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Ryan Zinke is wrong for Secretary of the Interior

Donald J. Trump’s pick for Interior Secretary will be appearing before the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee today. Representative Ryan Zinke (R-MT) is an inexperienced and unserious choice for a position that will oversee all of our nation’s threatened and endangered species and more than 5 million acres of public lands.

In his short time in Congress (he is beginning his second two-year term), Rep. Zinke took a series of disastrous positions that has earned him a paltry 3% lifetime score from the League of Conservation Voters.

While representing Montana, he voted for each of the legislative attempts to kick gray wolves off of the endangered species list; he cosponsored a bill that would slash protections for highly endangered Lobos;  he railed against common sense protections for imperiled sage grouse; he even voted for a bill that would block funding for efforts to crack down on the brutal ivory trade while clearing the way for importation of sport-hunted polar bears.

In his short political career, he has taken more than $300,000 from oil and gas industry donors and has recently voted along with his GOP colleagues to make it easier to sell or give away public lands.

Ryan Zinke is unserious about extinction and wrong for Interior Secretary. Please contact your senators today and ask them to reject Ryan Zinke.

New Report Highlights 10 Species Conservation Priorities for the Trump Administration

Jaguars, Vaquitas, and Native Bees among List of Imperiled Species

Washington, D.C. – As the Obama Administration prepares to hand over the reins of the executive branch to President-elect Donald Trump, the DC-based Endangered Species Coalition released on Wednesday a “Top Ten” list of imperiled species in need of strong conservation measures. The report, “Removing the Walls to Recovery: Top 10 Species Priorities for a New Administration,” highlights some of the most significant threats to vanishing wildlife such as jaguars and elephants, and identifies important actions the next administration could take to slow their rates of extinction.

“Our native fish, plants and wildlife are critically valuable and part of the legacy we leave for future generations of Americans,” said Leda Huta, executive director of the Endangered Species Coalition. “We hope the next administration takes seriously its responsibility to protect endangered species and habitat. The fate of species is in their hands. Their actions could dictate whether species such as the vaquita, the red wolf, and others, become extinct in the wild.”

Some of the species in the report, such as the Joshua tree and Elkhorn coral are foundational species, which play a critical role as building blocks for their ecosystems, but are threatened by global climate change.

Other critically important species in the report are keystone species, such as Hawaii’s yellow-faced bee, the jaguar, and the Snake River salmon. All keystone species have a disproportionately large impact on other species and ecosystems relative to their abundance. For instance, Hawaii’s yellow-faced bee is a pollinator impacted by habitat loss.

The jaguar of the southwest United States is a keystone predator. It is particularly threatened by habitat fragmentation caused, in part, due to impenetrable immigration barriers along the U.S. – Mexican border. The report urges Mr. Trump to abandon plans to further fortify the southern border, and to make existing barriers more wildlife-friendly.

Snake River Chinook salmon, meanwhile, are among the longest and highest-migrating salmon on the planet – often swimming 1,000 miles upstream and climbing more than 6,000 feet in elevation to reach their spawning grounds. More than 130 other species depend upon salmon, including orcas, bears and eagles.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service declined to list the greater sage grouse—an umbrella species—as endangered in 2014, citing an unprecedented region-wide habitat conservation effort, tied to state and federal conservation plans. However, several appropriations riders offered in Congress in 2016 would block implementation of these conservation plans, as well as any future Endangered Species Act protections for the imperiled bird. Meanwhile, grouse numbers have declined by 90 percent from historic levels. Protecting umbrella species like sage grouse conserves habitats on which many other species rely.

The remaining species featured in the Endangered Species Coalition’s report include the African elephant, Bald cypress tree, the wolf, and the vaquita – a small endangered Mexican porpoise.

Endangered Species Coalition member groups nominated wildlife species for the report. A committee of distinguished scientists reviewed the nominations, and decided which species should be included in the final report. The full report, along with links to photos and additional species information can be viewed and downloaded from the Endangered Species Coalition’s website.

The Endangered Species Coalition produces a “Top 10” report annually, focusing on a different theme each year. Previous years’ reports are also available on the Coalition’s website.

 

 

CPW Commission Unanimously Approves Killing Studies, Despite Public Outcry

Over 180 people gathered yesterday at the Colorado Parks and Wildlife (CPW) Commission meeting in Fort Collins, CO, to discuss the two proposed carnivore killing studies in the Piceance Basin and the Upper Arkansas River.  Despite vocal public opposition and their questionable scientific rationalizations, the CPW Commission unanimously voted to approve the killing studies.

42 public testimonies were given at this meeting; 17 in favor and 25 opposing.

