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COVID-19: A Consequence of Our Broken Relationship with Nature

COVID-19 is causing massive disruption to everyone’s work and lives. Hundreds of thousands have become ill, many fatally so. It appears this crisis originated with humans’ unsustainable approach to the exploitation of wildlife (plants and animals)—in this instance, wildlife trafficking. Wildlife trafficking is a commercial enterprise that entails illegal poaching, taking, and trade of wildlife.

Experts believe that the current coronavirus likely originated with the close interaction with wildlife—that may have been illegally trafficked—in a live animal market in Wuhan, China. The disease may have originated in bats and moved to an intermediary host—possibly the highly endangered pangolin, the most trafficked mammal on earth—from which the disease jumped to humans.

We have been here before. SARSEbola, and HIV all likely originated from the exploitation of wildlife, including threatened and endangered species. Now is the time to learn from our past actions. We must put an end to wildlife trafficking immediately. And, we must stop the unsustainable exploitation of wildlife more broadly. This is the second leading cause of the biodiversity crisis.

The destruction of biodiversity, including the poaching and trafficking of wildlife, puts people in incredible danger in a variety of ways: it spreads disease, jeopardizes security, undermines the rule of law, and threatens local economies that depend on nature. This current situation helps to crystalize that good wildlife policy and conservation funding, including for enforcement, must be a very high priority to protect our health, communities, and future.

Finally, it is essential to recognize that humans have all contributed to the biodiversity crisis we face, with a million species at risk of extinction in the near future. But this is no excuse for racial, ethnic, or other discrimination or retaliation. Cultures across the globe, including ours and yours, engage in some practices that are not compatible with protecting the diversity of life that exists on our planet and ourselves. And every culture has something to mend and contribute to global efforts to protect our gift of biodiversity that sustains us all. We applaud countries that have re-acknowledged the threats of wildlife trafficking by establishing and enforcing permanent bans on this illegal and deadly trade. Protecting all endangered species is now more important than ever

Semi-finalist Entries Chosen in 2020 Saving Endangered Species Youth Art Contest

The 2020 Saving Endangered Species Youth Art Contest generated close to 1,400 entries from students around the United States! A panel of judges has finished the initial and very difficult task of choosing ten semi-finalist entries per grade category. 

The gallery of the 40 selected semi-finalist images across all grade levels K-12 can be seen here.

Grades K-2 Semifinalists are here.

Grades 3-5 Semifinalists are here.

Grades 6-8 Semifinalists are here.

Grades 9-12 Semifinalists are here.

We thank everyone who participated in this year’s contest. The submissions from around the country represented a wide variety of endangered plants and animals and demonstrate the continued interest and dedication to conserving our world’s imperiled species. 

The next step is for another panel of judges to choose one winning entry from each of the grade categories and a grand prize winner. Look for the announcement of the contest winners in April!

Kutai National Park: Welcome to the Jungle

This post is a part 2 of a 4-part guest series by Sherri Harvey.

 

After a twenty-minute boat ride down the Sangatta River, we followed our jungle-trekking guides up a steep river embankment to a sign that read “Welcome to the Jungle.” Since Axel Rose from Guns and Roses is from my home state of Indiana, I couldn’t help but hear the song  in my head, but soon enough, the sounds of the jungle took over. As we made our way in, I was serenaded by a concert of humming, buzzing, and chirping by frogs, cicadas, monkeys, and birds. The combination of decaying vegetation, soil, wood, leaves, mushrooms and orchids filled my nose and provided a saturated buffet for the pollinators like moths, bats, butterflies, bees, and ants. As I walked, I let my fingertips feel the leaves as though I might be able to learn jungle secrets by touch alone. We headed along a wooden boardwalk through old national park buildings, and eventually, out into the thick lowland tropical rainforest. This was my first rainforest jungle trek, and I was happily drenched and soggy without having to run three miles for the sweat. 

