Real-life Bambi and Thumper spotted in small Washington town

An adorable friendship is blossoming in the town of Loomis, Washington. Meet the deer and bunny who resemble Bambi and Thumper.

LOOMIS, Wash. — Perhaps the movie wasn’t the end for Disney’s Bambi and Thumper. A small herd of deer and their rabbit companion have been spotted in Loomis, Washington.

KING 5 viewer Darlene Wilbourn said the animals visit her mother’s yard every day. In the heartwarming video, you can see the bunny follows a few of the deer around as they lay in the sun.

There doesn’t seem to be any other bunnies as part of the group, but the deer don’t seem to mind. One deer chews peacefully as the bunny sits between its front legs. Another deer even appears to touch noses with the smaller animal.

It seems that Disney’s duo has come to life in Washington.

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Breaking news: Washington governor signs historic law to end cage confinement of egg-laying hens

Breaking news: Washington governor signs historic law to end cage confinement of egg-laying hens

May 7, 2019

Washington Gov. Jay Inslee has just signed into law the strongest protections for egg-laying hens ever passed in any state legislature. This historic win will benefit approximately eight million hens each year, freeing them from cage confinement by the end of 2023. The measure builds upon our previous work in states like California and Massachusetts where voters have passed transformational ballot measures against the cage confinement of farm animals in recent years.

Washington’s new law phases out the production and sale of eggs from caged hens, regardless of where the eggs were produced.

In a typical cage facility, each bird has less space than the dimensions of an iPad on which to live her entire life. While cage-free does not equal cruelty-free, this measure will significantly reduce the birds’ suffering. In addition to banning cages and requiring more space per bird, the law also mandates that hens be provided with vital enrichments, including scratch areas, perches, nesting and dust bathing areas.

The HSUS has spearheaded the passage of this law and others in a dozen states — from Florida to Ohio to Arizona — to eliminate extreme confinement. These successes bolster the work we have done with some of the largest food corporations in recent years, both in the United States and globally, to end cruel cage confinement practices by their suppliers. As a result, lawmakers and corporations are increasingly realizing that the future is cage-free.

In Washington, we partnered with Democratic and Republican legislators, key stakeholders in the agricultural sector, and other leading animal protection groups to ensure the bill’s success. It is a remarkable illustration of how good people in all walks of life can come together to create lasting and transformational change for animals. The HSUS will continue to work with lawmakers, non-government organizations, volunteers, donors and other members of the public to continue paving the way toward this more humane reality.

Let’s take a moment to celebrate today’s remarkable win for animals. But let’s also keep in mind that billions of farm animals around the world are still suffering in cruel cages. The laws in Washington, California and Massachusetts set a great precedent for other states and countries to follow, and further support corporate policy commitments reforming how farm animals are raised. Let’s keep the momentum going as we work toward the day when no farm animal is locked in a cage.

Cormorants on the Astoria Bridge add new twist to management issues

Counting cormorants

James Lawonn with the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife counts cormorants on the Astoria Bridge.

Double-crested cormorants nesting on the Astoria Bridge could come with a high cost to the state and more frequent maintenance interruptions for motorists.

The birds, seasonal visitors to the North Coast, have just begun to return to the estuary for breeding and nesting. No one knows how many will decide to settle on the bridge this year, but it was clearly a popular spot last year, as birds from the region’s largest colony continued to be hazed off East Sand Island downriver.

The number of double-crested cormorants nesting on the bridge jumped from a dozen pairs in 2004 to around 1,700 pairs last year, according to monitoring reports cited by the Oregon Department of Transportation.

The leaps coincide with the beginning of lethal management of a massive double-crested cormorant colony on East Sand Island. The birds abandoned the island several times after the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers began shooting thousands of adult birds and destroying nests and eggs in 2015 to protect runs of young salmon.

The Audubon Society of Portland called a mass exodus in 2017 a “catastrophic collapse.”

Fish and wildlife researchers have since questioned the value of cormorant management in saving salmon. They say it was clear after each dispersal that cormorants were resettling on the bridge and farther upriver — areas where they could potentially impact even more salmon.

Cormorant droppings have accumulated on the bridge in layers so thick they have made it difficult for state inspectors to evaluate the structure. The droppings are also very corrosive, reducing the life span of the bridge’s protective steel coating.

“The potential expense we’re facing is a real worry to us,” said Department of Transportation spokesman Lou Torres.

