News Article | April 13, 2017
"Wildlife conservation groups sued the U.S. government on Wednesday seeking to halt a plan to trap and kill as many as 120 mountain lions and black bears in Colorado in a bid to stem declines in populations of mule deer favored by hunters. The lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court in Denver, accuses the Wildlife Services agency, a branch of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, of violating federal law by failing to fully assess potential impacts of the predator-control plan on other native wildlife. The same agency gained a measure of notoriety after one of its spring-loaded "cyanide bombs," used for killing coyotes and other "nuisance" animals, went off in the hands of a 14-year-old Idaho boy in March, injuring the youth and killing his pet dog."
Hurley M.A.,9 Highway 93 N |
Zager P.,316 16th Street |
Hebblewhite M.,University of Montana |
Garton E.O.,University of Idaho |
And 3 more authors.
Wildlife Monographs | Year: 2011
Manipulating predator populations is often posed as a solution to depressed ungulate populations. However, predator-prey dynamics are complex and the effect on prey populations is often an interaction of predator life history, climate, prey density, and habitat quality. The effect of predator removal on ungulate and, more specifically, mule deer (Odocoileus hemionus) populations has not been adequately investigated at a management scale. We tested the efficacy of removing coyotes (Canis latrans) and mountain lions (Puma concolor) for increasing survival and population growth rate of mule deer in southeastern Idaho, USA, during 1997-2003. We assigned 8 game management units (GMUs) to treatments under a 2 × 2 factorial design (treatments of coyote removal and lion removal) with 2 replicates of each treatment or reference area combination. We used methods typically available to wildlife managers to achieve predator removals and a combination of extensive and intensive monitoring in these 8 GMUs to test the hypothesis that predator removal increased vital rates and population growth rate of mule deer. We determined effects of predator removal on survival and causes of mortality in 2 intensive study sites, one with coyote and mountain lion removal and one without. We also considered the effects of other variables on survival including lagomorph abundance and climatic conditions. In these 2 intensive study areas, we monitored with radiotelemetry 250 neonates, 284 6-month-old fawns, and 521 adult females. At the extensive scale, we monitored mule deer population trend and December fawn ratios with helicopter surveys. Coyote removal decreased neonate mortality only when deer were apparently needed as alternate prey, thus removal was more effective when lagomorph populations were reduced. The best mortality model of mule deer captured at 6 months of age included summer precipitation, winter precipitation, fawn mass, and mountain lion removal. Over-winter mortality of adult female mule deer decreased with removal of mountain lions. Precipitation variables were included in most competing mortality models for all age classes of mule deer. Mountain lion removal increased fawn ratios and our models predicted fawn ratios would increase 6% at average removal rates (3.53/1,000 km 2) and 27% at maximum removal rates (14.18/1,000 km 2). Across our extensive set of 8 GMUs, coyote removal had no effect on December fawn ratios. We also detected no strong effect of coyote or mountain lion removal alone on mule deer population trend; the best population-growth-rate model included previous year's mountain lion removal and winter severity, yet explained only 27% of the variance in population growth rate. Winter severity in the current and previous winter was the most important influence on mule deer population growth. The lack of response in fawn ratio or mule deer abundance to coyote reduction at this extensive (landscape) scale suggests that decreased neonate mortality due to coyote removal is partially compensatory. Annual removal of coyotes was not an effectivemethod to increase mule deer populations in Idaho because coyote removal increased radiocollared neonate fawn survival only under particular combinations of prey densities and weather conditions, and the increase did not result in population growth. Coyote-removal programs targeted in areas where mortality of mule deer fawns is known to be additive and coyote-removal conditions are successful may influence mule deer population vital rates but likely will not change direction of population trend. Although mountain lion removal increased mule-deer survival and fawn ratios, we were unable to demonstrate significant changes in population trend with mountain lion removal. In conclusion, benefits of predator removal appear to be marginal and short term in southeastern Idaho and likely will not appreciably change long-term dynamics of mule deer populations in the intermountain west. © 2011 The Wildlife Society.