Boats at rest on island in river

Photo: Sherri Harvey

We were trekking through the Kutai National Park looking for wild orangutans. The trip required some effort to get here and a commitment to the cause. Located on the east coast of Borneo Island, in the East Kalimantan province of Indonesia, hiking in Kutai took six hours on a bus driving from Samarinda to Sangata. Our presence here also demanded both a permit and knowledgeable local guides. This trip was a possibility for our group only because of Orangutan Odysseys. Garry Sundin and his team of environmentalists, locals, and experts had provided his guests, my fellow trekkers, with this jungle tour that also required a target fundraising goal. The money then supported The Orangutan Project that aims to fight rainforest destruction as a proposed solution to climate change, habitat loss, illegal wildlife trade, and cultural preservation. The founder, Leif Cocks, primatology expert and trip host, and our co-host, Hardi Baktiantoro, Founder of the Center for Orangutan Protection  joined us as well. Collectively, their mission is to protect the orangutan habit through environmental sustainability and responsible tourism, and we were all here to figure out how we could contribute to the cause as we search for orangutans, from the Malay origin of orang (person) and hutan (forest). It takes a team of people like this working around the clock to look for sustainable solutions for orangutan habitat and forest protection, and this extraordinary team was showing us what it looks like on the front line of the fight.

Photo: Sherri Harvey

As we started into the heart of the forest, Hardi picked up a roly-poly, or wood shrimp and introduced me to him. Although people refer to the roly-polys as bugs, they are not insects. They are wingless, oval crustaceans — land-dwelling relatives of lobsters and crabs. Hardi told me a story about how the local Dayak had been rumored to watch orangutans eat them when they had  a toothache. Supposedly, as the Dayak watched the orangutans, they learned about homeopathic medicinal purposes of the crustacean by studying orangutan behavior.

As we continued on, I was in awe of how well our guides knew the forest. Ozzy veered off our hidden trail and walked on the sides of it looking for orangutan signs. Ivend held ginormous red ants and worms in his hands to show us their intricate markings. Hardi picked up a half-eaten berry and announced that the orangutans had recently been here. 

As we walked, our expert guides pointed out the things a life within this forest had taught them. Orangutan nests sat in clumps of leaves high above. We learned that these arboreal mammals bend smaller, leafy branches onto a foundation that serves as a nest and then braid the tips of branches into the heap to increase stability since they spend most of their time in trees. As I scanned the tops in earnest desperation for a sighting, I saw only clumps of thick green that sunlight could not penetrate, and I would not have known it was an orangutan nest if I were out here by myself. Without the careful eyes of the natives, I would have missed this detail. Additionally, the verdant growth was so thick that if I were to get lost, there was no way I would have found my way out.

About an hour in, we heard, by radio that there was an orangutan high in the trees. We walked slowly, heads pointed toward the sky. We were advised that the orangutans knew we were there, even if we couldn’t see them. We saw the evidence.

Photo: Sherri Harvey

As we hiked, we stopped to photograph things we wouldn’t see at home…different mushrooms, a lantern moth, twisty vines with growth that looked like potatoes, insects the size of our fists, and all of us were filled with the wonder of childhood delight. Seeing with new eyes and open hearts, and an empathetic nature, was essential for the trip and since we were all here for the common goal of orangutan trekking. Even though we were strangers, we were united by a love for the great outdoors, a desire to do something for our planet, and a commitment to travel halfway across the world to explore options for making a difference in saving not only orangutans, but also the forest, the native land, and really, the world.

Photo: Sherri Harvey

After a few hours, we neared the Ranger Station where Orangutan Odysseys had arranged lunch to be served by the locals for us, and we were hot, sweaty, tired, hungry and muddy. I was so happy to see our lunch spot to rest for a bit. As we all sang a cheer to be back, we were immediately informed that some of the locals had seen the orangutans pass through. So even though we could smell the delicious food, we had to walk straight through the temptation and keep going. On we went in search of orangutans.

After another hour, we called it time to head back to eat. At lunch, Leif told us what tracking orangutans entailed: lying on the ground for hours on end and looking up to the trees, sometimes without a citing. We also learned that in Kutai, the estimated number of orangutans was about 600. After a leisurely information session from Leif, we were rested and fueled, ready for more searching and we slipped back into our muddy boots and headed back out in the humid air and cacophonous harmony of the jungle.

Credit Sher Harvey/The Accidental Advocate

Photo: Sherri Harvey

Photo: Sherri Harvey

Placing our feet carefully in wet mud, up and down steep hills and ravines, through and over river crossings, holding on to branches for stability and pushing each other up from behind, we got to know each other pretty well. We were committed to the mission to see more. And when I was filthy and worn out and I thought that  I couldn’t possibly take one more step, someone called out a sighting. 

