Take action to protect the Arctic Refuge!

Take Action!

Arctic wildlife are already in a race against time living at ground zero for climate change but now their troubles could intensify.

As if the Trump administration’s demands to open the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to oil and gas development weren’t enough, now Congress is threatening to desecrate these incredible lands and waters by trying to sneak drilling authorization into the budget bills of both houses of Congress.

Tell Congress to stop all attempts to ransack the Arctic Refuge!

The president has made no secret about where his loyalties lie in his unrelenting drive to open the Arctic Refuge to Big Oil – he has even tried to use secret and illegal tactics to speed his agenda.

The one barrier to the Trump administration’s greedy push to put profit above wildlife and habitat in the Arctic Refuge is that it still takes an act of Congress to allow drilling in the coastal plain. But now, anti-wildlife members of Congress are using the budget process to clear that roadblock.

The House budget resolution already includes a provision paving the way for Arctic drilling, and now the Senate Budget Committee is also trying to bury it in its own budget resolution.

Take Action: Don’t let Congress put a price on the wildlife we love.

The Arctic Refuge is a place of unparalleled beauty that supports a vast array of unique and imperiled wildlife – from polar bears and brown bears to musk oxen and arctic foxes. It is also the principal calving grounds for the Porcupine Caribou herd, one of North America’s largest caribou herds.

Contact your members of Congress today and demand they protect the Arctic Refuge for its treasured beauty and for the wildlife that depend on it.

The decision to open one of the world’s largest intact ecosystems, a place of breathtaking beauty and vast, rugged wilderness, to oil and gas development should not be treated as a mere footnote in an unrelated budget process.

The Arctic Refuge deserves better. Wildlife deserves better. And the American people who overwhelmingly support keeping the Arctic Refuge free from destructive drilling deserve better.

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Asia’s Illegal Wildlife Trade Makes Tigers a Farm-to-Table Meal

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Tigers caged in a zoo at the Kings Romans casino complex in Laos. CreditAdam Dean for The New York Times

BOKEO PROVINCE, Laos — The tiger paced back and forth in its cage, groaning mournfully. A second big cat slept soundly in the corner, while a third stared blankly at the bars.

Next to this cage was another containing three more tigers, and after that three more cages: a line of small pens, each holding at least one cat. Most likely, none had long to live.

The tigers were property of the Kings Romans Group, which operates a casino here, along with hotels, a shooting range, a cockfighting and bullfighting ring, a Chinatown-themed shopping center, and this shabby zoo.

Ten years ago, the Hong Kong-based company signed a lease with the Laotian government to develop this 12-square-mile plot in northwestern Bokeo Province, just across the Mekong River from Thailand. It’s called the Golden Triangle Special Economic Zone.

Most businesses in the duty-free complex are owned and staffed by Chinese citizens and patronized by a predominantly Chinese clientele. Many are drawn here by the promise of vices not as easily found back home, including products made from exotic animals like tigers.

Conservationists maintain that this zoo is actually a farm raising animals for slaughter, and that it plays a significant role in perpetuating the illegal wildlife trade, swapping tigers with similar operations in Thailand and illegally butchering animals for their bones, meat and parts.

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The front of a casino that is part of the Kings Romans Casino complex in Laos. CreditAdam Dean for The New York Times

Tigers, bears, snakes and countless other species, many endangered, are held on farms throughout Southeast Asia. Operators illegally capture animals in the wild and then pass them off as captive-bred, or breed the animals on site and illegally sell them into the trade.

These facilities are part of a contraband industry whose profitability by some estimates is surpassed only by the global trade in drugs and arms, and by human trafficking.

Few tourists were present at Kings Romans during a recent visit. The ghost-town feel was reinforced by boarded-up shops, half-finished construction sites and posters advertising events that had long since come and gone.

But restaurants at Kings Romans still offered expensive plates of bear paw, pangolin (an endangered scaly mammal) and sautéed tiger meat, which can be paired with tiger wine, a grain-based concoction in which the cats’ penises, bones or entire skeletons are soaked for months.