News Article | March 17, 2016
In December 2015, Julia Rodriguez travelled to Guantánamo Bay in Cuba. Rodriguez, whose brother Gregory died in 9/11, was invited to the US military base, all expenses paid, by the Department of Defense, after her name was picked in a lottery—part of a program to bring survivors and family members there to watch court proceedings. “When my name came up, I’d been waiting for three years,” said Rodriguez, a history professor at the University of New Hampshire. “To be honest, I wasn’t even sure if I wanted to go.” But she did go, with her mother, and for five days they sat in on the pretrial hearings of the “9/11 Five,” the alleged masterminds of the terrorist attacks that killed her brother—and provided justification for opening one of the most notorious detention centres in the world. (Gregory, who worked in the World Trade Center, had recently gotten married before he died. He was 31.) At Guantánamo, where almost 800 men have been held over the past 14 years—91 detainees are still there—Rodriguez felt overcome by negativity. “It’s hard to separate out what happened to my brother, and thousands of others, from the war after, and the torture,” she said. “That was overwhelming.” One of the most “jarring” aspects of the visit, she said, was the base’s oddly beautiful surroundings. “The air smells like flowers, and it’s on this bay,” Rodriguez told me. The area around Guantánamo is a nesting ground for the green turtle and hawksbill turtle (both endangered), and other native wildlife, like the Cuban iguana and the West Indian manatee. It’s home to a large rodent called the banana rat, and apparently to hordes of feral cats, which can cause problems. According to a 2002 government report, the Navy has brought in US Wildlife Services to help get the rats, cats, and other invasive species under control, as they were being squashed by cars and bungling up airplane runways. “It’s such a beautiful spot,” Rodriguez said. “And there’s so much ugliness going on.” A new paper, published Thursday in Science, proposes a way to “redeem the prison’s dark history,” by turning Guantánamo into a nature preserve, peace park, and ocean research station. A “Woods Hole of the Caribbean” jointly run by the US and Cuba. It sounds far-fetched. Is it though? The University of Havana's lab at Gardens of the Queen. Photo: John Bruno The Obama administration has not yet filled a longstanding pledge to close Guantánamo. Now, with the US and Cuba drawing closer after decades of frosty to non-existent relations—on March 21, Obama will become the first sitting US president to visit Cuba in 88 years—the president restated his promise, laying out a plan to shut down the prison for good. But the fate of Gitmo, once the last detainees are gone, is unclear. Details on “Green Gitmo,” laid out in the Science paper, are scant. A cutting-edge Gitmo ocean research station, as envisioned by authors Joe Roman, a conservation biologist at the University of Vermont, and James Kraska of the US Naval War College, includes “genetics laboratories, geographic information systems laboratories, videoconference rooms—even art, music, and design studios,” they write. They haven’t worked out all of the details, but Gitmo costs “hundreds of millions of dollars a year” to operate, Roman says, a small fraction of which could be used to build and equip a state-of-the-art facility, to be run jointly by the US and Cuba, and to benefit researchers from both countries. At this point, though, Green Gitmo is more of a thought experiment than an actual plan. I did speak with a number of American scientists who all embraced the idea. Cuba is relatively understudied, at least by the US scientific community. “We don’t tend to know a lot about the Cuban oceans, or even Cuban wildlife,” Roman said. With no federal research dollars available to do work in Cuba, scientists have to cobble together various grants from private foundations. But restrictions are now easing, and there’s a growing stampede to get to Cuba. Guantánamo, especially, could be a scientific goldmine: The area around the base must be one of the least-accessible places on the island. There’s an idea that Cuba is some kind of “accidental Eden,” relatively untouched after decades of political and economic isolation, Roman said. But that description doesn’t give credit to Cuba’s own conservation efforts and strong stance on climate change, he continued, which have helped keep the country’s coral reefs and marine life relatively pristine. Cuban scientists have done expansive work, although their access to high-tech equipment and scientific journals has been severely limited by the trade embargo. John Bruno, a marine ecologist at UNC Chapel Hill, has measured a whopping 600 grams of fish—mostly big predators like shark, grouper, and