| September 27, 2015
Earlier this month an obscure Los Angeles area regional public lands agency—the Mountains Recreation and Conservation Authority—announced the first stages of a five-year plan to build one of the largest wildlife corridors in the world. The goal is to create a natural looking bridge that will allow a small cougar population in the Santa Monica Mountain National Recreation Area the chance to escape north into much larger public lands, while at the same time allowing northern mountain lions the chance to move south and help out the badly inbred and lethally infighting Santa Monica cougars.
The proposed bridge will leap over Highway 101, an eight-lane, east-west freeway in LA’s northern suburbs that sees 175,000 car trips a day. The bridge will be built at Liberty Canyon in the suburb of Agoura and when completed will be 200 feet-long and 165 feet-wide. It will be landscaped to blend in with the brushy hills and sound walls along the edge of the bridge will “mitigate traffic noise and block light in order to make the crossing more conducive to wildlife,” says the project study report. The bridge will extend beyond the 101, reaching over an access road south of the highway, necessitating the construction of a tunnel. Estimated cost of the entire project: about $57 million.
Despite the report’s dull bureaucratic language—mountain lion sex is blandly described as “the exchange of genetic material”—at its heart the proposed Liberty Canyon wildlife corridor represents an astonishing effort to reverse decades of suburban sprawl and fragmentation of the region’s surviving open spaces.
The campaign’s iconic poster boy is the famous “Hollywood lion,” also known by its wildlife ID number, “P22.” In 2012, P22 crossed two major freeways and migrated roughly 40 miles from the Santa Monica Mountains along the coast to Los Angeles’s 4300-acre Griffith Park on the city’s eastside. There he took up residence, feeding on the park’s mule deer and soon became a national celebrity of sorts.
Air quality deteriorated to officially “hazardous” levels Thursday in Singapore — a key Southeast Asian business and transit hub — as choking smog blew in from Indonesia’s neighboring island of Sumatra, where forests and brush are being illegally burned to clear land for oil palm plantations and other farming.
The Singapore government’s three-hour Pollutant Standards Index (PSI) hit 319, its highest level so far this year, around midnight local time. The country’s National Environment Agency lists a level of 201-300 as “very unhealthy,” and above 300 as “hazardous.” Thick gray smoke shrouded the island city-state’s gleaming skyscrapers and crept into homes, even as many residents were staying indoors in attempt to escape the pollution.
Singapore, which prides itself on its clean environment, has been cloaked by the haze in varying degrees this year for about three weeks, the worst such episode since mid-2013.
“The hazy conditions in Singapore have further deteriorated since last night, as denser haze from Sumatra has been blown in by the prevailing southerly winds,” Singapore’s National Environment Agency said in an advisory.
The agency advised healthy persons to “avoid prolonged or strenuous outdoor physical exertion,” and urged the elderly, pregnant women and children to minimize outdoor exposure.
The conditions also cast a shadow over festivities for the Muslim holiday of Eid al-Adha, as people headed to mosques to celebrate the culmination of the annual Hajj pilgrimage. While some covered their mouths to block out the haze, none wore masks, as prayers conducted inside the mosque required them to wash their faces. Mustafa Muhamad, 61, said the bad air quality was causing some of his friends to say prayers at home instead for the festival of sacrifice.
“The haze is very bad, there are less people in the mosque this year. Coming to the mosque to pray used to be very nice because we would mingle around after,” the teacher explained. Housewife Asnah Mohamad, 62, said she and a friend used their headscarves to cover their faces as they travelled to a mosque.
“My husband cannot leave the house because he has a heart condition so I represented him to collect the meat offerings,” she told news agency Agence France-Presse, referring to the traditional practice of sharing the meat of a sacrificed goat or sheep. “We hope it gets better soon. But what can you do? Go over there (to Indonesia) and pour water on the fire?”
Businesses complained of low customer turnout, especially for a holiday, local media reported. The Singapore Sports Hub complex suspended all outdoor activities.
Minister for Social and Family Development Tan Chuan-Jin called for calm in a Facebook post late Thursday.
“At all times refer only to official channels for information and do not circulate speculations,” he wrote.
For the past two decades, smoke from Indonesia has been spreading to other parts of Southeast Asia during the region’s annual mid-year dry season, when plantation owners and other farmers deliberately start brush and forest fires to clear land.
