The poll found a whopping 71 percent of Alaskan voters oppose allowing hunters to use artificial light to attract hibernating black bears and their cubs out of their dens to kill them. Photo by Jos Bakker
A rule recently proposed by the Trump administration would roll back an Obama-era regulation that prohibits controversial and scientifically unjustified methods of hunting on Alaska’s national preserves, which are federal public lands. These egregious hunting methods include the use of artificial light to attract hibernating bears and their cubs out of their dens to kill them, shooting wolf and coyote pups and mothers at their dens, using bait to attract brown and black bears, shooting vulnerable swimming caribou, including with the aid of motorboats, and using dogs to hunt black bears. Biologists have already condemned these methods, and now a supermajority of Alaska’s residents have spoken out resoundingly against allowing them in their state.
The telephone poll, conducted by Remington Research Group and released by the Humane Society of the United States, found a whopping 71 percent of Alaskan voters oppose allowing hunters to use artificial light to attract hibernating bears and their cubs out of their dens to kill them. Sixty-nine percent oppose hunting black bears with packs of hounds, and 75 percent oppose hunting swimming caribou with the aid of motorboats. Sixty percent of Alaskan voters oppose the baiting of bears with pet food, grease, rotting game or fish or other high-calorie foods, and 57 percent oppose killing whole packs of wolves and coyotes when they are raising their pups in their dens.
The poll also found that a majority of voters disfavor allowing trophy hunters and trappers killing wolves, brown bears, black bears, wolverines, lynx and other wildlife on state lands along the northeast boundary of Denali National Park and Preserve.
On the other hand, live native carnivores like grizzly bears and wolves contribute immensely to the state’s economy. In Alaska, wildlife-watching tourism brings $2 billion every year to local, rural economies.
Most Alaskans do not want hunters, backed by the deep pockets of trophy-hunting groups like Safari Club International and Alaska Outdoor Council, treating their state as a shopping mall for bearskin rugs and wolf heads to adorn their walls. American wildlife is for all of us to enjoy, and you can do your part to help save it by submitting a commentopposing this new proposed rule by July 23.
Here are C.A.S.H.’s Comments Re the proposed anti-animal tactics to be undertaken in Alaskan National Monuments:
As a wildlife photographer I’ve spent the better part of a decade in Alaska, photographing bears and wolves in addition to moose, Dall’s sheep and caribou in numerous locations throughout the region. Most of what I saw was in the State’s National Parks—Glacier Bay, Katmai and Denali. One thing that struck me right off was how comparatively little wildlife I came acrossin National Monuments such as Wrangle Saint Elias. Clearly, hunting and trapping had taken their toll in the unprotected lands and monuments that, unlike the parks, allowed wildlife “harvesting.”
But even if I wasn’t now president of the group C.A.S.H., the Committee to Abolish Sport Hunting, I’d be sickened, outraged and appalled by the new federal proposals to allow abusive treatment of some ofthe world’s most intelligent and charismatic animals who reside in our Alaskan national monuments. Among the shockingly sadistic tactics are such mindless behaviors as murdering bear cubs and wolf pups in their dens, targeting of animals like swimming caribou from boats and using bait to lure animals like bears in for the kill.
The Trump Administration, in their rush to undo any protections wildlife may have been afforded under the Obama Administration, must think they’ll score points with their friends in the NRA or the Safari Club. But their boss doesn’t need anything else to make him look bad at this point in his career—his sons are already doing a bang-up job at that.
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau with President Trump. Official White House Photo by Shealah Craighead
President Donald Trump headed for the Group of Seven (G7) summit in Canada on Friday but will be leaving before Saturday’s meeting on climate change, clean energy and oceans. The White House said an aide will take Trump’s place, CNN reported.
The announcement of his early departure comes amid a brewing war on tariffs. French President Emmanuel Macron and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said at a joint press conference on Thursday they intended to challenge Trump’s tariffs on steel and aluminum imports at the G7 summit, according to the Associated Press.
Trump will depart for Singapore on Saturday for his meeting with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.
“I am heading for Canada and the G-7 for talks that will mostly center on the long time unfair trade practiced against the United States,” the president tweeted today. “From there I go to Singapore and talks with North Korea on Denuclearization. Won’t be talking about the Russian Witch Hunt Hoax for a while!”
