A Federal Court Could Save Yellowstone’s Grizzlies From the Trump Administration

http://www.truth-out.org/news/item/43181-a-federal-court-could-save-yellowstone-s-grizzlies-from-the-trump-administration

Wednesday, January 10, 2018    By Mike Ludwig

A grizzly bear and cubs play in Yellowstone National Park in Wyoming, on June 3, 2017. (Photo: Wolverine 9 5)A grizzly bear and cubs play in Yellowstone National Park in Wyoming, on June 3, 2017. (Photo: Wolverine 9 5)

The Northern Cheyenne Tribe and a coalition of environmental groups are asking a federal court in Montana to throw out the Trump administration’s decision to remove grizzly bears in and around Yellowstone National Park from the endangered species list — a move that has paved the way for trophy hunts of the iconic animals.

Delisting the Yellowstone bears opened the door for Montana, Idaho and Wyoming to allow grizzly bear hunting on vast areas of land.

Grizzly bears in the lower 48 states are endangered and qualify for special federal protection. However, last year, the US Fish and Wildlife Service finalized a rule that carved out the bear population in the Yellowstone region and removed it from the endangered species list. Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke, a Trump appointee who oversees the wildlife agency, personally announced the change in June 2017.

Delisting the Yellowstone bears opened the door for Montana, Idaho and Wyoming to allow grizzly bear hunting on vast areas of land outside of the national park system, and Wyoming officials are already making plans to propose grizzly bear hunts later this year.

“We’re not anti-hunting, but we are certainly not excited about trophy hunting of grizzly bears in one of the last few places where they continue to exist,” said Timothy Preso, an attorney with Earthjustice who filed the legal request, in an interview with Truthout.

“Nobody needs a grizzly bear in the freezer to get through the winter.” — Timothy Preso, Earthjustice

Preso said some hunters in the region hunt elk and other large game for food, but grizzly bears are likely to be hunted as trophies. Yellowstone grizzlies are much more valuable as icons that draw tourists to the region and as “ambassadors of wildness,” as Preso put it, than as trophies in a big-game hunter’s private collection.

“Nobody needs a grizzly bear in the freezer to get through the winter,” Preso said.

A number of environmental groups and nine Native tribes sued Zinke and the Interior Department last year for removing the Yellowstone grizzly bears from the endangered species list, a designation that has helped protect their habitat from logging and oil and gas development. Zinke is aggressively working to lift restrictions on development and fossil fuel extraction on public lands.

US Fish and Wildlife is now reviewing its decision to delist the Yellowstone grizzlies and is asking for public comment in light of a recent court ruling that returned federal protections to wolves in the Great Lakes region. Officials have left the rule delisting the bears in effect while they reconsider it, allowing state game wardens to move ahead with hunting plans.

Preso said the move by US Fish and Wildlife to reconsider the decision without withdrawing it altogether is unusual. His coalition is asking a federal judge in Missoula to restore the endangered species protection to the Yellowstone grizzly bears while federal wildlife officials complete a review of their delisting decision, which they have promised to do by March 31.

Taking some Yellowstone grizzlies out of the gene pool could put the entire population at risk.

“The Yellowstone region’s grizzlies deserve better than to be subjected to trophy hunting based on a half-baked government decision,” Preso said in a statement.

The environmental coalition argues that US Fish and Wildlife’s effort to review its own rulemaking is proof that the agency “did not complete its homework” before removing Yellowstone grizzly bears from the endangered species list. For example, conservationists say officials must research how delisting could impact the total population of endangered grizzly bears across the West.

Grizzly bears have made a comeback in the Yellowstone region, where the population has grown from 136 when the bears were originally listed as endangered in 1975 to about 690 today, according to the National Park Service. However, environmentalists warn that grizzlies across the rest of the lower 48 states have not done as well, and taking some Yellowstone grizzlies out of the gene pool could put the entire population at risk.