Southeast Asia’s most damaging cross-border haze came in 1997 and 1998, when the smog caused an estimated $9 billion in losses in economic activity across the region. Parts of Malaysia and Thailand have also occasionally been affected.
The haze situation has been made worse this year by an El Niño weather system, which produces tinder-dry conditions.
Under pressure from neighboring countries, Indonesian President Joko Widodo has pledged to crack down on companies and individuals behind the burning —a cheap but illegal way of clearing large tracts of land. During a visit to the haze-stricken islands of Borneo and Sumatra this week, Widodo called on local residents to do their part.
“I’m taking this opportunity to ask the community not to carry out burning, whether at the farms, in their own yards or on the streets,” Widodo told reporters.
He said the government was trying its best to extinguish the fires by dropping water from helicopters and inducing rain through cloud-seeding.
Indonesia’s National Disaster Management Agency told AFP that 2,081 fire “hotspots” were recorded on Thursday in the worst-affected region of Indonesia’s Kalimantan territory on Borneo, and 290 on Sumatra.
A total of 27 companies are being investigated in connection with the forest fires, Indonesian authorities said, while 140 individuals are being questioned. A Singapore-listed company is among those under investigation.
Yana Rusinovich Watson
by Captain Paul Watson
For centuries, the oceans have fed humanity. But in the last century, humans has destroyed oceanic eco-systems with an ecological ignorance that is insane.
The fisherman has now become one of the most ecologically destructive occupations on the planet. It’s time to put aside the outdated image of the hardy, independent, and hard-working fisherman working courageously to feed society and support his family.
No longer does the typical fishermen go to sea in dories with lines and small nets. Today’s industrial fishermen operate multi-million dollar vessels equipped with complex and expensive technological gear designed to hunt down and catch every fish they can find.
One manufacturer of electronic fish locators (Rayethon) even boasts that with their product, “the fish can run but they can’t hide.
And for the fish, there is no safe place as poachers hunt them down mercilessly, even in marine reserves and sanctuaries.
We humans have waged an intensive and ruthless exploitation on practically every species of fish in the sea and they are disappearing. If we don’t put an end to industrialized fishing vessels and heavy gear very soon, we will kill the oceans and in so doing, we will kill ourselves.
Scientists revealed that widespread malnutrition is affecting the fish, bird, and animal populations of our oceans. Not only are we depleting their populations, we are starving the survivors.
We are feeding fish to cats, pigs, and chickens, and we are sucking tens of thousands of small fish from the sea to feed larger fish raised in cages. House cats are eating more fish than seals; pigs are eating more fish than sharks; and factory-farmed chickens are eating more fish than puffins and albatross.
With other factors like global warming, chemical pollution, and ozone depletion causing plankton populations to decline, we are waging a global assault on all life in our oceans. The fish cannot compete with our excessive demands. We have already removed 90% of the large commercial fish from the sea. Chinese demand for shark fins is destroying practically every species of shark in the ocean.
Whereas the fishing industry once targeted and destroyed the large fish, they are now focusing on the smaller fish, the fish that have always fed the larger fish. Of the top ten fisheries in the world today, seven of them now target the small fish. If the fish are too small to feed to people, they are simply ground up into fishmeal to feed domestic animals and farm raised salmon or tuna.
And now Japanese and Norwegian fisheries are extracting tens of thousands of tons of plankton from the sea to convert into a protein rich animal feed.
Recently a report on the State of the World Fisheries and Aquaculture released by the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) concludes that 80% of all marine fish stocks are currently fully exploited, overexploited, depleted, or recovering from depletion; including stocks of the 7 largest prey fisheries. Very few marine fish populations remain with the potential to sustain production increases, and more have now reached their limit than ever before.
The Sea Shepherd Conservation Society is based on the ecological reality that commercial fishing is destroying our oceans.
We all know this. We are all aware of this diminishment. We feel it in our gut. The ecological reality is not only staring us in the face. The problem is that we are in absolute denial and we refuse to acknowledge that by stripping life from the seas, we will be undermining the foundation for our survival on land.
The public is becoming aware of the gravity of the ecological predicament that threatens life in the sea. And this is very encouraging. I can’t think of anything more important than the preservation of diversity in our oceans. Perhaps we can adapt to global warming, and perhaps we can survive a mass extinction even of species on land. But I know one thing to be an ecological certainty and that is if we kill the oceans – we kill ourselves.