When a group of foreigners showed up at the God of Wealth, Kings Romans’ fanciest restaurant, the suspicious proprietor told their translator, “You can eat here, but do not ask for the special jungle menu” — the menu offering wildlife options.

Nevertheless, the staff offered tiger wine for $20 a shot glass, and served a bear’s paw to patrons at a nearby table. In May, a photographer for The New York Times who visited the restaurant was offered plates of tiger meat for $45.

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Gambling at the Kings Roman casino in The Golden Triangle, Laos. CreditAdam Dean for The New York Times

Nearby, half a dozen jewelry and pharmaceutical shops displayed exorbitantly priced tiger teeth and claws, as well as rhino-horn carvings and shavings, elephant skin and ivory.

“The place is just a mess,” said Debbie Banks, of the nonprofit Environmental Investigation Agency in London. “Pretty much anything goes.”

In 2015, Ms. Banks and her colleagues, along with the nonprofit group Education for Nature-Vietnam, reported that meals, medicine and jewelry made from numerous protected species — including tigers, leopards, rhinoceroses, bears and elephants — were openly sold in the special economic zone.

Their documentation spurred the Laotian government to raid some businesses here and to burn a few tiger skins on television. But Ms. Banks said little had changed since that “cosmetic effort.”

Like the rest of the complex, the Kings Romans zoo was largely deserted save for animals kept in cages. A woman and her young daughter wandered in to look at the bears. Many showed signs of captivity-induced stress, including uncontrolled headbanging. Staff members were nowhere to be found.

Approximately 700 tigers live on farms in Laos. Thousands more are believed to be kept throughout Southeast Asia, and an additional 5,000 to 6,000 are housed in over 200 breeding centers in China. Fewer than 4,000 of the big cats remain in the wild; farmed tigers now far outnumber total wild populations.

Continue reading the main story

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An entrance to the zoo holding tigers, bears, deer, monkeys and peacocks, a part of the Chinese-owned Kings Romans casino complex. CreditAdam Dean for The New York Times

At an international conference on the endangered species trade last fall, Laotian government officials acknowledged a growing problem with wildlife farms and committed themselves to closing down the country’s tiger farms. So far, little has changed.

One source who works closely with the government, who asked not to be named for fear of reprisals, said that some Laotian politicians remained deeply involved in the farms and that the country’s forestry department lacked the authority to shut them down.

Representative Ed Royce, Republican of California and chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, has singled out Laos as an international hub for illegal wildlife trafficking, saying in 2015 it was “quite clear officials are profiting.” Laotian government officials did not respond to repeated requests for comment.

Treaty Limits Breeding

According to the Convention on the International Trade in Endangered Species, or Cites, a treaty to which China and all Southeast Asian nations are signers, tigers are to be bred only for conservation — not for their parts, and not on a commercial scale that does not benefit wild tigers.

“Farming tigers for trade confuses consumers and stimulates demand,” said Grace Ge Gabriel, Asia regional director of the International Fund for Animal Welfare. “The increased market demand for tiger parts also fuels poaching of tigers in the wild, because wildlife consumers prefer animals caught in the wild.”

In Laos and several other Asian countries, conservationists have compiled ample evidence that many zoos and farms serve as fronts for commercial breeding.

Continue reading the main story

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At the center, a jar of tiger bone wine for sale at the New Tender Fish Restaurant, which also served tiger meat and pangolin.CreditAdam Dean for The New York Times

In 2016, Tiger Temple in Thailand made headlines when monks there were accused of abusing tigers and selling them into the illegal wildlife trade. Eventually, 40 dead cubs were discovered in a freezer, along with pelts and other wildlife products. Temple representatives said that the bodies and parts did not prove wrongdoing.

Thailand has some 1,450 tigers in captivity, the majority of which are kept at popular attractions like Tiger Temple, where tourists pay to take photographs and play with cubs and young adults.

When the tigers reach sexual maturity and can no longer be handled safely, they often disappear, sold on the black market for up to $50,000, according to Karl Ammann, a Kenya-based investigative filmmaker who is making a documentary about the tiger farming industry.

Conservationists also have accused tiger farms in China — two of which are supported by government investment — of illegal activity.

