B.C. government gives okay to trap endangered fishers for fur as scientists warn of impending extinctions

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Fisher

Trappers Wayne and Leilah Kirsh stopped harvesting fisher on their trapline, in the Nazko region southwest of Prince George, as fisher disappeared following industrial logging. Photo: Leilah KirshNEWS

Unlike six other provinces, B.C. has no endangered species legislation, which allows species at risk to be killed outside of protected areasSarah Cox  Nov 20, 2020 11 min read

Nine months after listing the interior fisher population as endangered, the B.C. government has approved winter trapping of the elusive forest animal even though a scientist warns it could wipe out fishers in some areas. 

“A red-listed population of this size, with a negative population growth rate … should not be trapped,” biologist Larry Davis, a member of the B.C. fisher working group, told The Narwhal. 

“These animals are a low-density species. So many areas have been impacted by [forest] harvesting and fires that removing even a few more animals from these areas will probably result in local extirpations.”

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B.C. has no endangered species legislation, allowing species at risk of extinction to be killed outside of protected areas. Out of 1,336 species at risk currently recognized by the province, only four are legally protected under B.C.’s Wildlife Act — the burrowing owl, American white pelican, Vancouver Island marmot and sea otter. 

B.C.’s hunting and trapping regulations for 2020-2022, which came into effect on July 1, noted the interior fisher was red-listed earlier this year, meaning the genetically unique population is in danger of disappearing. The regulations said fisher trapping seasons were under review and could be amended prior to the start of trapping season on Nov. 1, but no changes have been made. 

Fisher, which are about the size of a housecat but stretched out like a limo, require mature trees for denning and shelter. Only five species of tree in B.C. have cavities suitable for female fisher to birth and raise their kits while avoiding predators. 

The interior fisher population has suffered steep declines, largely due to habitat destruction as a result of accelerated logging for the mountain pine beetle, which has eliminated fisher denning trees such as cottonwoods and balsam poplars. 

Only 300 to 500 interior fishers remain, according to Davis.

“If an area’s already been impacted by extensive harvesting and wildfires, the remaining fisher population is likely to have a hard time sustaining itself — and even removing a few more individuals will make that more difficult,” he said.

B.C. doesn’t protect endangered species

The fisher trapping season coincides with a Nov. 16 letter sent to Premier John Horgan from 17 scientists, urging the newly elected NDP government to create “long overdue” endangered species legislation and to invest in protection and recovery efforts needed to reverse biodiversity loss across the province. 

“Provincial leadership is sorely needed,” the scientists wrote. “With every passing year, it becomes more and more difficult to reverse species declines.”

B.C., the most biodiverse province in Canada, has the greatest number of species at risk of extinction, with 1,336 species on the red and blue lists. Another 1,037 species meet provincial status requirements for red and blue listings but have not yet been added.

Red and blue listing in B.C. is currently an empty exercise, however, because species at risk of extinction receive no unified legal protection in the province. 

Unlike six other provinces that have endangered species legislation, B.C. relies on an uncoordinated mish-mash of legislation to protect plants and animals, including the Forests and Range Practices Act, the Oil and Gas Activities Act, the Environment and Land Use Act, and the Wildlife Act. 

When the NDP came to power in 2017, Premier John Horgan instructed Environment Minister George Heyman to enact an endangered species law, in keeping with an election promise made by the party. But the government subsequently reneged on its commitment

Tara Martin, one of the scientists who signed the letter to Horgan, said she and other scientists worked with the province and other stakeholders to advance the promised legislation. 

“We were hugely disappointed that nothing came of it,” Martin said in an interview. “Essentially, the province walked away from their commitment, with no statement as to why.”

Southern mountain caribou, northern spotted owls and the interior fisher are only a few of the many hundreds of species at risk of extinction in B.C. Illustration: Sarah Hammond / The Narwhal

Lack of endangered species legislation ‘negligent’

The push for B.C. endangered species legislation comes as scientists around the world warn we are witnessing the sixth mass extinction event in the planet’s four-billion-year history. Scientists estimate as many as half of all species may be headed toward extinction in the next 30 years, in large part due to habitat destruction.

Martin said species continue to be added to B.C.’s list of at-risk species and ecosystems.

“This is negligent. This is really unacceptable. We’re losing many opportunities that come with having a biodiverse region. We’re so fortunate to live where we do, and we are not heeding the responsibility that we have for protecting these species and ecosystems,” she said.

“We’re down to less than three per cent of our old-growth forests left. We’re seeing caribou herds disappear. We saw 19,000 cubic metres of endangered white bark pine harvested without penalty.”

Martin and the other scientists told Horgan that B.C.’s wildlife populations are decreasing in abundance, “with many species approaching extinction” due to unsustainable land use and development.

“We’re all losing,” Martin said. “We’re losing our life support system. We’re losing our natural heritage. We’re losing our economic opportunities. And we’re really impacting future generations by taking away opportunities, by not putting in legislation to safeguard our species and ecosystems.”Stuffed caribou Royal BC Museum

A taxidermied caribou cow from an extirpated herd in a back room of the Royal B.C. Museum. Caribou populations have been winking out of existence in B.C. due to over development, industrial logging, road building and other human incursions into wilderness. Photo: Carol Linnitt / The Narwhal

Failing to protect B.C.’s species and ecosystems also violates the rights of Indigenous peoples to have access to species for food, social and ceremonial purposes, the scientists said in their letter. “Not protecting biodiversity in the province is antithetical to the B.C. government’s commitments to reconciliation,” they stated.

