Archive for the ‘center for biological diversity’ Tag
December 16, 2015
(credit: Jupiter Images)
MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — A proposal that would have taken gray wolves in the western Great Lakes region and Wyoming off the endangered list did not make it into a massive year-end congressional tax and spending package, an omission that surprised its backers but was welcomed Wednesday by groups that support maintaining federal protections for the predators.
U.S. Reps. Collin Peterson, D-Minnesota, Reid Ribble, R-Wisconsin, and some other lawmakers had hoped to attach a rider to return management of wolves in Minnesota, Wisconsin, Michigan and Wyoming to the states, which could have opened the door to a resumption of wolf hunting in those places. The provision would have undone federal court decisions that restored the animals’ protected status in the four states despite repeated efforts by the federal government to remove them from the list.
Peterson said budget negotiators dropped the provision from the final bill, which was unveiled late Tuesday, because the White House had threatened a veto if the bill contained any changes to the Endangered Species Act.
“Obviously I’m disappointed,” Peterson said. “We thought it wasn’t going to be a problem because the Fish and Wildlife Service was supporting it.”
Peterson, the ranking Democrat on the House Agriculture Committee, said supporters will have to regroup and decide on their next step. He said a stand-alone bill probably could pass the House but he’s not sure about the Senate. It’s also possible an appeals court could overturn the lower court decisions, he added.
While livestock interests supported removing federal protections for wolves, wildlife groups lobbied against it.
“It certainly was a pleasant surprise,” said Brett Hartl, endangered species policy director with the Center for Biological Diversity.
Backers of the rider were trying to use a tactic that succeeded in 2011 when Congress removed wolves in Idaho, Montana and sections of Utah, Washington and Oregon from the list.
“Cooler heads prevailed in Congress,” said Wayne Pacelle, CEO of the Humane Society of the United States. He said a letter written by Sens. Cory Booker, D-New Jersey, and Barbara Boxer, D-California, and signed by 23 other senators including Gary Peters, D-Michigan, helped make the difference.
The combined wolf population in the western Great Lakes region is estimated at 3,700, including about 2,200 in Minnesota, while Wyoming has around 333.
U.S. District Judge Beryl Howell ruled last December that the western Great Lakes states didn’t have suitable plans to safeguard wolves, and that the animals haven’t come close to repopulating their former range. Her decision prevented Minnesota and Wisconsin from holding sport wolf hunting and trapping seasons this fall. Michigan hasn’t held a hunt since 2013. Another federal judge issued a similar decision in September 2014 in a Wyoming case.
The Obama administration, Michigan, Wisconsin and Wyoming are appealing the two decisions. Minnesota is not formally a party to the Midwest case, but the state attorney general’s office filed an amicus brief Tuesday supporting a reversal.
The brief says Minnesota’s wolf management plan will ensure the animals continue to thrive in the state. It says Minnesota’s wolf population and range have expanded to the point of saturating the habitat in the state since the animals went on the endangered list in 1973, creating “human-wolf conflict that is unique in its cost and prevalence.”
A similar appeal is pending in the Wyoming case. Pacelle said his group, which filed the lawsuit in the Midwest case, will keep up the fight.
“This is not the end of the process, but it’s a good outcome because Congress is showing restraint and not trying to cherry-pick a species and remove it from the list of endangered animals,” Pacelle said.
Source / CBS Minnesota
October 12, 2015
More releases of wolves are needed to genetically bolster the population in the wild. Photo by John and Karen Hollingsworth/USFWS
Letter to feds points out dangers of ‘genetic bottleneck’
Political resistance at the state level shouldn’t deter federal biologists from releasing more Mexican gray wolves into the wild, according to conservation activists, who say that such releases are needed to prevent the wild population from becoming genetically crippled.
In a letter to federal officials, biologists and wildlife advocates urged Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell to release at least five more packs of wolves into the Gila National Forest in New Mexico through the end of this year and into 2016.
The “perilously low” number of breeding pairs makes the wolf population vulnerable to inbreeding depression that could send the population into a downward spiral, more than 40 biologists and conservation groups warned in the Oct. 8 letter.
“Federal biologists know they must release more Mexican wolves from captivity, but the Obama administration has permitted the release of just four,” said Michael Robinson of the Center for Biological Diversity. “Then the government recaptured one and shot another, and the remaining two also died, which argues not only for stricter protections but also for many more releases to ensure that some wolves actually add to the gene pool.”