Noah Greenwald, endangered species director at the Center for Biological Diversity, said grizzly bears occupy less than 5 percent of their former range in the lower 48 states, so they clearly have not recovered.

“Attempting to delist the Yellowstone bears and expose them to trophy hunting without considering grizzlies’ poor status overall is simply ludicrous,” Greenwald said in a statement.

Hunting is not allowed in Yellowstone and Grand Tetons National Parks, but it is allowed outside the park boundaries, where wildlife is managed by state agencies in Wyoming, Montana and Idaho. Wyoming officials are currently considering public input on a management plan for bears that would potentially include hunting within federal limits, according to local reports.

As predator populations slowly recover from deforestation and loss of habitat caused by human development, their territory increasingly butts up against ours. In 2016, wildlife managers captured 39 grizzly bears in Wyoming to resolve “conflicts” with humans, according to a state report. These “conflicts” typically involved bears killing livestock, eating pet food or foraging in someone’s garbage. Twenty-two of the captured bears were killed, often for having a history of “conflicts” with people and their property.

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Wildlife Organizations Sue Trump Administration for Failing to Protect “El Lobo,” the Mexican Wolf

JOHN SCHLOSSBERG FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

Lobo 0131wrp opt(Photo: Joel Cristian / Flickr)Environmental organizations filed a lawsuit on January 30, 2018, in U.S. District Court in Arizona against the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS), alleging the agency violated the Endangered Species Act (ESA) by ignoring science relevant to the recovery of the beleaguered Mexican wolf (Canis lupus baileyi), a.k.a. “el lobo.” The legal action comes on the heels of USFWS’ November release of its long-anticipated Mexican Wolf Recovery Plan — a strategy conservation groups say appeases red state ranchers and falls flat in the face of science.

The lawsuit, filed by attorneys at the Western Environmental Law Center (WELC) on behalf of Western Watersheds Project and WildEarth Guardians (Guardians), names Department of the Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke and USFWS Acting Director Greg Sheehan. The complaint asserts the USFWS, an ancillary arm of the Interior Department, turned a deaf ear to its own scientists’ recommendations for the minimum number of wolves and the amount of habitat needed for recovery and removal from the endangered species list.

“This recovery plan was designed by politicians and anti-wolf states, not by independent biologists,” said Matthew Bishop of the Western Environmental Law Center. “It’s an affront to the ESA and Congress’ directive [is to] make decisions solely on the best available science.”

The Mexican wolf, a subspecies of the endangered gray wolf (Canis lupus), was granted endangered species status in 1976 after being hunted to near-extinction. At one point, el lobo almost blinked out entirely after plunging to a low of only 15 animals remaining in the wild. In 1982, the USFWS initiated the original Mexican Wolf Recovery Plan to determine a course of action for keeping the species alive. It included a captive breeding program, which in 1988, released three distinct lineages of the animal into the ecosystem.

In 2011, the USFWS’ Science and Planning Subgroup of the Recovery Team (the Subgroup), staffed by independent scientists, recommended that delisting only occur after a 750-wolf total is achieved in the wild. Additionally, the Subgroup recommended that lands in eastern Arizona/western New Mexico, the Grand Canyon region of northern Arizona and southern Utah, and the southern Rockies region of northern New Mexico and southern Colorado be allotted as Mexican wolf habitat for recovery efforts.

Despite these recommendations, state governments in Colorado, Utah, New Mexico, and Arizona have set substantial roadblocks in the way of recovery, including a demand that no wolves set foot north of I-40, which runs east-to-west across northern New Mexico and Arizona — meaning no wolves would be allowed to exist in Utah or Colorado whatsoever.

Today, the lobo population in the United States has rebounded slightly, hovering at around 113 animals, with an additional 31 living in Mexico. Yet, instead of following the scientists’ recommendations, the USFWS’ First Revision of the Mexican Wolf Recovery Plan concluded that 320 wolves would be sufficient for recovery, and in terms of habitat, it left out the Grand Canyon and southern Rockies regions for “geopolitical reasons,” a move environmental lawyers say is a fundamental violation of the ESA.