Trapper Wayne Kirsh said he is frustrated by the B.C. government’s lack of action to protect fisher habitat. “I don’t think the trapping is going to hurt the fisher, compared to the loss of habitat,” said Kirsh, who trapped interior fisher for decades. 

Kirsh and his wife Leilah stopped harvesting fisher on their trapline, in the Nazko region southwest of Prince George, as fisher disappeared following industrial logging. The couple tried, unsuccessfully, to persuade logging companies and the provincial government to leave behind denning and nesting trees.

“When you have a trapline it’s kind of like having a farm. You have to farm it because if you don’t, in a couple of years, you have nothing left to trap,” Kirsh said in an interview.

In 2016, the Kirshes filed a complaint with B.C.’s forest practices board, an independent watchdog for forestry practices, saying forestry companies were harvesting heavily on their traplines with no designated cutting areas.

The forest practices board upheld the complaint, saying the provincial government failed to use legal tools available to protect fisher habitat.

Kirsh, who worked in the forestry industry for 37 years, said logging practices in interior fisher habitat “haven’t changed one bit. They’re just going in there and raping the habitat.”

“Why don’t they leave some habitat? … It’s not the trapper who is screwing things up,” he said. “Fires are one thing, but logging is the number one killer. They’re not leaving their denning trees and they’re not leaving the spruce with the witch’s broom.”

Fisher use witch’s broom, a dense mass of shoots on a tree branch that resembles a nest, for resting sites and to shelter from the elements.

David said about 170 fishers are trapped each year in B.C., which has a second fisher population in the Peace region that is blue-listed, meaning it is vulnerable to local extinction.Fisher

The Kirshes’ stopped trapping fisher for fur in the Nazko in 2014, in a voluntary effort to help the struggling population. In 2015 and 2016, the couple live-trapped 19 fisher for a reintroduction project in Washington state’s Cascade Mountains. Photo: Leilah Kirsh

Trapping guidelines note ‘increased concern’ for fisher

Biologist Eric Lofroth said it’s not typical for a red-listed species like the fisher to be harvested. 

The impact will depend on where interior fishers are trapped, said Lofroth, adding that government-approved trapping “is certainly not going to be of any help” in recovering populations. “Whether it’s going to result in the extirpation of fisher from any particular part of its current distribution is hard to know.”

He said new data — that he and other scientists have collected — indicates the interior fisher population has a lower reproductive rate than the boreal fisher population in the Peace, possibly due to food availability. Fisher prey on shrews, mice, voles, snakes, squirrels, snowshoe hares and grouse. They also consume mushrooms and berries but not, despite their name, fish.

“The number of females that den on an annual basis and the average litter size is much lower in the central interior than it is in the boreal population,” Lofroth said, noting that a paper on the new data is awaiting peer-review. “That has a real bearing on potential population growth rates.”

The province’s new hunting and traplines guidelines regulations said there is “increased concern” for fisher populations in areas of the Thompson, Cariboo, Omineca and Skeena Regions that have experienced large habitat changes due to forest harvest and salvage of beetle and fire-killed forests. 

“Where habitats are compromised, trapping poses a compounding threat to population persistence,” say the regulations, which encourage trappers to reduce the incidental capture of fisher by modifying marten boxes, which attract fisher.

Davis said he has spoken with a few trappers who are not planning to trap fisher this year due to low fur prices related to the COVID-19 pandemic. “That at least gives us a glimmer of hope that those populations of fishers won’t be heavily impacted with the trapping this winter.” 

“There are areas out there that could be refugium for fishers, whereas in other areas trappers are still active.” 

The fisher working group, supported by the B.C. government, has built close to 1,000 boxes to give out to trappers who harvest marten but who also catch fisher in their traps, Davis said.  

“We are rolling that out right now, trying to get these boxes out to trappers, just to test them, to see if they’re comfortable using them.” 

The boxes have an entry plate with a hole designed for the skull size of martens, which are smaller than fishers. “There’s a difference in the width of their head so they’ve designed the box to have a hole that would fit a large male marten but shouldn’t allow a female fisher to enter, and for sure a male fisher would not be able to enter,” Davis said.

In response to a forest practices board report based on the complaint from Wayne and Leilah Kirsh, the B.C. forests ministry said it would develop a provincial fisher management plan. In June, the ministry told The Narwhal the plan is underway, with a “targeted” completion date of 2022.

Endangered species legislation was not mentioned in the 2020 NDP election platform. Instead, the party vaguely pledged to “work with neighbouring jurisdictions to cooperatively develop and invest in new strategies aimed at better protecting our shared wildlife and habitat corridors.”

B.C. has no laws that specifically prohibit harm to species at risk (other than prohibitions around hunting) or laws that provide mandatory protection for the habitat that species vulnerable to extinction require for their survival and recovery. Nor do B.C. laws require recovery planning or implementation for species at risk.

The scientists are requesting a meeting with B.C.’s next environment minister, who will be named on Nov. 26 when the new provincial cabinet is announced, to discuss how the new government can safeguard endangered species and ecosystems.  

“We feel that Horgan has a clear mandate to govern, and a responsibility to re-engage in this really important effort to bring about species at risk legislation for the province,” Martin said. 

The B.C. government is not answering media questions during the interregnum period following the Oct. 24 election, unless questions pertain to health and safety or statutory requirements.