Conservation advocates said in the letter that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is underestimating the number of wolf releases needed to nudge wolf populations toward recovery and long-term stability:
“What worries us, in addition to the absence of releases in the seven and a half months since the rule went into effect, is that the Service’s final numbers –– 35 to 50 wolves to be released over the course of 20 years, with more at the outset and fewer later on – seem not to take into account evidence that far more releases will be required to address the crisis of inbreeding.”
“The longer we delay in introducing new wolves to increase genetic variation in the wild Mexican gray wolf populations, the greater our future challenge will be to ensure that this distinctive wolf survives,” said Joseph Cook, of the American Society of Mammalogists. “Small populations with limited genetic variability often suffer from the consequences of inbreeding depression, Small populations with limited genetic variability also are generally less resilient to changing environmental conditions and less resistant to the introduction of novel pathogens.”
According to the latest census number, 110 wolves, including just eight breeding pairs, live in the combined Gila National Forest in New Mexico and Apache National Forest and Fort Apache Indian Reservation in Arizona. Fewer than 15 wolves live in the wild in Mexico.
“Mexican wolves are part of the natural heritage of all Americans,” said Mary Katherine Ray of the Sierra Club’s Rio Grande chapter. “The Endangered Species Act, which requires the protection and recovery of imperiled animals, continues to be a very popular national law. Though a vocal minority at the state level is attempting to obstruct the return of wolves to the Southwest, the Fish and Wildlife Service should proceed to release more wolves to safeguard their still fragile population.”
Conservation activists say there’s plenty of room for wolves to roam in the Gila Wilderness, and that more hesitation will simply delay the targeted recovery of the species.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife early this year expanded the area where captive-bred wolves could be released to include the 3.3-million-acre Gila National Forest. The Gila is the fourth-largest national forest in the country and encompasses the world’s first official wilderness area, designated in 1924, that was protected from construction of roads. The Gila also supports thousands of deer, elk and other animals on which wolves prey, thereby overall strengthening such animals’ herds and preventing overgrazing. Yet more than half of this national forest has no wolves.
By Bob Berwyn
Source September 1, 2015
Photo Credit: Vibe Images/Shutterstock.com
The state of Alaska has announced that it plans to allow a wolf hunt on Prince of Wales Island, despite recent evidence that the Alexander Archipelago wolf population on the island is in danger of extinction. In July, environmental groups asked the state to close the hunting and trapping season in response to a June report by the Alaska Department of Fish and Game showing alarmingly low levels of wolves the island. Instead of canceling the hunt, the state is allowing the harvest of nine wolves.
“Alexander Archipelago wolves on Prince of Wales have been pushed to their limit and we must stop hunting them,” said Larry Edwards, Greenpeace forest campaigner in Sitka. “Opening the season is the opposite of letting this population recover, let alone sustaining it. Today’s action could lead to its demise.”
According to the state, the newly announced quota of nine wolves is 20 percent of the pre-2014/2015 season population estimate of 89 wolves “plus a reduction for any other human-caused mortality that may occur.” The quota does not account for the 29 wolves reported killed last year, a demonstrated high level of poaching, or the fact that females make up only 25 percent of the dwindling population. Even if they can reproduce at their reduced numbers, the risk of inbreeding is high.
“Wolves on Prince of Wales have been hammered by old-growth logging that has destroyed huge swaths of their habitat and created an ever-growing road system that allows more and more hunter access to the wolves,” said Rebecca Noblin, Alaska director of the Center for Biological Diversity. “Thanks to decades of unsustainable logging, Alexander Archipelago wolves are on the precipice, and the state of Alaska is about to kick them over the edge.”
Alexander Archipelago wolves are a subspecies of gray wolves that dens in the roots of old-growth trees in the Tongass National Forest in Southeast Alaska. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in 2014 found that protecting Alexander Archipelago wolves under the Endangered Species Act “may be warranted.” The Service will decide whether to list the wolves under the Act by the end of this year.
SIGN: Tell Alaska’s Department of Fish and Game to Cancel Hunt of Endangered Wolves
From Wolves of Douglas County Wisconsin August 4, 2015 by Rachel Tilseth
Photograph by John E. Mariott http://www.wildernessprints.com/
By Noah Greenwald, Endangered species program director, Center for Biological Diversity Source
The Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision isn’t just bad for democracy, it’s fueling an unprecedented attack on America’s endangered species.
Campaign contributions from polluters and other would-be defilers of the environment have been flooding into Congress since the 2010 decision — and apparently these deep-pocketed special interests are getting results.
Nowhere is this more apparent than in the steady barrage of attacks levied at endangered species and the Endangered Species Act by congressional Republicans.