Public outcry has been pouring in for months.  Between the Endangered Species Coalition, the Humane Society of the United States, WildEarth Guardians, the Center for Biological Diversity, and Sierra Club, just under 9,000 communications have been sent to the Commission opposing these studies.  This does not include letters sent directly from individuals to the Commission, numerous op-eds (Denver Post, Daily Camera, and the Coloradoan, to name a few), and articles (like this one: Denver Post) in local papers.

During the meeting, it was confirmed that these two studies will cost $4.5 million over the next nine years.  A curious move for an agency with a projected budget shortfall of “between $15 million and $23 million by 2023.”

Jeff Van Steeg, CPW’s Assistant Director of Policy and Planning, rationalized the studies in his presentation by saying that CPW has done predator management before, 3 times in fact – twice in 2011 and once in 2013.  When asked about the findings of these prior projects, he reluctantly said that no valid conclusions could be made whether lethally removing predators helped the prey populations.  Sound familiar?

As a result of the unanimous vote, this winter CPW will “move ahead in their experiment to use cage traps, culvert traps, foot snares and hunting dogs to immobilize mountain lions and bears. Then those caught would be shot (Denver Post).”  

Even with their shaky scientific rationalizations and strong public opposition, the Commission still approved the studies. However, let’s not forget the appointment of the 11 voting members of the Commission is not balanced to represent the values of Coloradans, both rural and urban alike.

Four people during the public comment period, all in favor of the studies, said that there is no room for emotions, that only science should be considered when deliberating the studies.  A brave woman, who opposed the studies, explained that “emotion tells us when something is wrong.”  I feel that now.  Something is wrong.  When our public agencies prioritize disrupting ecosystems and killing wildlife over sound science and public opinion, something is very wrong.

We will continue to vocally oppose these killing studies despite the vote.  We will continue to close the ideological gap separating “us” from “them.”

Over 20 Scientists Come Together to Oppose CPW Killing Studies

Last week, over 20 scientists came together to oppose Colorado Parks and Wildlife’s (CPW) two carnivore killing studies. These proposed studies, one in the Piceance Basin and the other near the Upper Arkansas River, would kill large numbers of mountain lions and black bears in a misguided attempt to increase mule deer populations in Colorado.

Shocked by these studies, I contacted Adrian Treves, Ph.D., whom studies carnivore coexistence at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. I asked him to look over the proposed studies. He quickly got back with me, criticizing the low standard of scientific inference being used by CPW. Dr. Treves explained that the studies lacked the “gold standard” for scientific inference. This gold standard is the “random assignment to control and treatment groups with experimental designs that avoid biases in sampling, treatment, measurement, or reporting” (Treves).

Dr. Adrian Treves

Simply stated, these two CPW studies are poorly designed and will offer NO valid conclusions at the expense of wild lives and public resources.

In a detailed letter sent to the CPW Commission last week, Dr. Treves and the 20 signatories explain that these studies lack a proper control (an unaffected area that can be used for comparison), that there was bias when the killing sites were selected (the Upper Arkansas River study directly says the “analysis unit… was identified as an area where cougar suppression could be beneficial to the deer population”), and that the sample areas are too few to get any reliable statistical information.

He concludes by saying:

“Wildlife are a public trust asset and the proposed studies preferentially serve a narrow community of mule deer hunters and cougar hunters, while ignoring the broad public interest in healthy ecosystems, unimpaired wildlife populations, and transparent accounting for wildlife assets. If CPW is held accountable in court or by the legislature for its management of cougars and black bears, the proposed studies will not survive the legal test for a prudent trustee of the public interest in wildlife.”

The Commission has yet to formally respond to this letter. That’s why we need your help.

On December 14th, the CPW Commission will approve or deny these scientifically weak and invalid killing studies at a public meeting in Fort Collins. You can ensure that these studies get denied by attending this meeting on Wednesday, December 14th at the Fort Collins Marriott (350 East Horsetooth Road, Fort Collins, CO 80525) from 8:30 AM to 12:45 PM (RSVP HERE).  There will time for public comment and we must have our voices heard.

I’ll see you there!

 

 

 

 

Treves A, Krofel M, McManus J. Predator control should not be a shot in the dark. Front Ecol Environ. 2016;14:380–8.

 

 

Petition Filed With U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Seeking Updated Recovery Plan for Red Wolf

Via The Center for Biological Diversity

With Only 45 Remaining in North Carolina, New Plan Would Save Wild Population

 

WASHINGTON— Seven animal protection and conservation organizations filed a petition today with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service seeking an updated recovery plan for the rapidly dwindling population of wild red wolves. The recovery plan for the red wolf has not been updated since 1990. Since that time red wolves have expanded their range in the wild, faced additional threats from increased poaching and hybridization with coyotes and seen changes in their management. With all of these changes, an updated, science-based recovery plan is needed now more than eve

“Experts in red wolf ecology, genetics and biology have published significant scientific research since the plan was created over a quarter-century ago,” said Tara Zuardo, an AWI wildlife attorney. “An amended recovery plan based on the best available science is vital to ensure that red wolves survive in the wild.”