In diversity is the preservation of life.
We must stop eating the oceans. Eating fish is for all intents and purposes – an ecological crime. There are no oceanic sustainable fisheries – not a one. That little sustainability card that some people carry around to pretend to be ecologically correct.
Some may think that a call to ban all commercial fishing is radical. Sea Shepherd view it as a very conservative and essential policy that we must implement to save the oceans and ourselves.
It looks like the fish are turning the tables on humanity. Not by choice but because ecological realities have boomeranged back upon humankind.
Tins of tuna fish now contain warnings that the product should not be eaten by pregnant women or young children because of high levels of mercury and other toxic heavy metals.
Farm raised salmon contain antibiotics, growth hormones and even a dye to colour the flesh a pleasing pink while still alive.
Long-living fish like halibut, cod, orange roughy and swordfish contain large amounts of heavy metals. When you can live over a century like a halibut, you accumulate decades of toxins. When you live high up on the food chain, you build up mercury and other heavy metals.
Orcas in the Pacific Northwest of the United States are the most chemically contaminated animals in the world. Beluga whales in the St Lawrence River are treated as toxic waste when they die.
We treat the oceans like sewers and then act surprised that the fish that is eaten is polluted.
Humans can be wilfully blind and deliberately ignorant when it comes to food. We would never eat a piece of fish sitting in a bowl of mercury, arsenic and PCBs garnished with a lump of human fecal material on top.
December 5, 2014
One of the most difficult challenges of the 21st Century is how to sustain life on our ever more crowded planet for many generations into the future. It’s a daunting task because it requires us to confront issues ranging from population growth to climate change to the importance of biodiversity in our ecosystem.
On the biodiversity front, the state of Washington has an immediate opportunity to create a paradigm shift within the Department of Fish and Wildlife (DFW) by hiring a visionary director who will lead the state toward a sustainable future for all species.
The department’s current director, Phil Anderson, is retiring at the end of this year after slightly more than five years in the position. The state’s independent nine-member Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission will select Anderson’s successor.
It’s a critical appointment that should not be rushed.
Since its creation in 1890 as a Fish Commission, the department has been focused on animals people hunt, fish and eat. Much later, species protected by the Endangered Species Act were added to the mix.
It wasn’t until 1921 that the Legislature abolished the Fish Commission and created a separate Department of Fisheries that focused on salmon caught commercially, and a Department of Game and Game-Fish. In 1987, the Department of Game was changed to the Department of Wildlife. And in 1994, state lawmakers merged the two departments into one Department of Fish and Wildlife, overseen by a commission that sets policy and goals.
It’s questionable whether these two cultures – fish and wildlife – have ever been effectively merged. And there is lingering tension between the biologists who see the value of all species and the hunters, fishers and ranchers who want wildlife managed to serve their own interests. Some current and former employees say that tension is the reason a recent survey of state agencies ranked morale in the DFW near the bottom, just above the Department of Corrections.
If the Fish and Wildlife Commission selects a change-agent who understands the important role of biodiversity in sustaining human life, it would bring the department back together and re-energize its legion of passionate young biologists.
Other states, such as Missouri and Florida, have moved away from the antiquated fish and game model to focus on protecting all species. Young biologists today recognize that less charismatic animals play a key role in our planet’s ecosystem and that we can no longer futilely attempt to pack all the nature we need into parks. We must preserve diverse wildlife in diverse ecosystems.
But the DFW seems to be moving in the opposite direction. That is evident in the department’s mismanagement of wolf hunts in northeastern Washington, where it catered to the small percentage of ranchers who refuse to abide by the state’s wolf conservation plan.
It’s important for the public and elected leaders to voice their concern to the commission – it meets Dec. 12 -13 in Olympia – that the DFW should join the broader effort toward sustainable living for all creatures, great and small.
Stevens County ranchers move sheep after wolves kill 24
A Stevens County family moved 1,800 sheep off private grazing land over the weekend to protect their flock from wolves that have killed at least two dozen of the animals this summer.
Dave and Julie Dashiell decided to get their sheep to safety rather than wait for state wildlife officials to track down and kill up to four wolves from the Huckleberry Pack, which is at least six strong and hunts north of the Spokane Tribe reservation.