Leif had spotted the grand old lady high above us. He could tell she was about a fifty-year-old female. Since my orangutan-spotting skills were not yet honed, picking her out from the foliage proved challenging. Even the Aussie environmentalists had a hard time. They ranged in age from twenty-five to mid-sixties, and we all craned our necks and squinted, searching high up to the treetops to spot her. Although we heard her long, powerful arms swinging her and her vice-like hands propelling her from tree to tree, the sun made it hard to see her body distinctly. We watched her dark mass moving above us for a good half an hour as our guides continued to point, but she didn’t make it easy on us untrained orangutan-watchers. 

Orangutan in tree

Photo: Wendy Futschik

As we sat under the soft blanket of jungle canopy to watch her before making our way back into the canoes, then onto the bus, to finally the hotel to take a well-earned shower, we all shared a quiet celebration for bearing witness to her. I didn’t want to leave her—I could have sat all day watching her sit still high above me, sharing the same air and same love of the trees that serve humanity so well. But we had a few hours of trekking to make it out of the jungle before dark.

Orangutan in tree looking down

Photo: Wendy Futschik

As we left her, I could feel that all of us had been touched by her.  I could see from my new friends’ smiles that we were all tickled to have spotted her. For me, the sum of the experience, orangutans, butterflies, mushrooms, even the mosquitoes, had deepened my connection to the wild heart of life. Seeing this old magical girl in her habitat, roaming freely in the place she called home represented hope for the future of her species. She got me thinking about what I can do from my home in California to help not only save her, but also to save her habitat from the destructive forces working to profit from the commodification of the rainforest. 

After all, we are all in this great big world together, and if we want nature to continue serving us, we need to find a way to serve it better.

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Sher Harvey/The Accidental Advocate

www.sherriharvey.com

ESC Update

As we head into some uncertainty of the impact COVID-19 will have over the next month or so, the Endangered Species Coalition is taking steps to ensure the work of protecting the Endangered Species Act and all native wildlife continues.

ESC is abiding by CDC recommendations of not attending or assembling large gatherings. We are fortunate to be able to direct our staff across the country to telework from home. Our team is still mobilizing grassroots power, using creative alternatives allowing activists and member groups to speak up, and out, against the Trump Administration’s repeated and reckless attacks on the environment. We continue to be in contact with members of Congress about the PAW and FIN Act–the bill that would reverse the ESA Administrative rollbacks–and to advocate for robust funding for ESA protections. Our Endangered Species Day outreach continues with a focus on educational materials that children can enjoy at home and school. Because of you and your continuous support, we have been able to put the infrastructure in place to make this happen. We want to say thank you for helping us ensure that we can continue to advocate for plants and animals.

We are all in this together. At the same time, our staff is doing what we can, when we can, to support members of our broader community who are most impacted and hope that you will too. We are here for you should you have any questions about the work we continue to do.

 

The Buzz About Bees: Why Do We Need Them?

By at Gardener’s Path.

To understand why we need the little bumblebee, we need to understand how it helps us and why it is in danger. If the bee faces extinction, then the planet risks losing a great variety of foodstuffs.

We enjoy the beautiful flowers in our gardens but most of them need to be pollinated to survive. Without pollination, the plants would not be able to reproduce.

The recent decline in the number of pollinators is a sad fact in itself.

But did you know that bees actually pollinate about a sixth of the world’s crops, or around 400 of the agricultural plants we harvest?

According to the the US Fish and Wildlife Service that these insects contributed to the production of around nineteen billion dollars worth of foodstuffs in 2010 in the US alone.

This figure illuminates the true scale of this problem:

It amounts to about a third of all the food we eat.

Saying that there is a problem here is an understatement. But there are things that you can do to help. Read more…

Protecting Western Monarchs

By: Angela Laws, Endangered Species Conservation Biologist, The Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation; Marlene Milosevich, conservation volunteer and Jeanne Dodds, Creative Engagement Director, Endangered Species Coalition

 

The western monarch population has declined by more than 99% from its size in the 1980’s, with an 86% drop in the size of the overwintering population from 2018 to 2019.  In response to this decline, The Xerces Society released a Call to Action, to identify the steps we can all take to help protect this species.

One step in this Call to Action is to restore breeding and migratory habitat in California.  To that end, The Xerces Society worked with longtime partners at Hedgerow Farms to create “Monarch and Pollinator Habitat Kits”.  Each kit contains 1600 transplants, including 800 native milkweed transplants and 800 non-milkweed native wildflowers to provide nectar.  Each species included in the kit is a native, drought tolerant, climate-smart species used by monarchs and other pollinators. Funding for these kits was made possible by a grant from the Wildlife Conservation Society Climate Adaptation Fund.