Canada Goose plans shift to reclaimed fur over wild coyote product

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Luxury parka maker Canada Goose Holdings Inc. plans to start using reclaimed fur for its coats and stop purchasing new fur in a couple years even though some animal rights groups don’t see the reversal as a victory for wildlife.

“We remain committed to the functionality and sustainability of real fur, however we are challenging ourselves to do it better, reusing what already exists,” the company said in its first sustainability report released Wednesday.

For five decades, it has used wild coyote fur from Western Canada and the U.S., that it says its suppliers ensure never comes from fur farms, among other measures.

However, Canada Goose will start making parkas with reclaimed fur in 2022 and stop purchasing new fur that same year in an effort to satisfy consumer demand, the company said.

It notes people living in the North have worked with reclaimed fur for decades and the initiative was inspired by their resourcefulness.

The company also plans to launch a consumer buy-back program for fur in the coming months.

“We believe we must operate sustainably. It’s the right decision for our business, our customers and most importantly, our future,” the report reads, which notes consumers today want more information about fur sustainability and animal welfare, and demand more transparency.

Canada Goose did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Canadian animal rights group Animal Justice called the change “a stunning reversal” prompted by shifting public opinion about fur for fashion, as well as years of advocacy against Canada Goose’s use of fur. It noted California recently banned the sale of new fur.

However, the Canada Goose announcement is still only a “partial victory,” the group said.

“It would be better for the company to abandon fur and down altogether,” noting the switch to reclaimed fur doesn’t help ducks and geese whose feathers are used for down.

The company addresses its use of down in the report, saying it chooses “natural down in jackets because it is the best natural source for warmth per weight ratio.”

Last year, Canada Goose committed to the responsible down standard (RDS) and commits to being certified fully by 2021.

“The RDS aims to ensure that down and feathers come from animals that have not been subjected to unnecessary harm.”

RDS prohibits down or feather removal from live birds and force feeding, according to its website. Its standards also include other measures, including auditing each stage in the supply chain by a professional, third-party certification body.

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals called the change to reclaimed fur an attempt to “humane wash” and that “real fur is always cruelly obtained.”

PETA and Animal Justice have fought Canada Goose over its use of animal products.

On Tuesday, an Ontario court dismissed PETA’s application for a judicial review. PETA argued its right to free expression was violated when its anti-Canada Goose ads were taken down in Toronto. Animal Justice intervened in the case and supported PETA’s position.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published April 22, 2020.

RELATED IMAGES
  • Canada GooseJackets are on display at the Canada Goose Inc. showroom in Toronto on Thursday, November 28, 2013. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Aaron Vincent Elkaim)

Alexander Archipelago Wolves Need Urgent Help Following Record Killings in Alaska’s Tongass National Forest

https://biologicaldiversity.org/w/news/press-releases/alexander-archipelago-wolves-need-urgent-help-following-record-killings-in-alaskas-tongass-national-forest-2020-04-15/

JUNEAU, Alaska― Conservation groups today called on the U.S. Forest Service to take immediate steps to protect Alexander Archipelago wolves on Prince of Wales Island in Alaska’s Tongass National Forest following word that 97 percent of the most recent estimated population was killed this past trapping season.

In their letter the groups also urged the agency to implement other wolf-conservation measures established in a 2017 habitat-management program developed specifically to protect this vulnerable population.

“This is a shocking number of wolves to have been taken, and once again there has to be concern for the viability of wolves on Prince of Wales Island,” said Nicole Whittington-Evans, Alaska program director for Defenders of Wildlife. “The U.S. Forest Service must engage with the state on wolf management decisions to ensure that this imperiled wolf population and its forest habitat will remain healthy for future generations,”

Today’s letter follows a March 5 announcement from the Alaska Department of Fish and Game that 165 wolves out of an estimated population of 170 (as of fall 2018) were legally trapped during the 2019-2020 season in the game management unit that includes Prince of Wales and surrounding islands. This record number of killings is in addition to any illegal killing, which is known to have been significant in the past.

“While wolf management has always been a controversial issue in Southeast Alaska, it simply belies common sense for the Alaska Department of Fish and Game to allow legal trapping of 97% of any game population,” said Meredith Trainor, executive director for the Southeast Alaska Conservation Council. “With this letter we’re calling on the U.S. Forest Service to take a larger role in, at a minimum, ensuring sustainably managed wolf populations on Prince of Wales Island by partnering with the Alaska Department of Fish and Game to immediately return to the quota system.

The department lifted the wolf-trapping quota for this past season despite the fact that the population had only recently rebounded after falling to a historic low in 2014. Had the quota been in place, the legal trapping limit would have been 34 wolves.

“The unprecedented killing of these imperiled wolves is an appalling and completely predictable result of reckless mismanagement,” said Shaye Wolf, a scientist at the Center for Biological Diversity. “It’s difficult to see how state and federal officials can allow hunting and trapping next season without completely wiping out these wolves. They have a duty to protect these beautiful animals from extinction.”

In previous years the quota had been set at about 20% of the population estimate, and sometimes significantly lower than that due to conservation concern for the population. The Tongass Land Management Plan directs the U.S. Forest Service to “assist in managing legal and illegal wolf mortality rates to within sustainable levels” and to “develop and implement a wolf habitat management program in conjunction with” the Alaska Department of Fish and Game. The Forest Service finalized that plan in 2017.

