Archive for the ‘Big Cats’ Category

Romania bans trophy hunting of brown bears, wolves, lynx and wild cats   5 comments

October 5, 2016  Source

Unexpected move reverses a trend that has seen increasing numbers of large carnivores shot by hunters each year since Romania’s accession to the European Union.

In 2016, the largest hunting quotas yet gave hunters the mandate to shoot 550 bears, 600 wolves and 500 big cats over 12 months. Photograph: Radu Sigheti/Reuters

Romania has banned all trophy hunting of brown bears, wolves, lynx and wild cats in a surprise decision that gives Europe’s largest population of large carnivores a reprieve from its most severe and immediate threat.

The move on Tuesday reverses a trend which has seen the number of large carnivores being shot by hunters grow year on year since Romania’s accession into the European Union in 2007. In 2016, the largest hunting quotas yet gave hunters the mandate to shoot 550 bears, 600 wolves and 500 big cats over 12 months.

Over the last decade, hunting has grown into a multimillion-euro industry in Romania, with hunters from all over the world paying up to €10,000 (£8,800) to claim a ‘trophy’ – hunting parlance for the carcass of a hunted animal – from the Carpathian mountains.

The government has claimed that in order to exist, the industry relies on a loophole in European law which allows for the culling of wild animals that have been proven to be a danger to humans. Under the habitats directive, all large carnivores are protected in European Union member states, yet the state can order the killing of specific animals if shown to have attacked a person or damaged private property.

“Hunting for money was already illegal, but it was given a green light anyway,” environment minster, Cristiana Pasca-Palmer, told the Guardian. ‘The damages [clause in the habitats directive] acted as a cover for trophy hunting.”

Each year, hundreds of hunting associations across the country would submit two numbers; the total population of each large carnivore species, and the total number which they believed to be likely to cause damages. The second number would then act as a basis for a government-issued hunting quota for each species. These quotas were then carved up between hunting companies and sold as hunting rights to the public.

“This method raised some questions,” says Pasca-Palmer. “How can hunting associations count how many animals are causing damages a priori – before the damages have happened? By introducing the ban, what we are doing is simply putting things back on the right track, as the habitats directive originally intended.”

Wildlife NGOs claim that the methodology also tended to dramatically overestimate the populations of large carnivores. The official figure for the number of bears in Romania is over 6,000, and for wolves is 4,000. Yet with hundreds of hunting associations each responsible for monitoring a small area of land, and animals prone to wandering, it is understood that individual animals were often counted multiple times, potentially pushing the total population statistics up by thousands.

Announced late on Tuesday evening, the ban is expected to divide Romania’s population, pitching rural and urban dwellers against each other. The government’s decision has strong support in the larger cities, which have seen a growing movement against hunting in recent months. But in much of Romania’s remote countryside large carnivores are a daily threat to villagers and a persistent nuisance to livestock farmers, and many see hunting as the only solution.

Csaba Domokos, a bear specialist with wildlife protection NGO Milvus group, is convinced that the success or failure of the hunting ban rides on the government’s ability to address the rural population’s fears.

“Damages caused by large carnivores are a very real concern in the countryside,” he said. “The system up until now did not work; hunting does not reduce conflicts between carnivores and humans; in fact many studies show that with wolves and large cats, it can actually increase the problem.

“But the rural population believe that hunting is the answer, and unless they can be convinced otherwise, people may well start to take the problem into their own hands. The ban is a great step, but we don’t want hunting to be replaced by poaching.”

Domokos points out that hunters also have a vested interested in the protection of their quarry. “To some extent, hunting acts as a financial incentive for wildlife management, from preventing poaching to conserving habitats. There is some concern that once you take that away, the government will not invest enough to replace it.”

Hunters pay up to €10,000 to trophy hunt in the Carpathian mountains. Photograph: Nick Turner/Alamy

The government’s response is to take management into its own hands. A special unit is to be set up within the paramilitary police force that will assess any reports of damages by large carnivores and deal with the culprit animal directly. The ministry of environment have discussed the possibility of relocating the target animals abroad to countries interested in ‘rewilding’.

The ban comes amid a growing push for the protection of Romania’s wild mountains that has seen anti-corruption officers convict dozens of foresters, hunters and local officials in recent years.