The Xerces Society was able to provide 32 kits to groups engaged in pollinator habitat restoration in California.  The Endangered Species Coalition donated funds to some of the kits, including the two kits awarded to the San Luis National Wildlife Refuge located in California’s Central Valley.  Staff at the refuge have been working to restore habitat for monarchs and other pollinators. On October 27, 2019, Angela Laws from Xerces joined refuge staff and a team of dedicated volunteers to plant one of the habitat kits.

One volunteer, Marlene Milosevich, generously agreed to talk with ESC about her engagement with pollinator conservation and habitat restoration; here is our interview:

Jeanne Dodds:  How did you become interested in pollinator conservation?

Marlene Milosevich: Several years ago, I was fussing over some heirloom tomatoes when I observed a neatly fashioned hole about 3/8 of an inch in diameter near the base of one of the plants.  I was immediately incensed at the thought that some vile creature was going to damage the root system of my tomatoes. As I stood there, hands on my hips and staring indignantly down at the hole plotting the defense of my precious plants, a chunky bee cruised low across the ground and deftly dropped down into the hole.  I was stunned, perplexed and fascinated. This was my first introduction to Svastra obliqua, a long-horned sunflower bee. I’ve been enamored ever since, pursuing the study of native bees and changing my gardening style to provide both food and nesting areas for them. Since I retired, I became a Master Gardener and California Naturalist through the programs offered by the University of California Agriculture and Natural Resources and presented by the University of California Cooperative Extension Merced Office and the Sierra Foothill Conservancy respectively.

JD What motivates you to volunteer to create habitat for Monarch butterflies in California?

MM As I began to “Bee watch”, I observed a greater variety of bees, flies and wasps than I have ever noticed before.  However, what became increasingly apparent was the lack of the larger butterflies such as the Monarch and the Swallowtail along with the lack of Bumblebees.  I had observed these in abundance during my childhood but they seemed to be missing now. I have also noticed that most of our yards and gardens are sterile environments of mostly non-native, non-flowering shrubs and lawn.  As more open areas are destroyed by developments and healthy habitats are lost, I feel compelled to do something to rectify the situation.

JD What role do you that public lands, such as wildlife refuges, can play in Monarch conservation?

MM In providing protection for a specific species like the Condor or in maintaining waterfowl hunting areas, we have inadvertently provided protection for some of the smallest and overlooked creatures such as the insects.  These tracts of land in this most populated state in the union have become vital for it ensures these areas will be protected from development, hopefully into perpetuity. Areas of milkweed and nectar plants can be established and maintained with little inference from humans with mowers, pesticides and herbicides providing a safe haven for the Monarchs.

JD If you could tell others one way or share one reason to become involved with pollinator conservation, what would that be?

MM It enhances your life.  It will bring back the wonder and delight you had as a child.  Put down the electronics, step away from the screens, the phones and step outside.  Observe the natural world… it’s just outside your door…that’s where the true reality is.

 

Let’s Make This A Better Year for Wildlife!

If your New Year’s Resolution involved walking more gently on the planet, practicing compassion or being a more conscientious consumer – then this blog is for you!     

Seeing the Amazon and Malaysia rainforests burn, as well as the animals and plants that call these forests home, just to grow cheap palm oil, breaks my heart. The videos of endangered orangutans being shot out of trees infuriates me.  So much cruelty and brutality for cheap, unnecessary products. 

Palm oil has become ubiquitous in so many products as American corporations, shareholders and consumers greedily demand cheap products.  

Palm oil is derived from the fruit of the oil palm tree. The palm fruit yields both palm oil and palm kernel oil. Palm oil is extracted from the pulp of the fruit and is an edible oil used in food. Palm kernel oil is extracted from the seed of the fruit and is used in the manufacture of cosmetics.

There are two main species of oil palm tree; Elaeis guineensis, native to West Africa and Elaeis oleifera, native to Central and South America. Both species grow in tropical regions including Colombia in South America, New Guinea in the Pacific, Ghana in Africa and Indonesia and Malaysia in Southeast Asia. Palm oil plantations are the main driver for deforestation in Indonesia and Malaysia. These two regions account for 85 percent of global production of palm oil.