Frankly, it’s not surprising that Trump wants to skip the climate meeting with the leaders of Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan and the UK. The president doesn’t believe in climate science, he wants to dramatically expand offshore oil drilling along the nation’s coasts, and his intention to withdraw the U.S. from the Paris agreement has created a significant rift between the U.S. and its G7 allies.
In fact, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency chief Scott Pruitt also ducked out of a G7 meeting of environment ministers in Italy last June.
Just look at how incongruous the aims of the G7 meeting are compared to Trump’s pro-fossil fuel agenda:
How can the G7 accelerate the transition to low carbon, climate resilient economies? What issues, areas, or initiatives should the G7 prioritize?
How can the G7 create a cleaner environment for future generations, while also creating jobs and growth that benefits everyone?
What are the most important issues facing our oceans and coastal communities today? How should the G7 work together to address these issues, including as it relates to expanding conservation, eliminating pollution, and promoting the sustainable use of maritime resources?
How can the G7 advance gender equality and women’s empowerment through its actions related to climate change, oceans and clean growth?
As Earther noted, “One can hope Trump’s absence will reduce distractions.” Perhaps, as the website suggested, the meeting can instead focus on the Trudeau government’s recent $4.5 billion purchase of the controversial Trans Mountain tar sands pipeline.
Better yet, the G7 leaders can talk about a new report from Britain’s Overseas Development Institute. The report revealed that their governments continue to subsidize at least $100 billion a year in subsidies for the production and use of coal, oil and gas, despite repeated pledges to phase out fossil fuels by 2025.
A brown bear catches a salmon in Katmai National Park and Preserve, Alaska in July 2013. Under proposed changes to sport hunting and trapping regulations for national preserves, hunters could bait brown bears with bacon and doughtnuts. (The Associated Press)
The Trump administration is moving to reverse Obama-era rules barring hunters on some public lands in Alaska from baiting brown bears with bacon and doughnuts and using spotlights to shoot mother black bears and cubs hibernating in their dens.
The National Park Service issued a notice Monday of its intent to amend regulations for sport hunting and trapping in national preserves to bring the federal rules in line with Alaska state law.
Under the proposed changes, hunters would also be allowed to hunt black bears with dogs, kill wolves and pups in their dens, and use motor boats to shoot swimming caribou.
Cruel and harmful hunting methods like killing bear cubs and their mothers near dens have no place on our national preserves.- Collette Adkins, lawyer and biologist
These and other hunting methods — condemned as cruel by wildlife protection advocates — were outlawed on federal lands in 2015. Members of the public have 60 days to provide comment on the proposed new rules.
“The conservation of wildlife and habitat for future generations is a goal we share with Alaska,” said Bert Frost, the park service’s regional director. “This proposed rule will reconsider NPS efforts in Alaska for improved alignment of hunting regulations on national preserves with State of Alaska regulations, and to enhance consistency with harvest regulations on surrounding non-federal lands and waters.”
Alaska has 10 national preserves covering nearly 95,830 square kilometers.
A black bear and cub seen in Anchorage, Alaska. The Trump administration plans to reverse a ban on using spotlights to shoot mother black bears and cubs hibernating in their dens on some public lands in the state. (The Associated Press)
The Alaska Department of Fish and Game was “pleased to see the National Park Service working to better align federal regulations with State of Alaska hunting and trapping regulations,” Maria Gladziszewski, the state agency’s deputy director of the Division of Wildlife Conservation, said in an email to the Associated Press.
She said the proposal is “progress in that direction, and we appreciate those efforts. Alaskans benefit when state and federal regulations are consistent.”
Gladziszewski said the state doesn’t conduct predator control in national preserves.
“Predator control could be allowed in preserves only with federal authorization because such actions are subject to NEPA (National Environmental Policy Act) review,” she said.
Expanding hunting rights on federal lands has been a priority for Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke, a former Montana congressman who displays a taxidermied bear in his Washington office along with mounted heads from a bison and an elk.
Expanding hunting rights on federal lands has been a priority for Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke. (Jacquelyn Martin/The Associated Press)
The Obama-era restrictions on hunting on federal lands in Alaska were challenged by Safari Club International, a group that promotes big-game hunting. The Associated Press reported in March that Zinke had appointed a board loaded with trophy hunters to advise him on conserving threatened and endangered wildlife, including members of the Safari Club.
President Donald Trump’s sons are also avid trophy hunters who have made past excursions to Africa and Alaska.
