Photo: Sergey Gorshkov
It’s It was a walrus.
Photo: Sergey Gorshkov
It’s It was a walrus.
“At the 178-nation Convention in Trade in Endangered Species (Cites) meeting, Burkina Faso and Kenya cited the “merciless slaughter of elephants” in their attempt to extend to a wider group of nations a pledge from some countries not to sell ivory stockpiles before 2016.
But the proposal was seen as legally flawed by many delegates and failed to get support.
But Tom Milliken, head of the elephant and rhino team at wildlife trade monitoring network Traffic, said he was more optimistic than ever that tough action would still be taken. “This time people are listening because everything is pointing in the same direction: poaching is up to a record high, as is illegal ivory trading and elephants seem to be down,” he said. About 25,000 elephants were killed by poachers in 2012.
At the Cites talks, 19 nations face bans on all wildlife trade unless they crack down on the poaching, smuggling or sale of illegal ivory. The summit is also considering compulsory forensic testing of seized tusks, so the criminal chain can be traced and compulsory reporting of stockpiles of ivory, to prevent corruption or thefts.
Separately, Kenya attempted to prevent the export of trophy-hunted rhino horns from South Africa. Vietnamese and east European gangs use the practice as a cover to feed the illegal Vietnamese market with the 1,000 horns a year it is demanding. But Milliken said that South Africa had already put an end to the “pseudo-hunting”. There are 20,000 white rhinos at present, he said, and despite more than 600 being poached in 2012, the population is rising.
Milliken said: “It is probably a good idea to keep these [trophy-hunting] incentives for private wildlife reserve owners at a time when they are having to spend more on protection from poachers.” He said, in contrast, Vietnam was doing extremely little to tackle rhino sales.
The Cites meeting did, however, unanimously raise the protection of the west African manatee to the highest level, overriding advice from officials that “scant” scientific data did not support the move.
The slow-moving creature, which can measure up to 4.5m long and weigh 350kg, is found in the coastal lagoons and rivers of 21 states, and can reach as far inland as Mali, Niger and Chad.
Illegal kills can raise $4,500 per animal and less than 10,000 remain. They are hunted for meat and oil, killed as by bycatch by fishermen and also suffer as their habitat is destroyed by mangrove harvesting, pollution and dams. The Cites conference also bid farewell to a series of extinct animals by removing them from protection lists, including Australia’s dusky flying fox, crescent nail-tail wallaby, buff-nosed rat-kangaroo and the pig-footed- and rabbit-eared bandicoots.”
Via The Guardian
This should go over well with politicians.
“Coming Soon: Long-Delayed Decisions on Endangered Species
The Oregon spotted frog, a four-inch-long amphibian that prefers the Pacific Northwest’s dwindling marshy spots, is to be considered this year for federal protection as an endangered species.
It has been languishing for 22 years — since 1991 — awaiting its day in the bureaucratic sun.
The eastern massasauga rattlesnake has been a candidate for protection since 1982, a legless bridesmaid, never a bride. Ditto the elfin-woods warbler. Like them, the Dakota skipper butterfly, a cucumber-bodied flier that zips unusually fast (for a butterfly) over the Minnesota and Dakota prairies, is dying out as development shrinks its habitat. It nevertheless has hung on, its candidacy deferred since 1975.
Belatedly, the Interior Department’s Fish and Wildlife Service is giving them all — and 258 more — a thumbs up or down for protection under the Endangered Species Act, the 1973 law that was among the early triumphs of the environmental movement.
It is evidence of the law’s travails that it took a federal judge to get them to this point.
Under a 2011 settlement of two lawsuits by conservation activists, the wildlife service has pledged to decide the fates of all the backlogged species by 2018. A schedule issued by the service on Feb. 8 promised to decide by September whether to add 97 species to the endangered list, including 70 covered by the lawsuit settlement.
Moreover, the service has finished preliminary work on more than 550 other potential candidates for the endangered-species list, almost all of which will be further evaluated after the backlog is erased.
“They’ve dramatically increased the number of decisions they’re making — both positive and negative decisions, but the vast majority of decisions are positive,” said Kierán Suckling, the executive director of the Center for Biological Diversity, an Arizona conservation organization that is a party to the settlement.
It is the most feverish activity on imperiled wildlife in two decades, an improbable feat amid ferocious attacks from conservative critics and in an economy with little money to spare for environmental frivolities.”
Before/After - Map shows shrinking range and dwindling populations of elephants in Africa. All eyes are on China, which is fueling the illegal slaughter of thousands of elephants for their tusks.
VANISHING ELEPHANTS Killing African elephants for their ivory is devastating a species that’s already losing ground to a growing human population. Via
Budget Cuts ‘Impact on Wildlife’ at Everglades
A week after the dumping of at least 20,000 gallons of toxic and potentially radioactive fracking waste into a storm drain that empties into a tributary of the Mahoning River in Youngstown, Ohio, by Hard Rock Excavating, state regulators have yet to disclose information about the quantity of waste and the chemicals involved.
