Animal trophy hunting documentary misses the mark

http://www.timesunion.com/opinion/article/Animal-trophy-hunting-documentary-misses-the-mark-12218414.php?cmpid=email-desktop&cmpid=email-desktop

“Trophy,” a documentary that explores the commodification of threatened and endangered African species, which premiered earlier this month at the Quad Cinema in New York City, is enough to have Cecil the Lion rolling over in his grave.

While the directors should be commended for putting the issue in the spotlight, it feels more like an attempt by the trophy hunting industry to save face following the public backlash after the tragic death of Cecil the lion at the hands of an American trophy hunter in Zimbabwe in 2015. And it’s no wonder, since the movie’s narrative unfolds after the directors attend the Safari Club International’s (SCI) annual hunter’s convention.

They drank the Kool-Aid.

To appease the public, the trophy hunting industry claims that without it there would be no money in Africa for conservation. In the movie, well-heeled American trophy hunters are the unsung heroes whose money is helping to save Africa’s magnificent animals from the bad-guys—local poachers driving these animals to extinction. It’s hard to stomach the hypocrisy—American trophy hunters think their money makes killing ok.

The idea that it doesn’t is not broached by directors who promise to tell both sides of the story with critical examination. The movie never considers that legal trophy hunting is one of the reasons that Africa’s Big Five face extinction in the first place and that legal trophy hunting fuels poaching.

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Longlac man fined after shooting trophy bear; 760-pound animal was shot at the Longlac dump

Trophy bear was shot near Longlac in 2014.

The shooting three years ago of one of the largest black bears ever
harvested in Ontario has led to a stiff fine and the loss of hunting
privileges for a Longlac man.

Michael A. Gauthier was convicted after a trial in Geraldton this week and
fined $5,000 for hunting black bear within 400 metres of a waste disposal
site.

He was also fined $1,000 for possessing wildlife illegally, and received a
four-year hunting suspension. The bear was forfeited to the Crown.

According to a news release from the Ministry of Natural Resources and
Forestry, court was told that on September 13, 2014, Gauthier shot and
wounded a 760-pound bear within the Longlac waste disposal site. Several
hours later, he returned to the site where he dispatched the injured bear.

The MNRF news release refers to the animal as a trophy bear.

Skull size is the usual measurement for determining bear records.

The weight listed in the news release was the “dressed” weight, measured
after the internal organs were removed.

Ontarioblackbears.com lists the largest recorded weight for a black bear as
816 pounds.

However, the Federation for the Recognition of Ontario Wildlife says its
records show the heaviest bear ever harvested in the province was 780
pounds. It was shot by a hunter using a cross-bow in the Nipissing area in
2007.

https://www.tbnewswatch.com/local-news/longlac-man-fined-after-shooting-trop
hy-bear-707460

Donald Trump is first president to address the NRA in 34 years

http://abcnews.go.com/Politics/donald-trump-president-address-nra-34-years/story?id=47080710

  • By MEGHAN KENEALLY

Apr 28, 2017

President Donald Trump is following in the footsteps of former President Ronald Reagan by speaking at a National Rifle Association event.

Today’s speech, at the NRA’s Leadership Forum in Atlanta, won’t be Trump’s first talk to the gun rights group. He was endorsed by the NRA in May and spoke at their convention at the time.

But his appearance later today marks the first time that a sitting president has addressed the group since Reagan did so in 1983.

The NRA is known for their sizable lobbying operation and by raising money for — and against — candidates. The group made over $52 million in donations to candidates during the 2016 election, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. They spent $30.3 million in support of Trump, the CRP reported.

Trump campaigned on the pledge to support and protect the Second Amendment, which he said during his May NRA appearance, was “under a threat like never before.” He pointed to his then-rival Hillary Clinton as the basis for that threat.

“Hillary Clinton wants to abolish the Second Amendment, not change it; she wants to abolish it,” Trump said at the time, although Clinton had never made such claims.

“The Second Amendment is on the ballot in November. The only way to save our Second Amendment is to vote for a person you know: Donald Trump,” he said.

Trump has noted that his two eldest sons, Donald Jr. and Eric, have been longtime members of the NRA, and during the May speech, he said that “they have so many rifles and so many guns, even I get concerned.” 