“The ecosystems in this region need wolves and the people in this region want wolves — polls overwhelmingly suggest that. So, to eschew the science-based pathway for recovery and instead implement a politically-driven and extremely flawed plan is an affront to people and place,” said Christopher Smith, Southern Rockies Wildlife Advocate for WildEarth Guardians, in an email to EnviroNews.

Conservation groups are suing on four causes of action they say violate the ESA and APA (Administrative Procedure Act), including having “no reasonable explanation for departure” from the Subgroup’s recommendations, “failure to provide objective, measurable criteria necessary for delisting” the wolf, “failure to utilize the best available science,” and “failure to provide site-specific management actions necessary for conservation.”

“The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service needs a plan that guarantees a large enough population of Mexican wolves to be viable over the long term, with sufficient habitat [for] wolves to flourish,” said Greta Anderson of Western Watersheds Project. “But the current recovery plan doesn’t do that, and instead the federal government seems more intent on appeasing anti-wolf political interests than in doing its job, which is recovering endangered species to healthy and secure population levels.”

The three aforementioned NGOs, which will be joined in the suit by the New Mexico Wilderness Alliance and the Wildlands Network, want the court to force the USFWS to have another go at the plan, but this time around, they want it to follow the law as stated by the ESA and ensure that science alone, not politics, guides the recovery of the Mexican wolf.

http://www.truth-out.org/buzzflash/commentary/wildlife-organizations-sue-trump-administration-for-failing-to-protect-el-lobo-the-mexican-wolf

Ted Nugent speaks, Zinke signs order at SLC Hunting Expo

Protesters speak out against Zinke’s visit (Photo: KUTV)
AA

(KUTV) – Classic rocker Ted Nugent, in Salt Lake City on Friday, had no shortage of words for hunting, which he cast as an indispensable form of conservation.

“September, October, November, December, January, February are sacred hunting months,” said Nugent in a 2News interview Friday, before his talk at the Western Hunting and Conservation Expo. “Hunting, fishing and trapping is the last perfect activity that benefits the environment.”

Nugent, now 70, had praise for President Trump, condemned “political correctness,” and spoke of the power of a “hunter nation.”

“We never ever should waste our energies defending the political incorrectness of hunting and Second Amendment rights,” he said. “We should always celebrate them and promote them.”

Also at the expo, Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke signed a “secretarial order” that he said would protect big game in “wildlife corridors.”

At least one environmental group, the Center for Western Priorities, derided the move, calling it an attempt by Zinke to “greenwash” an “abysmal record” on conservation.

Outside the Salt Palace, demonstrators protested over the Trump Administration downsizing of the Bears Ears and Grand Staircase National Monuments.

“I want to hear that he’s renegotiating and re-looking at what they’ve already set,” said Gary Bilger, who used to work in the energy industry, and joined the protesters. “They’re giving special interests a bigger ear, okay, oil, gas, and coal.”

Zinke bristled at the notion.

 “I have heard nefarious arguments about mining, and oil and gas,” said the secretary. “It is nefarious. It’s false.”

Zinke also said there’s “no chance” of revisiting the decision to shrink the sizes of the monuments, and claimed in the case of Bears Ears, safeguards are still in place.

“Here’s what you don’t hear, there isn’t one square inch of Bears Ears that was removed from any federal protection,” he said.

Lawsuits against the smaller monuments have been filed, and Terri Martin of the Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance said the case her organization has joined is “pending” in a Washington, DC court.

How to Read Between the Lines When Scott Pruitt Talks About Climate Science

Scott Pruitt, the administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency, suggested this week that climate change might not be a danger for humanity.

