Archive for the ‘Humane Society of the United States’ Tag

Budget Bill Won’t Have Wolf Management Returning To Minnesota   Leave a comment

December 16, 2015

(credit: Jupiter Images)

(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

 

 

Park service won’t meet Peters’ deadline for wolf plan   1 comment

GRAY WOLF

(Photo: Dawn Villella / AP)

The National Park Service has told U.S. Sen. Gary Peters it will not meet the one-year deadline he sought for a plan to save wolves and moose on Isle Royale.

The island’s wolves are nearly extinct, too inbred and weak. Without predators, the moose population is exploding; they are overbrowsing. Checks and balances are no longer working, experts say.

The latest research showed just three wolves remain on the island, and one was not expected to survive. There are an estimated 1,250 moose, up from about 500 in 2009.

In a public letter to the park service’s chief, Peters, D-Mich., asked to speed up the process, completing it by July 1, 2016. The park service told Peters it would take two years to come up with a plan.

Cam Sholly, the park service’s Midwest director, met with Peters in Washington, D.C., and Peters visited the island two weeks ago, a parks official said. Wayne Pacelle, president and chief executive of the Humane Society of the United States, was also present.

“Senator Peters is glad that NPS is developing a plan, but he remains concerned that NPS will not have a plan in place before next spring, when researchers predict it is possible there will no longer be any wolves on the island,” said Allison Green, Peters’ press secretary.

Isle Royale Superintendent Phyllis Green said the park service is already “moving along in a streamlined fashion.”

“It is a pretty fast timeline for an issue that has some complexity,” Green added.

In a May 29 letter, Peters said, “Replenishing the current Isle Royale wolf pack should be strongly considered, especially as an emergency measure if the process takes longer than 12 months.” The letter was also signed by U.S. Sen. Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich.

A public comment period on how to handle the problem ends Saturday.

One proposal from the the park service calls for the “genetic rescue” of existing wolves by bringing new wolves on the island to create a stronger species by breeding.

A leading island researcher said it is already too late. He also called one park service option of culling moose to keep their numbers in check logistically “silly.”

“Those wolves have been doing so poorly that genetic rescue is not even a possibility,” said John Vucetich, of Michigan Technological University. “Culling? I really — how do I say it politely — it is really the most silly, ridiculous idea you can even consider.”

For comparison, the western Upper Peninsula has 323 moose on 3,864 square miles, the state Department of Natural Resources says. The island is about 210 square miles.

Jack Parker guides hikers on the island. “In 15 years, I have only not seen a moose once,” said Carter, 62, of Kalkaska.

Activists are already gearing up. They say hundreds of comments submitted before the public-input window opened in late July are being ignored.

“The people who wrote care deeply and support the wilderness qualities of Isle Royale, yet their comments will be totally disregarded,” said Nancy Warren, a leading wolf preservationist from Ewen in Ontonagon County.

Warren said she obtained nearly 1,100 such comments through the Freedom of Information Act. Seventy-five percent called for “genetic rescue,” she said.

Source

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Reward Increased to $20,000 in Killing of Endangered Wolf in Washington   Leave a comment

From:  Center for Biological Diversity

Dec. 23, 2014

SEATTLEConservation groups are now offering up to a $20,000 reward for information leading to conviction of those responsible for the illegal killing of the breeding female wolf of the Teanaway pack in Washington’s Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest. Last month the groups posted a reward offer of up to $15,000, but have now increased the amount, after a member of Conservation Northwest stepped forward to contribute an additional $5,000.

Teanaway Pack wolf

Photo of a member of the Teanaway pack courtesy Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife. This photo is available for media use.

“This new donation to help bring the Teanaway wolf poacher to justice shows how passionate Washingtonians are about protecting our rare and recovering wildlife,” said Jasmine Minbashian of Conservation Northwest. “There is strong support for wolf recovery in Washington, and people are appalled by this type of illegal killing. We’re thrilled to see our supporters stepping up like this, they make our work possible.”

The Teanaway Pack wolf was killed in mid-October near Salmon la Sac in the Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest, making it the fourth known illegal wolf-killing in the state in 2014. In February a member of the Smackout Pack was found killed in Stevens County; in August a wolf was found gunned down in Ferry County; and a Whitman County farmer is facing potential prosecution after chasing a wolf for miles, then gunning it down after seeing the wolf near his field.

“It’s hard to comprehend these senseless illegal killings, because not only are wolves legally protected, there is no evidence these wolves were doing anything harmful at the time of their deaths,” said Amaroq Weiss, West Coast wolf organizer for the Center for Biological Diversity. “What’s more, if anyone thinks they were helping out livestock producers by killing wolves, the exact opposite is true; a brand new study published by a Washington State University wolf scientist demonstrates that killing wolves can increase wolf-livestock conflicts.”