During the second presidential debate, Trump promised to appoint Supreme Court justices that will “respect the Second Amendment and what it stands for and what it represents,” and said that the list of 20 judges that he released as possible picks all fit that bill. Judge Neil Gorsuch, who he later nominated and has since been appointed to the Supreme Court, was on that list.

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports that hundreds of protesters and gun control advocates are reportedly gathering near the convention site this morning. Part of the protest will feature a “die-in,” where 93 people will lie down in a local park to represent the number of people who die from gun violence every day, the paper reports.

There will be another protest on Saturday, and Rep. John Lewis of Georgia is scheduled to attend. Lewis and Trump have a turbulent history. Lewis did not attend the inauguration and said he did not see Trump as a “legitimate president.” Trump returned the favor by criticizing the civil rights leader, saying that he was “all talk, talk, talk — no action or results.”

Donald Trump vs. animals

If a presidential candidate announced that his or her administration would hurt one of your relatives, you would likely do everything possible to prevent that person from being elected. For the 95% of U.S. pet owners who describe their dog or cat as a member of the family, or the millions of other Americans who care about animals on farms and in the wild, Donald Trump presents such a threat.

From a four-legged vantage point, a Trump administration would be a disaster. Last month, the Trump campaign floated billionaire Forrest Lucas as the potential secretary of the interior in his administration, a position that oversees vital animal-related programs at the National Park Service and Bureau of Land Management.

Described as “the leading anti-animal advocate in the United States” by the Humane Society Legislative Fund, Lucas has dedicated much of his time and fortune to defending some of the worst animal abuse industries in our country.

Lucas’ anti-animal front organization, Protect the Harvest, spent a quarter of a million dollars to try to block a ballot initiative in North Dakota that would have set felony-level penalties for malicious cruelty to dogs, cats and horses. That’s relevant to Lucas’ potential influence in a Trump administration, given that the Bureau of Land Management manages tens of thousands of wild horses in the West.

Lucas’ political machine has also advanced other anti-animal causes, including so-called “right to farm” legislation in states like North Dakota, Missouri, Indiana and Oklahoma. Such legislation would leave millions of animals suffering in silence on factory farms and slaughterhouses, while undermining the Bureau of Land Management’s role in humanely administering 155 million acres of grazing land for cattle and sheep.

While Interior is not directly responsible for companion animal programs, Lucas has shown callous indifference to their protection by funneling hundreds of thousands of dollars to efforts to weaken and repeal tough standards to reform puppy mills in Missouri, the nation’s largest dog-breeding state. The Lucas group also helped kill a local initiative in Indiana that simply would have required proper outdoor shelters to protect dogs and cats from the elements.

Along with Lucas, the other members of Trump’s Agriculture Advisory Committee include some of the most vocal anti-animal business leaders and elected officials in our country. Former Iowa State Rep. Annette Sweeney, one member of that group, was the author of her state’s “ag gag” bill, a perverse inversion of justice in which the heroes who film cruelty on factory farms are instead charged as criminals themselves. That bill was signed into law by Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad, another advisor on Trump’s team.

Nebraska Gov. Dave Heineman, yet another member of Trump’s committee, is infamous for vetoing a bill that would have banned trophy hunting of mountain lions in his state, thus extending Lucas’ anti-cat efforts outlined earlier to their wild cousins as well.

Donald Trump Jr. in Africa with an elephant tail.

But Donald Trump doesn’t need to consult his advisory board to find defenders of cruel trophy hunting practices like Heineman. He has more than enough of them in his own family.

Sons Eric and Donald Trump Jr. have offended millions of wildlife lovers with their pay-to-kill hunts for some of Africa’s most magnificent creatures, including elephants, kudus, civet cats, crocodiles, waterbucks and leopards. Pictures of the Trump boys posing with the victims of their murderous vacations have drawn condemnation across the world, but a much more muted response from their father, who justified it with a casual comment that his “sons love to hunt.”

In this midst of Trump’s anti-animal tornado, it is with wistful retrospection that many Republican animal advocates remember the past leadership by our party on many of the same issues. President Dwight Eisenhower signed the first federal Humane Methods of Slaughter Act into law, as well as legislation prohibiting the poisoning of wild horse and burro waterholes. President Richard Nixon expanded the scope and coverage of animal protection legislation by signing landmark animal protection laws including the Animal Welfare Act, Marine Mammal Protection Act, and Endangered Species Act.

