private partners to expand recreational hunting and fishing access,” the release said. “Hunting and fishing provide opportunities for communities, families, and individuals to enjoy the outdoors, support conservation efforts, and participate in a popular American tradition.”

New bill looks to lower hunting age in Maine to 14

A new bill in Augusta is looking to lower the hunting age in Maine from 16 to 14 years old.
A new bill in Augusta is looking to lower the hunting age in Maine from 16 to 14 years old.(WABI)


By Owen KingsleyPublished: Mar. 24, 2021 at 11:52 AM PDT|Updated: 2 hours ago

Maine (WABI) – A new bill in Augusta is looking to lower the hunting age in Maine from 16 to 14 years old.

State Representative Dustin White says the bill is aimed at allowing parents who think their kids are mature and responsible enough to be able to go hunting at an earlier age.

All the same permit and safety course requirements would still apply.

Colonel Dan Scott of the Maine Warden Service testified neither for nor against the measure but did bring up some concerns to the committee hearing the bill.ADVERTISEMENThttps://af7bd9f93b8ccfcdf7be2cc8cc7850eb.safeframe.googlesyndication.com/safeframe/1-0-38/html/container.html

”I believe in parents knowing their children better than the government. Educate our children at an earlier age to teach them the proper safety protocols, possibly reducing the likelihood of accidents or hunting violations later on in their lives,” said White.

“It’s difficult to predict if there would be an increase in incidents if people 14 to 16 years of age were able to hunt on their own after having completed a safety course. This would also permit two 14-year-olds to climb into a canoe, one behind the other, with shotguns,” said Scott.

Colonel Scott, when asked directly if he would allow his 14 year old to go hunting alone, said no.

Representative White also argues this bill would encourage more family participation on Youth Hunting Day.

Washington wildlife managers considering passel of hunting rule changes


  • By ELI FRANCOVICH of The Spokesman-Review
  • Mar 22, 2021
Mark McClean searches for deer in a foggy field near Mount Spokane on Nov. 15, 2019. A bill that would have increased hunting and angling fees for the first time since 2011 was not approved by the Washington Legislature.Spokesman-Review file photo by ELI FRANCOVICH

Washington wildlife managers will consider a passel of changes to hunting rules next week, including limiting whitetail hunting opportunity in Northeast Washington and allowing hunters to use dogs to track injured game animals.

The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife commission meeting starts Thursday and ends Saturday with opportunity for public input throughout. The commission will vote on the proposals during its April meeting. The season-setting process happens every three years, with slight adjustments made year to year as needed.

“This is the big year,” WDFW commissioner Kim Thorburn from Spokane said.https://a04fa444d49f3821c59181a8582e5148.safeframe.googlesyndication.com/safeframe/1-0-37/html/container.html

The commission is also considering allowing 1x scopes on muzzleloading weapons and allowing hunters to shoot turkeys with rimfire rifles during the fall season, among other things.

Dogs tracking wounded game

The commission will also consider a proposal to allow hunters to use a dog to track injured game animals. If approved, the rule would allow the use of one dog, on a leash, to track an injured game animal within 72 hours of shooting it. Hunters would not be allowed to use dogs to track bears or cougars.

WDFW staff recommend the commission approve this proposal.

“A lot of hunters really like the idea, because you don’t want to lose a wounded animal,” Thorburn said.

Marie Neumiller, the Inland Northwest Wildlife Council’s executive director, said members of the Spokane-based group had concerns initially about the dog proposal. The organization, however, supports the proposal as presented.

“You’re cutting down on waste,” she said. “And you’re enabling that hunter to find that animal.”

1x scopes on muzzleloaders

Under current Washington hunting regulations, muzzleloading firearms must have open or peep sights. Some hunters, however, have petitioned the department to allow 1x scopes and red dot scopes on muzzeloading firearms.

The commission will consider allowing 1x and red dot scopes.

“One-power scopes do not magnify the target, but rather provide a clearer sight window, in much the same way eyeglasses correct someone’s vision (for example, they make the target clearer, but don’t make it bigger),” according to a WDFW rule-making publication on the topic. “Common arguments against their use are typically related to the use of scopes not adhering to the spirit of primitive weapons.”https://a04fa444d49f3821c59181a8582e5148.safeframe.googlesyndication.com/safeframe/1-0-37/html/container.html

WDFW staff is not opposed to the change because it would not “result in more animals being harvested.”

Some hunters are opposed to the proposed change because of the effect it would have on the primitive hunting season.