When consumers try to purchase products without palm oil, the industry and corporations make it difficult for consumers to even know if a product has palm oil by using many different names on the labels. They literally try to trick us and this behavior should be illegal.   

If you do an internet search for “products without palm oil” many lists will pop up.  However, many of the products do have palm oil – just using a different name for palm oil. Some products market themselves as environmentally produced, such as Seventh Generation, Burt’s Bees and Toms of Maine but they contain palm oil. To stop purchasing palm oil one must read labels very carefully.  

Here is a list of names that are palm oil from the World Wildlife Fund:  

INGREDIENTS: Vegetable Oil, Vegetable Fat, Palm Kernel, Palm Kernel Oil, Palm Fruit Oil, Palmate, Palmitate, Palmolein, Glyceryl, Stearate, Stearic Acid, Elaeis Guineensis, Palmitic Acid, Palm Stearine, Palmitoyl Oxostearamide, Palmitoyl Tetrapeptide-3, Sodium Laureth Sulfate, Sodium Lauryl Sulfate, Sodium Kernelate, Sodium Palm Kernelate, Sodium Lauryl Lactylate/Sulphate, Hyrated Palm Glycerides, Etyl Palmitate, Octyl Palmitate, Palmityl Alcohol  

Sidenote:  Not all vegetable oil is palm oil however if a product does not disclose a particular oil, such as peanut oil, olive oil, sunflower oil etc. then it is probably palm oil. Palm oil is a saturated fat, so if a product lists vegetable oil and contains saturated fats as more than 40 percent of its total fat content on its nutritional information label – then you can 99% assume it would be palm oil. If you are still unsure, ask the company.

Deforestation photo credit Wikimedia

Burning rainforests and lying corporations made me angry –  so I took action. I did research to find better products for me and the planet.   

Corporations, politicians and lazy consumers will make it seem too difficult to be a conscientious consumer.  But it’s not! There is a false narrative that one consumer can’t make a difference and only government action will solve problems.  

I hope the government will take action but at this point they are not and won’t for a long time. Even if a bill requiring transparency passed the House, Senate and was signed by Trump today – it would not go into effect for a few years and that may be too late for some species. In fact, the government right now is rolling back safeguarding environmental regulations. 

Only consumer choices make a difference right now – today.  

Personally, I sleep better knowing I am trying not to harm people or animals.  

Food is easy – just do not purchase processed foods.  Buy fruits and vegetables, they are palm free! Buy cereals and breads with a few clear ingredients and try to buy organic – great way to avoid palm oil.  Avoid nutella, most candy and junk food in general and you are avoiding palm oil. Your healthy choices help your body and the forests and the plants and animals that live there! 

The bathroom and laundry room are more complicated but there are great products available now.  

I use all these products and love them. 

Everything on this list is palm oil free. 

They are vegan. 

They are cruelty-free. 

Many are organic. 

Almost all avoid single use plastic. Massive amounts of single-use plastic (only approximately 9% of plastic is recycled in the USA) ends up in wildlife habitat and animal and human bodies. 

You can even purchase directly from the company and do not need to use Amazon.

Let’s encourage these businesses to keep doing the right thing by supporting them!      

These are just my recommendations. There are more products being created every day.  As for price, I am not sure if these products are cheaper or more expensive than what you can buy at a chain corporate store, but those products do not internalize their externalities.  You pay for corporate pollution with your health – both mental and physical – and they get the financial profit. Flip it over! Buy products that benefit you in their utilitarian purpose, as well as help your health both mental and physically.  

And let the good guys make a profit!   

And if they are more expensive and you can afford them, buy them.  Economies of scale will bring prices down for everyone. 

Toothpaste – 

Davids has no palm oil, vegan, cruelty-free, made from renewable energy and comes in a metal tube. 

https://davids-usa.com/

Moisturizers, shampoos, lip balms, deodorant, soaps etc.-

All vegan, cruelty-free, no palm oil and almost all the products are organic. 

Products do come in plastic containers and I am asking them to find a way to return and refill.

https://fancifulfox.myshopify.com/

Paper goods for people and planet –

Have the choice to purchase paper products made from bamboo and no dyes or 100% recycled and no dyes. 

Everything comes in recycled paper – no plastic.  

https://us.whogivesacrap.org/

Palm oil free laundry products – 

Vegan and cruelty-free. 

Almost all laundry detergent has palm oil – but not at MyGreenRefills. 

