Feeding Russia’s and China’s Fur Fixation

American trappers make a killing with bobcat pelts

from Takepart, by Taylor Hill, April 16, 2015

International trade is fueling California’s bobcat fur demand, but pressure from conservation and citizen groups is pushing the state to look at an all-out prohibition on commercial bobcat trapping. The act came about after it was discovered that trappers were ambushing bobcats on private land and in areas just outside Joshua Tree National Park. The public outcry played a role in pressuring the state to move quickly on the issue.

But as things often go in politics, by the time Gov. Jerry Brown signed the bill, it had been workshopped into an amended semi-ban on bobcat trapping—creating no-trapping zones around national parks and wildlife refuges but allowing it elsewhere. In other words, the trapping problem near Joshua Tree had been solved, but much of the rest of the state was still fair game.

That’s allowed commercial trappers to keep making a pretty penny selling pelts overseas, thanks in part to growing demand in China and Russia. Today, bobcat pelts are fetching between $200 to $600 for just one clean, white belly fur hide—quite an increase from the $78 a bobcat pelt fetched as recently as 2009.

Those rising pelt prices fueled a 50 percent increase in California bobcats killed in 2012 compared with the previous year, resulting in 1,813 bobcats taken from the wild.

Now only a year and a half after the passage of the bill, wildlife officials are once again getting an earful from the public, with conservation groups and citizens calling for the full ban to be instated—and an end to the pelt trade for one of the last U.S.-based species of wildcat still for sale on the international market.

At a state Fish and Game Commission meeting last week, officials reviewed their options and heard from the public on the bill: Around 40 people spoke in support of a total ban, with only four members speaking against it.

“Right now, the fate of bobcats is tied to the rise and fall of its fur prices in the international market, instead of a science-based plan,” said Brendan Cummings, senior counsel for the conservation group Center for Biological Diversity.

Click HERE for original and complete article.

$14 Million donated to Wildlife Conservation – so animals can be trapped?

April 16, 2015

from The Assoc for the Protection of Fur-Bearing Animals

The website is full of beautiful images: moose, owls, endangered species and traditional landscapes. Their conservation work is impressive, protecting various habitats and affecting policy. The problem? They’re not entirely up front.

The Canadian Wildlife Federation, a national organization that took in some $14,000,000 in donations last year, is affiliated with groups dedicated to promoting hunting, fishing and trapping. But to look at their website, annual reports or even their organizational description, one would have no idea of these associations.

In fact, the only way to know is if one explores their Board and Affiliates page, which is buried in a 2008-09 report, and sees the list of affiliates, which includes:

–Alberta Fish and Game Association
–B.C. Wildlife Federation
–Fédération québécoise des chasseurs et pêcheurs
–Manitoba Wildlife Federation
–New Brunswick Wildlife Federation
–Newfoundland and Labrador Wildlife Federation
–Northwest Territories Wildlife Federation
–Nova Scotia Federation of Anglers and Hunters
–Ontario Federation of Anglers and Hunters
–Prince Edward Island Wildlife Federation
–Saskatchewan Wildlife Federation
–Yukon Fish and Game Association

All are groups that focus on the preservation of “resources” for “recreational” or “mixed-use.” Which translates to hunting, fishing and trapping. As we’ve already stated, they’ve done impressive conservation work. But the devil is in the details – and those details are hidden deep down.  We know that many people donate to the Canadian Wildlife Federation because they believe in their work. And we won’t tell these people not to donate to whomever they choose. But we do want people to understand, fully, what they’re donating to. We want people to be assured that the organizations they’re supporting have policy statements or values that reflect their own.

Please note that the CWF is not the only conservation organization with these types of ties – there are many out there. We want people to ask questions – and find the truth. Don’t let non-profits take advantage of your love for animals.

Click HERE for original article.

N. Dakota Game & Fish cancels bighorn sheep season

Associated Press, March 5, 2015

BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) – North Dakota will not have a bighorn sheep hunting season this year for the first time in more than three decades.

The state Game and Fish Department is making the move because of the deaths of dozens of sheep last year in the western Badlands due to bacterial pneumonia in the herd. Many of them were mature rams, according to Jeb Williams, the agency’s wildlife chief.

Most of the sheep had been transplanted from Alberta, Canada, about a year ago. State wildlife officials said the wild sheep likely were infected by domestic sheep, though sheep ranchers questioned that theory.

The last time North Dakota did not have a bighorn sheep hunting season was 1983.

“The summer 2015 (bighorn population) survey will provide more information as to when Game and Fish may be able to re-establish a sheep season,” Williams said.

Bighorn sheep licenses are once-in-a-lifetime licenses in North Dakota – meaning hunters who get a license cannot get another one even if they fail to bag a sheep. One license is given out every year through an auction to raise money for sheep management, and the rest are given out through a lottery drawing. All five hunters who got a bighorn license last year bagged a ram.