“Our membership generally wants to keep the traditional hunting devices as traditional as possible,” Neumiller said.

Turkeys and rimfire rifles

The commission will consider allowing hunters to shoot turkeys with rimfire rifles between Oct. 15 and Nov. 15. It’s illegal now to shoot a turkey with a rifle.

Some have petitioned WDFW to change the rule in efforts to control nuisance turkeys, Aoude said.

“As birds get smart, they’re just out of range of the shotgun,” he said. “This may give an opportunity to harvest a few more turkeys in those areas.” It would also allow hunters to hunt multiple small-game species with the same weapon.

Delay the start of forest grouse season

The commission will also consider shifting the start of forest grouse season. Under the proposal, the season would run from Sept. 15 to Jan. 15, which would delay the start by two weeks and add two weeks to the end. The proposed change is in response to long-term declines in the forest grouse population.

In September, brood hens are particularly vulnerable. Delaying the start of the season, biologists believe, may improve forest grouse populations by increasing the survival of brood hens.

Elk-hoof disease incentive

The agency is considering incentivizing the harvest of elk with elk-hoof disease. The proposal would establish special permit opportunities for master hunters in 500 through 600 GMU series to harvest elk displaying signs of elk hoof disease such as limping, lameness or hoof abnormalities.https://a04fa444d49f3821c59181a8582e5148.safeframe.googlesyndication.com/safeframe/1-0-37/html/container.html

“That may be a way to reduce the prevalence of the disease,” Aoude said.

The commission will consider two proposals for whitetail hunting in Game Management Units 101 (Sherman), 105 (Kellyhill), 108 (Douglas), 111 (Aladdin), 113 (Selkirk), 117 (49 Degrees North) and 121 (Huckleberry).

The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife Commission will consider a number of hunting-rule proposals between March 25-27.

Commissioners will vote on the proposals during their April meeting.

To listen in and comment visit wdfw.wa.gov/about/commission/meetings/2021.

The first option, which is supported by WDFW staff, would make no change to the current, any buck season structure in Northeast Washington. Since 2019, there has been no antlerless whitetail opportunity in Northeast Washington. That restriction happened after hunters expressed concerns about faltering whitetail populations following an outbreak of bluetongue in 2015 and severe winter conditions in 2016 and 2017.

The second proposal would change season dates in GMUs 105-121 to a nine-day late season occurring Nov. 11-19. The late season now runs Nov. 7-19.

A vocal group of hunters in Northeast Washington has pushed for antlerpoint restrictions in that region. Between 2011 and 2014, there was a four-point minimum for whitetail deer in GMUs 117 and 121, despite WDFW staff not supporting the move. WDFW returned to all buck season in 2015.

Antlerpoint restrictions hope to build a higher-quality herd and provide higher-quality hunting opportunity by allowing hunters to bag only more mature bucks. It’s based on a type of game management that requires fairly heavy-handed human intervention, Thorburn said.https://a04fa444d49f3821c59181a8582e5148.safeframe.googlesyndication.com/safeframe/1-0-37/html/container.html

“It’s based on habitat manipulation,” she said. “It’s not dealing with natural biological stuff. It’s a lot of management, as it says.”

As part of the 2021-23 season-setting process, WDFW partnered with Washington State University and surveyed deer hunters in Washington. The survey was emailed to more than 44,000 hunters that reported hunting in GMUs with white-tailed deer. Approximately 13,000 responded.

Most respondents were unhappy with mature white-tailed buck opportunity in the state. Respondents also didn’t support implementing more restrictive regulations, according to WDFW. In particular, respondents were against a four-point restriction.

Anis Aoude, WDFW game division manager, doesn’t believe an APR would improve quality. But at the end of the day the decision to not include an antlerpoint restriction in the proposals was due to the lack of public support.

“If everyone thought that was the way to go, we would have done it,” he said.

Dale Magart, the secretary of the Northeast Washington Wildlife Group, is a proponent of antlerpoint restrictions. He believes the department will have to adjust the rules in the next three years.

“If it gets bad enough (hunter opportunity), they will have to address it,” he said. “We’re hoping when they do decide to do something that’s (four-point restriction) something they decide to do.”