Background
Alexander Archipelago wolves and their rainforest home are under continued threats from industrial logging, road building, unsustainable trapping and hunting and large-scale habitat loss.

The population of wolves in the management unit decreased from an estimated mean of 336 animals in 1994 to just 89 animals in 2014.

Concern about the animal’s survival led the Forest Service, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the Alaska Department of Fish and Game to develop a Wolf Habitat Management Program. The program identified the key components of wolf management on Prince of Wales and surrounding islands as deer habitat, roads, mortality, den management and human dimensions. The program provided key recommendations in each category.

This interagency group considered quotas to be an important management tool in regulating mortality, reflected in these management recommendations:

● Maintain flexibility in quota management to alter quotas on a yearly basis to ensure wolf population and harvest sustainability;

● Continue to incorporate unreported human-caused mortality rates in developing wolf-harvest quotas using best available data;

● Monitor the wolf population to help evaluate program effectiveness;

● Prioritize and increase enforcement in pre-season and beginning of season, increase enforcement capabilities, and prioritize wolf-trapping season patrols in the game management unit.

Following implementation of the wolf-management program, the population recovered from a low mean estimate of 89 wolves in fall 2014 to 231 animals in fall 2016 and 225 wolves in fall 2017 before dropping to a mean estimate of 170 animals in fall 2018. The population estimates take several months to develop, so the fall 2019 estimate will not be available until August or September.

In addition to eliminating the wolf quota, the Alaska Department of Fish and Game also removed in-season monitoring of wolf mortality in the management unit. The department gave trappers more time to bring killed wolves to state officials for tagging and counting. The new deadline is up to 30 days after the trapping season ends, instead of 14 days after the animals are killed.

Alexander Archipelago wolf
Alexander Archipelago wolf. Photo credit: ©Robin Silver / Center for Biological Diversity Image is available for media use.

The Center for Biological Diversity is a national, nonprofit conservation organization with more than 1.7 million members and online activists dedicated to the protection of endangered species and wild places.

Defenders of Wildlife is dedicated to the protection of all native animals and plants in their natural communities. With over 1.8 million members and activists, Defenders of Wildlife is a leading advocate for innovative solutions to safeguard our wildlife heritage for generations to come. For more information, visit Defenders.org/newsroom

California Court Approves Ban on Federal Wildlife Poisoning, Trapping

Restrictions Aim to Protect Rare Tricolored Blackbirds, Beaver, Gray Wolves

SAN FRANCISCO— In response to a lawsuit filed by wildlife advocacy groups, a federal animal-killing program must restrict its use of bird-killing poisons in Northern California and stop setting strangulation snares and other traps in places like the Sacramento National Wildlife Refuge Complex.

The agreement, approved today by a San Francisco federal court, also directs the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Wildlife Services to analyze the environmental impacts of its killing of coyotes, bobcats, mountain lions and other wildlife in California’s “Sacramento District.” This 10-county region covers Colusa, El Dorado, Lake, Marin, Napa, Placer, Sacramento, Solano, Sonoma and Yolo counties.

“This victory will save hundreds of animals that would have needlessly suffered and died in traps set by Wildlife Services over the next several years,” said Collette Adkins, a Center for Biological Diversity attorney representing the conservation groups involved in the lawsuit. “It’s another important win in our fight to shut down this agency’s destructive and indiscriminate war on bobcats, coyotes and other wildlife.”

Under the court order approved today, Wildlife Services must provide, by the end of 2023, an “environmental impact statement” that analyzes the effects and risks of its wildlife-killing program in the Sacramento District. It must also offer opportunities for public input.

Pending completion of that study, the court order imposes several measures to protect wildlife in the 10-county area. For example, it restricts use of the avicide DRC-1339 to prevent accidental poisoning of state-threatened tricolored blackbirds. It also bans any use of body-gripping traps, such as strangulation snares, in several areas.

The court order further ends most beaver-killing in waterways where endangered wildlife depends on beaver-created habitats. The order also spells out several measures to protect California’s endangered gray wolves from being accidentally killed in traps set for other carnivores.

“We are pleased that Wildlife Services has agreed to consider the environmental impacts of its wildlife-killing program,” said Cristina Stella, an attorney at the Animal Legal Defense Fund. “Wild animals in California deserve our protection, and this victory assures that they will be free from some of the cruelest killing practices until Wildlife Services complies with federal law.”

“This agreement will ensure greater transparency and accountability from a federal agency that has run roughshod over America’s wildlife for far too long,” said Camilla Fox, Project Coyote executive director. “Many cost effective, non-lethal solutions exist to address human-wildlife conflicts that are more humane, ecologically sound and ethically defensible. We are hopeful that this settlement will propel a shift in this direction statewide.”

Today’s victory is the result of a lawsuit filed in August 2019 by the Center for Biological Diversity, Animal Legal Defense Fund and Project Coyote.

Background

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Wildlife Services is a multimillion-dollar federal program that uses painful leghold traps, strangulation snares, poisons and aerial gunning to kill coyotes, cougars, birds and other wild animals. Most of the killing is in response to requests from the agriculture industry.

In 2018 Wildlife Services reported killing nearly 1.5 million native animals nationwide. That year, in California, the program reported killing 26,441 native animals, including 3,826 coyotes, 859 beavers, 170 foxes, 83 mountain lions and 105 black bears. The 5,675 birds killed in 2018 in California included blackbirds, ducks, egrets, hawks, owls and doves.