Collette Adkins, a lawyer and biologist with the advocacy group Center for Biological Diversity, expressed outrage at the rollback.
“Cruel and harmful hunting methods like killing bear cubs and their mothers near dens have no place on our national preserves,” she said.
The Humane Society of the United States said it would oppose the new rules.
“These federal lands are havens for wildlife and the National Park Service is mandated to manage these ecosystems in a manner that promotes conservation,” said Anna Frostic, a lawyer for the animal rights group. “This proposed rule, which would allow inhumane killing of our native carnivores in a misguided attempt to increase trophy hunting opportunities, is unlawful and must not be finalized.”
While we know that Donald Trump hates sharks, at least according to Stormy Daniels. Turns out the president also hates baby bears, at least according to Jimmy Kimmel.
Kimmel’s realization came in the wake of news that the Interior Department is ending a ban on hunting hibernating bears and their cubs in their dens. The National Park Service, under Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke, apparently has a problem with some of the current protections for black bears, “including cubs and sows with cubs,” that prevent hunters from “harvest practices” that include using bait to lure bears out, using lights to find hibernating animals, and using dogs to kill bear cubs.
The National Park Service now wants to roll back those pesky rules that stop people from killing baby bears for fun, according to a proposal, which was published in the Federal Register on Tuesday. Under the proposed changes, hunters will now be able to hunt black bears with dogs, use motorboats to shoot swimming caribou, and kill wolves and pups in their dens. According to Kimmel, it’s all part of Trump’s plan to make America great again—and get rid of those evil baby bears.
“Nambia’s health-care system is increasingly self-sufficient,” said President Trump last September, during a meeting with African leaders at the United Nations. No singular slip of the tongue, Trump repeated the gaffe again in a speech whose audience included the presidents of both Namibia and Zambia. Hilarity ensued in the Twitterverse: “Can’t wait for Trump to visit Nambia and their technologically advanced neighbors in Wakanda,” quipped Stephen Colbert. (Wakanda is the fictional home of the Marvel Comics’ character Black Panther.)
Yes, it is funny in the abstract, this malapropism of the dear leader. But whether Trump is ignorant, blind, or demented, he consistently confuses individuals for races, races for nations, nations for continents, continents for contagion, and contagion for individual irresponsibility. That’s why all this is ultimately so unfunny in practice: The Trump administration has cut global development aid, reduced funds for UN peacekeeping in war-torn countries, and urged a “merit-based” system of US immigration policy where “merit” excludes “people from high crime countries which are doing badly” and whose preemptive breadth apparently finds no merit in anyone from “hut”-dwelling Nigerians or from any African country, real or (mostly) imagined.
At the same time, Trump, ever the tone-deaf imperial entrepreneur, just loves Africa’s “tremendous business potential…”: “I have so many friends going to your countries, trying to get rich. I congratulate you. They’re spending a lot of money.”
Sometimes it’s just so hard to know where to begin, but let me follow one small thread—to wit, the entrenched narrative of the Great White Hunter and erstwhile Deliverer of Little Brown Brothers. Indeed, there’s a literal manifestation of this mindset within the extended Trump clan: After a 2011 safari to Zimbabwe where he killed an elephant, a leopard, a crocodile, a Cape buffalo, and oh-so-much-more, our president’s son Donald Trump Jr. wrote of his beneficence: “Bottom line with out [sic] hunters’ $ there wouldn’t be much left of africa [sic].”
This logic may seem opaque to the uninitiated: After all, there has been a 65 percent decline in the population of forest elephants across central Africa just in the decade between 2004 and 2014. In addition, the population of savannah elephants declined continent-wide by 8 percent every year between 2010 and 2014. At that rate, the population will decrease by half every nine years. If Trump Jr.’s wisdom escapes you, it might help to recall the controversy around Corey Knowlton, a man who won an auction at the Dallas Safari Club back in 2014. He bid $350,000 for the privilege of shooting a black rhino, a species close to extinction then, and which may be extinct by now. Mr. Knowlton explained that he was actually helping their survival because he planned to cull only an older cranky bull, giving younger black rhino males the chance to rise to the top of the hierarchy of aggression. It’s the circle of life! Plus, the money would go to the government of Namibia, which needs it to pay its park rangers to protect against poachers, which Mr. Knowlton most emphatically is not. (That would be the circular thinking of life.)