snapper—per square meter in the waters around Cuban reefs. That’s six to eight times more fish mass than what’s found at most Caribbean reefs, according to a 2015 paper in Science. As a kid in Florida in the mid-70s, Bruno remembers “hanging out the side of the boat to see a big barracuda” in the waters. It’s not like that in Florida anymore. But some of the reefs around Cuba, especially its Jardines de la Reina, or Gardens of the Queen, an archipelago of mangrove and coral off the southern coast, remind him of those days. John Bruno at the Miami airport with loads of scientific gear, en route to Havana. Photo: John Bruno Scientists are keen to get to Guanánamo. “I have heard from numerous people that have been stationed there,” said Bruno. “They’d say, I was based at Guanánamo and we’d go fishing, and you wouldn’t believe the fish in the bay.” Amy Apprill, a marine microbial ecologist at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, has been to Cuba three times. She’s familiar with the obstacles. “You need permission from the State Department to go,” she said, “but the most difficult part is bringing all the equipment. There’s no FedEx or UPS, and there’s no boat from Florida to Cuba, so we had to take everything.” On one expedition, Apprill carried 24 pieces of luggage with her on a charter plane: bags stuffed with underwater cameras, water filtration pumps, liquid nitrogen, and other gear. The area around Guantánamo is “biologically rich,” said Fernando Bretos, director of the Cuban Marine Research and Conservation Program, which fosters collaboration between scientists in the US and Cuba. But we still don’t know much about it. According to him, an ecological survey was done around the military base about 15 years ago, and it left the Cuban government “very upset” to see such work happening in an “area they feel belongs to them.” (Since the 1960s, Cuba has considered the US presence in Guantánamo illegal, and refuses to cash an annual $4,085 check in rent.) Turning Gitmo, which has such a complex history, into an ocean laboratory “would be a redemption, in a lot of ways,” said Bruno. “The biggest hurdle right now are the detainees.” Relocating them is no small obstacle. Some believe it will be insurmountable. Rodriguez, who is half-Cuban, is skeptical that the base will be decommissioned, although she’d like to see the detention center and hearings moved closer to home, for better transparency. “I have always hoped that our country would reestablish diplomatic ties with Cuba,” she said. The relationship between these two countries is shifting, and with those changes could finally come a new future for Guantánamo.
News Article | March 11, 2016
Can you tell the difference between an antique ivory carving and one that came from an elephant poached just last month? How about a real ivory carving from one made out of bone? These questions are at the heart of a perennial debate over the legal ivory trade that once again came to a head after an antiques dealer pleaded guilty to trafficking poach wildlife and pawning them off as fakes. Earlier this week, federal prosecutors revealed that a prominent auction house official had pleaded guilty to helping traffic elephant ivory, rhino horn, and coral through his auction house: I.M. Chait Gallery/Auctioneers. Joseph Chait could face 10 years in prison for allegedly falsifying customs forms to disguise the poached animal parts as “bone” and underrepresent their value. Chait is accused of reporting on customs forms that a rhino horn carving that sold for $230,000 at auction was worth $108.75 and made of plastic. Prosecutors also say Chait helped supply smugglers with packing material, and shipping wildlife products without declaring them. It’s a troubling case that highlights how entangled the illegal, poached ivory market is with the legal, antique ivory trade. “This case demonstrates the insidious nature of wildlife trafficking, showing how these activities permeate our society in many social, economic and cultural areas,” Fish and Wildlife Service Director Dan Ashe said in a press release. For wildlife conservation groups, the news wasn’t particularly surprising. The antiques world has long had an ivory problem, though how pervasive the problem is is a major point of debate. It’s illegal to buy, sell, import, and export poached ivory in the US, and most countries around the world, ever since the 1990 Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) ban on the international trade of ivory. But it’s still legal to trade old ivory—such as antique instruments, artworks, and objects like billiard balls—as long as it was already in the US before January 18, 1990 (when the CITES ban went into effect) or has a certificate verifying it was taken from the wild prior to 1976 (when elephants were first listed