President Gerald Ford expanded both the Animal Welfare Act and the Marine Mammal Protection Act, while Republican legislative leaders like Senator Bob Dole championed the protection of farm animals throughout their careers from their seats in Congress. More recently, Representative Elton Gallegly (R-Calif.) twice led Congress to ban horrific animal crush videos, and dozens of Republican representatives in both chambers have fought for legislation to protect whales, chimpanzees, horses and companion animals from cruelty and abuse.

On Election Day, those are the voices for animals that we should honor and respect. If you love your dog, cherish your cat or care about other animals on farms or in the wild, then proxy their paws in the voting booth and pull the lever for anybody but Donald Trump.

Weinstein is CEO of Ridgeback Communications. He was director of media relations for the Dole/Kemp presidential campaign and was deputy press secretary to then-House Speaker Newt Gingrich.

Take Action to Save Oregon Cougars from Hound Hunting

Screen Shot 2015-09-28 at 3.17.20 PM

http://mountainlion.org/ActionAlerts/020217ORfourbills/020217ORfourbills.asp?utm_source=Action+Alert+OR+Hounding+Bills+02-2017&utm_campaign=Action+Alert+9%2F29%2F2015+SD+lower&utm_medium=email

Oregon has introduced four threatening bills that not only promote cruel and unethical hunting methods, they strike at the very heart of the democratic process. Send a message to your Oregon state representative and state senator urging them to oppose bills H.B.2107, H.B.2589, S.B.371 and S.B.458.

 

      • H.B. 2107, H.B. 2589 and S.B. 371: These three bills would allow counties to opt out of Measure 18 via a county-wide vote. Measure 18 is a statewide law banning use of hounds to trophy hunt cougars and was passed by a wide majority of voters throughout Oregon in 1994. These bills would set a dangerous precedent.
      • H.B. 458: Perhaps the most frightening bill, would mandate the Oregon Fish and Wildlife Department to set up a controlled hound hunting program for cougars, bypassing the citizen majority who has repeatedly said no to the sport hunting of cougars with hounds.

 

Hound hunting allows a pack of dogs to run down a cougar until the animal is cornered in a tree or on a rock ledge. The hounds are GPS radio-collared and send a signal to the hounder when they have ‘treed’ an animal and the hounder is then able to shoot the exhausted and terrified cougar at point blank range. There is no fair chase and many hunters don’t approve of the use of hounds for sport hunting.

 

    Letters from Oregon residents will be sent forward via US mail to your legislator. Letters sent from outside of Oregon will be held and sent to the Governor and other decision makers if necessary.
    1. IF YOU LIVE IN OREGON YOUR OPINION IS CRUCIAL.

      Send an electronic letter above and we will forward a paper copy to your representative and send a copy to the Governor of Oregon

http://mountainlion.org/ActionAlerts/020217ORfourbills/020217ORfourbills.asp?utm_source=Action+Alert+OR+Hounding+Bills+02-2017&utm_campaign=Action+Alert+9%2F29%2F2015+SD+lower&utm_medium=email

Please be sure to use your own voice and experiences when adding your comments and feel free to use and expand on the talking points below:

      • These bills would undo Measure 18, the statewide initiative that passed in 1994 by a majority vote to ban cougar trophy hunting with hounds.
      • The passage of these bills would give counties authority to override state law and set a dangerous precedent by rendering majority votes on statewide ballot measure initiatives meaningless.
      • These bills would put Oregon’s cougar population and other wildlife in grave danger from indiscriminate chase by hounds.
      • Hounders should know where their hounds are at all times because of the radio collars they wear, but hounds can range miles from hounders, crossing private land and attacking, injuring and killing non-target game and even pets.
      • Dependent cougar kittens fall victim to hound packs as well, as they are attacked and killed during the chase.
      • Hounds are injured and killed on the hunt as they face large male lions and mother lions who are trying to protect their kittens.
      • Hunting with hounds is not fair chase and many ethical hunters do not approve of hounding.
      • Cougars are ‘treed’ by hounds and must wait with no escape until the hunter arrives to shoot and kill the terrified and exhausted animal at close range.

 

    1. NO MATTER WHERE YOU LIVE, YOU CAN STILL SEND A LETTER.

      If you live outside of Oregon we will forward a paper copy of your letter to the Governor of Oregon. Let’s let them know that MOUNTAIN LIONS SHOULD NOT BE HUNTED BY DOGS!