A new study I co-authored called “Politics of Extinction” reveals that over the past five years, Republicans in Congress have launched 164 attacks on the Endangered Species Act or an average of 33 per year. That’s a 600 percent increase in the rate of legislative attacks on endangered species since Citizens United.
By comparison, in the 15 years prior (1996-2010), there were only 69 attacks on endangered species or about five a year.
Their campaign shows no signs of letting up. Just seven months into 2015, congressional Republicans have already introduced 66 legislative attacks on endangered species, more than any year since the law was passed, including bills to strip endangered species protections from gray wolves, American burying beetles and other species and bills to undercut the bedrock clause in the law that allows citizens to go to court in defense of imperiled species.
The escalation in attacks in recent years corresponds with a massive increase in campaign contributions from the oil and gas industry, big agriculture and other industries that oppose endangered species protections. Between 2004 and 2014, for example, campaign contributions from the oil and gas industry increased from roughly $10 million to more than $25 million, according to OpenSecrets.org.
Of course, we can’t ascribe a direct causal link between an increase in campaign contributions and an increase in legislative attacks on endangered species, but the correspondence is compelling. The increase also corresponds to attacks on protections for clean air and water, the EPA, worker safety and a host of other regulations designed to protect public health and safety.
The vast majority of bills attacking endangered species have been introduced by Republicans including 93 percent of all attacks over the last 20 years and all 66 of the attacks introduced this year.
Since 2011, five Republicans, who have received millions of dollars in campaign contributions from special interests opposed to Endangered Species Act protections, stand out for having introduced dozens of bills to weaken protections for endangered species, including Rep. Ken Calvert (R- Calif.), Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah), Rep. Don Young (R-Alaska), Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas) and Rep. Rob Bishop (R-Utah). In total, these legislators are responsible for 25 percent of legislative attacks on endangered species in the last five years.
In their zeal to please their special interest benefactors, these five legislators are deeply out of step with the American public. Polls consistently show that most Americans support protection of endangered species, including a solid majority of conservatives.
So far only three legislative attacks on endangered species have passed. The first was a rider on an omnibus appropriations bill that delisted wolves in Montana and Idaho passed in 2011, which has allowed more than 1,600 wolves to be killed in the two states since. The other two were approved as riders on must-pass spending bills in 2014. One allowed for trophy hunting and importation of three African animals — scimitar-horned oryx, addax and Dama gazelle. The other prohibited the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service from expending any resources to protect three seriously imperiled grouse: the greater sage grouse, the bi-state population of greater sage grouse in California, and Nevada or the Gunnison sage grouse.
The use of riders on unrelated must pass spending bills has become an all too common practice in Congress to pass unpopular legislation without the sunshine of public debate. Our report documented that a third of all the bills seeking to undermine protections for endangered species introduced since 2011 were riders, including 31 pending in Congress right now. There is a real danger that some of these riders will slip through in the inevitable back room deals that occur when Congress is trying to pass a budget.
Riders like the ones already passed don’t just harm individual species like gray wolves or sage grouse, but erode the integrity of the Endangered Species Act itself, which was fundamentally written to tip the scales back in favor of wildlife on the brink of extinction. The Act’s ability to save species from extinction is severely undermined if deep-pocketed special interests can intercede whenever protections for species become inconvenient and get those protections removed or weakened.
And even the bills that don’t pass have a chilling effect on the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, which is responsible for implementing the Endangered Species Act.
It hardly seems a coincidence that the agency has withdrawn or weakened protections for several of the species that have come under attack from Congressional Republicans, including the American wolverine, dunes sagebrush lizard and bi-state population of sage grouse, which all had proposed protections withdrawn, and the lesser prairie chicken and northern long-eared bat, which were protected, but with special rules that created gaping loopholes for harmful industrial activities to continue, such as logging, mining and oil and gas drilling.
The dramatic increase in legislative attacks on endangered species in Congress, despite broad public support for the Endangered Species Act, provides yet another example of the degree to which unregulated campaign contributions fostered by Citizens United is perverting our democracy and leading to distressing outcomes for the environment and public health and safety. If we are to save endangered species, we must get special interest money out of politics.
By Noah Greenwald
Source Huff Post Green
From Kcet August 5, 2015 by Chris Clarke
A bobcat stakes out a gopher hole in Marin County | Photo: Len Blumin/Flickr/Creative Commons License
The California Fish and Game Commission voted 3-2 Wednesday to ban bobcat trapping everywhere in California. The vote, which took place at the Commission’s regular meeting in Fortuna, caps a controversy that started when a Joshua Tree resident found traps illegally placed on his land less than a mile from the National Park.