Photo credit B.Crawford USFWS

The petition includes information about threats to the red wolf and provides strategies to address those threats, including reducing lethal and nonlethal removal of wolves from the wild; resuming the use of the “placeholder program,” which involved releasing sterilized coyotes to hold territories until red wolves can replace them; resuming the use of the cross-pup fostering program as a way to increase the genetic diversity of the species; identification of additional reintroduction sites; and increasing outreach and education to garner support for wolves and stop poaching.

“The red wolf is teetering on the brink of extinction, but it can be saved by putting in place an aggressive recovery plan,” said Collette Adkins, a biologist and senior attorney at the Center for Biological Diversity. “A new recovery plan would serve as a road map, outlining all the necessary steps to ensure that future generations have a chance to see these beautiful wolves in the wild.”

In September the Fish and Wildlife Service announced plans to confine red wolf recovery to just federal lands in Dare County, while also identifying new sites for wolf introductions and doubling the number of captive-breeding pairs. The agency’s controversial proposal to restrict the recovery area in North Carolina has been met with stark criticism. Last week 30 prominent experts in wolf conservation sent a letter expressing their concerns. And on Wednesday Rep. Raúl Grijalva (D-Ariz.) and eight key Democratic leaders sent a letter urging Interior Secretary Sally Jewell to revive the red wolf recovery program.

“This petition represents our proactive vision for red wolf recovery,” said Ben Prater, Southeast program director for Defenders of Wildlife. “The red wolf is a part of our national wildlife heritage, just like the bald eagle or grizzly bear. We’re calling on the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to honor that legacy and bring the red wolf back from the brink of extinction. Conservation advocates nationwide agree we have the ability and the obligation to recover this iconic species.”

Petitioners request a prompt response to their petition confirming that the Service has begun work on an updated plan for the red wolf, a timeline for completing the recovery planning process, and implementation of recovery strategies necessary for the species.

The petitioners include the Animal Welfare Institute (AWI), the Center for Biological Diversity, Defenders of Wildlife, Endangered Species Coalition, South Florida Wildlands Association, WildEarth Guardians and the Wolf Conservation Center.

The Center for Biological Diversity is a national, nonprofit conservation organization with more than 1.1 million members and online activists dedicated to the protection of endangered species and wild places: www.biologicaldiversity.org

The Animal Welfare Institute (awionline.org) is a nonprofit charitable organization founded in 1951 and dedicated to reducing animal suffering caused by people.  AWI engages policymakers, scientists, industry, and the public to achieve better treatment of animals everywhere — in the laboratory, on the farm, in commerce, at home, and in the wild.

Defenders of Wildlife is dedicated to the protection of all native animals and plants in their natural communities. With more than 1.2 million members and activists, Defenders of Wildlife is a leading advocate for innovative solutions to safeguard our wildlife heritage for generations to come. For more information, visit www.defenders.org. For the latest news from Defenders, follow us at @DefendersNews.

Unknown Tourism: Commemorating the Wildlife We’ve Lost

 

In a series of vintage-style travel posters, Expedia UK illustrates places you can travel to today, but species that have vanished. 

The Unkown Tourism series highlights six species that the world has lost to extinction. From the commonly-known thylacine and dodo to the less well-known Jamaican giant galliwast, the travel posters give viewers a visual reminder of wildlife that has slipped away.

“We created the posters as a way of paying tribute to some of the amazing animals we’ve lost and showing people something about the countries they wouldn’t necessarily think about,” Matt Lindley, a spokesperson for the project told the ESC in an email. “We realized that many visitors to countries like New Zealand or Costa Rica aren’t aware of the extinct wildlife that once lived there, and yet these animals form an important part of a country’s heritage.”

The series calls to attention the plight of species we that have disappeared and in danger of being forgotten. But it can also serve as a warning of what is to come if we don’t act. Scientists tell us that we are in the midst of a sixth mass extinction event. Unlike past mass extinctions, this current catastrophe is caused almost entirely by humans and our actions. 99 percent of currently threatened species are at risk from human activities. 

“If they can also get people thinking more about the animals we’re in danger of losing,” Matt added, “that can only be a good thing.” 

You can see the entire collection below, with links to Wikipedia pages about the species. The series is currently online only, but Expedia UK says they have had requests to make the prints available and are looking into that option.

alaska-stellers-sea-cow

Stellars Sea Cow

jamaica-giant-galliwasp

Giant Galliwasp

mauritius-dodo

Dodo

Thylacine (Tasmanian Tiger)

Thylacine (Tasmanian Tiger)

Moa

Moa

Golden Toad

Golden Toad

Give to Keep Wolves Protected

This Giving Tuesday comes at a deciding moment for gray wolves around the country. Multiple bills under consideration by Congress would slash protections in Wisconsin, Michigan, Minnesota, and Wyoming. One bill even calls for a nationwide delisting.