 

    1. You can SIGN UP FOR EMAIL NOTIFICATIONS for these four bills at: https://olis.leg.state.or.us/liz/2017R1/Measures/list/ by searching for the bill numbers, clicking on them and signing up in the upper right screen for “e-subscribe Email”. You will be notified of legislative actions and hearings on the bills you subscribe to.

 

 

Trophy Hunting is Barbaric

02/22/2017 03:50 pm ET | Updated 15 hours ago

(Photo Courtesy of the Humane Society of the United States)

Trophy hunting is a despicable practice that even many hunters disagree with because of clearly unsportsmanlike practices like hunting animals in fenced enclosures, baiting, and using dogs to chase and exhaust wild animals. But the bottom line is that trophy hunting is simply killing for fun or bragging rights and no real hunter who follows any sense of ethics would participate in this blood sport.

Last year, The Humane Society of the United States used data from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to determine that between 2005 and 2014, 1.26 million trophies were brought into the U.S. This is an average of 126,000 trophy imports per year or 345 per day.

The killing of Cecil the lion by American Walter Palmer demonstrated to the world how inhumane trophy hunting is. Cecil was in Hwange National Park in Zimbabwe and wore a collar that transmitted data about his movements back to researchers. This didn’t stop Palmer and his guides from luring the lion outside of the protected preserve with meat and then stalking and killing him. People were outraged and rightfully so.

Even with Walter Palmer as one of its members, Safari Club International continues to facilitate selling trips around the world to kill the rarest animals for their heads and hides. Their recent convention in Las Vegas in February offered the following options to wealthy individuals:

· a Zambian leopard, sable, roan and plains game hunt for $81,000;

· a Canadian polar bear trophy hunt for $72,000;

· a New Zealand red stag and tahr hunt for four people for $92,000.

SCI maintains that it is a “conservation” group that contributes substantially to the economies of poor African nations. Nothing could be further from the truth. To coincide with the meeting in Las Vegas, Humane Society International (HSI) released a study conducted by Economists at Large that finds that trophy hunters have overstated their contributions to African economies and employment.

In Botswana, Ethiopia, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa, Tanzania, Zambia and Zimbabwe, trophy hunting brings in just 0.78 percent or less of overall tourism spending and has a marginal impact on employment, accounting for 0.76 percent or less of tourism jobs.

The fact is the segment of the tourism industry in Africa that does not rely on hunting is growing faster and employs 132 times more people than the trophy hunting industry. The tourism ministries of these eight countries must recognize the damage trophy hunting causes to their brand. We should call on these ministries to lead the charge in banning trophy hunting, something Botswana and Kenya – both prosperous tourism destinations – have already done.

Trophy hunting is still big business for SCI. In 2015, revenue from the convention was $14.3 million out of a total revenue of $22.7 million. The money is used to open up trophy-hunting seasons on wolves, fight any efforts to restrict the hunting of African elephants and lions, and lobby Congress to enable hunters to import endangered polar bear trophies into the U.S. or increase hunter access to public lands.

Trophy hunters are losing ground. In 2014, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service restricted imports of elephant trophies from Tanzania and Zimbabwe, as well as conferring threatened and endangered status for African lions. Cecil’s shooting prompted numerous major airlines, including Delta, Virgin Atlantic, and United, to ban the transport of some or all trophies from Africa.

It is up to us to put pressure on Congress to continue to pass laws that limit trophy hunting. This will not be easy as President Trump’s sons are avid trophy hunters. We also need to encourage African nations to turn to viable alternatives to trophy hunting, like ecotourism, which promises sustained growth, much higher economic value, and greater contribution to employment.

Cecil the lion cast a light on this inhumane practice. In his memory, let’s save other big game from wealthy people who are neither hunters nor conservationists – they are cold blooded killers.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/trophy-hunting-is-barbaric_us_58adf859e4b01f4ab51c75ab

Controversial hunting group hosts ‘Women in Hunting’ event

Controversial hunting group hosts ‘Women in Hunting’ event

HUDSONVILLE, Mich.– A controversial hunting organization is hosting their annual fundraising event this weekend in West Michigan. The group kicked off the weekend with an event encouraging more women to get involved in hunting.