Today’s victory follows several other recent wins by wildlife advocates in their campaigns against Wildlife Services, including in California (2019 and 2017), Oregon (2018), Colorado (2017), Arizona (2017), Idaho (2019 and 2018) and Wyoming (2019).

# # #

Project Coyote is a national nonprofit organization and a North American coalition of wildlife educators, scientists, ranchers, and community leaders promoting coexistence between people and wildlife, and compassionate conservation through education, science, and advocacy. For more information, visit www.projectcoyote.org

The Center for Biological Diversity is a national, nonprofit conservation organization with more than 1.7 million members and online activists dedicated to the protection of endangered species and wild places.

The Animal Legal Defense Fund was founded in 1979 to protect the lives and advance the interests of animals through the legal system. To accomplish this mission, the Animal Legal Defense Fund files high-impact lawsuits to protect animals from harm; provides free legal assistance and training to prosecutors to assure that animal abusers are punished for their crimes; supports tough animal protection legislation and fights harmful legislation; and provides resources and opportunities to law students and professionals to advance the emerging field of animal law. For more information, please visit aldf.org.

California Court Approves Ban on Federal Wildlife Poisoning, Trapping


For Immediate Release: April 7, 2020

Restrictions Aim to Protect Rare Tricolored Blackbirds, Beaver, Gray Wolves

SAN FRANCISCO, CA — In response to a lawsuit filed by wildlife advocacy groups, a federal animal-killing program must restrict its use of bird-killing poisons in Northern California and stop setting strangulation snares and other traps in places like the Sacramento National Wildlife Refuge Complex.

The agreement, approved today by a San Francisco federal court, also directs the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Wildlife Services to analyze the environmental impacts of its killing of coyotes, bobcats, mountain lions and other wildlife in California’s “Sacramento District.” This 10-county region covers Colusa, El Dorado, Lake, Marin, Napa, Placer, Sacramento, Solano, Sonoma and Yolo counties.

“This victory will save hundreds of animals that would have needlessly suffered and died in traps set by Wildlife Services over the next several years,” said Collette Adkins, a Center for Biological Diversity attorney representing the conservation groups involved in the lawsuit. “It’s another important win in our fight to shut down this agency’s destructive and indiscriminate war on bobcats, coyotes and other wildlife.”

Under the court order approved today, Wildlife Services must provide, by the end of 2023, an “environmental impact statement” that analyzes the effects and risks of its wildlife-killing program in the Sacramento District. It must also offer opportunities for public input.

Pending completion of that study, the court order imposes several measures to protect wildlife in the 10-county area. For example, it restricts use of the avicide DRC-1339 to prevent accidental poisoning of state-threatened tricolored blackbirds. It also bans any use of body-gripping traps, such as strangulation snares, in several areas.

The court order further ends most beaver-killing in waterways where endangered wildlife depends on beaver-created habitats. The order also spells out several measures to protect California’s endangered gray wolves from being accidentally killed in traps set for other carnivores.

“We are pleased that Wildlife Services has agreed to consider the environmental impacts of its wildlife-killing program,” said Cristina Stella, an attorney at the Animal Legal Defense Fund. “Wild animals in California deserve our protection, and this victory assures that they will be free from some of the cruelest killing practices until Wildlife Services complies with federal law.”

“This agreement will ensure greater transparency and accountability from a federal agency that has run roughshod over America’s wildlife for far too long,” said Camilla Fox, Project Coyote executive director. “Many cost effective, non-lethal solutions exist to address human-wildlife conflicts that are more humane, ecologically sound and ethically defensible. We are hopeful that this settlement will propel a shift in this direction statewide.”

Today’s victory is the result of a lawsuit filed in August 2019 by the Center for Biological Diversity, Animal Legal Defense Fund and Project Coyote.

Background

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Wildlife Services is a multimillion-dollar federal program that uses painful leghold traps, strangulation snares, poisons and aerial gunning to kill coyotes, cougars, birds and other wild animals. Most of the killing is in response to requests from the agriculture industry.

In 2018 Wildlife Services reported killing nearly 1.5 million native animals nationwide. That year, in California, the program reported killing 26,441 native animals, including 3,826 coyotes, 859 beavers, 170 foxes, 83 mountain lions and 105 black bears. The 5,675 birds killed in 2018 in California included blackbirds, ducks, egrets, hawks, owls and doves.

Today’s victory follows several other recent wins by wildlife advocates in their campaigns against Wildlife Services, including in California (2019 and 2017), Oregon (2018), Colorado (2017), Arizona (2017), Idaho (2019 and 2018) and Wyoming (2019).

Animal-rights groups picket NH Trappers banquet ahead of hearing on recreational trapping bill

  • Updated 
https://www.unionleader.com/news/animals/animal-rights-groups-picket-nh-trappers-banquet-ahead-of-hearing/article_2fbad506-8e4e-5e82-8db8-b3277398d2c0.html
Trapping protest

Annie Smith, a member of Twin State Animal Liberation, stands with a photo of a red fox on South Main Street in front of the Franklin Elks Lodge where the New Hampshire Trappers Association’s annual banquet was being held Saturday.

FRANKLIN — Ahead of what is expected to be a contentious, lengthy hearing on a bill that opponents say would lead to the elimination of recreational trapping, three animal-rights groups picketed the New Hampshire Trappers Association’s annual banquet on Saturday.

