World has lost more than half its wildlife in last 40 years

London (CNN) — The world’s animal population has halved in 40 years as humans put unsustainable demands on Earth, a new report warns.

The World Wide Fund for Nature’s Living Planet Index, released Tuesday, revealed the dramatic decline in animal species, and said the trend could cost the world billions in economic losses.

Humans need one and a half earths to sustain their current demands, it said.
The index, which draws on research around WWF’s database of 3,000 animal species, is released every two years. This year’s has the starkest warning yet of the risks associated with the decline of wildlife.

The index showed shows a 52% decline in wildlife between 1970 and 2010, far more than earlier estimates of 30%. It is due to people killing too many animals for food and destroying their habitats.
“We are eating into our natural capital, making it more difficult to sustain the needs of future generations,” the report said.  Researchers from the Zoological Society of London looked at changes in populations of more than 3,000 species of mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians and fish, tracking over 10,000 different populations.

The decline in animals living in rivers, lakes and wetlands is the worst — 76% of freshwater wildlife disappeared in just 40 years. Marine species and animals living on land suffered 39% decline in their populations.

Animals living in tropics are the worst hit by what WWF calls “the biggest recorded threats to our planet’s wildlife” as 63% of wildlife living in tropics has vanished. Central and South America shows the most dramatic regional decline, with a fall of 83%.
And while the animals are suffering now, the long-term impact will be on people, the report said.

Marco Lambertini, director general of WWF International, said “protecting nature is not a luxury….it is quite the opposite. For many of the world’s poorest people, it is a lifeline.”
According to Lambertini, the threat to oceans could create economic losses of up to $428 billion by 2050. The global fishing sector employs more than 660 million people, and fish provide more than 15% of protein in people’s diet.

Global food security is under threat as the demands of growing population drain the resources. Forests provide water, fuel and food for more than billion people, including 350 million of the world’s poorest people.

See complete article with graphics here.

Myth: Trapping is humane and selective

Despite what trappers would have you believe, animals frequently sustain severe injuries from being trapped. When not killed outright by the trap, animals can suffer physiological trauma, dehydration, exposure to severe weather, and predation by other animals until the trapper returns – which can be days or even weeks between trap checks. When the trapper returns he usually clubs, suffocates or strangles the animal to death. Fur trappers rarely shoot trapped animals because bullet holes and blood reduce a pelt’s value.

Traps set in or near water are designed to drown aquatic mammals, which can take up to 20 minutes for some species. The American Veterinary Medical Association deems drowning to be inhumane and a 1999 study concluded “drowning cannot be considered euthanasia.”

Most traps are notoriously indiscriminate, capturing almost any animal that triggers them. Sometimes called “trash” animals by trappers, non-target species that have been found in traps include threatened and endangered species, raptors, DOMESTIC DOGS and CATS, and even HUMANS. These animals can sustain the same injuries as target species. Even if released, they may perish later from internal injuries or reduced ability to hunt or forage for food.

The most commonly used trap in the U.S. is the steel-jaw leghold trap, a restraining trap with spring-loaded steel jaws that clamp on an animal’s foot or leg when triggered. Leghold traps can cause severe swelling, lacerations, joint dislocations, fractures, damage to teeth and gums, self-mutilation, limb amputation, and often a slow, painful death. The steel-jaw leghold trap has been declared inhumane by the American Veterinary Medical Association, the American Animal Hospital Association, and the National Animal Control Association, and has been banned or severely restricted by more than 80 countries and 8 U.S. states.

Dick Randall, a former federal trapper, told Congress, “My trapping records show that for each target animal I trapped, about two unwanted individuals were caught. Because of trap injuries, these nontarget animals had to be destroyed.” Nontarget animals – including pets – comprised 76% of all animals captured in leghold traps in a 1981 study.

Historically, poorly regulated trapping almost wiped out beaver, sea otter, lynx, wolverine, cougar and other species in many areas of the U.S. Today, some state wildlife management agencies continue to allow the trapping of highly sensitive species, including wolverine, fisher, marten, kit fox, and lynx. For example, while the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) considered listing the Canada lynx under the Endangered Species Act, Montana continued to allow lynx to be commercially trapped — even when a 1999 U.S. Forest Service report concluded, “Lynx appear to be extremely susceptible to trapping, and where trapping is permitted it can be (and has been) a significant source of mortality.” Unfortunately, because population modeling and furbearer data collection are so poor in many states, we do not know the impact trapping has on sensitive species — often until it is too late.

Bears and wolves find a voice in the wilderness

By Kathleen Parker Opinion writer for the Washington Post:

If politicians preying upon your attentions this season fail to inspire, you might seek common cause with the beasts — the four-legged variety rather than those running for office.

Ballot initiatives aimed at protecting bears and wolves from hounding, trapping and other inhumane hunting practices are up for a vote in two states — Maine and Michigan.