During an interview Tuesday with KSNV television of Las Vegas, Mr. Pruitt said that rising global temperatures are “not necessarily a bad thing” and that “humans have flourished’’ during times of warming trends. His comments represent a new wrinkle in Mr. Pruitt’s history of questioning the established science of climate change.

At the E.P.A., Mr. Pruitt has championed the elimination of policies intended to mitigate climate change. He also has long expressed doubt about the role of humans in rising global temperatures, despite the scientific consensus that human activity is the dominant cause of climate change.

His recent comments go a step beyond some of his previously stated views, some scientists say.

“I do think how Mr. Pruitt talks about climate tells us something important about how folks on the right view climate,” said Joseph Majkut, director of climate policy at the Niskanen Center, a libertarian think tank that advocates conservative solutions to climate change. Mr. Majkut cited in particular the search for what he referred to as “counter-narratives.”

Here is a selection of Mr. Pruitt’s comments on climate science:

Jan. 18, 2017: Mr. Pruitt’s confirmation hearing

Senator Bernie Sanders: 97 percent of the scientists who wrote articles in peer-reviewed journals believe that human activity is the fundamental reason we are seeing climate change. You disagree with that?

Mr. Pruitt: I believe the ability to measure, with precision, the degree of human activity’s impact on the climate is subject to more debate on whether the climate is changing or whether human activity contributes to it.

During his first appearance before the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee in 2017, as part of his confirmation hearing to be the head of the E.P.A., Mr. Pruitt walked a fine line on the subject. The climate is warming, he told lawmakers. But he also said, inaccurately, that the extent to which humans are responsible is not known.

When pressed by Senator Sanders, a Vermont independent, to offer his view on what is causing the climate to change, Mr. Pruitt responded, “My personal opinion is immaterial to the job.” 

March 9, 2017: Interview with CNBC’s ‘Squawk Box’

CNBC: Do you believe that it’s been proven that CO2 is the primary control knob for climate? Do you believe that?

Mr. Pruitt: “I think that measuring with precision human activity on the climate is something very challenging to do and there’s tremendous disagreement about the degree of impact, so no, I would not agree that it’s a primary contributor to the global warming that we see. But we don’t know that yet. We need to continue the review and the analysis.”

The Squawk Box appearance offers one of Mr. Pruitt’s most definitive denials of established climate science, which holds that human activity is primarily responsible for the rise in carbon dioxide emissions.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the top climate-science body at the United Nations, calls carbon dioxide the biggest heat-trapping force and says that it is responsible for about 33 times more added warming than natural causes.

Mr. Majkut of the Niskanen Center pointed out that some conservatives mistrust authoritative groups like the I.P.C.C., believing they have been “captured by environmental ideology.” By casting doubt on established science, Mr. Pruitt’s words reflect that skepticism, Mr. Majkut said.

A few months later, on NBC’s “Meet the Press,” Mr. Pruitt shifted his stance a bit, acknowledging the role of carbon dioxide as a cause of climate change.

June 4, 2017: Interview with ‘Meet the Press’

Chuck Todd, speaking of climate change: Do you believe that CO2 is the primary cause?

Mr. Pruitt: CO2 contributes to climate change, much like — Methane actually is more potent.

Mr. Todd: You don’t believe that CO2 is the primary cause.

Mr. Pruitt: No, no. I didn’t say that. I said it’s a cause.

Mr. Todd: Primary?

Mr. Pruitt: It’s a cause of many. It’s a cause like methane and water vapor and the rest.

Mr. Pruitt’s evolving statements on climate science represent a form of “political communication,” as opposed to an effort to discuss scientific findings, said Nicole Lee, an assistant professor of communication at North Carolina State University who focuses on how scientists convey the complexity of climate change to the public. “It’s about not wanting to move the conversation to what to do about climate change,” she said.