Moose and elk licenses also are once-in-a-lifetime licenses in North Dakota. Both of those hunting seasons will have more licenses available this year than in 2014. Game and Fish said 301 elk licenses will be made available, up 40, and there will be 131 moose licenses, up 20.

Read more: http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2015/mar/4/north-dakota-game-and-fish-cancels-bighorn-sheep-s/#ixzz3blWAK4Dn
Follow us: @washtimes on Twitter

Click HERE for the original article

Hey, Wildlife Services – what did you kill?

by Ben Goldfarb, June 11, 2014

Earlier this month, Wildlife Services, the U.S. Department of Agriculture division responsible for animal control, released data indicating that it killed over four million creatures in 2013 — a million more than it did the previous year. The agency, whose stated mission is to provide “leadership and expertise to resolve wildlife conflicts,” undertakes plenty of non-lethal management, too: It dispersed nearly 18 million animals in 2013, shooting fish-stealing sea lions with rubber bullets and firing paintballs at bald eagles nesting near airports. Yet it was the hefty death toll that grabbed headlines — and outraged conservation groups like the Center for Biological Diversity, which called the agency’s work “a staggering killing campaign, bankrolled by taxpayers.”

Wildlife Services spokespeople say that all lethal control efforts, from putting down raccoons to prevent the spread of rabies to controlling expanding wolf populations, are based in sound science. But the agency’s 665-page information dump provides little context for individual killings. That’s not out of character for Wildlife Services, which Rep. Peter DeFazio (D-OR) has called “one of the most opaque and obstinate departments I’ve dealt with.” Fear not: High Country News has sifted through the report to help our readers make sense of the slaughter. Scroll through the below interactive infographic to experience a year in Wildlife Services’ campaign of lethal control.

Click HERE for the Infographics and the original article

USDA’s secret war on wildlife

from Predator Defense

In “EXPOSED” you’ll see three former federal agents and a prominent Congressman blow the whistle on the USDA’s barbaric and wasteful Wildlife Services program and expose the government’s secret war on wildlife. Watch film.  Jane Goodall has given “EXPOSED” a rave review and said she wants millions to see it. It also won Best Short at the 2015 Animal Film Festival and Best Wildlife Activism at the 2014 Wildlife Conservation Film Festival, the premier wildlife film festival in N. America.

About the Film

An agency within the USDA called Wildlife Services—a misnamed entity if there ever was one—has been having their way for almost a century, killing millions of wild animals a year, as well as maiming, poisoning, and brutalizing countless pets. They have also seriously harmed more than a few humans. And they apparently think they are going to continue getting away with it.

But in our new documentary, EXPOSED: USDA’s Secret War on Wildlife, whistle-blowers go on the record showing Wildlife Services for what it really is—an unaccountable, out-of-control, wildlife killing machine that acts at the bidding of corporate agriculture and the hunting lobby, all with taxpayer dollars.

Our call for reforming this rogue agency is getting serious attention. A teaser of EXPOSED was featured on CNN Headline News and is slated for an upcoming special segment. We’re also working to get a CBS “60 Minutes” exposé.

In 2015 we are kicking off a nationwide film screening tour. Whistleblower Rex Shaddox will attend some of our screenings and we hope to have other speakers tour with us if we can raise enough funds.

Click HERE for the complete, original article.

Our federal government killed 3 million animals last year

by Laura Dattaro, April 14, 2015

When the US government spends money on wildlife, it’s usually to protect it. But there’s also an agency tasked with killing wild animals — and last year it took out nearly three million of them.  Wildlife Services, which operates under the US Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS), is tasked with responding to conflicts between humans and wildlife and to manage invasive populations.

But critics say the agency’s methods are crude and not in line with the latest conservation science.  “The whole approach of just getting rid of the perceived problem by killing it is something that this agency has been doing for well over 100 years,” Bradley Bergstrom, a biologist at Valdosta State University, told VICE News.

In 2014, Wildlife Services killed more than 2.7 million animals, 1.3 million of which were native, noninvasive species. They included 570 black bears, 322 gray wolves, 61,702 coyotes, 2,930 foxes, and 305 mountain lions. The agency also killed three bald eagles and five golden eagles using methods like cyanide capsules, neck snares, and foot traps. Accidental kills are a frequent byproduct of the agency’s methods. Of the 454 river otters killed, for example, 390 were unintentional, likely during attempts to kill beavers, which can flood property with their dams……

Click HERE for complete article.

Humans have changed the planet

Here’s how we design for that now

by Helen Walters

For most of us, the job of taking care of the planet is very definitely the responsibility of Someone Else. We might have thoughts, we might have standards, we might even have a composting habit, but we more than likely hope and expect that the trained professionals have got this under control. One problem, of course, is that those who are trained to look after the world often come from many different disciplines; they might be working on the same problem simultaneously from two very different points of view that clash.