Safari Club International is an organization dedicated to protecting the rights of hunters and conservation education. While hunting is a male-dominated sport, it’s something the group is trying to change.

“Women are the fastest growing population of hunters, said Dan Olson, President of the Michigan chapter of Safari Club International. “When you come to a lot of our meetings it’s mostly men. We want to get more of the women involved and this is the best way to do that.”

The Michigan chapter of Safari Club International invited three generations of female hunters, all of which are famous in their field. The youngest: 22-year-old Kendall Jones, whose photos were shared around the world in 2014.

“I went over to Africa and I was hunting the big five,” said Jones. “I posted pictures of all of my animals and the lion picture I posted, the anti-hunters got a hold of it and posted it on all of their anti-hunting websites. They put it on the news and it just kind of blew up. I was on all of the news stations in other countries with my face on their newspapers. In Germany, I was the ‘Baby Face Killer’.”

Now, Jones is using her platform to encourage women and children to get outdoors.

“Since everything’s happened, it’s really given me a platform to have a voice for hunters,” said Jones. “It’s given me the ability to spread awareness and educate these people on what conservation really is. My goal is to get females and the youth involved.”

Jones says she wants children to learn to love hunting so the sport doesn’t disappear.

“I love kids and I would love for them to get outside,” said Jones. “I think some kids are so sheltered nowadays with being inside and being on their phones so much they don’t get to experience the great outdoors. If we don’t get them outside hunting is going to die off. Having this pedestal, that’s something I want to do is get them involved and get them outside.”

Also in attendance was Diana Rupp, editor in chief of Sports Afield magazine.

“Wildlife conservation is really driven by hunters and not a lot of people know that story, but it’s really true,” said Rupp. “The money that we put into hunting licenses and the money that’s raised by organizations like the one we’re at now with the fundraiser is super important to our wildlife heritage.”

Rupp says some people have misconceptions about hunting.

“It’s not that we hate animals or anything like that which a lot of people think,” said Rupp. “It’s absolutely the opposite. We love animals. We are trying to promote wildlife conservation in a way that truly works and raise a lot of money for the animals and for the habitat.”

Mary Harter, the 2015 Woman Hunter of the Year, was also there pushing women to get involved.

“We can do it,” said Harter. “Women are known to shoot better than men. We can do it.”

On Saturday, they’re hosting an all-day fundraiser at the Pinnacle Center in Hudsonville. Doors open at noon. Tickets cost $90 and you must have a ticket to enter. The event ends at 10 p.m. and includes raffles, games, dinner, an auction and more. The Pinnacle Center is located at 3330 Highland Dr. in Hudsonville.

NM hunting guide wounded in gunfight near border

https://www.abqjournal.com/923857/nm-hunting-guide-client-wounded-in-alleged-border-attack.html?utm_source=email-a-story&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=email-a-story

By Lauren Villagran / Journal Staff Writer
Published: Monday, January 9th, 2017 at 12:50pm
Walker Daugherty, 26, of Chloride, NM, leading an elk-hunting team.

Walker Daugherty, 26, in an undated photo from an elk hunt. He was guiding a hunt in West Texas on Friday for his family’s New Mexico-based business when the group was allegedly attacked.(Courtesy of Gila Livestock Growers Association)

 

Copyright © 2017 Albuquerque Journal

No one knows for sure what happened, and the people who do aren’t talking about it.

Five miles north of the Mexican border on a remote West Texas ranch, a New Mexico hunting guide and his client were wounded over the weekend in an alleged gunfight that a family friend described as an attack by “illegal aliens” and an attempted kidnapping.

The Presidio County Sheriff’s Office appeared to question that account in a statement Monday, saying “there is no evidence to support allegations of ‘cross-border violence.’” A Border Patrol spokesman called the alleged incident “highly unusual for our part of the border.”

The following is an account of the events.

Hunting guide Walker Daugherty, 26, of Chloride, N.M. – a ranching community about three hours southwest of Albuquerque near the Gila National Forest – was guiding an exotic big game hunt near Candelaria, Texas, on the border when his party was allegedly attacked by unknown assailants.

Daugherty and his fiancée, another hunting guide and his wife were staying in a lodge at the Circle Dug Ranch. Edwin Roberts, the hunter, and his wife were asleep in a rented RV nearby when gunmen attempted to take the vehicle by force.