In late 2017, Mr. Pruitt spoke on the television show “Fox & Friends,” promoting a plan to hold televised debates on climate change science. (Planning for the debates, called “red team-blue team” exercises, is still in the works, he said recently.) In his televised remarks, Mr. Pruitt raised the idea that even if temperatures are rising, it might not be a bad thing for humanity.

September 19, 2017: Interview on ‘Fox & Friends’

Mr. Pruitt: “I mean, with this climate change we know certain things. We know the climate’s always changing. We know that humans contribute to it in some way. To what degree, to measure that with precision is very difficult.

But what we don’t know is, are we in a situation where the next essential threat, is it unsustainable with respect to what we see presently? Let’s have a debate about that.”

Mr. Pruitt also maintained in the same interview that it isn’t possible to measure the degree to which human activity contributes to climate change.

That point is refuted by a sweeping climate-change study issued in November by the E.P.A. and other federal agencies. It is “extremely likely,” the report found, that more than half of temperature rise over the past half-century can be attributed to human activity. “There are no alternative explanations.”

January 31, 2018: Senate Environment and Public Works hearing

Mr. Pruitt: “There are questions that we know the answer to, there are questions we don’t know the answer to. For example, what is the ideal surface temperature in the year 2100, is something that many folks have different perspective on.”

That comment, made before a Senate panel, about knowing the “ideal surface temperature in the year 2100,” has become a recurring talking point. Mr. Pruitt has repeated it several times since.

According to the I.P.C.C., if greenhouse gas emissions continue to increase at their current rate, global temperatures will rise nearly 4 degrees Celsius above preindustrial levels by 2100. The World Bank has found that would mean “a frightening world of increased risks and global instability,” including severe declines in crop yields, the migration of diseases into new regions and significantly rising sea levels.

“Some places will be essentially unlivable,’’ said Michael MacCracken, chief scientist for climate change programs at the Climate Institute, a Washington research group. “It’s a tremendously different world.”

When asked to comment on Mr. Pruitt’s statements or to frame his views on climate change, Jahan Wilcox, a spokesman for the E.P.A., referred to an interview Mr. Pruitt conducted with The New York Times podcast The Daily, where he discussed his position. “Here’s my view on it,” he said in that interview. “There are things we know and there are things we don’t know.”

Activists Target Eric Trump During Worldwide Rally Against Trophy Hunting

https://theirturn.net/2018/02/07/trophy-hunting-rally/

FEBRUARY 7, 2018   BY 

The News

During the Worldwide Rally Against Trophy Hunting (WRATH), dozens of animal rights activists in New York City protested at the home and office of one of the planet’s most notorious trophy hunters — Eric Trump.  Several broadcast and print media outlets reported on the event.

https://www.facebook.com/plugins/video.php?href=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.facebook.com%2Ftheirturn%2Fvideos%2F2020944798155907%2F&show_text=0&width=560

During the rally, Edita Birnkrant, the Executive Director of the animal rights group NYCLASS, entered Eric Trump’s apartment building to deliver a letter to his wife, animal advocate Lara Trump, encouraging her to dissuade her husband from trophy hunting. Two reporters followed her into the building with their cameras rolling.

WRATH was created in 2016 by the animal rights organizationCompassionWorks International in response to the killing of Cecil, a beloved lion in Zimbabwe who was shot and beheaded by Walter Palmer, a trophy hunter from Minnesota. The death of Cecil sparked global outrage and triggered several weeks of public discourse around trophy hunting.

IN 2018, WRATH events took place in 32 cities in several countries around the world, including Australia, Ireland, Canada and Brazil.  

WRATH is held to coincide with the annual convention of Safari Club International, a 50,000 member Texas-based pro-hunting organization that spends millions of dollars each year lobbying elected officials to support their mission. During the convention, organizers auction off hunts with endangered & threatened species. In 2018, a polar bear hunt was featured in the in promotional materials for the convention. 

Trophy hunters justify the killing on the grounds that the money they spend helps to conserve the species and supports local community. Activists dispute that claim, arguing that most of the money spent by trophy hunters goes to the trophy hunting companies and to local government officials.