Wolves, which were largely eradicated from the state by the early-to-mid 1900s, are starting to make a comeback, and are fully protected under the federal Endangered Species Act in the western two-thirds of Washington and throughout the state under state endangered species law. The state wolf-conservation goal is a minimum of 15 successful breeding pairs for three consecutive years in three recovery regions across the state from eastern Washington to the Olympic Peninsula. To date, numbers of successful breeding packs in the state have been stagnant at five packs since 2012.  However, in 2014 three of those packs will no longer qualify as successful breeders since the breeding females of the Huckleberry Pack and the Teanaway Packhave both been killed and a wildfire resulted in the loss of most pups from the Lookout Pack.

“This deplorable action should not be left unchecked. Washington’s wolf population remains precarious, and killing the breeding alpha female of the Teanaway pack has cascading consequences for continued wolf recovery in Washington,” said Shawn Cantrell, Northwest regional director for Defenders of Wildlife. “This reward will hopefully help law enforcement bring the perpetrator to justice.”

According to Special Agent Eric Marek with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Office of Law Enforcement, the investigation is still open and ongoing. Anyone with information about the killing of the Teanaway female wolf, or anyone who may have noticed suspicious behavior in the Salmon la Sac area in October, should contact federal law-enforcement agents at (206) 512-9329 or (509) 727-8358. State law enforcement may be contacted at the 1-877-933-9847 hotline for reporting poaching activity in Washington.

The organizations that have contributed to the reward fund for information leading to a conviction in this case include the Center for Biological Diversity, Conservation Northwest, Defenders of Wildlife, The Humane Society of the United States, The Humane Society Wildlife Land Trust and Woodland Park Zoo.

 

Federal Court: Great Lakes Wolf Hunting Ends Now   Leave a comment

From:  The Humane Society of the United States

Dec. 19, 2014 by Kaitlin Sanderson: 240-672-8397; ksanderson@humanesociety.org

Sport Hunting and Trapping of Wolves is Over

Sport hunting and trapping of wolves in the Great Lakes region must end immediately, a federal District Court has ruled. The court overturned a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service decision that removed Endangered Species Act protections for gray wolves living in the western Great Lakes region, which includes Michigan, Minnesota, and Wisconsin.

The Humane Society of the United States and a coalition of wildlife protection groups, including Born Free USA, Help Our Wolves Live and Friends of Animals and Their Environment, filed suit against the USFWS’s premature December 2011 delisting decision. The decision threatened the fragile remnants of the gray wolf population by confining wolves to a small area in the Great Lakes region—where state politicians and agency officials have rushed forward with reckless killing programs that threaten wolves with the very same practices that pushed them to the brink of extinction in the first place.

Jonathan Lovvorn, senior vice president and chief counsel for animal protection litigation at The HSUS, said, “In the short time since federal protections have been removed, trophy hunters and trappers have killed more than 1,500 Great Lakes wolves under hostile state management programs that encourage dramatic reductions in wolf populations. We are pleased that the court has recognized that the basis for the delisting decision was flawed, and would stop wolf recovery in its tracks.”

In its 111-page ruling, the court chided the USFWS for failing to explain why it ignored the potential for further recovery of wolves into areas of its historic range that remain viable habitat for the species.  The court also noted that the USFWS has failed to explain how the “virtually unregulated” killing of wolves by states in the Great Lakes region does not constitute a continued threat to the species.

Following federal delisting, Wisconsin and Minnesota rushed to enact emergency regulations to allow the first public hunting and trapping seasons in the Great Lakes region in more than 40 years. The states authorized some of the most abusive and unsporting practices, including hound hunting, snares, baiting, electronic calls and the use of leg hold traps. Wisconsin’s wolf hunt ended this year after killing 154 wolves – 80 percent of them in leghold traps. And in Minnesota, 272 gray wolves were killed – 84 percent of the wolves in this year’s late season were trapped.

The Michigan legislature also passed three separate laws to designate wolves as a game species, in its zeal to allow the state to authorize a trophy hunting and trapping season for wolves, and to undermine a fair election by Michigan voters on wolf hunting. However, in response to a referendum campaign launched by The HSUS and other animal welfare and conservation groups and Native American tribes, the 2014 wolf hunt was canceled and voters in Michigan soundly rejected sport hunting of wolves in the recent November election.

Despite rhetoric from state politicians about wolf depredation of livestock, a new study of 25 years of wolf data has shown that hunting wolves may increase livestock losses.  Michigan lawmakers relied on false stories about wolves to push through a hunting season, and had to apologize for misleading statements.

Today’s ruling by the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia follows another ruling by the same court in September that rejected the USFWS’s decision to delist wolves in the State of Wyoming. The HSUS was also a plaintiff in the Wyoming litigation.

The plaintiffs in the Great Lakes lawsuit were represented in the case by Schiff Hardin, LLP and attorneys within The HSUS’ Animal Protection Litigation section.

 

Michigan voters reject wolf hunting laws   Leave a comment

From: Center for Biological Diversity

MLive.com, November 5, 2014

By Jonathan Oosting

LANSING, MI — Wolf hunting opponents declared victory Tuesday night in Michigan, where voters rejected two separate laws that paved the way for an inaugural season last year.