It oughtn’t be so surprising, then, that this past November of the first year of his presidency, Donald Trump Sr. drafted a policy that reversed an Obama-era ban on importing trophies from elephant kills in Zimbabwe and Zambia, using an exception to the Endangered Species Act that permits importation of trophies if “hunting actually benefits conservation for that species.” Wayne Pacelle, president of the Humane Society, describes the arrangement as nothing more than “pay-to-slay,” and, after a great deal of public outcry, President Trump suspended the suspension of the ban, promising a thorough review before making a final decision. As CNN reported on January 9, 2018, “White House officials declined to say whether the review is ongoing, when it might conclude, or when the President’s decision may be announced.”
The thrill of the kill is not just about going on African safari, however. Hunting rare and “exotic” animal populations is a billion-dollar business just within the United States. The Fish and Wildlife Service allows the killing of certain rare or threatened species if game-hunting businesses take measures such as contributing 10 percent of hunting proceeds to conservation efforts. At Ox Ranch in Uvalde, Texas, trophy hunters pay $7,500 to kill a Himalayan tahr, $9,500 for an Arabian Oryx, $12,000 for a sitatunga antelope, $15,000 for a black wildebeest, and $35,000 for an African bongo antelope. “We love the animals, and that’s why we hunt them,” says Ox Ranch’s CEO, Jason Molitor. And according to John Tomecek, of Texas A&M’s AgriLife Extension Service, “Ranchers can sell these hunts and enjoy the income, while doing good for the species.”
More enjoyable yet, Ox Ranch “offers its guests the opportunity to drive and shoot World War II-era tanks. People fire at bullet-ridden cars from atop an American M4 Sherman tank at a shooting range built to resemble a Nazi-occupied French town.”
Elsewhere in Texas, wild boars have been deemed far from extinct. Indeed, there’s an overpopulation of them, at least as asserted by many farmers over whose land they roam. In an act of public-spirited volunteerism, Ted Nugent—hard-rock singer and self-proclaimed guru to Donald Trump—Ted Nugent saved the day. Nugent enjoys “machine-gunning hogs,” as he expressed it. “Pigs turn me on.” Armed with a helicopter and a machine gun he flew over a range spraying a wide arc of bullets down upon on the ground. In a swooping rain of firepower, he killed 455 of the varmints. He had quite a good time, apparently, since he conducted the hunt live on SiriusXM, and dedicated the kill to Bill Maher and “other animal rights freaks.”
It should be noted that there is a law in Texas against aerial sport hunting, but in an efficient economy of public-private exchange, Nugent’s sortie was not considered “sport-hunting,” but rather population control. It’s a view that he and that other happy hunter Donald Trump Jr. share. As does their friend Joe Arpaio, newly pardoned by Trump and newly announced candidate for Senator from Arizona. In 2011, then-Sheriff Joe, in his endless hunt for migrant laborers, launched what he has called an “air posse.” As the word “posse” implies, it was made up of 30 private planes, staffed by “citizen vigilantes and deputies from human smuggling and drug enforcement units,” armed with M-16s and a .50-caliber machine gun. According to Arpaio, “We’re going to use our automatic weapons if we have to, and I’m tired of my deputies having to chase these people and I’m sure the air posse will be able to spot these guys running as they constantly do from us.”
Kafka once observed that “A myth becomes true and effective by daily use, otherwise it only remains a bewildering play of fantasy. For that reason, every myth is bound up with the practical exercise of a rite.” The rite of hunting reminds us that without the Great White Hunter’s money, there’s not much else to Africa. Without a little culling of the herds, feral bulls will ravage everything in sight.
As the wise man said: Myth is always bound up with the practical exercise of a rite.
Donald Trump Jr. and Eric Trump are enthusiastic hunters, although that does not explain why their 171-acre private hunting preserve in Wingdale, New York, sounds “like you’re in a war zone,” as one neighbor put it to The Associated Press.
It’s not just the regular deer hunting rifle fire residents are used to, though. Neighbors say they hear the deafening sounds of target practice as well as exploding targets and gunfire ringing out from a wooden tower on the property. “It’s bad,” said another neighbor. “It shakes the windows.”
The Trumps bought the property anonymously in 2013 after unsuccessfully attempting to get a discount by arguing it was haunted. The brothers used a limited liability company to scoop up the land, although paperwork traces back to Trump Jr. and Eric Trump directly.