by CITES). An Asian elephant on the roadside in India. Image: Kaleigh Rogers/Motherboard Many pieces that were in the country before the ban don’t have any documentation proving they’re antiques, and they don’t legally need any. With an estimated 96 elephants killed every day by poachers, the illegal trade is still alive and well, and many wildlife conservation groups argue that as long as the legal trade exists, poached ivory will be able to circulate. You might think it’s easy to tell the difference between recently poached ivory and a family heirloom chess set, but that’s often not true. Because of this, in 2013, President Obama signed an executive order to significantly crackdown on the wildlife trade in the US. The Fish and Wildlife Services have been trying to sort out the best way to do that—new regulations are expected later this year—while lawmakers have started to take steps at the state level. New Jersey has outright banned the sale of any ivory (antique or otherwise), as has California, where a lawsuit has been filed challenging the law. Though often regarded as a problem restricted to Asia, the US has the second biggest ivory market in the world, and a lot of that ivory is traded at auction. A 2014 audit by the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) found 4,186 ivory lots offered for sale by US online auctions in a nine-week period, for an average of 465 lots per week and an estimated 24,186 lots per year. In a previous investigation, IFAW learned there were nearly 1,000 illegal ivory imports seized at the border from 2009 to 2012, and another 250 exports were seized. Since INTERPOL estimates seized contraband only represents about 10 percent of what’s actually smuggled across borders, much more poached ivory is likely entering the US each year. And where does all that ivory go? “We do have a very, very large ivory market, but most people assume because we have such a strong rule of law that it’s all legal,” said Beth Allgood, campaigns manager at IFAW. “If poached ivory is getting into our market, then we could be contributing to the current poaching crisis.” This isn’t to say there are lots of unscrupulous auction houses knowingly hawking poached animal parts, but without requirements for proper documentation, can they really know for sure what’s antique? Yes, they can, said Scott Defrin, an expert in antique European ivory carvings and a spokesperson for the Art and Antique Dealers League of America, a trade organization that has actively opposed stricter legislation on ivory trade. “It takes years of experience to be able to distinguish between something that’s old and something that’s recently manufactured,” Defrin said. “It’s the same methodology curators use to tell the difference between what’s an old bronze and a new bronze. The same thing goes for marbles and paintings that are unsigned and undated.” Defrin pointed out that in the Chait case, the accused seems to have known the piece was old because he allegedly lied about it. It’s not as if the auctioneer was tricked. While illegal ivory may be making its way into commercial markets, Defrin said it’s not a major issue in the world of antiques. “The demand for antique ivory carvings comes from collectors who are interested in old things. They’re not interested in new things,” Defrin said. Still, he said the AADLA would like to work with lawmakers to build legislation that can improve regulations without snuffing out dealers working in good faith. Defrin suggested a committee that could vet each individual piece of ivory listed for auction and issue permits, we could require fees that could then be directed to elephant conservation. But the problem is that any regulation would apply not just to high-end art dealers, but anyone selling ivory, and that leaves gaps where illegal ivory can still circulate, according to Allgood. She commended members of the industry actively working to root out illegal ivory, including LiveAuctioneers.com—an aggregator of online antiques auction listings that came to IFAW to find out how the site could improve. The site now enforces strict requirements for all animal part auctions, including posted documentation on the listing indicating the item is indeed an antique. Ultimately, though, Allgood said the only way to really close the door on illegal wildlife trade is to remove the cloak provided by the legal trade. “Yes, it’s unfortunate that you’re stuck with your family heirloom, but there always comes a time in history when you just have to make a decision,” Allgood said. “It’s cheaper to make things with child labor, but we made a decision that that just wasn’t okay anymore. That’s just a time where you need to decide that the continued existence of elephants is actually more important than being able to sell a family heirloom.”