Chinese law permits some tiger skins to be traded legally, although tiger bone has been banned since 1993. But in 2013 Ms. Banks of the Environmental Investigation Agency and her colleagues found that farms were stockpiling tiger bones to make wine and that skins from wild tigers were sold as being from captive-bred tigers.

After inquiries from The Times, Meng Xianlin, executive director-general of the Chinese Cites management authority, declined to be interviewed. Several other Chinese officials did not respond to repeated interview requests.

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Serving a dish of tiger meat at a restaurant called The God of Wealth in the Golden Triangle, Laos.CreditAdam Dean for The New York Times

Past violators often re-enter the wildlife farming business. Construction has already begun on a zoo next door to Tiger Temple. Officials in Vietnam recently granted permission for the wife of Pham Van Tuan, a twice-convicted tiger trafficker, to import 24 tigers from the Czech Republic “for conservation purposes.”

Vuong Tien Manh, deputy director of Vietnam’s Cites management authority, said in an email that Vietnam had seized a number of frozen tigers and tiger bones over the past five years, most of which were suspected to have originated from Laos.

He added that Vietnam’s policies did not permit commercial breeding of tigers, but the country has some 130 tigers in captivity. All tiger farms are strictly monitored, Mr. Manh said, no matter who the owners are.

Bear Bile Collected

Though tigers are the most contentious of Asia’s farmed wildlife, they are by no means the only species caught up in the industry.

An estimated 10,000 bears are legally kept on Chinese farms for their bile, an ingredient in traditional medicine that is collected through a tube permanently implanted in the animals’ gall bladders, or through a hole in their abdomens.

Countless other species — crocodiles, porcupines, pythons, deer and more — are also farmed throughout China and Southeast Asia.

Continue reading the main story

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Tourists pose with tigers in an enclosure at Tiger World in Chiang Mai, Thailand, in May. CreditAdam Dean for The New York Times

Some proponents, including government officials, believe that such facilities should be legal and encouraged, arguing that they relieve pressure to hunt wild animals by satiating demand with captive-bred animals.

Others say there is no evidence to back this assertion. “I can’t think of any species in Southeast Asia that benefits from commercial captive breeding,” said Chris Shepherd, the Southeast Asia regional director for Traffic, a nonprofit wildlife trade-monitoring group.

Scott Roberton, the director of counter-wildlife trafficking at the Wildlife Conservation Society’s Asia program, added that the risks associated with legalizing trade in farmed tigers and other endangered species are the same as those associated for decades with the ivory trade.

“Legal trade stimulates demand, confuses law enforcement efforts, and opens a huge opportunity for laundering illegal products, which is why ivory markets are now being closed globally,” he said.

“There just isn’t the capacity within these countries to manage a legal trade in a watertight way,” Dr. Roberton said.

“Laundering” of animals as farmed that were actually caught in the wild is a frequent practice. In Chengdu, China, one-third of 285 bears rescued from bile farms and now living at a rehabilitation center run by Animals Asia, a nonprofit group, are missing limbs, a sign that they were caught in the wild by snares.

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A bear, with damaged teeth, at the zoo. CreditAdam Dean for The New York Times

A 2008 investigation by Vietnamese officials and the Wildlife Conservation Society found that about half of 78 wildlife farms surveyed regularly launder animals caught in the wild. In 2016, a study of 26 Vietnamese wildlife farms found that all engaged in laundering.

The pet trade is also a problem. Indonesia annually exports over four million reptiles and small mammals labeled captive-bred — including thousands shipped weekly to the United States. But virtually all are caught in the wild, according to Dr. Shepherd.

“I’ve been to almost every reptile farm in Indonesia, and none have breeding facilities,” he said. “Wildlife dealers are running circles around everyone. It’s a joke.”

Though modern wildlife farming emerged in the 1990s and has only grown in popularity, wild populations of farmed species have continued to plummet, Dr. Shepherd said.

Tigers, for example, are effectively extinct in Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam, while just seven to 50 remain in the wild in China.

“No matter how many tigers are farmed, we still have wild tigers getting killed,” he said.

What Becomes of the Tigers?