That has to change, says landscape architect and TED Fellow Bradley Cantrell in this epic conversation with ecologist Erle Ellis. Below, the pair talk about how their two professions can understand each other and work together in surprising ways to build a sustainable future for wolves, rhinos, butterflies … and us……

Click HERE for complete article

Unsustainable cattle ranching

The hidden costs of burgers

Habitat conversion, commonly referred to as deforestation, lies at the crux of what is shaping the future of the Amazon Biome.

Extensive cattle ranching is the number one culprit of deforestation in virtually every Amazon country, and it accounts for 80% of current deforestation (Nepstad et al. 2008). Alone, the deforestation caused by cattle ranching is responsible for the release of 340 million tons of carbon to the atmosphere every year, equivalent to 3.4% of current global emissions. Beyond forest conversion, cattle pastures increase the risk of fire and are a significant degrader of riparian and aquatic ecosystems, causing soil erosion, river siltation and contamination with organic matter. Trends indicate that livestock production is expanding in the Amazon.

Brazil has 88% of the Amazon herd, followed by Peru and Bolivia. While grazing densities vary among livestock production systems and countries, extensive, low productivity, systems with less thanone animal unit per hectare of pasture are the dominant form of cattle ranching in the Amazon.

Number of heads of cattle in the states of the Brazilian Amazon and the departments of the Bolivian and Peruvian Amazon.
Cattle, soy and fires

During the dry season (May-September), Brazil is in the world headlines because of raging fires, a practice of agricultural management for opening rudimentary subsistence plantations (slash-and-burn agriculture) and cattle pastures.

In the Brazilian Amazon, fires generally spread into forests from adjacent agricultural lands. Between 2000 and 2002, forest hotspots almost tripled from 16,000 to almost 42,000 per year (Barreto et al. 2005).

These fires make way for cattle-ranching, the most important cause of direct conversion of rainforests (Jan Maarten Dros, 2004). Soy developers then capitalize on the cattle ranchers and take over their land, pushing cattle ranching (and deforestation) towards new pioneer areas. And so the natural frontier recedes…

Click HERE for the full article.

Cliven Bundy and his fellow welfare ranchers

The national obsession with Cliven Bundy dissipated quickly after he said “the negro” might have been better off when they were slaves.

Conservative pundits and Republican senators ran from Bundy’s overt racism. Even if Bundy is forgotten, he brought fresh attention to a pernicious policy problem. The public is getting ripped off by ranchers.

The media obsessed over the shiny, but ultimately irrelevant, aspects of the Bundy incident. Militias, anti-American conservative conspiracies, the right of the federal government to own land and charge fees to use it, pervasive racism on the right, welfare, and bickering television personalities all are settled issues, but they get ratings.

Lost was the only real issue of substance down on the Bundy ranch: ludicrously cheap federal grazing fees.

Bundy refused to pay the fees and racked up penalties. That was enough to attract armed followers willing to fight federal officials enforcing the law. That he didn’t pay them doesn’t make him a welfare mom, it makes him a crook. But welfare for ranchers is real. It’s just underreported. Fees that ranchers pay are a fraction of market rates for grazing on private land or purchasing feed.

The Bureau of Land Management administers about 245 million acres of public land mostly in Western states. It allows livestock grazing on about 155 million acres and issues about 18,000 permits and leases to ranchers that typically last 10 years.

BLM charges $1.35 per animal unit month. An AUM is grazing for a cow and calf, one horse, or five sheep or goats for a month. That’s the same rate the federal government charged in 2013, and the year before. In fact, that’s about how much the government has charged for decades except most recently for a few years under President George W. Bush when it went up a few pennies. To put that in perspective, $1.35 will get you one can of cat or dog food, far short of a month’s supply. The rate is the result of a convoluted formula that Congress adopted in 1978 as part of the Public Rangelands Improvement Act. It sets $1.35 as the minimum, and it doesn’t adjust for inflation. It also is open to political manipulation.

When BLM redoes the math each year, ranchers and their lobbyists make sure nothing changes. Grazing on public lands remains cheap. Ranchers win. The public loses.

In 2013, the average rate for grazing on private lands in the West was $18.90 per head per month. Feed costs are comparably hie. Conservatives insist that government should run more like a business. No business would remain viable it is charged 1/14th of the going market rate. Federal lands are a public resource, and the American people deserve fair compensation from those who use them for private profit. That should include money to offset environmental damage and water pollution caused by grazing. A 2005 Government Accountability Office report found that federal agencies recouped only about 15 percent of their administrative costs from ranchers. In 2004, taxpayers lost $123,000,000 to grazing….

Click HERE for the full article.