Costly painting

The state repaints the Astoria Bridge every 20 years, a lengthy but necessary maintenance that has shut down lanes during busy summer months.

Work on the span only just concluded in 2018 and more work is planned in 2021 on the under truss, where many of the cormorants appear to nest.

“We’re really trying to get prepared for that,” Torres said.

Hazed birds flock to bridge

Cormorants rest below the Astoria Bridge.

He estimates it could cost around $80,000 to pressure-wash the bridge to complete required inspections. But that cost could quickly increase to $6 million if environmental agencies require the state to set up containment structures during pressure washing so bird waste does not simply get pushed into the Columbia River.

If cormorants continue to nest on the bridge in such high numbers, the state may also have to paint the bridge more often, every 15 years as opposed to every 20.

Under that scenario, Torres said, “We’re not going to have a lot of years where we’re not painting.”

Either way, the Department of Transportation is weighing its options as 2021 approaches. The department anticipates it will need to begin a hazing program to dissuade cormorants from nesting on the bridge. How to remove them is still an open question.

Several years ago, the state hired a company that set up noise cannons on the Interstate 5 Columbia River Bridge in Portland to disturb thousands of starlings that had colonized the bridge and whose accumulated droppings on the bridge, catwalks and roadways posed health and safety hazards.

The Army Corps does not link the movement of double-crested cormorants farther upriver to management actions on East Sand Island. The agency blamed attacks by eagles for the birds’ departures in 2016 and 2017.

Army Corps spokesman Jeff Henon suggested the birds may not have nested in large numbers on the bridge before because of the billowing containment structures that were around in 2014 during painting and maintenance. When the state moved on to other portions of the bridge and the containment structures were no longer necessary, the birds moved in.

But Torres noted that the bulk of that work was not in areas where birds usually nested and, besides, the number of nesting birds on the bridge during the spring and summer climbed steadily between 2012 and 2018.

“The numbers tell the story there,” he said.

The Army Corps did not shoot any adult birds last year, but did destroy eggs. This year, the agency plans to modify the island’s terrain, creating intertidal wetlands and further reducing nesting habitat to keep double-crested cormorants at the lower levels identified in a federal management plan.

But it’s not as though the cormorants’ relocation onto the Astoria Bridge and deeper into the estuary should have been a surprise.

Studies funded by the Army Corps before management of the cormorants even began indicated it was likely some of the birds would move into the estuary if they were hazed off East Sand Island.

Feasting on salmon

Though further investigation is needed, available evidence suggests the cormorants that have been nesting upriver only recently immigrated from somewhere else — their most likely origin being East Sand Island, said James Lawonn, avian predation biologist with the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife.

Past research on Caspian terns, also seasonal inhabitants of East Sand Island managed by the Army Corps, indicates birds that nest farther up in the estuary eat even more salmon than those nesting near the river’s mouth, where more types of food are available. It’s possible cormorants that nest upriver could eat three times more young salmon.

Hazed birds flock to bridge

A lone cormorant takes flight under the Astoria Bridge.

Now the state and other partners are looking into the impact of new cormorant colonies in the estuary on the survival of young salmon.

To Lawonn, how many cormorants are using the Astoria Bridge is a major piece of the puzzle.

One evening at the end of March, Lawonn set up a scope near the Port of Astoria’s West Mooring Basin near the bridge.

He wasn’t sure how many cormorants he would even see. It was still early in the season.

Double-crested cormorants appear inclined to return to nesting grounds where they have experienced success, but they also aren’t afraid to quest elsewhere for better options if they are running into trouble.

He wondered if birds that found safe and suitable nesting on the bridge would choose it first over East Sand Island, bypassing habitat where they had been hazed and shot at by humans and harried by eagles for the past several years.

The Army Corps will not begin monitoring East Sand Island for double-crested cormorants and nesting activity until the end of April or beginning of May.

Even as Lawonn trained his scope down the bridge’s length, the dark, snaking forms of cormorants on support structures at the base of the bridge caught the sinking sunlight and gleamed.

Lawonn counted over 650 double-crested cormorants that evening. A few days later, he counted 943.

Bald eagles are taking trash from a Seattle landfill and dumping it into suburban yards

It is raining trash in the suburbs of Seattle. Or, rather, bald eagles – around 200 of them – are dropping trash into people’s yards every day, and the suburbanites are not happy.

