Federal Government Admits Killing over 1.2 Million Native Animals in 2019

Federal Government Admits Killing over 1.2 Million Native Animals in 2019

SOURCE: WildEarth Guardians DATE: October 7, 2020 SNIP: The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s wildlife killing program has just announced its shocking death toll of wildlife killed last year. In 2019, USDA’s Wildlife Services program spent millions of taxpayer dollars to kill 1,258,738 native species. “This mass slaughter is carried out in our backyards, on public lands, and in beloved parks; there is no limit to the program’s reach,” stated Samantha Bruegger, Wildlife Coexistence Campaigner for WildEarth Guardians. “Year, after year, Wildlife Services ignores the public’s desire for coexistence with wildlife, opting instead to kill bears for scratching trees in the woods, coyotes for making dens on public land, and wolves for preying on unattended cattle in the wilderness.” In 2019, Wildlife Services killed: 62,002 coyotes, 24,543 beavers, 800 bobcats, 1,362 gray foxes, 1,280 red foxes, 400 black bears, 302 gray wolves, and 308 cougars. Wildlife Services targets the most vulnerable and defenseless animals by destroying dens with countless young animals inside: 35,226 prairie dog burrows, 251 coyote dens, and 96 fox dens obliterated in 2019. Primarily at the behest of agribusiness and using taxpayer dollars, USDA’s Wildlife Services uses traps, snares, poisons, and aerial gunning to inhumanely slaughter wildlife, while simultaneously threatening public safety. Due to the indiscriminate nature of most of Wildlife Services’ lethal tools, the program almost accidentally killed a teenage boy in 2017 with a M-44 sodium cyanide bomb left baited on Idaho public lands. The boy is fortunate to be alive, but sadly had to witness his dog die from the poison to which they were both exposed. In total, 146 dogs died at the...
Hundreds of elephants dead in mysterious mass die-off

Hundreds of elephants dead in mysterious mass die-off

SOURCE: The Guardian DATE: July 1, 2020 SNIP: More than 350 elephants have died in northern Botswana in a mysterious mass die-off described by scientists as a “conservation disaster”. A cluster of elephant deaths was first reported in the Okavango Delta in early May, with 169 individuals dead by the end of the month. By mid June, the number had more than doubled, with 70% of the deaths clustered around waterholes, according to local sources who wish to remain anonymous. “This is a mass die-off on a level that hasn’t been seen in a very, very long time. Outside of drought, I don’t know of a die-off that has been this significant,” said Dr Niall McCann, the director of conservation at UK-based charity National Park Rescue. The Botswana government has not yet tested samples so there is no information on what is causing the deaths or whether they could pose a risk to human health. The two main possibilities are poisoning or an unknown pathogen. Anthrax – initially considered the most likely cause – has been ruled out. McCann said: “When we’ve got a mass die-off of elephants near human habitation at a time when wildlife disease is very much at the forefront of everyone’s minds, it seems extraordinary that the government has not sent the samples to a reputable lab.” Local witnesses say some elephants were seen walking around in circles, which is an indication of neurological impairment. “If you look at the carcasses, some of them have fallen straight on their face, indicating they died very quickly. Others are obviously dying more slowly, like the ones that...
Closer and closer to the last dance: Sage grouse continue to struggle as feds try to roll back protections

Closer and closer to the last dance: Sage grouse continue to struggle as feds try to roll back protections