News Article | December 13, 2016
Dig this: The use of eight particularly nasty pesticides designed to kill burrowing animals on farms will be restricted starting next year, the United States Environmental Protection Agency has announced. The move last week, originally requested by wildlife organizations, will protect four endangered species—the gopher tortoise, the Hualapai Mexican vole, the Mount Graham red squirrel, and the Utah prairie dog—whose ranges overlap with the use of the pesticides. The pesticides contain sodium and potassium nitrate, carbon and carbon dioxide, and sulfur and come in the form of gas cartridges that are thrown into animal burrows. Farmers, rangers, and the federal government often use them to control coyotes, red foxes, skunks, and similar unwanted critters. That puts any other animals that might be using or living near those burrows at risk. “It’s often hard to tell what animal resides in a burrow or tunnel, so throwing a gas canister in the ground is often a crapshoot,” said Nathan Donley, a senior scientist with the Center for Biological Diversity, one of the organizations that submitted data leading to the EPA decision. “Together with Defenders of Wildlife, we identified species that were most at risk from these gas cartridges, including the four that were protected with this action,” Donley said. It’s hard, if not impossible, to say how many pest animals or endangered species are killed or injured by these gas bombs, because the way they are used also tends to destroy the evidence of their effectiveness. “Since the tunnel is covered before the cartridge is thrown in, death or harm will occur underground, and there would be no access to the carcass,” Donley said, adding that animals dosed with these compounds can asphyxiate or suffer permanent damage to their internal organs. One of the biggest users of these now-restricted pesticides is a little-known program of the U.S. Department of Agriculture called Wildlife Services, which kills millions of animals a year to protect farming and ranching interests. Environmentalist groups have often called Wildlife Services a “rogue agency” because of its secretiveness and lack of public oversight. The new restrictions do not become enforceable until June 2017, well into the incoming Trump administration, which has already made clear its plans to limit the EPA’s effectiveness. That may not affect these new rules, Donley said. “It appears that this is a final action. The EPA has made the changes to the pesticide labels, so that can’t be rolled back.” RELATED: Activists Score Victory in Effort to Stop the Government Killing of Millions of Animals The incoming administration could choose not to enforce those labeling changes, which identify the parts of the country where the pesticides cannot be used, but Donley said he doesn’t think that would be likely. For one thing, he notes, “most of these cartridges are used by Wildlife Services, a government agency. I can’t imagine they would knowingly violate federal law by not adhering to the pesticide label.” If they do, he said, that information would be available through the Freedom of Information Act. More important, he said, “these restrictions are extremely limited. This action only restricts the use of these products in very small areas of Arizona, Utah, and Florida. Their use is unrestricted everywhere else in the country, and Wildlife Services will still have plenty of other animals to suffocate if that’s what they so choose.” He added that this is not a broad antipesticide move by the EPA. “These new restrictions are very commonsense and very targeted,” he said. “This is not about getting rid of pesticides; it’s about not using pesticides where there are endangered species that could be harmed.” That said, Donley hopes this is just the first of many actions the EPA could take to restrict other dangerous pesticides if they have the potential to hurt endangered species. “We hope to see this become commonplace as the EPA begins to comply with the Endangered Species Act,” he said. • The New Captivity: Wild but Not Free • The Koala in the Coal Mine • China's Marine Park Boom Is Driving the Capture of Whales and Dolphins
News Article | February 15, 2017