From about 4:15 to 5:30 p.m., a dozen-plus people and one human-sized red fox representing NH Citizens Against Recreational Trapping, NH Animal Rights League, and Twin State Animal Liberation conducted an informational picket on South Main Street, outside the Franklin Elks Lodge, where the banquet was held.

Kristina Snyder of Chester said the goal of the picket was to raise public awareness about trapping, the NHTA’s relationship with the Miss New Hampshire Scholarship Program, and House Bill 1504.

On Tuesday at 2 p.m. in Rooms 305-307 in the Legislative Office Building, the House of Representative’s Fish and Game and Marine Resources Committee is scheduled to take up HB 1504, which would create a study committee to examine the feasibility of banning recreational trapping and would require that committee to file a report by Nov. 1.

The NHTA, on its website, urged members to attend the HB 1504 hearing, saying that “if there was one day worth taking a day off from work to attend it would be this one.” The NHTA says “trapping is humane and the only way to successfully control furbearer populations.”

Larry Torr, president of the NHTA, was not immediately available for comment.

Holding a large photo of a silver fox with its leg caught in a trap, Snyder said HB 1504 would ban recreational trapping, but not commercial trapping of nuisance wildlife.

She said that in September 2019, California became the first state to make recreational trapping illegal and that the Granite State should follow suit.

Animals feel fear and pain, she said, and trapping is an outdated and unnecessary tradition.

Another tradition that should end, Snyder said, is that of the NHTA annually presenting a coat made of furs collected by members to the winner the Miss New Hampshire competition.

An official with the Miss New Hampshire Scholarship Program, in published reports last year, said the organization, despite the controversy, would continue its relationship with the NHTA, adding that the Miss New Hampshire winner had the option of accepting the fur coat, something Snyder disputes.

Annie Smith, of Westminster, Vt., came to Saturday’s picket because, she said, “we want to let people know that trapping still goes on and there’s no reason for it.”

Smith, who held a picture of a red fox, is confident that recreational trapping will cease. “I just hope it happens in my lifetime,” she said.

Further up the picket line, a much larger, faux red fox, who said his name is Anonymous and that he hails from New Hampshire, said the NHTA and “a few hundred trappers are holding wildlife hostage. It’s time for that to end.”

Picture Rocks woman is charged with felony in trapping, killing of neighbors’ dog

An off-duty animal control officer who admitted to shooting and killing her neighbors’ dog at her Picture Rocks home in October has been charged with a felony.

Marilyn Hendrickson, 27, was arraigned in Pima County Superior Court on Wednesday after she was indicted earlier this month on one count of killing a domestic animal without consent, a fifth-degree felony. A judge entered a plea of not guilty on Hendrickson’s behalf.

The Arizona Daily Star reported in early November that Hendrickson, an animal control officer for Marana, trapped and killed the dog, Buddy, days earlier after a monthslong dispute involving her neighbors, Tiffany and Justin Bara, and her former employer, the Pima Animal Care Center.

A criminal case was investigated by the Pima County Sheriff’s Department.

Hendrickson told the Star that she carried out her actions out of desperation after months of what she perceived as inaction by PACC officers.

Records show she called PACC at least five times after more than a dozen of her chickens were killed and her goats were attacked — and blamed her neighbors. She told the Star she installed surveillance cameras and caught a dog on video attacking her goats.

A Marana spokeswoman told the Star in December that Hendrickson was no longer employed by the town.

Both Hendrickson and the Baras said they discussed the incident, but talks about replacing the chickens fell through. Tiffany Bara acknowledged her three dogs would escape from the yard, despite efforts to patch their fence, pack holes they dug and block the fencing with a kennel. Court records show the Baras were also charged with multiple counts of violating leash laws, dogs chasing livestock and for the dogs biting animals.

After the incident, Kristen Hassen, PACC director of animal services, stressed her officers always responded and did everything they could when Hendrickson called and that they would have done so again if Hendrickson had kept Buddy in the trap. She called the incident tragic and avoidable.

Hendrickson was booked into the Pima County jail on Wednesday. She is scheduled to appear in court next on March 16.

America’s New Animal Cruelty Law Ignores 99% of Animal Cruelty

Ari Solomon    News

As an animal activist, I truly want to celebrate any step forward for animals. On one hand, it makes me very happy that President Trump signed the Preventing Animal Cruelty and Torture (PACT) Act into law yesterday. (And yes, it’s difficult for this diehard liberal to admit that Trump actually did something good, but even a broken clock is right twice a day).

The legislation, which passed the Senate unanimously – something truly remarkable in these divided times – expands on the 2010 Animal Crush Video Prohibition Act and increases the punishment for instances of animal cruelty, making them felony crimes.

The new law was heralded by many in the animal protection movement. Kitty Block, the president and CEO of The Humane Society of the United States, had this to say: “PACT makes a statement about American values. Animals are deserving of protection at the highest level. The approval of this measure by the Congress and the president marks a new era in the codification of kindness to animals within federal law. For decades, a national anti-cruelty law was a dream for animal protectionists. Today, it is a reality.”

Now, like I said, I agree that this is a positive step. But I’d be remiss if I didn’t point out that this new law completely ignores 99 percent of the animal cruelty that routinely takes place every single day in the United States.

According to The Washington Post, the PACT Act “outlines exemptions for humane euthanasia; slaughter for food; recreational activities such as hunting, trapping and fishing; medical and scientific research; ‘normal veterinary, agricultural husbandry, or other animal management practice’; and actions that are necessary ‘to protect the life or property of a person.’”