Jeffrey Ferraro, who is listed as the LLC’s organizer and manages the land, told one neighbor who complained about the noise that his partners “have the Secret Service coming, and they shoot, too.” When confronted by the AP, Ferraro said: “Guns make noise. That’s all I can tell you.” Jeva Lange
In a new low, the Trump administration has created an advisory council dedicated exclusively to promoting the killing of imperiled wildlife species for sport.
Filled with trophy hunters and gun industry lobbyists, the International Wildlife Conservation Council now wields considerable influence over America’s international hunting policies, putting the future of vulnerable species like elephants, lions, and giraffes at grave risk.
Tell Interior President Trump and Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke to stop promoting international trophy hunting and immediately dismantle the IWCC.
Your message will be sent to:
Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke
President Donald Trump
Dismantle the International Wildlife Conservation Council
(Consider adding your own thoughts — personalized messages are especially effective)
A species being removed from the ESA is rare and, in normal circumstances, should be celebrated. It means that a population has recovered enough to no longer require extra protections, which should be considered a good thing. And the grizzly bear has: When the species was listed in the 1970s, it was estimated that a mere 150 existed. Today, there are about 700 individuals.
This decision, however, seems unlikely to be met with applause. As the New York Times reports, environmental organizations are already lining up to sue to stop it. And 125 Native American tribes have banded together to oppose the delisting because they weren’t consulted in the decision-making. Also, any good feelings animal lovers get from the words “conservation success story” are likely to be squashed by the fact that the delisting means the bears could now be hunted. People really don’t like it when charismatic megafauna get killed.
Should the grizzly bear be delisted—or this just yet another awful environmental move by the Trump administration, divorced from science and decency? One political litmus test is to check what the Obama administration thought of the grizzly bear’s fate. In March 2016, Dan Ashe, then the director of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, defended the delisting. And the recovery numbers do look strong (700 sure sounds small, but Yellowstone grizzlies are a top-of-the-food-chain predator living in a small land mass—what matters more is the populations’ stability, not its size).
But scientists have dramatically different opinions about how to read those numbers. Luke Whelan over at Wired has a good rundown of how the two sides of the debate see the issue. One school of thought says that because the bears’ populations have plateaued, that means they’ve hit the carrying capacity, or the number of animals the habitat can sustain, and are in good shape. Under this logic, delisting makes sense. The counterargument suggests that the carrying capacity is lower than it should be because its habitat and food sources have changed since the bear was listed in the ’70s, primarily due to climate change—which means that the bear needs to stay protected. In fact, most of the environmental groups planning to sue over the move basically want to keep the bear listed because of the threat climate change will increasingly pose. And climate change does pose a threat—warmer temperatures are causing white pine beetles to move further and further into grizzly habitat, killing pine trees and hurting a critical food source.
Who’s right? It’s hard to say definitively—it depends on how you read the science, and how you think the ESA should be applied based on that science. Arguing that climate change is going to pose a threat to an animal and therefore warrants (somewhat) proactive listing is a tough sell—honestly, on a long enough scale, climate change and the cascading food chain and habitat problems could justify listing most animals on the ESA. That would be an interesting precedent to set. It’s also unclear how ESA protection could help address the pine beetle problem. The ESA has limited resources and offers limited protections—indeed, many conservationists think it is actually most successful when wielded as a stick to inspire (or coerce) proactive solutions before a species requires listing, rather than as a real way to solve environmental problems. And through that lens, it’s clear that what the grizzly bear really needs is for climate change to be taken seriously, and minimized. The ESA can’t force that—it’s not equipped to.
When the government is this bad at accepting basic truths, it makes it hard to have faith that their decisions are good ones—even decisions that seem positive or reasonable. It also creates a world in which we have to fight to keep species listed on the ESA because we know we’re not going to do much else to stop climate change from screwing them over in the long run. It is exhausting and demoralizing to live in a world like this.
President Donald Trump’s eldest son Donald Trump Jr. deserves to be deported for hunting and killing an elephant and other wildlife, animal rights activists demand.
People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) announced Friday it plans to put up a billboard in towns bordering Mexico features an infamous image of Trump Jr. holding a knife and the tail of an elephant he apparently shot abroad.
“Deport callous cheating opportunists now! All nations have their undesirables. Kindness welcome,” the billboard slated for El Paso and Laredo, Texas, states