YouTube of Top 3 Outrageous LIES Hunters Tell

After a barrage of comments from hunters (most of which went straight to the trash since this is an ANTI hunting blog, not a forum for hunters to re-hash the same feeble rationalizations we’ve all heard a thousand times before), I was considering answering to some of the more commonly spewed of them in today’s post.I might have started out with something like:People have been so successful at going forth and propogating that there are now over 7 billion humans to feed! There isn’t enough habitiat or “game” on god’s green earth to support an unlimited number of carnivorous primates *. If we all went back to hunting, the wild species would be wiped out in short order, as is happening in countries where “bush meat” killing is popular.

*Yes, humans are primates, relatives of gorillas, chimpanzees and orangutans. Back in the “the beginning of time” our earliest ancestors ate primarily plant food, and both sexes probably worked side by side gathering it. But when our species made the fatal (for the planet) step of embracing flesh for food, hunting became the privileged task of the males, who would resent any competion from women for their fireside bragging rights…

… But since there’s never enough time to address everything, and their claims have already been answered to time and again, I’ll climb down off the soapbox (for now) and turn it over to the Brennan Browne, who made this YouTube of the Top 3 Outrageous Lies Hunters Tell:

Study warns of ‘biotic annihilation’ driven by hunting, habitat destruction

Study warns of ‘biotic annihilation’ driven by hunting, habitat destruction


Humans are driving species to extinction 1,000 times faster than what is considered natural. Now, new research underscores the extent of the planet’s impoverishment.

Extinctions don’t just rob the planet of species but also of functional and phylogenetic diversity, the authors of a paper published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences argue. “They are much newer ideas than species richness, so not as much exploration has been done about patterns of decline in these two metrics, particularly globally,” said Jedediah Brodie, first author of the study and conservation biologist at the University of Montana.

A baby African elephant at Kruger National Park. Image by Rhett A. Butler.
A baby African elephant at Kruger National Park. Image by Rhett A. Butler.

For example, rhinos loom large in public imagination but are, in fact, marching into oblivion. The Bornean rhinoceros (Dicerorhinus sumatrensis harrissoni), a subspecies of the Sumatran rhinoceros, has gone extinct in Malaysia. “It is such a tragedy because it’s an iconic and culturally important species,” Brodie said, “but also because they are super important both functionally and phylogenetically.”

Harvesting animals for subsistence or sale is the greatest threat to land-dwelling mammals, the new study found. About 15% of people in the world depend on wild animals, particularly vertebrates, for food. But hunting, illegal and legal, also feeds the global supply chain for wildlife and wildlife parts.https://googleads.g.doubleclick.net/pagead/ads?guci=×250&url=https%3A%2F%2Ffocusingonwildlife.com%2Fnews%2Fstudy-warns-of-biotic-annihilation-driven-by-hunting-habitat-destruction%2F%3Futm_source%3Dmailpoet%26utm_medium%3Demail%26utm_campaign%3Dnewsletter-post-title_1120%26fbclid%3DIwAR1exDZKhEHNsr_9R8Fq5kWyCzDpnd6r0LTH8i0u_ZPyZwGZ6ctyuZpvFz4&flash=0&wgl=1&dt=1610564367230&bpp=15&bdt=4527&idt=15&shv=r20210107&cbv=r20190131&ptt=9&saldr=aa&abxe=1&cookie=ID%3Dabcadaf61d0c0925-22d02e809bc500b7%3AT%3D1610562234%3ART%3D1610562234%3AS%3DALNI_MbuLghMSUN6YObrkbEqFaKLvjyDWA&prev_fmts=0x0%2C300x250%2C300x250%2C300x250&nras=1&correlator=317592360964&rume=1&frm=20&pv=1&ga_vid=559290432.1610562237&ga_sid=1610564367&ga_hid=1090390519&ga_fc=0&u_tz=-480&u_his=1&u_java=0&u_h=640&u_w=1139&u_ah=607&u_aw=1139&u_cd=24&u_nplug=3&u_nmime=4&adx=66&ady=2201&biw=1123&bih=538&scr_x=0&scr_y=100&eid=42530672%2C21068769%2C21069720%2C21066613%2C21066614&oid=3&psts=AGkb-H-ilgq9EI8X6xBhUW_vAGicBm7iNzXm-WH6HoVNsNXyq81Chut8uSFDgA6aeWNiZeUXiKBwlnG7D3VkUg%2CAGkb-H-9IvvN3lIETrqTm_MQNWtS5me2xyXtHyMuhVUW_ItEOlNzpmy8fUOK6PGoyfM3rOPbhx0IrGK_EzVOIA%2CAGkb-H-bGoeVX_DxHav1jLqeyFpXJE7Gf-KxK4cpg93ilihWF5Hhnz0_8kejdyz0hEDsamtcRns7foL0MCTQdA&pvsid=3649983899619999&pem=315&rx=0&eae=0&fc=1920&brdim=0%2C0%2C0%2C0%2C1139%2C0%2C1139%2C607%2C1139%2C537&vis=1&rsz=%7C%7CleEbr%7C&abl=CS&pfx=0&fu=8192&bc=31&ifi=1&uci=a!1&btvi=4&fsb=1&xpc=SvaQ9q0xAL&p=https%3A//focusingonwildlife.com&dtd=M