Of course animal cruelty to dogs and cats by private citizens should be dealt with severely. But what about the billions of animals tortured each year on America’s factory farms? Or how about the tens of thousands of animals, including dogs and cats, who are tested on and mistreated in laboratories?

Can we actually say we’re cracking down on animal cruelty when we still allow SeaWorld to keep cetaceans captive and force them to perform? Or permit insanely cruel practices like fur trapping and bow hunting?

My objective is not to trash Ms. Block or even President Trump on this issue (though Trump’s record on animals is pretty abysmal), but merely to point out that animal cruelty is still animal cruelty, even when it’s done for money or recreation or sport. In fact, we should take those cases of abuse even more seriously because they affect so many more animals. One sick fuck torturing his dog is abhorrent, but what about a business that tortures thousands in a laboratory or a puppy mill?

As society’s view of what constitutes animal cruelty evolves, so will our laws. But, in the meantime, it’s the animals who needlessly suffer day in and day out. Sadly, the PACT Act leaves the overwhelming majority of those animals no better off than they were before.

Main image: Anna Moneymaker / The New York Times 

https://veganista.co/2019/11/26/americas-new-animal-cruelty-law-ignores-99-of-animal-cruelty/

Lawsuit Launched to Protect Minnesota’s Rare Lynx From Trapping

State-permitted Fur Trapping Leads to Illegal Killings, Captures of Wild Cat

MINNEAPOLIS- The Center for Biological Diversity today
<https://www.biologicaldiversity.org/w/documents/31/Lynx_MN_Sec_9_–_NOI_12_
3_2019_to_send.pdf> notified the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources
of plans to sue the agency for permitting trapping that harms Canada lynx,
in violation of the Endangered Species Act.

In the past decade, state and federal agencies have documented captures of
16 lynx in traps set for other wildlife in Minnesota, six of which resulted
in death. As few as 50 of the rare cats may remain in the state.

“It’s outrageous that Minnesota’s lynx keep needlessly suffering and
dying in indiscriminate traps,” said Collette Adkins, the Center’s
carnivore conservation director. “The state needs to step up and implement
sensible changes to prevent the tragic deaths of these highly imperiled
cats. Minnesota’s rare animals shouldn’t be strangled in neck snares.”

Trapping of Canada lynx, unless covered by a specific permit from the U.S.
Fish and Wildlife Service, constitutes an illegal “take” under the
Endangered Species Act, even if accidental.

Every year in Minnesota, a small number of trappers kill
<https://files.dnr.state.mn.us/recreation/hunting/trapping/harvest_17-18.pdf
> thousands of bobcats, pine martens and other wildlife, largely to sell
their furs.

In a previous lawsuit filed by wildlife conservation groups, a Minnesota
federal court in 2008
<https://www.biologicaldiversity.org/news/press_releases/2008/lynx-07-14-200
8.html> held the state liable for harm to lynx caused by trapping. It
ordered the state to apply to the Fish and Wildlife Service for a permit to
cover its trapping program. But the state never obtained the permit.

The court also ordered the state to better protect lynx by issuing
regulations to restrict trapping in core lynx habitat. But even after these
additional measures went into effect, the rare cats have continued to get
caught in traps.

“Year after year we see sickening reports of lynx getting caught and even
killed by traps, but the state refuses to act,” said Adkins. “Minnesota’s
wildlife managers would rather appease a small number of trappers than
protect these beautiful wild cats. We hope this lawsuit will finally
convince the state to make lynx conservation a true priority.”

The lawsuit will seek additional measures to prevent trappers from hurting
Canada lynx, such as requiring placement of certain traps within “lynx
exclusion devices” that prevent lynx deaths. Conibear traps snap shut in a
viselike grip and have killed lynx on numerous occasions, but the department
does not require trappers to place them within exclusion devices.

Today’s notice letter starts a 60-day clock, after which the Center can
file its lawsuit to compel the state to comply with the Endangered Species
Act.

Background

Canada lynx (Lynx canadensis) are distinguished from bobcats by their tufted
ears, hind legs that appear longer than front legs, and a pronounced goatee
under the chin. Their large paws work like snowshoes and enable them to walk
on top of deep, soft snows. These cold‐loving cats feed predominantly on
snowshoe hares but may also eat birds and small mammals and scavenge
carcasses.

The lynx was listed as a “threatened” species under the federal Endangered
Species Act in 2000. Its federally designated “critical habitat” includes
northeastern Minnesota.

Trapping, habitat destruction, climate change and other threats continue to
harm the Canada lynx. Although once more widespread, lynx currently reside
in small breeding populations in Minnesota, Idaho, Montana, Washington and
Maine. A reintroduced population also resides in Colorado. Currently,
biologists estimate, 50 to 200 lynx may range in northern Minnesota.

Last year the Trump administration
<https://www.biologicaldiversity.org/news/press_releases/2018/canada-lynx-01
-11-2018.php> announced plans to remove federal protection from lynx but has
not yet moved forward with an actual proposal.

<https://www.biologicaldiversity.org/resourcespace/pages/search.php?search=%
21collection531&k=127e8fd67e> Canada lynx (Lynx canadensis), Washington Dept
FWS.
<https://www.biologicaldiversity.org/resourcespace/pages/search.php?search=%
21collection531&k=127e8fd67e> Additional photos and video available for
download here.