On Wednesday, February 8 from 6:30pm – 9:30pm, Oakland Zoo’s ‘Conservation Speaker Series’ welcomes the public to attend a presentation by Ewaso Lions, an organization dedicated to promoting the coexistence between local people and lions in Northern Kenya through education, employment, and advocacy. Guest speaker, Paul Thomson, Co-Founder of Ewaso Lions will be presenting the lecture. Lion numbers across Africa have declined significantly, a main cause being direct conflict with humans. Lions in Northern Kenya are especially vulnerable to conflict because they live near areas inhabited by nomadic pastoralists and come into regular conflict with local people over livestock depredation. Conflict occurs when lions attack livestock and herders retaliate by fatally shooting, spearing or poisoning lions. “Ewaso has created life as it should be when it comes to living with wildlife. With power, connection and heart, Ewaso Lions illuminates a clear path to co-existence of humans and animals,” said Amy Gotliffe, Conservation Director at Oakland Zoo. Ewaso Lions takes a unique approach to human-wildlife conflict that works. Employing local young men as warriors who respond to conflict and prevent loss of livestock to lions has had a profound impact on the local communities. Ewaso has also created the ‘Mama Sambas’, a powerful group of women stepping up for the cause. To inspire and connect children to their majestic natural heritage, local children attend a Lion Kids Camp. Ewaso also teaches herders how to build strong bomas and work in partnership with the conservationists. “Not many people know that lions are in serious trouble across Africa. In Kenya, we are finding surprisingly simple solutions that help local people live alongside lions. We have hope for the future of Kenya’s lions," said Paul Thomson, Co-Founder of Ewaso Lions. − The evening will feature opportunities for the audience to Take Action for Wildlife at the event by bidding on a BEHIND THE SCENES EXPERIENCE with Oakland Zoo’s own lion coalition. This drawing will raise funds to send a child to Lion Kids Camp. − Oakland Zoo invites attendees to bring school supplies to the event to be donated to the Scouts, Warriors and Mama Simbas who are all studying to further their ability to create a sustainable livelihood for their own future and that of their lion neighbors. The Conservation Speaker Series will take place in Oakland Zoo’s Zimmer Auditorium, located at the lower entrance of the Zoo. Attendees can enjoy light refreshments. Parking is free and the admission price for the evening’s speaker presentations is $12.00 - $20.00 per person (sliding scale). All proceeds from this event will be donated to Ewaso Lions. For additional information about Oakland Zoo’s Conservation Speaker Series, please contact Amy Gotliffe, Conservation Director, at amy(at)oaklandzoo.org ABOUT PAUL THOMSEN: CO-FOUNDER & DIRECTOR OF STRATEGY AND DEVELOPMENT, EWASO LIONS Paul co-founded Ewaso Lions and provides program strategy and organizational development. He also serves on the board of the Kinship Conservation Fellows program. Paul cofounded Save Pangolins and was selected for the Emerging Wildlife Conservation Leaders program by U.S. Fish & Wildlife Services and Defenders of Wildlife. He studied Forestry and Environmental Studies at Yale. ABOUT OAKLAND ZOO: The Bay Area's award-winning Oakland Zoo is home to more than 660 native and exotic animals. The Zoo offers many educational programs and kid's activities perfect for science field trips, family day trips and exciting birthday parties. Oakland Zoo is dedicated to the humane treatment of animals and wildlife conservation onsite and worldwide; with 25¢ from each ticket donated to support conservation partners and programs around the world. The California Trail, a transformational project that more than doubles our size, opens in 2018, and will further our commitment to animal care, education, and conservation with a focus on this state’s remarkable native wildlife. Nestled in the Oakland Hills, in 500-acre Knowland Park, the Zoo is located at 9777 Golf Links Road, off Highway 580. The East Bay Zoological Society (Oakland Zoo) is a nonprofit 501(c)3 organization supported in part by members, contributions, the City of Oakland and the East Bay Regional Parks. For more information, go to: http://www.oaklandzoo.org
News Article | December 10, 2015