While the victory was decisive, the impact remains unclear.

A third wolf hunting law set to take effect in March or April will reaffirm the authority of the Natural Resource Commission to name game species and establish hunting seasons.

With 93 percent of precincts reporting,Michigan Proposal 1 was headed for defeat, with 55 percent of voters choosing to reject the first wolf hunting law. Proposal 2 was on its way down as well, with 64 percent of voters saying “no” to the second wolf hunting law.

Keep Michigan Wolves Protected, a group funded primarily by the Humane Society of the United States, has vowed to fight the third wolf hunting law in court.

In an email to supporters late Wednesday, campaign director Jill Fritz also called on the Legislature and NRC to honor the outcome of the vote.

“The people of Michigan don’t want the NRC setting a wolf hunting season, and they don’t want to give the NRC the authority to open new hunting seasons on protected species,” Fritz said. “And the NRC should honor the judgment rendered by voters come 2015.”

The Michigan Department of Natural Resources recommended the state’s first ever wolf hunt last year with the aim of reducing attacks on livestock and discouraging comfort around humans.

There are an estimated 636 grey wolves in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, up from just six in the 1970s. Hunting groups say the NRC, not voters, should decide how best to manage the population.

 

© 2014 MLive Media Group.

This article originally appeared here.

USDA Announces Landmark Rule to Crack Down on Online Puppy Mills   42 comments

USDA Announces Landmark Rule to Crack Down on Online Puppy Mills.

September 10, 2013

USDA Announces Landmark Rule to Crack Down on Online Puppy Mills

Tens of thousands of dogs suffering in substandard, filthy, and overcrowded cages for years on end will finally get the protection they deserve as a result of a rule the U.S. Department of Agriculture will formally adopt today. This change, a long-held aspiration for The HSUS, the Humane Society Legislative Fund, and the Doris Day Animal League, is decades in the making and will extend federal oversight to thousands of puppy mills that do business online.

Of the dozens of puppy mills that The HSUS has assisted in closing down over the past five years, the vast majority were selling puppies online and escaping any federal oversight because a loophole in federal Animal Welfare Act regulations exempts Internet sellers. Because large-scale dog breeders who sell animals to pet stores are regulated, but breeders who sell directly to the public are not, there has been a massive migration of breeders to the latter sales strategy within the last decade or so. If they could sell dogs and escape any federal oversight, why not get in on that act and continue to cut corners on animal care?

Ricky Bobby
Meredith Lee/The HSUS
Ricky Bobby was among 58 dogs The HSUS rescued
from a North Carolina puppy mill in February 2013.
The operator was selling puppies over the Internet.

The HSUS, HSLF, and DDAL pointed out that it was fundamentally unfair that people involved in the same underlying business enterprise (breeding dogs to sell for profit) would face entirely different regulatory standards. It was a circumstance ripe for fraud and misrepresentation. Internet sellers of puppies often displayed images of puppies frolicking in open fields. In reality, the dogs were languishing, crammed inside feces-encrusted cages, receiving no protection from the elements and no veterinary care whatever. And until the legal standard was modified, the federal government couldn’t take action because none of these mills required federal licensing and inspection.

Due to pressure from The HSUS and DDAL, the USDA’s inspector general looked into enforcement of the rules governing dog breeding, finding appalling abuses of the dogs, deficient exercise of authority by USDA where it had authority, and identification of this glaring gap in the law that allowed Internet sellers to evade any federal oversight whatever. It was that OIG report, combined with our advocacy efforts in Congress and with the Obama administration that finally compelled federal action.

We thank the Obama administration and the USDA for bringing new standards of care to thousands of puppies, but also to kittens, rabbits and other warm-blooded animals who are often raised in inhumane facilities and sold as pets over the Internet, by mail or by phone, sight-unseen.

The HSUS and HSLF called on supporters to act in 2011, and 32,000 people signed a petition urging the Obama administration to crack down on unregulated puppy mills. When the USDA proposed an actual change in its regulations in 2012, HSUS members and other animal advocates generated 350,000 public signatures and comments in support.

There has been strong bipartisan support in Congress for closing the “Internet loophole” in the Animal Welfare Act regulations. Federal legislation, S. 395 and H.R. 847 – known as the PUPS Act, or “Puppy Uniform Protection and Safety Act” – sponsored by Sens. Dick Durbin, D-Ill. and David Vitter, R-La., and Reps. Jim Gerlach, R-Pa., Sam Farr, D-Calif., Bill Young, R-Fla., and Lois Capps, D-Calif., galvanized members of Congress in support of efforts to finalize and implement the rule.

Puppy mills aren’t going away overnight, and it’s still important for any potential puppy buyer to meet the breeder in person at his or her facility to see how and where a puppy was born and raised. But this rule has the potential to allow federal inspectors to peer behind the closed doors of puppy mills and improve the lives of tens of thousands of animals. That is a change worth celebrating, and we thank our supporters, the USDA, and our allies in Congress for supporting this significant step.

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