SOURCE: Magic Valley News DATE: June 17, 2020 SNIP: About a dozen birds fly in at about 4:30 a.m. from all directions, like a rag-tag squadron of chicken-sized helicopters. It takes a minute for all the male grouse to arrive at the small clearing in the sagebrush. Their wings whoosh loudly in the pitch black, fluth-uth-uth-uth-uth-uth-th-th-th-t-t-t-t. When the sage grouse land at the lek, their group breeding grounds, they start dancing. Until dawn, when the sun peaks over the snow-covered buttes and casts an orange glow over the sagebrush, you just hear this display, the bouncy, water-drop sound of the males inflating the air sacks on their chests, competing to attract females. The spring mating ritual of this stocky, flamboyant bird is becoming increasingly rare. For the past 60 years sage grouse numbers have been declining steadily, but in the last handful of years populations across the bird’s western range have nosedived. Sage grouse numbers have always fluctuated, cyclically, but experts say that doesn’t account for the recent drops. While leks like this one in southern Twin Falls County, accessible by rugged two-tracks and backdropped to the south by white mountains, are doing relatively well, even sage grouse in the Magic Valley have suffered big losses in the past few decades. Again and again, massive fires gobble up thousands of acres of critical sagebrush habitat. According to Idaho Fish and Game, the state population, much of which is in the Magic Valley, dropped 52% between 2016 and 2019 — Fish and Game is still analyzing the 2020 lek count data, but Magic Valley Regional Wildlife Manager Mike McDonald said...
Oregon Wildlife Commission Keeps Cruel Trapping Practices in Place

Oregon Wildlife Commission Keeps Cruel Trapping Practices in Place

SOURCE: Center for Biological Diversity DATE: June 16, 2020 SNIP: After a contentious 12-hour meeting, the Oregon Fish and Wildlife Commission rejected conservation proposals to adopt a uniform 24-hour trap check time for all wildlife and to ban beaver trapping on federally managed public lands. The commission also voted 6-1 last Friday to continue the state’s existing furbearer trapping and hunting regulations for the next two years. Oregon’s trapping policies currently allow animals to languish in traps anywhere from 48 hours to 30 days, depending on how they are categorized by statute or rule. “It’s troubling that the commission upheld Oregon’s cruel, outdated and wasteful trapping program for the benefit of just 1,000 licensed trappers in the entire state,” said Quinn Read, Oregon policy director at the Center for Biological Diversity. “This decision is completely out of step with Oregonians’ changing wildlife values. It’s time to relegate trapping to the dustbin of Oregon’s history.” While the commission declined to adopt the conservation proposals, they voted unanimously to direct agency staff to review trap-check time requirements and identify proposals for rule changes by January 2021. The commission also supported the concept of forming a beaver working group and indicated its intent to define the roles and responsibilities of such a group at its July meeting. The Center and its conservation allies advocated for two proposals to reform Oregon’s trapping program. The first proposal asked the commission to close federally managed public lands to commercial and recreational beaver trapping and hunting. Beavers and their dam-building activities are crucial to restoring riparian ecosystems and reducing the harms of climate change, yet beavers...
New Trump public land rules will let Alaska hunters kill bear cubs in dens

New Trump public land rules will let Alaska hunters kill bear cubs in dens

SOURCE: New York Times DATE: June 9, 2020 SNIP: Baiting grizzly bears with doughnuts soaked in bacon grease. Using spotlights to blind and shoot hibernating black bear mothers and their cubs in their dens. Gunning down swimming caribou from motorboats. Hunting methods that for years were decried by wildlife protectors and finally banned as barbaric by the Obama administration will be legal again on millions of acres of Alaskan wilderness in time for the warm July weather. The National Park Service policy published the new rules in the Federal Register on Tuesday, reversing Obama administration rules and giving trophy hunters, outfitters and Alaskans 30 days to prepare to return to national preserves in Alaska with the revived practices. Among the reinstated tactics: killing wolves and coyotes, including pups, during the season when mothers wean their young, and using dogs to hunt bears. Animal rights and wildlife protection groups condemned the rule as allowing inhumane trophy hunting of wild brown and black bears. “This would allow extreme cruel killing methods on over 20 million acres of national preserves in Alaska,” said Laura Smythe, a staff attorney with the Humane Society of the United States. The initial dispute stemmed from conflicting approaches over how Alaska manages predators in the state. The Alaska board of game allows such baiting tactics to kill bears and wolves in order to ensure enough moose, caribou and other game are available for hunters. The National Park Service, however, is charged with protecting wildlife populations including predators like bears. In 2015 the Obama administration codified the Park Service’s role by enacting a rule that eliminated sport hunting...