Daugherty was shot in the abdomen when he tried to stop the assailants from taking the RV with his clients inside, according to a statement issued by the Gila Livestock Growers Association that described the attack as a kidnapping attempt. Roberts, 59, was shot in the arm.

The RV was “riddled with bullet holes,” the statement said.

Daugherty and Roberts were taken to an El Paso hospital and were in stable condition Monday.

Rancher and Gila Livestock Growers Association President Laura Schneberger issued a news release about the attack, based on the Daugherty family’s account. In addition to their hunting business, Redwing Outfitters, the Daugherty family runs a ranch near the Gila National Forest. The family could not be reached Monday.

“The attack has the family concerned that the attack was not just an attempt to rob the property,” the growers association statement said. “They believe the assailants intended to kill all the party. The attackers were strategically placed around the lodge, and the men were fired upon from different areas.”

Sheriff skeptical

The Presidio County Sheriff’s Office responded to a 911 call around 9:30 p.m. Friday from the Circle Dug Ranch, a two-hour drive from the Presidio County seat, Marfa. Chief Sheriff’s Deputy Joel Nunez responded to the scene.

“We are still investigating details of the shooting,” Sheriff Danny Dominguez said in a statement. “However, there is no evidence to support allegations of ‘cross-border violence’ as released by some media sources.”

The terrain of Presidio County, near Big Bend National Park, is rugged like New Mexico’s Bootheel and notoriously difficult to patrol for both local law enforcement and the U.S. Border Patrol.

The sheriff is tasked with securing more than 3,800 square miles – New Mexico’s Hidalgo County is about 3,400 square miles, by comparison – and the area is a known corridor for drug mules and smugglers leading migrants illegally over the border.

By phone, Dominguez said that despite the illegal traffic through the area, violent incidents like this one haven’t happened.

“This is out of the blue,” he said. “Like they say it happened, something violent like this – no.”

Border Patrol Special Operations Supervisor Rush Carter said agents aided sheriff’s deputies in securing the scene.

“It’s highly unusual for our part of the border,” Carter said. “Any kind of gun violence just doesn’t happen. I wouldn’t say ‘at all,’ but very, very few incidents. If we have gunplay in our area of operation, it’s not folks coming from Mexico doing that.

“We just don’t see it in people who are trying to smuggle aliens or narcotics. If you think about it, when something like that happens, you see the amount of law enforcement presence that comes into an area and the attention it gets, which is bad for them. It will make it that much tougher for them” to make their illegal crossings.

Tourism business

The Big Bend area of West Texas is a magnet for hunters and hikers. Tourism is big business from the hip, artsy town of Marfa into the wild reaches of the Big Bend National Park, which borders Mexico.

Daugherty’s group was hunting aoudad, also known as Barbary sheep, a type of big-horned North African sheep introduced in West Texas. Redwing Outfitters charges $4,900 for a four- to six-day aoudad hunt, according to its website. “In our camps you will find a Christian atmosphere, fun hardworking professional guides and real homecooking,” the website says.

The Circle Dug Ranch, where the party was spending the night, advertises bird-watching, cave exploration and photography workshops and promotes guided hunting packages. An email to the Circle Dug Ranch requesting comment went unanswered Monday.

“It’s a tourist attraction in the Big Bend area, and nobody wants to talk about it, but a lot of ranches have seen a lot of terrible things,” Schneberger said by phone. “This is personal.”

A GoFundMe website account set up to provide financial support to Daugherty had raised more than $18,000 by more than 200 donors in two days. Daugherty is expected to undergo surgery and does not have medical insurance, according to the site.

Romania bans trophy hunting of brown bears, wolves, lynx and wild cats

image

Unexpected move reverses a trend that has seen increasing numbers of large carnivores shot by hunters each year since Romania’s accession to the European Union

In 2016, the largest hunting quotas yet gave hunters the mandate to shoot 550 bears, 600 wolves and 500 big cats over 12 months. Photograph: Radu Sigheti/Reuters

Romania has banned all trophy hunting of brown bears, wolves, lynx and wild cats in a surprise decision that gives Europe’s largest population of large carnivores a reprieve from its most severe and immediate threat.

The move on Tuesday reverses a trend which has seen the number of large carnivores being shot by hunters grow year on year since Romania’s accession into the European Union in 2007. In 2016, the largest hunting quotas yet gave hunters the mandate to shoot 550 bears, 600 wolves and 500 big cats over 12 months.