The trash – including a blood-filled biohazard container that landed in one lucky resident’s yard – is coming from a nearby landfill that takes in two tons of fresh trash a day. The bald eagles pick out the juicy morsels of food found in the landfill, and then discard the junk that they don’t want in the nearby neighborhoods.

According to Popular Mechanics:

The main issue is the open-air landfill in the area, the Cedar Hills Regional Landfill in King County. That landfill was supposed to have been closed years ago, but a proposed expansion has kept it open. In fact, that expansion is meant to keep the landfill exposed until 2040…

Many of the residents want the county to cancel the proposed expansion and finally close the landfill. In the meantime the residents are hoping to implement some sort of anti-eagle measures at the landfill, although it’s not entirely clear what those would look like.

There’s something almost poetic about the American national bird reminding people that the trash they throw in a landfill doesn’t simply disappear. In a way, these birds are a visceral demonstration of the usually hidden consequences of extreme consumption. We create too much trash, and that much trash creates consequences. That could mean eagles dropping biohazard containers in your front lawn, or it could mean nearly 20 tons of plastic washing up on one of the most remote beaches in the world.

Image: by Carl Chapman from Phoenix, usa – Eagle ShotsCC BY 2.0Link

Hearing set on NOAA plan for Makah whale hunts

Makah tribal members process a gray whale after it was harpooned and towed ashore in Neah Bay in this file photo from May 1999. (Peninsula Daily News)Makah tribal members process a gray whale after it was harpooned and towed ashore in Neah Bay in this file photo from May 1999. (Peninsula Daily News)

NEAH BAY — The Makah Tribe would hunt from one to three Eastern North Pacific gray whales annually over 10 years under a federal proposal announced Thursday that could go into effect in 2020, federal and tribal officials said.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) recommendation threatens to renew divisions between anti-whaling and animal-rights advocates and the coastal tribe, whose last sanctioned whale hunt was in 1999.

“We never ceased continuing to move forward with our efforts,” Tribal County member Patrick DePoe said Thursday. “We’ve been on pause for quite some time. It’s a good feeling to see things starting to happen.”

NOAA has recommended that the federal Marine Mammal Protection Act (MMPA) moratorium that prohibits killing whales and other marine mammals should be waived to allow Makah tribal whaling.

The proposal will be reviewed and commented on at a hearing in front of Administrative Law Judge George A. Jordan at a 9:30 a.m. Aug. 12 at the Henry M. Jackson Building in Seattle.

NOAA’s report and outline of the hearing process will be published today in the Federal Register.

“To waive the MMPA to actually kill whales, that’s a new one,” said Joyce resident Margaret Owens, who with her husband, Chuck, founded Peninsula Citizens for the Protection of Whales.

“We don’t consider the killing of any gray whales acceptable, and we are particularly sensitive about our resident group of 30. We are back into saving whales, which we never did stop.”

Jordan will make a recommendation to Chris Oliver, assistant administrator of NOAA’s National Marine Fisheries Service.

If Oliver approves the waiver, the Makah would apply for a five-year renewable whaling permit with NOAA Fisheries to allow the hunt to proceed, NOAA spokesman Michael Milstein said Thursday.

After 10 years, the waiver would expire.

“We’d have to essentially re-examine everything and assess how things proceeded and see if we would propose a new waiver,” Milstein said.

The tribe, recognized as an aboriginal subsistence whaling group by the International Whaling Commission, would not need permission from the IWC if the waiver is approved, DePoe said.

In May 2007, the International Whaling Commission granted the Makah a harvest quota of up to 20 whales over five years, with no more than five in one year.

The agency’s proposal was announced almost 20 years to day when, on May 17, 1999, Makah whalers hunted and killed an Eastern North Pacific gray whale for the first time in more than 70 years, an event closely chronicled by national media.

The tribe asserted its right to whale under the 1855 Treaty of Neah Bay, under which the Makah ceded thousands of acres of land to the U.S. government.

The tribe applied for the waiver in 2005 to hunt 20 gray whales every five years.

Under NOAA’s recommendation, Makah whalers could hunt up to three Eastern North Pacific gray whales in its usual and accustomed whaling areas on even- numbered years and one on odd-numbered years.

NOAA estimates the population of Eastern North Pacific gray whales is 27,000.

The Eastern Northern Pacific whales would be harpooned, then dispatched with .50-caliber rifles, as the gray whale was in 1999.