Dang. Most storm drains dump untreated run-off into a river, pond, lake, or some other body of water. Storm drain infrastructure drains roads and parking lots of rain water and snow melt.
My understanding is that it is illegal under the Clean Water Act (e.g., the EPA) to dump toxic chemicals into these drains since fish, riparian mammals, amphibians, and reptiles, birds, kids, swimmers, and farmers use surface waters on a regular basis.
If the above is correct (I’m skeptical), that frackers are dumping chemical-waste-water into storm drains, holy shit - Ohioans downstream are in for a big surprise…
This promises to be a good webinar. “Downscaling” is a fancy term for making climate science available in your community. Keeping it simple, most climate science is based on computer models that predict where impacts will occur, like flooding, droughts, and storms.
For example, these models show that the southwest U.S. will be come drier, and there will be water shortages. But the models cover huge areas, like thousands of miles. That doesn’t really help you or your town figure out what could happen.
So scientists came up with a solution to help better predict what will happen in smaller, geographical areas. Instead of modeling the entire state of Arizona, “downscaling” allows for predictions at a much smaller area, such as your county or city.
There are a lot of problems with these computer models - climate impacts are often more severe than the models show. But the general trend is they are reliable predictors of what will happen as the climate changes.
This particular webinar covers how scientists are using downscaled climate models to manage wildlife habitat on the coasts.
Why does this matter? It helps locals, businesses, and governments plan for the future. If there is going to be water shortages, for one example, then all three constituencies can (and should) work together to figure out how to make better use of their water infrastructure. It’s the same situation for coastal communities that face sea-level rise. Communities can use downscaled models to figure out the best places to move homes, protect habitat, stop development, restore wetlands, dredge deltas etc…
Downscaling is technical. Yet it’s one of the most important tools the public can use to make their communities more resilient to disasters and other environmental impacts. So push through the tech-jargon if you can. This webinar will give you an idea of how climate science is being used in the real world, and should spark neato thoughts on how you can use it to help your community.
Below are the details. If you sign up, hit me up and let me know what you think!
January 16th from 1:00-2:30pm ETU.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and National Wildlife Federation hosts:“Downscaling Climate Change Models to Local Site Conditions: Effects of Sea-Level Rise and Extreme Events on Coastal Habitats and Their Wildlife.”The webinar is part of the Safeguarding Wildlife from Climate Change Web Conference Series.Dr. John Y. Takekawa (Research Wildlife Biologist, USGS Western Ecological Research Center) will provide an overview of the project. It examines the potential climate change effects on transitional coastal habitats with high-quality local habitat data, downscaled climate models, and projected storm effects. It also links habitat responses to wildlife using vulnerability assessments.Register online here. If you cannot attend, a recording will be posted approximately1-2 weeks after the presentation at: http://training.fws.gov/CSP/Resources/climate_change/safeguarding_bc.html.
Nasty. The upside is that the internet, like never before in history, shows the world everyday examples of how animals are eradicated - economic growth, ignorance, and religion.
Indian veterinarians are struggling to save the life of a rare one horned rhinoceros that was shot and dehorned by poachers in the jungle of Parku hills after it wandered out of a flooded Kaziranga national park | image by Biju Boro
Obama administration green lights killing 170 wolves in Wyoming after private businesses win years of lobby efforts. Techniques will be aerial gunning and gassing pups in dens. Via. (Connection to climate change).
“American eels were once found in great abundance on the East Coast, often quite far inland, but dams have sealed off much of their routes and their population has plummeted. However, the good news is that some of those old dams are no longer needed and are being torn down.
In 2004 the 22-foot-high Embrey Dam on the Rappahannock River in Virginia was dismantled. Since then, American eel numbers have shot up in headwater streams nearly 100 miles away, according to research just published by the U.S. Geological Survey, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and National Park Service.
Researchers measured eels in Shenandoah National Park streams and found significant increases in numbers two years after the dam came down, with those gains accelerating since.
“Our study shows that the benefits of dam removal can extend far upstream,” Nathaniel Hitt, a USGS biologist and lead author of the study, said in a statement. “American eels have been in decline for decades and so we’re delighted to see them begin to return in abundance to their native streams.”
The study authors noted that the American eel is being considered by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service for listing as a threatened species under the Endangered Species Act.”
I’ve been in Alaska for 8 years and the one thing I’ve always wanted to photograph was the orcas making a kill. Today was the day. They chased the little harbor porpoise right up to the boat and then all hell broke loose. Here is my favorite sequence…
In three parts, The Sacramento Bee breaks open a horrible truth of wildlife protection: 10’s of thousands of animals are being indiscriminately killed.
The killing agency: Wildlife Services’ brutal methods leave a trail of animal death
(S)trangled in a neck snare, was one of the most majestic birds in America, a federally protected golden eagle.* (*A golden eagle is different than a bald eagle. See here.)
“I called my supervisor and said, ‘I just caught a golden eagle and it’s dead,’ ” said Strader. “He said, ‘Did anybody see it?’ I said, ‘Geez, I don’t think so.’