During the WRATH event in NYC, Nicole Rivard, a campaigner with Friends of Animals, told rally participants about pending trophy hunting legislation in the state of New York:  “We cannot rely on fluid federal law to ensure that Africa’s big five do not go extinct. When it comes to trophy hunting, federal law is not protective at all.  We have legislation – Save Africa’s Big Five bill – to stop trophies from entering New York. The state bill would ban the importation, possession, sale or transportation of the trophies of elephants, lions, leopards and black and white rhinos. New York is the busiest port of entry for African wildlife in the US. Let’s shut it down.”

Your Turn

Please follow CompassionWorks International on Facebook to stay apprised of the organization’s life-saving work.

 

Exclusive: Trump Slams Elephant Hunting For Trophies, Skeptical Fees Go For Conservation

https://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/trump-slams-elephant-trophies_us_5a6d1759e4b01fbbefb25ea5

In an interview with Piers Morgan set to air Sunday, Trump calls the initial U.S. decision to lift a ban on trophy imports “terrible.”

In an interview with Piers Morgan set to air Sunday night in the U.K., President Donald Trump used the word “terrible” to describe the initial decision last year by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to overturn an Obama era ban on the import of elephant trophies.

Trump also says he does not believe the substantial fees that hunters pay to hunt elephants and other species actually go toward conservation efforts, as is often claimed, and instead are pocketed by government officials in other countries.

Trump confirms that the ban on importing elephant trophies from the African nations of Zimbabwe and Zambia will remain in place. That was not clear after he initially put the ban reversal on hold, pending further study.

The Fish and Wildlife Service, overseen by Interior Department Secretary Ryan Zinke, announced on Nov. 15 that it was rescinding an Obama administration ban on the import of elephant trophies from Zimbabwe and Zambia, saying money generated by the hunting goes toward conservation efforts.

“Legal, well-regulated sport hunting as part of a sound management program can benefit the conservation of certain species by providing incentives to local communities to conserve the species and by putting much-needed revenue back into conservation,” the service said.

But the announcement on reversing the ban was met with scathing criticism from both the left and right. Powerful conservative media figures like Michael Savage and Laura Ingraham criticized Trump for the decision and called on him to keep the ban in place. Talk show host Ellen DeGeneres announced a campaign to persuade Trump to maintain the ban that quickly went viral through the hashtag #BeKindToElephants.

On Nov. 17 Trump tweeted, “Put big game trophy decision on hold until such time as I review all conservation facts. Under study for years. Will update soon with Secretary Zinke. Thank you!”

Put big game trophy decision on hold until such time as I review all conservation facts. Under study for years. Will update soon with Secretary Zinke. Thank you!

The announcement that he was putting the reversal on hold shocked many, primarily because his two eldest sons, Donald Jr. and Eric, are both avid hunters and have been criticized for hunting wildlife in Africa.

Trump also is closely aligned with the National Rifle Association, which strongly lobbies for trophy hunting rights. Two days after he made that announcement, he tweeted, “Big-game trophy decision will be announced next week but will be very hard pressed to change my mind that this horror show in any way helps conservation of Elephants or any other animal.”

Big-game trophy decision will be announced next week but will be very hard pressed to change my mind that this horror show in any way helps conservation of Elephants or any other animal.

That tweet led some to believe the ban would remain in place but no further announcement was made as promised.

In his comments to Morgan, Trump said, “Well, I changed it,” referring to reversing the move to end the ban.

He continued: “I didn’t want elephants killed and stuffed and have the tusks brought back into this [country] and people can talk all they want about preservation and all of the things that they’re saying where money goes towards ― well, money WAS going ― in that case, going to a government which was probably taking the money, OK? I turned that order around. You know, that was an order. I totally turned it around. Were you shocked that I did it?”

Morgan: “I was surprised.”