Heeding these arguments, Laotian government representatives attending a major Cites meeting last September announced their intention to end tiger farming in their country.

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Deer at the zoo. CreditAdam Dean for The New York Times

International nongovernmental organizations are advising Laotian authorities on how to carry through with that announcement, but there has been no progress to date.

In April, Vietnamese reporters discovered a tiger farm in Laos on a main highway near the center of Lak Sao, a town near the border with Vietnam. Conservationists later confirmed that it might hold an additional 200 animals.

“There are some countries in Southeast Asia that are equipped to combat criminal networks, and some that are still struggling,” said Giovanni Broussard, Southeast Asia regional coordinator for the Global Program for Combating Wildlife and Forest Crime of the United Nations Office on Drug and Crime.

“Laos,” he said, “is in the category of those that are still struggling.”

Though most tiger farms in Laos do not allow visitors, conservationists fear that owners will simply shift to a model embraced in Thailand, in which petting zoos serve as a front for illegal trade.

Even if the authorities move forward with shutting down the farms, what to do with the country’s 700-plus captive tigers is a challenge. Euthanizing them would bring unwanted media attention, but releasing them into the wild is not an option. There’s not much prey, and the tigers lack survival skills and have no fear of humans.

Yet keeping them is a burden; it costs thousands of dollars a year to feed a single tiger, Ms. Banks said, and tigers can live up to 20 years.

Continue reading the main story

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Caged tigers at the zoo. CreditAdam Dean for The New York Times

In 2002, Vietnam faced a similar dilemma when it made bear farming and bile sales illegal. Fifteen years later, around 1,200 bears still live with their original owners.

Many are kept in horrific conditions — in cages scarcely larger than their bodies, suffering from rampant disease and lacking adequate food and water — and their bile continues to be collected illegally.

Animals Asia runs a rehabilitation center near Hanoi that houses 160 bears rescued from the trade, but the center has permission to keep only 200 animals. Even if that cap were eliminated, however, the group lacks the funds and space to care for all of Vietnam’s remaining captive bears.

“Obviously, we can’t do this all ourselves,” said Tuan Bendixsen, Animals Asia’s Vietnam director. “The government must take responsibility for their wildlife.”

As Laos ponders how to responsibly close its tiger farms, China is moving in the opposite direction. Since 1992, it has been petitioning Cites to permit trade in farmed tiger products.

When Chinese representatives lobbied for this change once again at the most recent Cites meeting, the proposal was turned down.

Conservationists believe that international pressure may be crucial to persuading Asian governments to close tiger, bear and other wildlife farms, but that strategy’s effectiveness is compromised by an awkward fact: An estimated 5,000 tigers are held in backyards, petting zoos and even truck stops across the United States.

While those animals are predominantly kept as pets, they compromise negotiations with other countries on this issue, said Leigh Henry, a senior policy adviser at the World Wildlife Fund.

“When fingers are pointed at China about their tiger farms, they tend to point the finger back at the U.S. and say, ‘They have as many tigers as we have, why are you not criticizing them?’” she said.

“The priority is closing the tiger farms in Asia,” Ms. Henry said, “but the U.S. needs to set a strong standard, and that starts with cleaning up the situation in our own backyard.”

Forest rangers tortured and killed by illegal settlers in Liberia rainforest

Two forest patrollers have been killed and four hospitalised in what is believed to be retaliatory action from illegal settlers in Sapo National Park

 A man walks past a rack of bushmeat that includes the increasingly rare pangolin, now on the point of extinction.
A man walks past a rack of bushmeat that includes the increasingly rare pangolin, now on the point of extinction. Photograph: Carl de Souza/AFP/Getty Images

Two forest rangers have been killed by a violent mob in a Liberian rainforest after discovering a community illegally settling and hunting in the park, according to authorities.

“They ambushed them using single-barrel shot guns,” Darlington Tuagben, managing director of Liberia’s Forestry Development Authority told the Liberian Observer. One of the rangers died at the scene, while the other died in hospital a day after the attack. The ranger “was beaten and tortured to death”, said Tuagben. Four other rangers were hospitalised.