You get a plastic container with your first purchase, then refill packets that come in paper.  

https://mygreenfills.com/

Glass, bathroom, and other cleaning products – 

Vegan, cruelty and palm oil free.

No single-use plastic because the first order includes containers, after that refill packets in paper.

Refill is the new recycle!    

https://www.blueland.com/pages/our-mission

Please let us know if you are using other great products.  We need to inform and educate each other and promote these companies for doing the right thing! 

Urgent action needed for Idaho wolves

The state of Idaho has long been a hostile environment for gray wolves. Since losing Endangered Species Act protections through congressional interference in 2011, wolves in this state have faced increasingly gruesome threats.

Submit your opposition online through the Idaho Department of Fish and Game’s (IDFG) website. Scroll down and vote no on each proposal.

Just a few weeks ago, the state changed its rules to permit a single individual to kill up to 30 gray wolves annually. Now, the Idaho Department of Fish and Game is considering a series of measures that will make their state even more inhospitable to wolves.

IDFG is proposing to:

1: Lengthen the legal wolf hunting season from 7 months to 11-months in much of the state;

2: Permit year-round wolf hunting on public and private land in southwest and south-central Idaho;

3: Allow deadly and inhumane snares in some areas, and;

4: Create 173 days of new wolf trapping opportunities on public land.

The state is accepting public comments through the end of day on February 10th. Please vote “do not support” on all proposals on their form.

Part 1: Borneo Burning: One of the Faces of Climate Change

This post is a part 1 of a 4-part guest series by Sherri Harvey

According to the United Nations, 2019 was one of the most disastrous years on record for Climate Change disasters. In fact, in the month of July alone, there was a climate crisis disaster reported each week. Climate Change is real, although looks different in every single part of the world. No matter the face, there is no denying we need to find solutions. In Australia and California, fires ravaged the land. Fires in the Amazon have destroyed a large portion of the rainforests. In Indonesia, industrial-scale forest clearing has resulted in a 31 percent loss of rainforest in the past twenty-five years. In Borneo alone, the home of one of our biggest rainforests, mining, logging, and palm oil cultivation, has resulted in the destruction of a large portion of trees, a natural defense against climate change. And we need our rainforests. 

Tropical rainforests are located in five major regions: America, Africa, Southeast Asia, Madagascar, and New Guinea, with smaller outliers in Australia. They offer biological and cultural diversity as well as climate stability. In Borneo, the rainforests host the perfect balance of flora, fauna, soil, water, and animals to create an antidote for climate change, but what do the threats facing one of the biggest rainforests in the world actually look like? Borneo is ablaze. Rainforests are being replaced by palm forests. Dayak culture is disappearing. Orangutans face extinction. Indonesians need our help. Indonesia needs the world’s attention. 

In February 2020, I will be visiting places in the jungle that have fallen victim to the effects of the local and global demands for Borneo’s commodities and for the entire world’s natural remedies against climate change: the trees. My mission includes traveling upriver on canoes, driving through the jungle landscapes and staying in long homes with the traditional Dayak culture to paint a picture of one of the largest rainforests in the world. 

Through photos, essays and video, I plan to give a voice to the rainforest, the Dayak community and the orangutans in order to magnify the issues facing Borneo, and ultimately, all of us. Help me by following my journey to magnify the voices of Borneo in order to begin to see the ugly face of climate change. I aim to show the world what life is like for one of the last remaining rainforests on the planet.  

Only if we understand, can we care. Only if we care, we will help. Only if we help, we shall be saved” says Jane Goodall. Follow me here and at www.sherriharvey.com to view the effects that deforestation, mining, soil erosion, and illegal wildlife trading have on the people who live there. Could ecotourism bring awareness to the region and help the world realize that Borneo is burning and that they need help from the rest of the world before it’s too late?

David Attenborough’s Orangutan vs. Bulldozer photo

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Sher Harvey/The Accidental Advocate

www.sherriharvey.com

Orangutan photo credit USFWS/Borneo Orangutan Survival Foundation

Wildlife Protection Legislation Advances in Congress

Today, the House Natural Resource Committee voted in favor of protecting wildlife, nature, and America’s legacy for future generations. 

We are in the sixth mass extinction event—the first caused by humans. One million species could be threatened with extinction due to habitat loss, pollution, invasive species and climate change, according to the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services. This report indicates that we have time to stem the crisis, but not without immediate action to protect wildlife and plants, especially imperiled species. The U.S. House Natural Resources Committee, led by Chairman Grijalva (D-AZ), passed several bills today that will help us take immediate action to protect America’s web of life.