About 5,000 oil and gas wells sit on national wildlife refuges — some of the prettiest land that American taxpayers own — and more than a thousand of them are spewing oil and brine because regulations written a half-century ago don’t force owners to plug leaks that are harmful to animals. On Thursday, the Obama administration moved to rectify that by reworking the old rules to strengthen regulation. If approved early next year, the proposal would require oil and gas companies seeking to drill in refuges to obtain a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service permit before altering their operation in any way. Future projects would have to comply with stricter government rules that would force companies to remove rusting equipment, plug leaks and generally proceed in ways that do not disturb any number of creatures in marshy habitats, including waterfowl, otters and beavers. The proposed revisions would not stop the extraction of oil and gas but would require close adherence to best management practices, particularly when it comes to hauling away abandoned pumps, tanks and debris, said Fish and Wildlife Director Dan Ashe. They “strike an appropriate balance between the rights of owners to develop energy resources with the service’s critical role in protecting refuges and the fish and wildlife that depend upon them.” [World’s oldest wild bird is ready to do the unthinkable – have another baby at age 64] In its proposal, Fish and Wildlife noted a “legacy of orphaned wells,” which includes “an estimated 450 unplugged wells and unrestored sites that no longer have a known or solvent operator.” Removing abandoned and leaky equipment at those locations could cost taxpayers more than $20 million, the agency said. Ashe called refuges “national treasures” where Americans fish, hunt, hike, boat and enjoy being outdoors. “We owe it to this and future generations to meet our mission responsibility,” he said. More than 560 federal refuges and 38 wetland management areas, covering 150 million acres across the country, are under the agency’s jurisdiction. In many, the federal government only controls the surface. Private owners from whom the government purchased the land continue to hold mineral rights to resources below ground and convey those rights to drillers and miners under lease agreements. Owners include individual citizens, families and native tribes. When drilling operations started years ago, federal officials paid little attention to how they could potentially impact the nesting grounds, mating areas and bird migration pit stops that refuges were created to protect. [USDA Wildlife Services killed 4 million animals in 2013 – on purpose; viewed by some as an overstep] According to the agency, a well blowout seven decades ago at a refuge in Texas continues to leak saltwater that could contaminate groundwater during a drought. And an invasive plant species was introduced to another refuge in the Lower Rio Grande Valley by oil and gas development, increasing the risk of wildfire. In North Dakota, brine spills at the Norman Lake Waterfowl Production Area are “causing long-term damage to critical habitat for millions of waterfowl and other aquatic birds.” Storage tanks with open tops, uncovered containers at old wells and fluid that seeps out of equipment “attract and entrap birds and other wildlife,” the agency said. The proposed rules are set to be published in the Federal Register on Friday, and a tw0-month public comment period will follow. Fish and Wildlife plans to issue final rules by the spring.
News Article | February 4, 2016
"SALEM, Oregon -- Conservationists filed a federal lawsuit in Oregon on Wednesday that challenges the authority of a federal government program to kill wolves in the state. The lawsuit targets the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Wildlife Services program, which controls the number of wolves, coyotes, grizzly bears, mountain lions and other wild animals. It is a similar lawsuit Cascadia Wildlands in Eugene and other conservationists won late last year in Washington state, where a federal judge said the program should have done a more thorough analysis of the effects of its activities and banned it from killing wolves in that state." The Associated Press had the story February 3, 2016.