Concern over the threat to bobcats in Joshua Tree and elsewhere in the state prompted the California Legislature to pass AB1213, the Bobcat Protection Act of 2013, which directed the Fish and Game Commission to establish trapping-free buffer zones around national parks, wildlife preserves, and other areas where trapping is already prohibited.
After studying a pair of proposals for those buffer zones’ boundaries, the Commission voted in a narrow majority to adopt so-called “Option 2,” which essentially declared the entire state a buffer zone in which trapping is prohibited.
California bobcats had come under increasing pressure from trappers in recent years as acombination of fashion trends and illegality of other cat furs increased the global price for bobcat pelts.
“The vote today is historic and shows California’s national leadership in wildlife protection,” said Camilla Fox of the group Project Coyote, which had worked to promote both the Bobcat Protection Act and the more extensive buffer zone proposal. “This victory will help protect California’s native bobcats from the insatiable international fur market where individual bobcat pelts can sell for as much as $1,000 per pelt.”
The vote came after Fox delivered a petition with more than 30,000 signatures in favor of a total ban.
Observers had been far from certain about the outcome of Wednesday’s vote, as two of the Commissioners who voted for the statewide ban — Anthony C. Williams of Huntington Beach and Eric Sklar of St. Helena in Napa County — were attending their first meeting as Commissioners, and thus had little track record on wildlife issues. They were joined in their vote for a statewide ban by Commission president Jack Bayliss of Los Angeles.
Commissioners Jim Kellogg of Contra Costa County and Jacque Hostler-Carmesin of Humboldt County voted against the statewide ban.
Though the number of bobcat trappers in California has been steadily dwindling since the 1970s as the sport goes out of fashion, individual trappers had been taking more cats in recent years as a partial result of the boost in the potential financial gain from bobcat pelts. Trapping advocates opposed both the statewide ban and Option 1, which would have banned trapping in about half the state. The California Trappers Association had asked the Commission to delay a decision until the state’s Department of Fish and Wildlife could complete a bobcat population census, which hasn’t been done for 36 years.
Wednesday’s vote protecting all of California’s bobcats wasn’t what Tom O’Key imagined when he found a trap in 2013 that had been illegally placed in a rock pile on land he owns near the National Park in Joshua Tree. His find, reported to local media in the area, generated a firestorm of opposition to trapping. A local group, Project Bobcat, organized to support a legislative ban, and a broad coalition of groups from Project Coyote and the Center for Biological Diversity to national humane groups lent their full support.
Reached in Fortuna in the wake of the vote, O’Key admitted to KCET that he was celebrating. “I feel liberated,” he said. “I never had an inkling that it all would end up this way.”
From Wolves of Douglas County Wisconsin on July 29, 2015 by Rachel Tilseth
A CELEBRATION OF PREDATORS AND
OUR WILD NATIONAL HERITAGE
2015 Speak For Wolves Website
On August 7-9, 2015 Americans from all over the country will meet in West Yellowstone, Montana to discuss, strategize and unite in building a coalition to address the need to reform wildlife management in America. It’s time for wildlife management to integrate the science of the 21st century and the ever-changing demographics and values of our citizenry. The status quo of wildlife management in America is broken and it needs to be fixed.
Gray wolves are keystone predators that fill a crucial ecological niche across the landscape. Known throughout the scientific community as trophic cascade, wolves are apex predators whose behavior affects dozens of other species, leading to an increase in biodiversity. Soils, plant communities, other wildlife species, riparian areas and forests are all effected by the presence of wolves. Watch the video Speak For Wolves About Page
2015 EVENT LOCATION: UNION PACIFIC DINING LODGE
WEST YELLOWSTONE, MONTANA AUGUST 7-9, 2015 Location Here
A 3-day family-friendly event that will feature prominent speakers, panel discussions, live music, education booths, children’s activities, local food vendors and screening of wildlife documentaries.We hope you can join us on August 7-9, 2015 at the historic Union Pacific Dining Lodge in West Yellowstone, Montana for Speak for Wolves! 2015 Speak For Wolves Home Website
To be notified of the Speak for Wolves 2015 updates – please subscribe here.
Friday August 7
- 6:00pm doors open with music by Neil Haverstick.
- 7:00pm Screening of OR-7 the Journey with filmmaker Clemens Schenk. Amaroq Weiss of the Center for Biological Diversity will be part of the Q&A session following the film. Tickets cost $10 and can be bought online athttp://www.brownpapertickets.com/event/1634194. They can also be purchased at the door-cash only.