One bill overturns new rules issued by the Trump Administration that severely weaken the Endangered Species Act. H.R. 4348, Protect America’s Wildlife and Fish In Need of Conservation (PAW and FIN) Act of 2019, will terminate those new rules and restore the primacy of science, not politics, in wildlife decision-making.

In addition, two important pieces of legislation will help safeguard wildlife (and in many cases people) via the creation and support of wildlife corridors. H.R. 2795,Wildlife Corridors Conservation Act,”  will establish National Wildlife Corridors to provide for the protection of habitats and migration routes of native fish, wildlife, and plant species on federal public land. H.R. 5179, “Tribal Wildlife and Corridors Act” support wildlife corridors on tribal lands.

Other bills that advance responsible stewardship of our natural resources address extreme weather and climate change on wildlife, plants and fisheries; protect habitat by establishing a new wildlife refuge in California; and address nutria, a very harmful invasive species.

“This is a great day for oday, the House Natural Resource Committee voted in favor of protecting wildlife, nature, and wildlife and for all Americans who wish to be free to experience our country’s natural heritage. Millions of Americans have asked Congress to address the biodiversity crisis, and today Members of Congress took a significant step forward. The bills passed in the US House Natural Resource Committee can help restore and create protections for threatened and endangered species across the country. We applaud the committee members and will continue to work to ensure these bills are soon passed by Congress,” stated Leda Huta, Executive Director of the Endangered Species Coalition.      

“We thank all Endangered Species Coalition member groups and activists for all their efforts to get these important bills moved out of committee,” continued Leda Huta, Executive Director of the Endangered Species Coalition.    

HR 4679, 2748, 5179, 2795 passed – 22-15.  

Democrat Reps. Brown, Cartwright, Case, Costa, Cox, Cunningham, Degette, Dingell,  Gallego, Garcia, Grijalva, Haaland, Horsford, Huffman, Levin, Lowenthal, Napolitano, Neguse, Sablan, San Nicolas, Soto and Tonko voted yes. 

Republican Reps. Bishop, Cook, Curtis, Fulcher, Gosar, Graves, Hern, Hice, Lamborn, McClintock, Radewagen, Webster, Westerman, Wittman voted no. 

HR 4348 passed 21 – 16, with Congressman Costa joining the Republicans. 

HR 1240, 2956 and 3399 passed by Unanimous Consent, with no recorded vote.   

To read the bills, click on links:  

  •  
  • H.R. 4679 (Rep. Cunningham), To require the Comptroller General of the United States to submit to Congress a report examining efforts by the Regional Fishery Management Councils, the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission, and the National Marine Fisheries Service to prepare and adapt United States fishery management for the impacts of climate change, and for other purposes. “Climate-Ready Fisheries Act of 2019.”
  • H.R. 2748 (Rep. Cartwright), To establish an integrated national approach to respond to ongoing and expected effects of extreme weather and climate change by protecting, managing, and conserving the fish, wildlife, and plants of the United States, and to maximize Government efficiency and reduce costs, in cooperation with State, local, and Tribal Governments and other entities, and for other purposes. “Safeguarding America’s Future and Environment Act.”
  • H.R. 5179 (Rep. Gallego), To require the Secretary of the Interior to establish Tribal Wildlife Corridors, and for other purposes. “Tribal Wildlife Corridors Act of 2019.”
  • H.R. 2795 (Rep. Beyer), To establish National Wildlife Corridors to provide for the protection and restoration of certain native fish, wildlife, and plant species, and for other purposes. “Wildlife Corridors Conservation Act of 2019.”
  • H.R. 4348 (Rep. Grijalva), To terminate certain rules issued by the Secretary of the Interior and the Secretary of Commerce relating to endangered and threatened species, and for other purposes. “Protect America’s Wildlife and Fish In Need of Conservation Act of 2019.”
  • H.R. 1240 (Rep. Young), To preserve United States fishing heritage through a national program dedicated to training and assisting the next generation of commercial fishermen. “Young Fishermen’s Development Act of 2019.” 
  • H.R. 2956 (Rep. Calvert), To provide for the establishment of the Western Riverside County Wildlife Refuge.
  • H.R. 3399 (Rep. Harder), To amend the Nutria Eradication and Control Act of 2003 to include California in the program, and for other purposes.