Milstein said Makah whalers would hunt in a way that the approximately 192 whales in the Pacific Coast Feeding Group (PCFG) gray whales — including 30 “resident” whales that feed close to Clallam County’s shores and the 200 whales in the endangered Western North Pacific (WNP) gray whale population — would not be harmed.

The WNP population inhabits waters off Russia and visits waters in the the tribe’s usual and accustomed areas.

“Even-year hunts would occur during the migration season (Dec. 1 of an odd-numbered year through May 31 of the subsequent even-numbered year) to reduce risk to PCFG whales,” according to NOAA’s report.

“Odd-year hunts would occur during the feeding season (July 1 through Oct. 30 of odd-numbered years) to reduce risk to WNP whales,” according to the report.

The risk of striking WNP whales during even-numbered years is one in 170 years, Milstein said.

At that time of year, they are off the Russian coast, Milstein said.

If a Western North Pacific whale were struck at any point, hunting would cease, then would resume after further measures were examined to eliminate the risk to that population, Milstein said.

The risk to PCFG whales, a subset of the Eastern North Pacific whales, would be minimized by setting a limit of 16 whales struck with a harpoon over the course of the 10-year waiver period, Milstein said.

PCFG whales have been photo-identified between June 1-Nov. 30 during two or more years between Northern California and Northern Vancouver Island.

If the PCFG population falls below 192, all whale hunting would cease until that number increases to above 192, Milstein said.

The number of strikes, or whales that can be harpooned, would be limited.

Three Eastern North Pacific gray whales could be harpooned during even-year hunts and two could be struck during odd-year hunts.

Sixteen PCFG whales could be struck over 10 years.

DePoe said the tribe revised its waiver application to protect Pacific Coast Feeding Group and Western North Pacific whales.

“We are doing what we need to do to be responsible stewards of our environment,” DePoe said.

DePoe was a high school student in May 1999 when he stood on the beach at Neah Bay and helped haul in the 30-foot gray whale that was killed off Cape Alava.

“That feeling you had, that overwhelming sense of pride in who you are, that cultural, spiritual component that you feel at the moment, it was amazing,” DePoe recalled.

Whaling is ingrained in Makah culture, he said.

“With the anniversary itself and the length of time it has taken to get to this point, this is emotional, it’s very emotional,” he said.

But Owens said in an email that the plan “allows Makah hunters to specifically target our local whales in the coastal near-shore every other summer.”

She said that under NOAA’s proposal, Makah tribal whalers “have full permission” to kill a resident whale.

“There will be much heartbreak and community distress as whales are harpooned, shot and dragged up on the beach year after year.”

Newhouse praises U.S. Fish and Wildlife proposal to delist gray wolf

U.S. Rep. Dan Newhouse

U.S. Rep. Dan Newhouse

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Rep. Dan Newhouse (R-WA) released the following statement after U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) announced that FWS will soon propose a rule to delist the gray wolf in the lower 48 states and return management of the species back to the states and tribes.

FWS intends to publish the proposed rule in the Federal Register in the coming days, opening a public comment period on the proposal.

“The best available science shows that the gray wolf has successfully recovered from the danger of extinction and no longer requires federal protection,” said Rep. Newhouse. “We can see in Washington state that the wolf population is growing quickly while being effectively managed by the Washington Department of Fish & Wildlife in the eastern third of the state. I applaud the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s for moving forward with a proposal to delist the wolf in the lower 48 states in order to return management to the states.”

Rep. Newhouse was an original cosponsor of H.R. 6784, the Manage Our Wolves Act, which the House passed on November 16, 2018.

Trump Administration Seeks To Take Gray Wolf Off Endangered Species List

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service will propose lifting protections on the gray wolf, seen here in 2008. The species’ status under the Endangered Species Act has been contested for years.

Gary Kramer/U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service/AP

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service will seek to end federal protections for the gray wolf throughout the lower 48 states, Acting Secretary of the Interior David Bernhardt announced Wednesday.

In a statement, the Fish and Wildlife Service said it will propose a rule to remove the gray wolf from the endangered species list and “return management of the species to the states and tribes.” That means states would be able to make their own rules about hunting and culling of gray wolf populations.

“Recovery of the gray wolf under the Endangered Species Act (ESA) is one of our nation’s great conservation successes, with the wolf joining other cherished species, such as the bald eagle, that have been brought back from the brink with the help of the ESA,” a Fish and Wildlife Service spokesperson said in a statement.