“This kind of behaviour is no longer in any civilised world including Liberia. It is barbaric and unacceptable,” said Tuagben.

The attack took place just one month after a ranger was tortured by other illegal settlers in the forest.

Sapo National Park is home to a variety of endangered species, including elephants, pangolins, pygmy hippos and western chimpanzees. It is one of west Africa’s most intact forest ecosystems.

The park was pillaged by poachers, loggers and miners during the Liberian civil war from 1990 to 2003, and the government and the United Nations have since implemented major resettlement programmes and PR campaigns to raise support for conservation. Farming, logging, construction, hunting, and human settlement have been illegal since 2003.

Despite conservation efforts by the government and NGOs, illicit activities inside the park have soared in the last decade. More than 1,000 people occupy Sapo illegally, according to Tuagben, who told the Liberian Observer that people remain hostile to park authorities and those trying to protect it. He said he has requested that the police deploy armed men to work alongside forest rangers.

If you would like to contact us with a story about elephant conservation and wildlife rangers, please email elephant.conservation@theguardian.com.

War and the Effect on Wildlife

http://www.ourendangeredworld.com/war-effect-wildlife/

By Jenny Griffin

Human conflict throughout the world can often result in wars that cause large-scale economic and social disruption, as well as immense suffering and loss of human life. But the impact is not limited to the effect on human populations living in the war-zone.
Its impact spreads broader, often impacting the natural environment and the wildlife that inhabits these areas, ultimately with dire consequences for wildlife conservation, biodiversity, and for the livelihoods of human communities that depend on these natural resources.

The negative impact that war has on the environment and wildlife is typically fuelled by a number of factors, including:

    •A breakdown in law and order, together with disruption of agricultural production and economic trade leads to a lack of income opportunities as a result;
    •A growing dependence on natural resources and wildlife (eg. wood for cooking, wildlife for food) due to lack of other options;
    •An increase in human movement through natural protected areas as a result of a mass exodus of refugees fleeing war torn areas or an insurgency of militants, all of whom require food and shelter;
    •An abundance of trigger happy militia armed with high powered automatic weapons and firearms makes unarmed wildlife an easy target and that much more vulnerable.

War can impact wildlife in several ways:
1) by destroying vital habitat that wildlife needs to survive;
2) by over-exploiting natural resources, including wildlife; and
3) pollution can have both short-term and long-term impacts on the environment and wildlife.

Habitat Destruction

Natural vegetation is often cleared to allow troops to either move through an area more easily or to improve visibility so that they are able to detect approaching enemy forces. Masses of displaced people living in temporary settlements can result in erosion and deforestation. Wildlife reserves and other natural protected areas are particularly vulnerable as they are very often situated on international borders and offer an abundance of natural resources and cover. Habitat destruction can threaten vulnerable species – especially those with limited ranges – and even cause them to become locally extinct.

Over-Exploitation of Natural Resources

Deforestation

Deforestation by World Bank Photo Collection

Over-exploitation of natural resources can occur as a result of subsistence use of resources or commercial exploitation of resources. Wars typically leave countries in a state of upheaval and as a result, local rural communities are very often unable to cultivate food crops during wartime, having to turn to wild plant foods and bush meat as an alternative food source to meet their nutritional needs in order to survive. Displaced people often harvest wildlife while they are living away from home, but may continue to do so after they return to their communities, as other sources of food may still be non-existent for some time.

In combat areas hunting of wildlife generally occurs on a grand scale – with larger animals be targeted more frequently – in order to provide food for military troops. As many large animals, such as the critically endangered mountain gorilla, have complex social hierarchies and slow reproductive rates, when animals are killed at a rate that exceeds their ability to reproduce it can devastate wildlife populations.

Commercial exploitation and illegal trade of natural resources such as diamonds and timber, and poached ivory and rhino horn is often undertaken to fund military operations, weapons and ammunition. Exploiting commercially lucrative resources with a readily available source of weapons fuels a vicious cycle that allows armed militia to control the area, natural resources and their network of illegal trade operations. The proliferation in weapons, notably high-powered automatic rifles that are far more effective at killing larger game than traditional spears, often results in a rapid escalation in the slaughtering of wildlife for the bushmeat trade.