Wolves need these protections. In states that have seen Endangered Species Act protections lifted, sport hunting and trapping seasons have been set and packs have been torn apart. Wisconsin represents what could be the worst-case scenario for wolves, should they lose protections. 

Wisconsin represents what could be the worst-case scenario for wolves, should they lose protections. Before a judge ordered that USFWS return them to the endangered species list in 2014, wolves in this state were subject to some of the most aggressive and alarming methods imaginable. Sport hunting and trapping rapidly pushed the state’s population to alarming lows, and the state drew wide condemnation for allowing the use of hunting dogs in its wolf hunts.  If Congress succeeds in legislatively delisting wolves in these states, these practices could return.

The Endangered Species Coalition works on the ground, organizing activists of all levels to speak out against these harmful legislative attacks and in favor of sound conservation. We have staff in critical regions around the U.S. to organize and mobilize in support of endangered and threatened species and the Endangered Species Act.

Please consider donating today to support this work into 2017. 

 

Vote for Endangered Species

This election could be the most important in recent history for endangered and threatened species. The outcome of local, state, and federal elections will decide whether policies and legislation that help to recover species that are imperiled by climate change, habitat loss, over-exploitation, and other causes are enacted or if we will see more attacks on wildlife.

Please vote. Find out where to vote and what issues are on your ballot at www.vote.org. Important ballot initiatives are on the ballot, including one in Montana that would ban trapping on public landsand another in Colorado that could make citizen initiatives that protect wildlife like that in Montana much more difficult. Another could make California a leader in fighting plastic pollution.

After you vote, share this on Facebook or Twitter to tell your friends that you are an endangered species voter! 

 

Happy Howl-o-Ween!

This Halloween could be especially scary for wolves in the United States. Some members of Congress are working to kick still-recovering wolves off of the endangered species list and subject them to hunting and trapping. We have seen what follows in states where wolves have been delisted. Packs are torn apart, young wolves are left to fend for themselves, and an American icon is needlessly persecuted. 

You can be a voice for wolves tonight if you are participating in Halloween:

  • If you’re handing treats out at the door, please print a few of these and hand them out.
  • If you’re going trick-or-treating, please print some of these and hand them out as you receive treats.
Use this as your social media avatar for Halloween!

Use this as your social media avatar for Halloween!

You can also download this Howl-o-Ween graphic to use as a social media avatar for the day.

Most importantly, please ask your senators to oppose attempts to use funding bills to kick wolves off the endangered species list. 

Happy Howl-o-Ween!

Enter the Saving Endangered Species Youth Art Contest

One of the most popular elements of our annual Endangered Species Day celebration is the Saving Endangered Species Youth Art Contest. Every year, students from around the country submit their artwork highlighting endangered and threatened species for consideration, and every year the judges have an enormous challenge in picking a winner from so many inspiring and thoughtful submissions (you can see last year’s semi-finalist and award-winning entries here.)

Last year’s winner was Miles Yun, his entry is pictured to the left. He sent along his thoughts about the contest and why it is important to him below. Thank you, Miles!

By Miles Yun, Grand Prize Winning Artist 2016 Saving Endangered Species Youth Art Contest

The Endangered Species Coalition Youth Art Contest was the first art competition, out of many, that I competed in, in which I saw a clear connection to helping society improve its faults. The fact that our nation’s Endangered Species Coalition ran the contest gave a sense of importance to my work.

Not only did this contest allow me to actively participate in the effort to bring awareness and change to a critical problem in our society, but it also gave me the opportunity to learn more specifics of individual endangered species. As I researched and drew these animals, I developed a connection to our suffering neighbors, further fueling desire to lend a hand. Learning more about the unique species we could all help really gave me a different perspective on our individual and societal choices and the consequences affecting our fellow Earth inhabitants. Especially in an ever-growing society where other issues and topics dominate media, this new outlook is valuable as it reminds us that we have yet to fix one of our largest mistakes.

The Endangered Species Coalition Youth Art Contest is a contest that combines students’ artistic skills, creativity, learning experience, and motivation to benefit the world. Share the news of this contest for it is not only a contest, but also an experience that fosters motivation and care in America’s youth that will play a crucial role in all of our future. Anyone K-12, homeschooled, or a member of a youth group can join the coalition’s endeavor to shape a better future. So, what are you waiting for?

You can learn more about this year’s Saving Endangered Species Youth Art  Contest and submit an entry here.