The proposed rule will be published in the Federal Register in the coming days. A public comment period will follow.

In 1978, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service classified the gray wolf as an endangered species throughout the contiguous U.S., except in Minnesota, where the wolf population was classified as threatened. The gray wolf was dropped from the endangered list in Idaho and Montana in 2011. There are now more than 5,000 gray wolves in the Lower 48, up from about 1,000 in 1975, according to The Associated Press.

The protected status of the gray wolf has been contested for years. Many farmers and ranchers see the species as a menace.

There is disagreement about how fully the gray wolf population has recovered. Conservation groups say the gray wolf is found in just a small portion of its former territory.

The Center for Biological Diversity says that gray wolf numbers have only recently recovered in certain regions, and the proposed rule would be dire for their prospects elsewhere. “The proposal will also all but ensure that wolves are not allowed to recover in the Adirondacks, southern Rockies and elsewhere that scientists have identified suitable habitat,” the organization said Wednesday.

Jamie Rappaport Clark, a former director of the Fish and Wildlife Service now with the Defenders of Wildlife, told the AP that protections were needed to prevent “an all-out war on wolves” in states that would allow them to be hunted.

“We don’t have any confidence that wolves will be managed like other wildlife,” she said. “We’re going to fight this in any way possible.”

Study: killing cormorants tripled losses of salmon & steelhead

https://www.animals24-7.org/2019/02/12/study-killing-cormorants-tripled-losses-of-salmon-steelhead/

(Beth Clifton collage)

“This goes down as one of the really significant failures in wildlife management in recent decades.”

PORTLAND, Oregon––Cormorant massacres at East Sand Island,  near the mouth of the Columbia River between Oregon and Washington,  not only did not save any salmon and steelhead from predation in 2015 through 2017,  but may have tripled predation losses,  according to new research by Oregon Department of Fish & Wildlife avian predation biologist James Lawonn.

“The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers killed 5,576 cormorants and destroyed 6,181 nests in an effort to prevent the birds from eating an estimated 12 million young salmon each year,”  summarized Karina Brown for Courthouse News Service and Willamette Week on February 5,  2019.

Double-crested cormorant.
(Sally Fekety photo)

“Little to no gain”

Lawonn,  however,  told Brown that he expects “expects little to no gain” in salmon and steelhead survival as result of the killing,   ordered by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and executed by USDA Wildlife Services

Explained Brown,  “That’s because cormorants are now living farther upriver—still in huge numbers.  And where they live makes a difference.  Cormorants who live closer to the ocean choose from an extensive menu of ocean fish that form huge schools in the Columbia estuary,  such as anchovies,  herring and smelt.  Upriver, they eat a far higher proportion of salmon and other freshwater fish.

“None of the estimated 16,000 birds who fled East Sand Island in 2017,  amid the USDA Wildlife Service gunfire,  “were tagged or radio-collared,  so there is no data to show exactly where they went.  But last year,  a sudden surge in cormorants nested on the Astoria-Megler Bridge,  seven miles upriver from the island,  and at other upriver spots.”

Bridge cormorant colony “will likely double”

Some cormorants had nested at the Astoria-Megler Bridge,  spanning the Columbia River,  since 2004,  “but only in very small numbers,”  Brown specified,  paraphrasing Lawonn.

“Now there are 1,750 breeding pairs on the bridge,”  Brown wrote,  “and based on available habitat,  the colony will likely double.”

Altogether,  the Columbia River estuary cormorant population has recovered to about 10,000 nesting pairs,  “a number comparable to the original average of 12,000 pairs on East Sand Island before the Corps of Engineers project,”  Brown assessed.  “Other spots upstream have become new homes for 750 breeding pairs.”

Bob Sallinger.  (Facebook photo)

Feds knew killing cormorants would not help

That the cormorant massacres would do little or nothing to conserve salmon and steelhead was no surprise to Audubon Society of Portland conservation director Bob Sallinger.

The outcome should also have been no surprise to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and other agencies involved in the killing,  Sallinger contended in an unsuccessful 2015 lawsuit,  based on a suppressed and ignored study by U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service biologist Steve Haeseker.

(See Feds hid data showing that killing cormorants will not help salmon & steelhead.)

Cormorant catching a fish.
(Beth Clifton photo)

“One of the worst things I’ve seen”

“We think this goes down as one of the really significant failures in wildlife management in recent decades,”  Sallinger told Brown.  “It’s without question one of the worst things I’ve seen in my 25 years of wildlife advocacy.”