Oh, be still thy twitching trigger finger. This isn’t an anti-hunting column; it’s a pro-humanity column. Ours. And the referendums, driven by the Humane Society of the United States, are aimed only at minimizing animal suffering and restoring a measure of decency and fair play in our dealings with creatures.

First the bears. Maine is the only state that still allows bear baiting, hounding and trapping. More than half of the 32 states with legal bear hunting allow hounding, a dozen allow baiting, and only Maine allows trapping for sport.

For clarification, hounding refers to the use of dogs that have been trained to chase bears relentlessly and then to corner or fight the poor beast. The bears have no choice but to turn to face a murderous pack or, exhausted, escape up a tree.

That’s when the hunter, who, thanks to electronic tracking equipment, has been able to follow at a leisurely pace and safe distance, points his rifle and shoots the bear from a tree limb. Frances Macomber, the cowardly hunter of Hemingway’s short, unhappy story, looks like a Maasai warrior by comparison.

Baiting means that a hunting guide strews rotting food in the woods and places a 55-gallon drum filled with jelly doughnuts, pizza, grease, fish guts and rotting beaver carcasses in a target spot. The “hunter,” who likely has paid a fee to the “guide” for a “guaranteed kill,” is provided a comfy seat to wait for the bear. Bam!

It’s ironic — or something — that the same state fish and wildlife agency folks who post signs warning tourists not to feed the bears will allow other tourists to feed them for about $2,000 to $4,000 a pop. New signage might read: Kill what you feed.

More… HERE for full story.

Body-gripping traps: cruel & indiscriminate

Body-gripping traps are indiscriminate. Many companion dogs and cats have been caught, maimed or killed in these dreadful devices, and even with the help of frantic humans, they have died in shock and pain because these traps are nearly impossible to open without the correct key device to release the locking mechanism. These traps can and often do catch non-target wildlife species of no value to fur trappers, including birds and even rare and endangered animals. In Nevada, trappers are allowed to set such traps next to and even on trails used by hikers and hunters….and their dogs!   And there is no set-back distance from communities (see our Testimonials section and you’ll see a recent example of a dog trapped just 50 yards from a housing development in the Reno city limits.)

We define “body-gripping traps” as leghold traps; neck snares; leg or foot snares; and Conibear and other traps designed to instantly kill by crushing the neck or torso of the animal. Some such devices may kill instantly but more often the victims suffer severe physical injury, psychological trauma, thirst, hypothermia, frost bite and predation.

Trappers have designed a class of “quick-kill” traps that supposedly kill instantly by slamming shut on an animal’s body, crushing vital organs. Like all traps, they don’t always work as planned, often with horrific results. The animal may enter a “quick-kill” trap the wrong way, and is partly crushed, and dies slowly. Snow and ice conditions can prevent proper closure. Aquatic mammals, like beavers, reflexively close off their air passages when submerged, and slowly suffocate while frantically trying to reach the surface, dying in terror without actually drowning.  A beaver can take 20 minutes to die in such a “quick kill” trap.

Hunting: Choose fair chase, not trapping

Hunting season is approaching, and, although I no longer hunt, I still feel the stirrings of the primordial urge to go out and bring wild game back to my cave. Through the years, most of my friends have also been hunters. Barring a very few bad apples, they all share with me the dedication to “fair chase” when it comes to bagging a deer or elk.

Central to the fair chase is being sure that one makes a clean, humane kill. Ideally, the animal “didn’t know what hit him.“ Wounding an animal and having to track it down to finish it off is deeply regretted, not just because of the extra time and effort it takes, but because of the hunter’s remorse that he has caused the animal unnecessary pain and suffering. I believe Fish, Wildlife and Parks even has regulations requiring a hunter to make every effort to not allow a wounded animal to escape and die a slow, painful death.

And yet, there is a “sport” in which an integral part of the activity involves causing an animal great physical pain and emotional trauma, even under the most ideal conditions. This sport is called trapping and, far from being condemned by the FWP as one would expect of such a cruel, inhumane activity, it is condoned, licensed, and they are now offering classes.

Any hunter who believes in fair chase should denounce the whole idea of trapping, and should demand that it be prohibited. It not only is unnecessary (fur bearers for the most part do not need to have their numbers held in check as herds of deer or elk do) but, by association, it gives a black eye to legitimate hunting.

John Ohrmann, Drummond

(published in the Missoulian, Oct. 2012)

[ed note: NRWM is not arguing for the abolishment of trapping, but reasonable and human regulation.]

Wildlife Conservation & Management Funding in the U.S.

Wildlife Conservation & Management Funding in the U.S.