Trump: “I thought it was terrible. That was done by a very high level government person. As soon as I heard about it, I turned it around. That same day ― not even a day went by. No, I was not believing in [the conservation argument].”

The interview with Morgan is Trump’s first major sit-down interview with a non-U.S. television network and airs at 10 p.m. Sunday on ITV.

Shark charities flooded with donations after Trump says he hopes sharks die

 https://www.marketwatch.com/story/shark-charities-flooded-with-donations-after-trump-says-he-hopes-sharks-die-2018-01-23

Published: Jan 25, 2018 10:25 a.m. ET

Raising money to protect the feared sea creatures can be a challenge

Walt Disney Co./Courtesy Everett Collection
Charities that help sharks have seen an uptick in donations since the publication of President Donald Trump’s anti-shark comments.

By

LESLIEALBRECHT

PERSONAL FINANCE REPORTER

President Donald Trump’s reported death wish for sharks has been a lifeline for charities that protect them.

Shark-related nonprofits have been receiving a steady stream of donations in the wake of Trump reportedly telling adult film actress Stormy Daniels, “I donate to all these charities and I would never donate to any charity that helps sharks. I hope all the sharks die.” Trump’s comments came to light in an In Touch Weekly interviewwith Daniels, who reportedly had a fling with Trump in 2006. Daniels said Trump was “obsessed” with sharks and “terrified” of them.

Since Trump’s strong anti-shark stance became public late last week, donations have poured in at the nonprofits Atlantic White Shark Conservancy and Sea Shepherd Conservation Society, their leaders told MarketWatch.

“It’s actually more dangerous to play golf than it is to go swimming in the ocean with sharks.”

— Paul Watson, founder of Sea Shepherd Conservation Society

“We have been receiving donations in Trump’s name since the story was published,” said Cynthia Wilgren, chief executive officer and co-founder of Atlantic White Shark Conservancy, based in Chatham, Mass. Most of the money has come from first-time donors, she added. “It can certainly be a challenge to raise money for a species that most people fear,” Wilgren said.

Captain Paul Watson, founder of the Burbank, Calif. based Sea Shepherd Conservation Society, said his group had received “quite a few” donations from benefactors who specifically mentioned Trump’s comments.

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He and his fellow conservationists consider Trump’s comments “ignorant,” Watson said, but they’ve had a positive effect. “Anything that focuses attention on the plight of sharks worldwide is valuable, so I guess in that way the president did good service,” Watson said.

His group sends boats across the world to catch poachers who illegally kill sea animals. Some 75 million sharks a year are killed, often when their fins are cut off and they are tossed back into the ocean, Watson said. When their fins are removed, sharks are unable to swim effectively, so they sink down to the bottom and die or get eaten by other predators. Sharks are also killed to make shark leather shoes and belts, and for shark liver oil, which is used as a dietary supplement and in beauty products such as lipstick, according to Sea Shepherd Conservation Society.

The popular image of sharks as super predators is unfair, Watson said. While hundreds of millions of people swim in oceans every year, sharks kill only about five people a year around the world, Watson said. “It’s actually more dangerous to play golf than it is to go swimming in the ocean with sharks,” Watson said. “Quite a few more die from lightning strikes and bee stings while playing golf than from sharks.”

Don’t miss: Trump may hate sharks, but these animals cause more deaths each year

Sharks are a critical part of ocean ecosystems and their fate is closely tied to the health of oceans as a whole. If they go extinct, humans wouldn’t be too far behind, Watson claimed.

The president’s hatred of sharks pre-dates his time in office, according to his Twitter history. Back in 2013 he said he’s not a fan of the animals. In November 2017, Trump drew the ire of conservationists after eating shark fin soup during a visit to Vietnam.

Shark charities and other nonprofits face an uncertain future under Trump’s new tax law. Some estimate that charities could see a $13 to $20 billion drop in donations because of changes in the tax code.