Pollution

The environment can be polluted directly as a result of conflict, or may occur indirectly as a result of human activities in sensitive areas. The Persian Gulf War saw massive amounts of oil being deliberately dumped into Persian Gulf in efforts to prevent troops from coming ashore. As the war progressed, oil wells in Kuwait were set alight by fleeing Iraqi soldiers. The resulting oil pollution and atmospheric pollution had severe environmental consequences, severely impacting local wildlife, especially marine life and seabirds. Spraying of the herbicide Agent Orange in Indochina in efforts to defoliate vegetation during the Vietnam War resulted in toxic pollutants contaminating the vegetation, soil and water, with dire consequences for both the environment and the wildlife and human populations living in these areas.

Pollution can also occur indirectly as a result of war. For example, surface water and ground water sources may become contaminated when large groups of displaced people are forced to settle in temporary refugee camps that lack adequate sanitation and where waste is allowed to accumulate due to lack of services. This can result in nutrient enrichment of water bodies, leading to low oxygen levels and fish die-offs, and can also cause disease outbreaks to spread rapidly amongst humans living in cramped, unsanitary conditions, with little or no access to medical care or medicines. Some diseases can also be passed on to wildlife with devastating effects.

[Thanks to Rosemary for the link,]

AN IDAHO BOY ALMOST BECOMES A CASUALTY OF THE WESTERN WAR WAGED ON PREDATORS.

http://planetjh.com/2017/03/21/the-new-west-the-real-prey/

 

JACKSON HOLE, WY – Most readers here have probably never heard of the notorious “M-44.” It’s not a gun, but rather a different kind of weapon deployed by the U.S. government in its century-old campaign still being waged against wildlife predators.

Verbatim, this is how the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s predator-killing bureau, Wildlife Services, describes the function of M-44s: “The M-44 device is triggered when a canid (i.e. coyote or wild dog) tugs on the baited capsule holder, releasing the plunger and ejecting sodium cyanide powder into the animal’s mouth. The sodium cyanide quickly reacts with moisture in the animal’s mouth, releasing hydrogen cyanide gas. Unconsciousness, followed by death, is very quick, normally within 1 to 5 minutes after the device is triggered. Animals killed by sodium cyanide appear to show no overt signs of distress or pain.”

Repeat that last line again, italics placed here for emphasis: “Animals killed by sodium cyanide appear to show no overt signs of distress or pain.

Should that give us solace?

Only days ago, as 14-year-old Canyon Mansfield was playing with his beloved Labrador friend, Casey, in the hills above Pocatello, Idaho, both teenage boy and dog stumbled unsuspectingly upon an M-44-like device that later was described as detonation of a “cyanide bomb.” The encounter killed the family pet that came in contact with cyanide and left Canyon’s clothing covered with chemical residue, prompting the local sheriff to declare him “lucky to be alive.”

Of course, the boys ‘parents are rightfully outraged. Other recent tragic incidents involving M-44s and pets in Wyoming, plus a wolf killed by an M-44 this February in Oregon, and a longer list of additional events that the government calls unfortunate accidents, are refueling public anger over M-44s, prompting Congressman Peter DeFazio-D, Oregon, to renew his push for a total ban.

While Wildlife Services and its cooperating local and state collaborators tout the lethal efficacy of poisoning to death intended prime targets—especially coyotes given that we are now again in the middle of another domestic sheep lambing season in the West—the dangers of M-44s are undeniable, critics say.

Namely, M-44s are menacingly super toxic and non-discriminating; in many cases needlessly used, especially on public land; and hazardous to the health of humans and pets.

Most of all, noted Brooks Fahy, a founder of the organization, Predator Defense, and a national leader in pushing to have M-44s outlawed, their deployment “reflects an archaic mindset carried forward by a federal agency out of touch with 21st century values,” he said.

A few years ago, Predator Defense produced a documentary Exposed: USDA’s Secret War on Wildlife (viewable free on YouTube), that won a number of awards and even drew praise from legendary conservationist Dr. Jane Goodall.