“He said, ‘If you think nobody saw it, go get a shovel and bury it and don’t say nothing to anybody.’ “
“That bothered me,” said Strader, whose job was terminated in 2009. “It wasn’t right.”
• With steel traps, wire snares and poison, agency employees have accidentally killed more than 50,000 animals since 2000 that were not problems, including federally protected golden and bald eagles; more than 1,100 dogs, including family pets; and several species considered rare or imperiled by wildlife biologists.
• Since 1987, at least 18 employees and several members of the public have been exposed to cyanide when they triggered spring-loaded cartridges laced with poison meant to kill coyotes. They survived – but 10 people have died and many others have been injured in crashes during agency aerial gunning operations over the same time period.
• A growing body of science has found the agency’s war against predators, waged to protect livestock and big game, is altering ecosystems in ways that diminish biodiversity, degrade habitat and invite disease.
Barred owls vs spotted owls, and the controversy and challenges of conserving the Northern Spotted Owl.
Controversial, but it works.
Barred owls shot by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in order to save populations of the Northern spotted owl.
Forest managers in the Pacific Northwest are facing a tough decision. Environmentalists shut down logging in the national forests in the1980s and 1990s in order to save the Northern spotted owl. Considered an indicator species by biologists, meaning that a given species is studied and assumed to be indicative of the health of species throughout the ecosystem, this sensitive owl needs old growth forest to survive. Overlogging and deforestation sent spotted owl numbers plummeting. Federal courts forced the government to list the owl under the Endangered Species Act, which closed off the remaining old growth forest in the Northwest to logging.
In the last 20 years, spotted owl numbers have not recovered. This is largely because of the arrival of the more aggressive and closely related barred owl. Many scientists believe the barred owl is little different from the spotted owl, perhaps only separated by a few thousand years of living in different forests. The natural westward migration of the barred owl has threatened spotted owl populations both because the barred owl both mates with spotted owls and often eats them.
In response, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has made the decision to start shooting barred owls in order to protect the spotted owl.
Anonymous asked: Hi, Michael - I noticed your post on “Great News! The DOI incorporates adaptation!” I work for a DOI agency, and am curious about the FWS approach to recovery of the northern spotted owl - this recovery plan includes a proposal to consider shooting barred owls based on a lot of assumptions, and will release a draft EIS on a research proposal this spring to do just that. I am trying to figure out how killing one species that may be expanding due to climate change is an “adaptation strategy” - it seems about as productive as killing California sea lions in the Columbia River because they kill salmon - that, by the way congregate at the base of dams that we built. Thoughts? Do a google search and you will find a few articles and public response to the proposal. I appreciate your optimism, but I am not so sure these agencies even know what adaptive management is. or means.
Thank you for the kind words and especially your confidence in my ability to respond to such a controversial issue. The issue, as I understand it, is whether the barred owl should be controlled as an invasive species in order to protect the spotted owl, an endangered species?
Spotted owl chicks.
The issue did get a lot of attention in 2009, when mainstream environmental media picked up the story. For example, Smithsonian Magazine wrote about it over two years ago, in an excellent piece called, The Spotted Owl’s New Nemesis; An epic battle between environmentalists and loggers left much of the spotted owl’s habitat protected. Now the celebrity species faces a new threat—a tougher owl.
The (rather meandering) article describes the history of the spotted owl, and tries to position the bird as the ultimate yardstick for measuring endangered species management and policy.
The spotted owl has been controversial for decades, and management of the species has largely failed,
…northern spotted owls continue to move ever closer to extinction. Populations have been virtually eliminated in British Columbia, are declining at a rate of 7%/ year in Washington and are declining at an annual rate of 4% over their entire range. Source
Audubon Portland reluctantly supports the EIS to manage the barred owl,
…the highest priority must be placed on preventing the extinction of species even to the degree that this entails lethal control of other protected species. To that degree we support moving forward with the EIS, but will not take a final position on lethal control until we are able to fully evaluate the different options presented. We must see that the fundamental cause of spotted owl populations declines, loss of critical habitat, is being adequately addressed, that lethal control of barredowls, in addition to habitat protection and restoration, is a necessary condition for spotted owls to recover, and that such an approach is practicable and will substantially improve the spotted owl’s chances for survival.
That’s the background. With respect to whether this falls under the category of a climate adaptation adds a new layer of paradox. If the barred owl is indeed migrating to other areas due to climate change, the DOI and the FWS must show this is the case in the EIS. If they do, that will open the doors for many, many lawsuits against those that caused climate change in the first place. My understanding is that causal lawsuits are nearly a requirement of the ESA (I can’t be sure, at this point).
I need more information. It seems like the DOI/FWS can manage the barred owl under traditional invasive species management tools in order to protect an endangered species. In their EIS, they have to show that the owl did migrate and therefore causes harm to the spotted owl, but (I believe) not the reason why it migrated.
Back to you - does the EIS mention climate change as a cause for the barred owl to migrate?
Thanks for the thought provoking question!