The ranchers tried everything to thwart the attacks, said Jamie Henneman, spokeswoman for the Stevens County Cattlemen’s Association, which is working on behalf of the Dashiells. They had a full-time herder, four guard dogs, range riders and extra help from state employees, but confirmed wolf kills kept mounting, Henneman said Monday.
“There’s a point where you’ve got to decide, do you leave and hopefully stay in business, or do you stick around until there’s just nothing left,” she said.
The Dashiells know of 24 sheep they lost to wolf attacks the past few weeks and fear the actual toll could be twice that number.
On Sunday they pulled their remaining sheep off rangeland they leased from Hancock Timber Co. northeast of Hunters in southern Stevens County. The animals were moved, with assistance from state employees, to a temporary pasture and soon will be trucked to their winter range, about six weeks earlier than planned, Henneman said.
The Washington Fish and Wildlife Department shot one of the wolves, an adult female, from a helicopter on Aug. 23 and set out traps in hopes of removing up to three others from the pack. But the agency pulled its traps before the Labor Day weekend to avoid conflicts with recreationists and grouse hunters.
The state responded quickly to assist the Dashiells once it was clear wolves were attacking the flock, said Donny Martorello, carnivore section manager for Fish and Wildlife.
When wolves start preying on domestic sheep, losses can add up quickly, Martorello said Monday. “The alarm bells went off for us,” he said, and the agency worked with the rancher daily on preventing more attacks.
Now that the Dashiells have removed the sheep, the state will re-evaluate what to do next, Martorello said.
“We’re certainly concerned about the behavior, the repeated depredations,” he said. “We did remove one wolf; we don’t know if we’ve broken that pattern of depredation, that prey-switching from natural prey to sheep.”
Henneman said the cattlemen’s association sees this as a case of the state falling short of protecting livestock producers.
“If this is the precedent – that Fish and Wildlife refuses to control their animals, that the rancher has to leave – we have a private property rights crisis here,” she said. “That means anyone that owns land out here … it means you’re going to get kicked out, the predator has precedence.”
Henneman also noted that other land and livestock owners in that area may be at risk from the Huckleberry Pack.
“As soon as that pack figures out that their 1,800 sheep are gone, they’re going to move on to the next site,” she said. “This is not the end to these troubles.”
Until recently the pack had spent most of its time on the Spokane reservation but now is more active north of the reservation. The Dashiells did not know the pack was that close until the attacks began, Henneman said.
Fish and Wildlife plans to reach out to neighboring livestock owners to discuss the pack and offer help to try to prevent more attacks. The agency also is evaluating compensation for the Dashiells for the sheep injured and killed by wolves.
At this time WDFW is not certain if lethal action will continue to be pursued. WDFW and stakeholders are meeting this afternoon and information from this meeting will be posted by WDFW Public affairs office under “Latest News” on their website’s homepage. http://wdfw.wa.gov/index.html
The year of our lord, 2013, could be known as the year of the big backslide, at least in terms of attitudes toward animals and the environment, as well as the general acceptance of scientific fact.
For example, CBS News reports that the number of Republicans who believe in evolution today has plummeted compared to what it was in 2009, according to new analysis from the Pew Research Center. A poll out Monday shows that less than half – 43 percent – of those who identify with the Republican Party say they believe humans have evolved over time, plunging from 54 percent four years ago. Forty-eight percent say they believe “humans and other living things have existed in their present form since the beginning of time,” up from 39 percent in 2009.
I can’t help but think this is because many people still aren’t comfortable admitting they’re animals. And this supremacist attitude is reflected in everything they do in regard to our fellow species.
Anyone who has been following the wolf issue since gray wolves were removed from the Endangered Species List in a handful of backward states has certainly noticed a rapid backslide pertaining to how wolves are perceived, treated and “managed” by those bent on dragging us back to the dark ages for animals—the Nineteenth Century—when concepts like bounties, culls and contest hunts were commonplace. Hunters and ranchers in the tri-state area surrounding Yellowstone National Park, as well as in the Great Lakes region, are doing everything they can to resurrect the gory glory days of the 1800s, and wolves are paying the ultimate price.
Meanwhile, in spite of great efforts to educate people about the myriad of problems associated with factory farming and the dependence on meat consumption in an ever more crowded human world, the number of ruminants raised for food on the planet today is at an all-time high of 3.6 billion, double what is was 50 years ago. Regardless of or our burgeoning human population, not only do we have a chicken in every pot in this country, we now have cow and sheep parts in every freezer and pig parts in practically every poke. This, of course, is all thanks to ever-worsening living conditions for farmed animals.