“What we desperately need is serious, objective, and transparent oversight of Wildlife Services by Congress but we haven’t had it because of Republican resistance to scrutiny of the agency’s tactics, especially from lawmakers in the rural West,” Fahy asserted. “They don’t want to know the truth; they don’t want their constituents to know the truth. They’re invested in promoting baseless propaganda which reinforces negative generalizations about predators that are just not factual.”

As numerous studies note, predator control may indeed be a culturally engrained tradition in rural corners of the West, but its rationale does not always align with the conclusions of science.  In some places, costly intervention by Wildlife Services has actually made predator conflicts worse and they’ve resulted in the killing of non-target species. In addition, as research makes clear, predators—including wolves, cougars, bears and coyotes—are actually important in helping to slow the spread of diseases in wildlife, such as Chronic Wasting Disease, because predators target sick animals.

Although Wildlife Services insists that M-44s are safe and subject to 26 different “use restrictions” mandated by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (note: some Western federal lawmakers are now working to gut EPA’s role as a regulatory agency), Fahy says the agency and, in particular, state partners and private contractors have checkered records as noted in his film mentioned above.

On the official USDA website, it states that “Wildlife Services personnel place M-44s along game and livestock trails, ridges, fence lines, seldom-used ranch roads, coyote and fox natural travel ways, rendezvous sites, and territorial marking sites/locations. Trained personnel inspect each M-44 at least weekly. Used mostly in the winter and spring, M-44s may be used year-round in some locations. When not in use, they are stored in secured, locked locations.”(Read more: aphis.usda.gov/publications/wildlife_damage/content/printable_version/fs_m44_device.pdf)

Fahy notes the irony that M-44s are “stored in secured, locked locations,” yet as the Mansfield incident points out, they were sloppily deployed in a location that nearly cost a teenager his life.

There are instances, Fahy acknowledged, where depredation of livestock, particularly on private land, can be a problem that must be resolved through lethal removal. But he and others argue that many conflicts on public land can be better resolved through more conscientious sheep and cattle management, vigilant deployment of non-lethal deterrents such as guard dogs, range riders and fladry, especially during calving and lambing seasons, and acknowledgment that the publicly-subsidized grazing of private livestock on public lands is a privilege.

Predator Defense is among several organizations pushing to reform how Wildlife Services does business. Together, they have also sought tighter restrictions on trapping to reduce the number of pets caught in legholds and conibears near towns and reducing the killing of non-target species such as imperiled wolverines and lynx.

“With M-44s, it’s kind of like allowing a person with a loaded Glock to put a gun down on a picnic table in a public park along with a sign that reads, ‘Dangerous, do not touch.’ What would we be thinking if government agencies allowed that to happen?” Fahy said. “M-44s are more dangerous than a gun. You breathe some of this stuff in, and you’re dead.” PJH

Todd Wilkinson has been writing his award-winning New West column for nearly 30 years. It appears weekly in Planet Jackson Hole. He is author of the recent award-winning book, Grizzlies of Pilgrim Creek, An Intimate Portrait of 399, the Most Famous Grizzly of Greater Yellowstone only available at mangelsen.com/grizzly.

Last chance to comment on hunting regs before Fish and Wildlife Commission

http://www.thedailyworld.com/news/last-chance-to-comment-on-hunting-regs-before-fish-and-wildlife-commission/

  • Tue Mar 14th, 2017

The public has one last chance to tell the Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission the concerns about upcoming hunting rule change proposals in person at the commission’s March 17-18 meeting in Olympia.

The most notable proposed changes include the elimination of several special elk areas in and around Grays Harbor County, increasing the bag limit for white-fronted and white geese to address their growing abundance, and allowing the restoration of points to hunters who draw a permit for a damage hunt but are not called on to participate in a hunt.

The meetings are set to commence at 8 a.m. both days, with a public comment starting each session. There will also be a public comment period after each presentation, each featuring a different segment of proposed hunt rules changes. The meetings will be held in Room 172 of the Natural Resources Building at 1111 Washington St. SE in Olympia; a complete agenda is available at http://wdfw.wa.gov/commission/. All the proposed changes are available for review at http://wdfw.wa.gov/hunting/regulations/seasonsetting.