“This was never about protecting salmon,” emphasized Sallinger.  “This was always about scapegoating birds to avoid the real challenges that the Corps of Engineers needs to face up to. And the result has been a stunning failure,  whether you care about birds or fish.”

Sallinger and many other conservationists have long blamed salmon and steelhead declines in the Columbia River estuary on the many upstream dams blocking the Columbia,  the Willamette,  and other spawning rivers.

(Beth Clifton photo)

Dams & hot water

“The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has refused to do what’s necessary to modify those dams to protect salmon,”  Sallinger has often said,  “and that is why salmon are continuing to decline. Killing wildlife is not going to change that situation.”

Several reports indicate that global warming is also a major and growing factor.  Effects of elevated water temperature have been found by at least one recent study to be contributing to the premature deaths as many as half of the adult sockeye salmon returning to the Columbia River and tributaries to spawn.

(Beth Clifton photo)

Feds blame eagles

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers,  meanwhile,  denied to Brown that shooting thousands of cormorants and smashing their nests had anything to do with their 2017 exodus from East Sand Island.

Instead,  wrote Brown,  “The Corps blames eagles for the birds’ mass abandonment of the island.”

“The management plan has been very successful in reducing the amount of salmon eaten by birds on East Sand Island,”  contended U.S. Army Corps of Engineers biologist Kris Lightner.  “We just don’t know about the estuary as a whole.”

(Beth Clifton collage)

“Pure scapegoating”

Responded Oregon State University wildlife ecology professor Dan Roby,  who was hired by the Corps of Engineers to study the potential effects of rousting cormorants from East Sand Island,  but whose advice was ignored,  “If there is a place in the Columbia River estuary where it would be best for cormorants to nest – and by best,  I mean their effect on salmon and steelhead survival – it would be East Sand Island.”

Brown published her exposés of the failure of the cormorant killing to help salmon and steelhead on the same day that ANIMALS 24-7published Why killing predators won’t bring back the salmon,  examining and exposing schemes pursued by a variety of state and federal agencies to try to recover salmon and steelhead by killing gulls and California sea lions.

Beth & Merritt Clifton

All of this,  said Sallinger,  “is a continuation of a very unfortunate pattern of killing wildlife to protect other wildlife––pure scapegoating.”

River Of Elk Stream Across Eastern Washington Road: Video

River Of Elk Stream Across Eastern Washington Road: Video

 

https://patch.com/washington/across-wa/river-elk-stream-across-eastern-washington-road-video

ELLENSBURG, WA – Hundreds of elk were caught on camera crossing a rural road outside Ellensburg recently, appearing like a furry, brown river flowing across the snowy high desert landscape.

A Puget Sound Energy worker filmed the elk as they crossed a road near the Wild Horse Wind and Solar facility, about 15 miles east of Ellensburg.

Two types of elk live in Washington. The larger Roosevelt elk live mainly on the Olympic Peninsula and west of I-5. The elk in the video are likely Rocky Mountain elk, whose range stretches across the state, from the woods and mountaintops of the Cascades to the grassy deserts that stretch east to Idaho.

Winter is primarily a food-finding season for elk. After the mating “rut” in fall, elk seek out shrubs and grasses to eat before elk calves are born in spring.

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Groups threaten to sue unless feds reassess how salmon fishing harms orcas

 

FILE – In this Aug. 7, 2018, file photo, Southern Resident killer whale J50 and her mother, J16, swim off the west coast of Vancouver Island near Port Renfrew, B.C. The younger whale later died. (Brian Gisborne/Fisheries and Oceans Canada via AP, file)

AA

SEATTLE (AP) — Two conservation groups say the federal government is violating the Endangered Species Act by failing to consider how salmon fishing off the West Coast is affecting endangered killer whales.

The Arizona-based Center for Biological Diversity and the Washington state-based Wild Fish Conservancy on Tuesday notified President Donald Trump’s administration that they intend to file a lawsuit within 60 days unless officials reevaluate whether the fishing further jeopardizes orcas that frequent the inland waters of the Pacific Northwest.

The population “southern resident” orcas is down to 74 — the lowest number in decades. No calf born in the last three years has survived as the orcas struggle with a dearth of their favored prey, chinook salmon, as well as pollution and vessel noise.

The conservation groups note that commercial and recreational fishing claimed more than 200,000 chinook off the Pacific Coast last year.