Over the last decade, hunting has grown into a multimillion-euro industry in Romania, with hunters from all over the world paying up to €10,000 (£8,800) to claim a ‘trophy’ – hunting parlance for the carcass of a hunted animal – from the Carpathian mountains.

The government has claimed that in order to exist, the industry relies on a loophole in European law which allows for the culling of wild animals that have been proven to be a danger to humans. Under the habitats directive, all large carnivores are protected in European Union member states, yet the state can order the killing of specific animals if shown to have attacked a person or damaged private property.

“Hunting for money was already illegal, but it was given a green light anyway,” environment minster, Cristiana Pasca-Palmer, told the Guardian. ‘The damages [clause in the habitats directive] acted as a cover for trophy hunting.”

Each year, hundreds of hunting associations across the country would submit two numbers; the total population of each large carnivore species, and the total number which they believed to be likely to cause damages. The second number would then act as a basis for a government-issued hunting quota for each species. These quotas were then carved up between hunting companies and sold as hunting rights to the public.

“This method raised some questions,” says Pasca-Palmer. “How can hunting associations count how many animals are causing damages a priori – before the damages have happened? By introducing the ban, what we are doing is simply putting things back on the right track, as the habitats directive originally intended.”

Wildlife NGOs claim that the methodology also tended to dramatically overestimate the populations of large carnivores. The official figure for the number of bears in Romania is over 6,000, and for wolves is 4,000. Yet with hundreds of hunting associations each responsible for monitoring a small area of land, and animals prone to wandering, it is understood that individual animals were often counted multiple times, potentially pushing the total population statistics up by thousands.

Announced late on Tuesday evening, the ban is expected to divide Romania’s population, pitching rural and urban dwellers against each other. The government’s decision has strong support in the larger cities, which have seen a growing movement against hunting in recent months. But in much of Romania’s remote countryside large carnivores are a daily threat to villagers and a persistent nuisance to livestock farmers, and many see hunting as the only solution.

Csaba Domokos, a bear specialist with wildlife protection NGO Milvus group, is convinced that the success or failure of the hunting ban rides on the government’s ability to address the rural population’s fears.

“Damages caused by large carnivores are a very real concern in the countryside,” he said. “The system up until now did not work; hunting does not reduce conflicts between carnivores and humans; in fact many studies show that with wolves and large cats, it can actually increase the problem.

“But the rural population believe that hunting is the answer, and unless they can be convinced otherwise, people may well start to take the problem into their own hands. The ban is a great step, but we don’t want hunting to be replaced by poaching.”

Domokos points out that hunters also have a vested interested in the protection of their quarry. “To some extent, hunting acts as a financial incentive for wildlife management, from preventing poaching to conserving habitats. There is some concern that once you take that away, the government will not invest enough to replace it.”

Hunters pay up to €10,000 to trophy hunt in the Carpathian mountains
Pinterest

Hunters pay up to €10,000 to trophy hunt in the Carpathian mountains. Photograph: Nick Turner/AlamyThe government’s response is to take management into its own hands. A special unit is to be set up within the paramilitary police force that will assess any reports of damages by large carnivores and deal with the culprit animal directly. The ministry of environment have discussed the possibility of relocating the target animals abroad to countries interested in ‘rewilding’.

The ban comes amid a growing push for the protection of Romania’s wild mountains that has seen anti-corruption officers convict dozens of foresters, hunters and local officials in recent years.

Gabriel Paun, an activist and conservationist behind a petition that collected 11,000 signatures in the weeks before the hunting ban, sees the government’s decision as a step towards a safer future for Europe’s wild spaces: “The Carpathian mountains are home to more biodiversity than anywhere else in Europe, but for too long they have been ruthlessly exploited for forestry and hunting. Let’s hope the government’s decision is a sign of things to come.”