Rhino populations plummeted in the second half of the 20th century; they are heavily poached for their horns, and their ranges have shrunk dramatically over the decades. Of the five existing rhino species, three are critically endangered.

The study focused on terrestrial mammals, one of the most extensively studied groups. They used the IUCN Red List, the most widely cited and comprehensive compilation of endangered species and the threats they face.

By removing animals from their habitats, humans also remove them from ecosystems in which they evolved and play critical roles. To gauge the consequences is not a simple calculus.

“Say there are twenty species of grazing animals and only two species of seed-eating animals. If two species of the grazers go extinct, that doesn’t have that much impact on the functional diversity because there are still eighteen grazers left,” Brodie said. “But if the two species of seed-eating animals go extinct, it has a huge impact on functional diversity because all of a sudden you’ve lost this entire ecological function.”

In both cases, Brodie said, the species richness would decrease by two, but the effects would be very different.

A Bornean rhino. Image courtesy of Jeremy Hance and Tiffany Roufs/Mongabay.
Bornean rhino. Image courtesy of Jeremy Hance and Tiffany Roufs/Mongabay.

Despite their fearsome reputation and bulk, rhinos, some of which can weigh as much as two cars, are herbivores. Bornean rhinos are one of the few large-bodied frugivores and herbivores on Borneo, an island shared between Malaysia, Indonesia and Brunei. It is also home to another herbivore, the island’s famous pygmy elephants. However, rhinos eat different plants than the elephants, so losing them would alter plant seed dispersal and plant evolution.

The research shows that extinctions driven by human activities lead to a more significant decline in functional diversity than if species were randomly going extinct.

“Some species groups are very vulnerable. Be an antelope, and people want to eat you. Be a parrot, and people want you as a pet. Live only on Cuba — as a subfamily of mammals does — and you’re in trouble,” said Stuart Leonard Pimm, an ecologist and leading authority on the extinction crisis, who was not involved in the recent study. “This leads to a disproportionate loss of ecological function as human actions drive species to extinction.”

The disappearance of species doesn’t just wipe away entire ecological functions. It also leads to the irredeemable loss of evolutionary history. Millions of years of evolution are encoded into species that coexist with humans today; to lose them is to lose that biological heritage.

The disappearance of the remaining five rhino species would sever an entire evolutionary lineage, the Rhinocerotidae family that arose about 40 million years ago, from the tree of life.

“They are the last remnants of what was a hugely diverse and amazing family found all across the world in the not too distant past,” Brodie said of Rhinocerotidae, which counts more than 40 extinct species.

But conservationists warn that it is not just wholesale extinctions that we should be worried about, but also disappearing populations — what Brodie and his co-authors call “biotic annihilation.” Only one in every 10 dramatic declines in populations results in extinctions, but those losses have repercussions for ecosystems which experience them.

“Species extinction is an endpoint, and it’s a really, really, bad endpoint. Before that happens, species will start to go extinct in individual countries first,” Brodie said. “The focus on population decline is really important because it’s in some ways a better illustrator of the magnitude of the extinction crisis.”

Their research maps out the relationship between species richness and functional and phylogenetic loss for individual countries to aid national-level policymaking.

The work shows that habitat destruction results in more functional diversity loss in Indonesia, Argentina and Venezuela. “This suggests that instead of focusing on harvest management and human diets, conservation actions in these areas might be better directed toward protected areas and land use policy to best conserve this component of biodiversity,” the researchers write.

The study also found that climate change is emerging as a major driver of biodiversity loss. What remains to be seen is how these relationships pan out for other animal groups, like reptiles, amphibians and birds.


Brodie, J. F., Williams, S., & Garner, B. (2021). The decline of mammal functional and evolutionary diversity worldwide. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 118(3). doi:10.1073/pnas.1921849118

This article by Malavika Vyawahare was first published on Mongabay.com on 5 January 2021. Lead Image of a baby Sumatran rhino by Rhett A. Butler for Mongabay.