Some areas of interest for local hunters include a10:40 a.m. presentation Friday about the elimination of several elk areas, including the Tri Valley, South Bank, Chehalis Valley and Willapa, meaning the land within those areas will be reabsorbed into their respects Game Management Units and fall under the same rules governing those units. Following that at 11:05 a.m. will be a discussion of general deer seasons and deer and elk special permits.

The migratory bird hunting presentation will be at 1:40 p.m., where the public can hear about proposed bag limit changes for several species of geese, among other changes.

Final action by the commission on the proposed recommendations is scheduled at a public meeting April 14-15 in Spokane.

The commission will also be briefed on a few other topics, notably the Willapa Bay salmon management plan and its adaptive management objectives, scheduled for 11:45 a.m. Saturday. Also among the briefings will be in-season management of Puget Sound salmon fisheries and bird dog training at two units of the Snoqualmie Valley Wildlife Area.

Prior to the regular meeting, the commission will have its annual meeting with Gov. Jay Inslee March 16 at 3 p.m. in the Governor’s Office.

Wildlife managers also will provide an update on the status of wolves in Washington and actions the department took in 2016 to implement the state’s Wolf Conservation and Management Plan.

In addition, the commission will be briefed on a petition the federal National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration received calling for a protection zone for southern resident killer whales off the coast of San Juan Island.

America’s Wildlife Body Count

Until recently, I had never had any dealings with Wildlife Services, a century-old agency of the United States Department of Agriculture with a reputation for strong-arm tactics and secrecy. It is beloved by many farmers and ranchers and hated in equal measure by conservationists, for the same basic reason: It routinely kills predators and an astounding assortment of other animals — 3.2 million of them last year — because ranchers and farmers regard them as pests.

To be clear, Wildlife Services is a separate entity, in a different federal agency, from the United States Fish and Wildlife Service, whose main goal is wildlife conservation. Wildlife Services is interested in control — ostensibly, “to allow people and wildlife to coexist.”

My own mildly surreal acquaintance with its methods began as a result of a study, published this month in the journal Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment, under the title “Predator Control Should Not Be a Shot in the Dark.” Adrian Treves of the University of Wisconsin and his co-authors set out to answer a seemingly simple question: Does the practice of predator control to protect our livestock actually work?

More: http://www.nytimes.com/2016/09/18/opinion/sunday/americas-wildlife-body-count.html?_r=2

Death Toll Update

PETITION UPDATE

Peace for Geese Project

AUG 16, 2016 — Wildlife Services killed 578 geese in King County and 287 on Lake Washington in 2015. Shooting has become their preferred method of killing, but they also conducted two round-ups on Lake Washington where they gassed to death geese and their goslings. The numbers for 2016 will not be available until next year.

In a report to members of the Interlocal Agreement, Wildlife Services stated that they hazed and harassed 3,892 geese in King County. The techniques used included “working dogs, boats, paintballs, and firearms.”

In a decreasing trend, egg addling dropped to just 292 eggs. Clearly, egg addling is not a priority. It is obviously much easier to shoot geese or round them up and gas them instead of addling eggs to prevent their development.

Exact details concerning Wildlife Services killing in the Puget Sound area and Washington State Parks continues to be either non-existent or sketchy at best.

The report also stated “2015 represented the 29th year of Urban Waterfowl Management efforts in the greater Seattle area.” In a vicious cycle of killing, year after year, geese continue to be killed in our parks. And of course, few if any members of the Interlocal Agreement will take any responsibility for the killing. They seem to think that they are not responsible for the killing even though they have all collectively paid for it under the agreement.

Members of the 2015 agreement included: Washington State Parks, Seattle, Bellevue, Kent, Kirkland, Mountlake Terrace, Renton, SeaTac, Woodinville, Port of Seattle – Seattle-Tacoma International Airport, Tacoma MetroParks, Tukwila, and the University of Washington.

Data released by the United States Department of Agriculture shows that Wildlife Services destroyed over 2.7 million animals in 2014. It is time to stop the war on wildlife!

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