Gabriel Paun, an activist and conservationist behind a petition that collected 11,000 signatures in the weeks before the hunting ban, sees the government’s decision as a step towards a safer future for Europe’s wild spaces: “The Carpathian mountains are home to more biodiversity than anywhere else in Europe, but for too long they have been ruthlessly exploited for forestry and hunting. Let’s hope the government’s decision is a sign of things to come.”


 

 

 

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Hunters Say Trophy Hunting Helps Animals. Here’s Why They Are Wrong.   2 comments

October 05, 2015 Source

Ever since the death of Cecil the lion, the world’s been looking at trophy hunting a bit more closely. While many people have condemned the practice as cruel, ardent big game hunters have stood up to defend it, arguing that it’s a selfless act of conservation and that both animals and local people benefit from the hobby.

But with wildlife populations in Africa continuing to plummet — and with iconic species at risk of disappearing in our lifetime — these defenses don’t hold up. Here’s why.

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“The money goes to local communities.”

Big game hunters say they help support local communities and conservation efforts by paying for big game hunts. However, while hunters pay roughly $200 million each year for big game hunts in Africa, only around 3 percent of those funds go to local communities, and the amount dedicated to conservation efforts is nearly negligible. The overwhelming majority of hunting fees ends up lining the pockets of middlemen, large companies and local governments.

“Hunting helps wild populations.”

Big game hunters argue that killing can help a species by removing older animals from the population, or say that they trust governments to set sustainable hunting quotas.

Unfortunately, in practice these arguments don’t hold up. For one, some governments are more interested in how much a dead lion can bring them than in establishing sustainable hunting limits. For example, there are around 20,000 to 35,000 wild lions left in Africa, depending on whom you ask, and big game hunters legally kill around 600 each year. That’s an annual population loss of 2 to 3 percent, which is entirely unsustainable, even if you don’t add in deaths due to poaching and livestock protection.

And while nature likes to pick off the weakest members of a population, big game hunters target the largest, strongest members of a population. For lions, that means the male pride leader; for elephants, the oldest elephant with the biggest tusks. Killing these animals, who play a crucial role in their societies, puts the rest of their families at risk.

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For example, killing a male lion with an impressive mane leaves his fellow pride leaders open to challenges from other males. If a new male does come in, they could kill an entire generation of cubs, which means that the permit for one lion hunt leads to the death of several animals.

And the loss of older elephants means leaving male or female youngsters without guidance — which can actually lead to so-called teenage delinquents who are more likely to have negative interactions with humans, and therefore be killed.

The loss of any animal also means the loss of any offspring they could have parented, a knock to conservation that goes far beyond taking just one animal out of the population. And while some proponents of big game hunting advocate for only killing animals who have already contributed their genes to the population, most animals will continue to propagate until they die.

Of course, the biggest rebuttal to the hunting-helps-populations argument is in the numbers. Lions have lost 95 percent of their population since the 1940s. The African elephant population has dropped from several million at the turn of the century to roughly 500,000 today. During the past century hunting has been the primary — if not only — method of conservation, but the perilously low numbers of these animals proves that hunting is ineffective as a conservation method.

And even with these reduced populations, trophy hunters still kill around 105,000 animals in Africa every year, including 600 elephants and 800 leopards, at a time when every individual is crucial to the survival of the species.

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“Canned hunting helps repopulate animals.”

Some hunters tout canned hunting — an unsportsmanlike practice in which lions and other animals are bred in captivity then released into pens where they can’t escape so hunters can shoot them — as a sustainable alternative, arguing that canned hunting incentivizes captive breeding, which can be used to repopulate wild populations.

But animals bred at canned hunting facilities are completely unsuitable for release. Taken away from their mothers at just a few days old and raised by humans, the lions are incapable of surviving on their own. Many of them are inbred, which means breeding with wild lions could weaken the species’ gene pool. And releasing a captive-bred lion into wild lions’ territory could lead to fighting, upsetting the delicate balance — and the safety — of existing prides.

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“Hunting helps protect locals.”

Local communities often find themselves at odds with African wildlife. Elephants destroy crops; lions and other predators can target people or livestock. These animals are often killed — and tourism hunting is often encouraged — in the name of protecting humans from African wildlife.

But as human lands continue to increase, animals continue to be pushed into smaller and smaller territories. In many cases these negative interactions are the result of animals simply trying to survive. Iconic African wildlife is at risk of disappearing, and the solution is to learn to live with animals, not keep killing them.

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“It’s an industry that Africa couldn’t do without.”