The Center for Biological Diversity is a national, nonprofit conservation
organization with more than 1.6 million members and online activists
dedicated to the protection of endangered species and wild places.

<https://biologicaldiversity.org/>

<https://biologicaldiversity.org/news/breaking/> More Press

https://biologicaldiversity.org/w/news/press-releases/lawsuit-launched-to-pr
otect-minnesotas-rare-lynx-from-trapping-2019-12-03-2019-12-04/?fbclid=IwAR1
XZtGtTp6cKY-SCelXobX1TlYqb3hn3ba53pezgo0dAJsOqOSgJ8XRJg4#.XefF0Mdzx3A.facebo
ok

The Queen has ditched buying fur — here’s what northern trappers think

To some, the decline of the international fur market is a chance to return to traditional ways

Buckingham Palace says new outfits designed for the Queen won’t use real fur. (Johnny Green/AP)

From August to January, it’s hard to find a trapper in the North.

Most are deep in the bush, working traplines that, in some cases, have been in use for hundreds of years.

So they probably haven’t heard the news yet: they’ll have one less customer for their furs this year — and she’s a big one.

Queen Elizabeth, Canada’s head of state, announced last week she would no longer purchase fur.

“Our only comment on this story is as follows: As new outfits are designed for the Queen, any fur used will be fake,” wrote her communications secretary.

The palace said that doesn’t mean fur on existing outfits will be replaced or that the Queen would never wear fur again. “The Queen will continue to re-wear existing outfits in her wardrobe.”

Gordon Zealand, executive director of the Yukon Fish and Game Association, said, “The trappers I know are all out on their lines currently.

“At the same time all would be disappointed with the decision.”

Rosemarie Kuptana, an Inuk former politician and cultural advocate, said she was “somewhat shocked, and then disappointed.

“I think it’s a real departure from the commitment to Inuit as a people … because fur is important to our way of life.”

Decision follows public opinion

The Queen’s decision follows those made by the world’s biggest fashion houses to ditch using fur in their designs — Gucci, Prada and Armani among them.

D’Arcy Moses, a Dene fashion designer with a workshop in Enterprise, N.W.T. who uses fur in some of his work, said the shift has been the result of “pressure … from the really strong anti-fur movement in Europe and the U.K.

“The whole gamut of the industry has done an about-face,” said Moses. “No one wears mink coats anymore.”

Financially, it’s another blow to a Canadian fur industry that appears to be in terminal decline.

Just last month, the world’s second largest fur auction house, North American Fur Auctions — a former subsidiary of the Hudson’s Bay Company with over three centuries of history — went into creditor protection.

It now says wild and farmed fur auctions planned for 2020 are unlikely to go ahead.

Industry assessments show some tanned and taxidermied products remain in high demand at auctions, and Jackie Yaklin, secretary treasurer for the Yukon Trappers Association, said wild trappers are responding by increasingly sending pelts to be tanned out of territory.

But Mark Downey, chief executive officer of Fur Harversters, Canada’s other major fur auction house, wrote in his 2019 wild fur market forecast that “many fur species are selling below acceptable levels” — even if a surge in Chinese interest led to a moderate recovery in prices this summer.

Even beyond the industry impact, the Queen’s rejection of new fur carries an important symbolic weight, ending a centuries-long relationship with northern Indigenous trappers.

It’s a real departure from the commitment to Inuit as a people … because fur is important to our way of life.– Rosemarie Kuptana, Inuk former politician and cultural advocate

“What she wears is very important,” said Kuptana. “She is, after all, a world leader, a monarch” of 16 Commonwealth countries, “and in these … countries, there are Indigenous people who [have a] relationship with the land that requires them to hunt and trap.”

“The fur trade was how Canada was made,” she said. “It’s how Canada was built…. So fur was always a very important aspect of our relationship with the royalty.”

Trading fur ‘to the liking of the colonizers’

Francois Paulette helped found the Indian Brotherhood of the Northwest Territories, the precursor to today’s Dene Nation. He also sued the Crown over the treaty rights of Indigenous people in 1972 in a famous case known as the “Paulette caveat.”

Paulette said what the Queen decides to wear is “her business.” But he added that the failure of the fur industry could be grounds for another lawsuit against the Crown.

Francois Paulette, who sued the Crown over treaty rights in 1972, says colonialism built the fur industry, and the Crown could be liable for its failure. (Pat Kane/CBC)

“It was the Hudson’s Bay [Company] … that initiated trapping into our part of the world,” said Paulette. “Trapping became a way of life that never existed.”

Paulette said the meteoric rise of the fur trade fundamentally altered northerners’ relationship to the land and animals.

“Before that … our people, the Dene, lived in balance with nature, and we took what we needed,” he said.

“But something changed, and that was when the Hudson’s Bay [Company], along with the British Crown, came to our lands. From there on, our whole civilization, our way of life began to change to the liking of the colonizers.”

Now, Paulette said, with the bottom falling out of the fur trade, Dene people are left at loose ends, with a marred relationship to nature.

“The Hudson’s Bay [Company], that has taken us down the road, and we have nothing at the end,” he said.

For others in the North, the Queen’s wardrobe could not be a more remote concern.

“That’s her choice and that’s her life,” said Andrew Akerolik, a trapper in Nunavut’s Kivalliq region.

“I’m sure she has no concern for me here.”