Professor William Ripple and co-authors of a research paper, “Ruminants, Climate Change, and Climate Policy,” prepared in Scotland, Austria, Australia and the United States, noted that about 25 percent of the earth’s land area is dedicated to grazing, and a third of all arable land is used to grow food for livestock, according to the report. Reducing the number of cattle and sheep on the planet, and thereby reducing the methane gas emissions they produce, is a faster way to impact climate change than reducing carbon dioxide alone, the report concluded. The researchers concluded that greenhouse gas emissions from cattle and sheep are 19 to 48 times higher per pounds of food produced than the gas emitted in the production of plant protein foods such as beans, grains or soy.
To get an idea of how unnatural and unsustainable 3.6 billion large ruminants is, think back to when vast bison herds blackened the plains. At that time there were only 50 million bison in all of North America. There are over 300 million human beef-eaters in the United States, every one of them expecting to see a fully stocked steak house, Subway or McDonald’s on every street corner.
Meanwhile, the media’s busily cooking up a spin to answer to meat’s culpability in this planet’s climate crisis. Articles on how methane from grass-eaters is a primary greenhouse gas are often accompanied by the suggestion that pigs and chickens don’t produce as much. In other words, don’t worry your little meat-addicted heads if this beef-cow-causing-global-warming thing becomes a recognized issue, you can just switch over to other non-ruminants’ carcasses—no one really expects you to become a vegetarian, after all.
One of the most outrageous spins ever concocted aired on a “Ted Talk” just last March. Allan Savory, a former Rhodesian provincial Game Officer, has been spreading the counterintuitive notion that to control desertification and stop global warming we need to turn even more cattle out onto arid land. This notion comes from a man who, as late as 1969 advocated for the culling of large populations of elephants and hippos because he felt they were destroying their habitat. Savory participated in the culling of 40,000 elephants in the 1950s, but he later concluded it did not reverse the degradation of the land and called the culling project “the saddest and greatest blunder of my life.” Now he’s trying to sell us on another blunder with even more destructive consequences. What will this guy do for an encore? Never mind, I don’t want to know.
Speaking of Africa, 2013 saw the fastest growing and second most populous continent on its way to adding another billion people to the planet. By the end of this century, 3/4 of the world’s growth is expected to come from Africa, and projections put its population at four billion—one billion in Nigeria alone. Most African countries will at least triple in population, as there are very high fertility rates and very little family planning in most regions. No one is quite sure how the continent will provide for that many hungry humans; only time will tell.
And even though China’s overwhelming population is already well past a billion, in 2013 they abandoned their one child policy and affectively doubled it by implementing a two child policy at the stroke of a pen.
Sorry, but this shit is scary, at least if you care about the plight of non-human species on this planet. Sure, cultural diversity is important—to people. But it sure as hell doesn’t trump biological diversity in the scheme of things. Regardless of what you may or may not believe about whether we were created in the image of a god, life on Earth as we know it will not go on if we humans are one of the only species left around.
The coming decades are going to test just what Homo sapiens are made of. Are we progressive and adaptable enough to learn to share the planet with others and become plant eaters, as some people have? Or is our incessant breeding and meat consumption going to put us into an all new classification—planet eater?
From Wildearth Guardians
It’s another giveaway by the Congressional cowboy caucus to welfare ranchers.
The Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources is considering a bill that would exempt the ranching industry from numerous environmental laws and further elevate the cattle industry on western public lands above wildlife and water.
Tell Committee Chair Senator Ron Wyden of Oregon that ranching industry shouldn’t be given special treatment. And if your Senator is on the committee, tell her/him as well that you oppose giveaways to the livestock industry.
The so-called “Grazing Improvement Act” eliminates environmental review for grazing permits under the National Environmental Policy Act. The Act would also double the period of grazing permits from ten to twenty years! Both would further entrench grazing on public lands—imperiling hundreds of species including sage grouse, native trout and wolves.
At a time when our public wild lands in the west are critical for providing water and wildlife habitat and ensuring resilience to climate change we cannot afford more give-aways to the cattle industry.
Energy and Natural Resources Committee members need to hear from you.
Call Senator Wyden at (202) 224-5244 in Washington, DC, or (503) 326-7525 in Portland Oregon, and then sign on to our email letter today!