News Article | February 4, 2016
A wolf is seen walking on a gravel road in this undated Oregon Fish & Wildlife handout photo taken with a remote camera. The lawsuit against the USDA's Wildlife Services agency came two months after a U.S. judge in neighboring Washington state ruled that the federal agency's environmental assessment of its work was inadequate, and blocked wolf kills in the state. "The environmental analysis they put out for both Washington and Oregon were virtually identical, which is part of the reason we don't think they did a meaningful analysis in Oregon," said Nick Cady, legal director of Cascadia Wildlands, one of five groups suing to block the wolf-culling program. The same conservation groups sued in the Washington state case. Gray wolves, native to Oregon but wiped out in the state by an eradication campaign in the early 20th century, returned in 2008 and have now spread out to multiple parts of Oregon. Wolves killed at least 30 sheep and cows in Oregon in 2014, according to state figures, and ranchers and hunters have been lobbying for more freedom to kill the predators in a long-standing feud over the level of protections for the carnivorous canids. In Oregon, animal welfare advocates say Wildlife Services has not shown it is necessary to kill wolves instead of using non-lethal control methods, according to the complaint filed in a U.S. court in Oregon. Wildlife Services officials did not immediately respond to a request to comment. They previously said agency policy prohibited them from discussing pending litigation. On its website, the agency says it provides "federal leadership and expertise to resolve wildlife conflicts to allow people and wildlife to coexist." There is no imminent plan for the agency to kill wolves, 81 of which roam the Oregon wilds in 16 packs, Cady said. In 2012, Wildlife Services was chosen as the wolf-killing agency for Oregon. It has not killed any wolves since then, as the state has not asked it to do so. Wildlife officials last year removed all wolves from state endangered species protections except for a portion on the west side of the state that are still protected under the U.S. Endangered Species Act - and therefore would not be targeted.
News Article | April 4, 2016
The deer population is in danger. Several states have already confirmed chronic wasting disease (CWD), a usually fatal neurological condition that is also found in certain groups of elk and moose. Arkansas wildlife authorities have detected CWD among 56 deer while Texas reported two after tests on the captive deer returned positive. The disease has also been found in other states such as Virginia, Colorado, and Michigan. With the increasing CWD incidents, how does it impact wildlife regulations and hunting practices across the country? CWD is a transmissible disease that causes neurological symptoms. The deer may lose their body functions cause them to stagger or walk with poor posture. The condition could also lead to a change in behavior, such as loss of fear when around humans or when separated from the rest of the herd. In the end, the deer will die. The disease was first discovered during the 1960s in Colorado and has been present in more than 20 states and two provinces in Canada. CWD can spread among the deer population, but cannot cross to humans. The cause of the disease, which is an infectious protein called prion, may be transmitted through deer stool and urine. Prions may also be contracted by other deer from the saliva on the ground or if it eats a plant with the saliva of an infected deer. Even though infected deer do not show any symptoms, it can already transmit the disease. Prions can stay in the environment for many years. What Is The Effect Of CWD? One of the biggest negative effects of CWD is the possible significant decrease of deer population since the disease can affect both does and bucks, although the disease is more frequently seen among the latter. The reduction in their population can be a disadvantage for states that rely on hunting to enhance their economy and for people who eat deer meat. It may also lead to ecological imbalance as deer can be prey for predators like bobcats. Most of all, it can threaten the existence of certain deer species. What Can Be Done? CWD is very hard to diagnose as there's no test that can be conducted on live animals and before they show symptoms. The only way to detect the condition is when the brainstem is removed and analyzed in a laboratory. The optimal solution is to reduce the spread of the disease, which can be done in many ways. "The best way to help prevent its spread is to not transport any parts of deer or elk taken in from areas where Arkansas's elk herd is found to other parts of the state," said Arkansas Game & Fish Commission. Hunters may concentrate on deer, but should be advised to have the animals tested first before bringing it elsewhere. States may also impose containment zones and guidelines for transport. Some states have banned baiting or feeding of deer, particularly in areas where CWD have been confirmed, as it may encourage both infected and non-infected deer to congregate. The practice could also attract other deer because urine can also contain prions. "[A]llowing USDA Wildlife Services sharpshooters access to their property to collect samples," said Lydia Lohrer, outdoors writer for the Detroit Free Press, about how those who are running deer farms can contribute to control and reduction of CWD.