Saturday August 8
- 12:30pm Kim Wheeler, Executive Director of the Red Wolf Coalition, will discuss the plight of red wolves and the USFWS Red Wolf Recovery Program.
- 2:00pm activist Oliver Starr will discuss the reasons for the sharp decline in gray wolf populations in Denali National Park in Alaska and offer remedies.
- 3:00pm Brian Ertz, founder and Board President of Wildlands Defense, will discuss the failure of the controversial McKittrick Policy and why it needs to be reformed.
- 6:30pm doors open with live music by Matt Stone.
- 7:00pm Camilla Fox, founder and Executive Director of Project Coyote, will discuss current efforts to end wildlife killing contests on public and private lands. A panel discussion will follow with Amaroq Weiss, West Coast Wolf Organizer of the Center for Biological Diversity, Kevin Bixby, founder and Executive Director of the Southwest Environmental Center, and author/ecologist George Wuerthner.
The entire program on Saturday is free.
Sunday August 9
- 9:00am doors open with music by Goodshield Aguilar.
- 9:30am Mike Mease, co-founder and Board President of Buffalo Field Campaign, will discuss the continued hazing and slaughter of wild buffalo in/around Yellowstone National Park and efforts to list the species under the Endangered Species Act.
- 10:30am Louisa Willcox, wildlife advocate and long-time conservationist, will discuss the government’s ill-conceived push to remove federal protections for grizzly bears and examine the role that states play in wildlife management.
- 11:15am Interpretive dance by choreographer MaryLee Sanders.
- 11:30am Inspirational talk by Jimmy St. Goddard of Blackfeet Nation.
The entire program on Sunday is free.
Wolves of Douglas County Wisconsin is one of the proud sponsors of 2015 Speak For Wolves West Yellowstone, Montana August 7-9,
ABOUT RACHEL TILSETH
Rachel Tilseth is the founder of Wolves of Douglas County Wisconsin, a wolf advocacy site, first started in the summer of 2012 for the purpose of getting dogs out of the wolf hunt. Rachel Tilseth has been involved with WI’s Wolf Recovery Program in one way or another since 1991. Tilseth was a Volunteer WDNR Winter/Wolf tracker from 2000-2013. Rachel is an artist, blogger and educator living in the heart of wolf country in northern Wisconsin.
From takepart by
JUN 20, 2015
Samantha Cowan is TakePart’s associate culture and lifestyle editor.
Another harvest could do irreversible damage to the wolf population.
Alaska Archipelago Wolf (Photo: Facebook)
In 1994 southeast Alaska was home to about 900 Alexander Archipelago wolves. By 2013, there were fewer than 250. Last year that population plummeted 60 percent to 89 wolves. New numbers confirm that the rare breed of wolves could have dropped to as few as 50.
But the diminishing species won’t stop hunters from trapping and killing the wolves, according to the Center for Biological Diversity. The Alaska Department of Fish and Game is moving ahead with their 2015-2016 hunting and trapping season on the Prince of Wales Island, where the majority of the wolves live.
“Another open season of trapping and hunting could push these incredibly imperiled wolves over the edge,” Shaye Wolf, a biologist with the Center for Biological Diversity said in a statement.
A reported 29 wolves were killed during last years hunting season—which accounts for between 33 to 58 percent of the population. Either figure means the species is in jeopardy of being completely wiped out, especially as females were hit particularly hard this season, with only seven to 32 remaining.
So, Why Should You Care? These confirmed numbers could lead to further protections for the breed—which some scientists believe are genetically different from other wolves. The United States Fish and Wildlife Service is working to determine whether the species are considered threatened or endangered under the federal Endangered Species Act, which could put the kibosh on hunting the animals and protect their habitat.
Such protections would impact the timber industry that logs in their range in the Tongass National Forest. The Center for Biological Diversity filed suit in 2009 to save roadless areas of the Tongass.
But the biggest threat to wolves currently is hunters, which makes the forgoing this year’s harvest seem like a no-brainer.
“To maintain a viable population of Alexander Archipelago wolves on this island, Alaska must cancel the season,” said Wolfe. “We won’t get a second chance to preserve these amazing animals.”
Correction June 22, 2015:
An earlier version of this article stated incorrectly that the population of the Alaskan Archipelgo wolf has declined. It is its subspecies living on Prince of Wales Island that has declined.
Petition: Stop Slaughtering Wolves for Fossil Fuel and Logging Greed!