By Mark E. Smith and Donald A. Molde

October 2014


The authors present a novel approach to help answer the question “Who really pays for wildlife in the U.S?” Using public information about budgets of various conservation, wildlife advocacy, and land management agencies and non-profit organizations, published studies and educated assumptions regarding sources of Pittman-Robertson Act and Dingle-Johnson Act federal excise monies from the sale of sporting equipment, the authors contend that approximately 95% of federal, 88% of non-profit, and 94% of total funding for wildlife conservation and management come from the non-hunting public. The authors further contend that a proper understanding and accurate public perception of this funding question is a necessary next step in furthering the current debate as to whether and how much influence the general public should have at the wildlife policy-making level, particularly within state wildlife agencies.

Read the full paper here.

Who supports better regulation of trapping?

In supporting better regulation of trapping we are in good company. A 1978 national survey conducted for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service by Yale University showed that 78% of respondents opposed the use of steel-jawed leghold traps.  A 1996 poll by the Animal Welfare Institute had similar results, with 74% of Americans opposed to leghold traps.  The American Veterinarian Association, the American Animal Hospital Association, the World Veterinary Association, and the National Animal Control Association all agree that leghold traps are inhumane.   Nevada has the 3rd longest visitation period in the nation, at 96 hours, and 50% of Nevada trappers admit to not visiting their traps this often.   That makes the paid and suffering by leg hold traps far worse than it needs to be.

Trapping apologists will often try to suggest that fears expressed about the cruelty of trapping are exaggerated and unfounded, and generally expressed only by a fringe group of fanatical animal-rights extremists. It can be important to counter that argument by citing diverse critics of such traps – including many hunters and other traditional outdoor enthusiasts as well as professional wildlife managers.  In seeking better regulation of trapping, for example, being able to demonstrate a wide range of opinion from various sources in overall general agreement that these traps are inhumane can be helpful as a tactic in rebutting the contention that only a few extremists are concerned about the traps being cruel.


 May 11, 2014 

Laura Bies, Director of Government Affairs

The Wildlife Society

5410 Grosvenor Lane, Suite 200

Bethesda, Maryland  20814-2144 

Regarding:  TWS publication:  FERAL HORSES:  GET THE FACTS 

Dear Ms Bies 

Recently, a friend sent me your above-referenced 4-page article which I’d not seen before.  Though there is no date or authorship designated, it appears that the piece was probably issued within the past 3-4 years. 

Though the Wildlife Society touts its members professional credentials early on as the authority on this matter, claiming as an organization to purse the “highest standards” and be “committed to science-based policy”, it struck me as odd that TWS used the term, “Feral” in the title instead of “Wild Horse” which is, of course,  the legal designation for many of the horses living full-time on public lands in the West. continue reading

New study shows wildlife population numbers plummet far worse than previously thought

GENEVA (AP) — About 3,000 species of wildlife around the world have seen their numbers plummet far worse than previously thought, according to a new study by one of the world’s biggest environmental groups.

The study Tuesday from the Swiss-based WWF largely blamed human threats to nature for a 52 percent decline in wildlife populations between 1970 and 2010.

It says improved methods of measuring populations of fish, birds, mammals, amphibians and reptiles explain the huge difference from the 28-percent decline between 1970 and 2008 that the group reported in 2012.

Most of the new losses were found in tropical regions, particularly Latin America.

WWF describes the study it has carried out every two years since 1998 as a barometer of the state of the planet.

“There is no room for complacency,” said WWF International Director General Marco Lambertini, calling for a greater focus on sustainable solutions to the impact people are inflicting on nature, particularly through the release of greenhouse gases.

The latest “Living Planet” study analyzed data from about 10,000 populations of 3,038 vertebrate species from a database maintained by the Zoological Society of London. It is meant to provide a representative sampling of the overall wildlife population in the world, said WWF’s Richard McLellan, editor-in-chief of the study.

It reflects populations since 1970, the first year the London-based society had comprehensive data. Each study is based on data from at least four years earlier.

Much of the world’s wildlife has disappeared in what have been called five mass extinctions, which were often associated with giant meteor strikes. About 90 percent of the world’s species were wiped out around 252 million years ago. One such extinction about 66 million years ago killed off the dinosaurs and three out of four species on Earth.

In the new WWF study, hunting and fishing along with continued losses and deterioration of natural habitats are identified as the chief threats to wildlife populations around the world. Other primary factors are global warming, invasive species, pollution and disease.

“This damage is not inevitable but a consequence of the way we choose to live,” said Ken Norris, science director at the London society. “There is still hope. Protecting nature needs focused conservation action, political will and support from industry.”

Reno’s Animal Ark: Oct. 12th Last Chance Cheetah Dash

As leaves begin to change and weather turns brisk, Animal Ark starts to wind down for the end of our 2014 season. The Last Chance Cheetah Dash is upon us, only a week away on Oct. 12! This will be the last public run of the year, not returning until our open season of 2015. Don’t miss out!

Make reservations today by visiting here or by calling 1-775-970-3111.