Oil executive on Trump’s short list for Interior Secretary


By HELENA BOTTEMILLER EVICH and ANDREW RESTUCCIA 09/19/16
An oil industry executive who has spoken out against animal rights is a leading contender for Interior secretary should Donald Trump win the White House, two sources familiar with the campaign’s deliberations told POLITICO on Monday — a prospect that drew immediate condemnation from environmental activists.
Forrest Lucas, the 74-year-old co-founder of oil products company Lucas Oil, is well-known in his native Indiana, where in 2006 he won the naming rights to Lucas Oil Stadium, the home of the Indianapolis Colts football team, for a reported $121.5 million over 20 years. He and his wife have given a combined $50,000 to the gubernatorial campaigns of Trump’s running mate, Mike Pence, according to Indiana state records.
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Lucas’ company, California-based Lucas Oil, is a fast-growing manufacturer of automotive oils, lubricants and other additives used in everything from cars to heavy-duty trucks.
One person briefed by the Trump campaign said Lucas is a “front-runner” for the Interior secretary job. The person, who was granted anonymity to talk about private discussions, added that Trump wants a “more business-friendly and business experience-heavy cabinet.”
But environmentalists quickly excoriated the idea of an oil industry executive leading the department that oversees national parks and wildlife refuges, along with decisions about offshore drilling, fracking regulations and protections for endangered species.

“Putting an oil executive in charge of our public lands and precious coasts in places like North Carolina, Virginia and Florida is a virtual guarantee that Trump’s promise to throw open season on drilling in our special places will come true if he’s elected,” said Khalid Pitts, the Sierra Club’s national political director.
David Turnbull, the campaigns director at anti-fossil-fuels group Oil Change USA, worried that Trump’s Cabinet could be full of people with ties to the oil industry. They include Harold Hamm, the CEO of Oklahoma oil company Continental Resources, who has emerged as a possible pick for Trump’s energy secretary.
“Catering to an industry dead-set on continued expansion of oil and gas drilling is not only totally out of step with climate science, but it’s also out of step with the majority of Americans who are calling for a swift transition to clean energy and robust action on climate change,” Turnbull said in an email.
It would be nearly unprecedented for major oil executive to get the top job in the Interior Department. Current Secretary Sally Jewell was an engineer for Mobil Oil early in her career and often touts her experience fracking wells, although she is best known as a conservationist and former outdoor retail executive.
Lucas’ nomination would be a coup for the oil and gas industry, which has battled President Barack Obama’s Interior Department for years over everything from Endangered Species Act listings to access to federal lands for drilling. Trump has cultivated close ties to the oil industry, which was once skeptical of his campaign for president.
“In a lot of ways, having an oil and gas friendly person in the Interior Department is more important to the oil and gas industry than having someone friendly at the Energy Department,” one industry official said.

Nominating Lucas would also break with the long-standing tradition of Interior secretaries coming from Western states.
It would also likely draw rebukes from animal rights groups. Lucas, who owns a ranch and serves on Trump’s agriculture advisory committee, is one of the biggest donors to groups that attack the Humane Society and People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, and defend animal agriculture, hunting, meat consumption, rodeos and circuses.
Another source with knowledge of the transition operation said Lucas was on a short list of about five names that are under consideration for the post, which has started to attract considerable interest from prominent “anti-conservation zealots.” Donald Trump Jr., an avid hunter, has also publicly expressed interest in the job.
Earlier this year, Lucas financed and produced a feature film called “The Dog Lover,” which portrays dog breeders and puppy mills as being unfairly targeted by animal rights groups. The movie was backed by Protect the Harvest, a nonprofit founded and chaired by Lucas, that says it’s “Keeping America Free, Fed & Fun!” In 2014, Lucas gave $250,000 to the Protect the Harvest PAC, records show.
Roger Ebert’s website called the movie “shamelessly manipulative” and “a pretty bald piece of anti-[Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals] and/or PETA propaganda,” noting that the movie ends with a call to moviegoers to look into animal welfare groups before donating to them.
Animal rights supporters were quick to point out Monday that Lucas had put up hundreds of thousands of dollars into fighting an “anti-puppy mill” ballot measure in Missouri that was approved by voters in 2010.

“Forrest Lucas is a peevish advocate of trophy hunting, puppy mills and big agribusiness, and has never met a case of animal exploitation he wouldn’t defend,” said Michael Markarian, president of the Humane Society Legislative Fund, which backed the measure in Missouri.
Lucas’ wife, Charlotte, who co-founded Lucas Oil, came under fire in 2014 for a Facebook post that criticized Muslims and atheists. “I’m sick and tired of minorities running our country!” she wrote, according to news reports at the time.
Read more: http://www.politico.com/story/2016/09/forrest-lucas-trump-interior-secretary-228364#ixzz4L6NViTXm
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