While trophy hunting does bring in some capital to African countries, it makes up as little as 1.8 percent of tourism revenues. The majority of tourists come to see Africa’s wildlife, not kill it. And if big game hunting continues to deplete that wildlife, it could take down the other 98 percent of Africa’s tourism income.

An individual animal, particularly if it’s a member of the more iconic species, is worth far more to a country alive over the course of his lifetime than dead. Need proof? Look at Botswana. Beginning in January 2014, the country banned almost all hunting after comparing the conservation cost of big game hunting with the income generated from photo tourism: The photo tourism season is longer, makes better use of animals and employs significantly more locals. In the first year of the ban, the country brought in around $344 million from nonlethal tourism.

Of course, changes can take getting used to, but in an age when iconic species are at risk of being lost forever, killing any individual animal for sheer pleasure — especially in the name of conservation — is highly counterproductive.

To find out more, watch Blood Lions on Wednesday, Oct. 7 at 10 p.m. ET on MSNBC.

The views expressed here are The Dodo’s and do not necessarily reflect those of MSNBC.

By Ameena Schelling – Email: ameena@thedodo.com – Twitter: @amschelling

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Company of Wolves: one of the most talked about social justice issues of the day   Leave a comment

From Open Graves, Open Minds August 12, 2015 by Lucy Northenra

Recent events suggest that Animal Rights is quickly becoming one of the most talked about social justice issues of the twenty-first century. Garry Marvin, Professor of Human and Animal Studies at the University of Roehampton will be opening up some of these issues for debate at the Company of Wolves Conference in September. Prof Marvin will be giving a keynote address on ‘Cultural Images of the Wolf and the Wolves’ Re-emergence in Europe’. Once again OGOM seems to have its finger on the pulse of contemporary society as these issues are red hot just now.

Those of you who are following the Cecil the Lion story will be know that Cecil’s death has sparked outrage worldwide, as people everywhere lament the damage that humans continue to inflict on the populations of not just lions, but the planet’s many endangered creatures. On Saturday night, the Empire State Building served as a timely, sky-high reminder of this devastating impact, as images and videos of threatened animals were projected onto the façade of the iconic New York City skyscraper. Cecil was one of the animals featured.

Large images of endangered species are projected on the south facade of The Empire State Building, Saturday, Aug. 1, 2015, in New York. The large scale projections are in part inspired by and produced by the filmmakers of an upcoming documentary called “Racing Extinction.” (AP Photo/Craig Ruttle)

You can read about this story in Huffington Post

Looking forward to debating some of these issues at the conference.


Letter: Stop trophy hunting in Canada   Leave a comment

From Montreal Gazette August 10, 2015

A grizzly bear is seen fishing for salmon along the Atnarko river in Tweedsmuir Provincial Park near Bella Coola, B.C.

A grizzly bear is seen fishing for salmon along the Atnarko river in Tweedsmuir Provincial Park near Bella Coola, B.C. JONATHAN HAYWARD / THE CANADIAN PRESS

Given the current outrage regarding Cecil the lion in Africa, the time has come for Canadians to address the issue of trophy hunting here in our country.

For too long, Canada has allowed locals and attracted tourists from around the world to pay large sums of money to hunt grey wolves, cougars, grizzly bears and other species purely for sport.

Many may have heard how Air Canada and other airlines have banned carrying trophy hunting animals from Africa. While at face value this news appears to be something to be encouraged about, the reality is that it is a sadly disappointing gesture.

They have only banned what they call the Big 5. These are animals considered on the at-risk list: rhinos, elephants, lions, leopards and cape buffalo.

So all other animals from Africa and around the world are free game.

How we treat our animals is a reflection of our society’s values and morals and as Canadians we must ask ourselves if we want to be defined by allowing the hunting of animals for sport.

Stephan Graf, St-Colomban 


California Bans Bobcat Trapping in 3-2 Vote   1 comment

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.”

To Declaw or Not to Declaw? How This Procedure Affects Cats (Big and Small)   6 comments

From:  onegreenplanet.org

March 11, 2015 by Tammy Thies, The Wildcat Sanctuary

To declaw, or not to declaw … that is the question.

I remember walking into the shelter to adopt my very first pet. I had looked at rescue groups, ads in the paper and had visited several shelters looking for the right cat – the one looking for me.

When I saw her, I knew. She was not exotic looking, nor a fancy breed. But she was just as beautiful. She was a black little kitten with blues eyes, amongst a sea of other black kittens in her litter. When she approached the wire door and let out one “meow,” that was it! My feline family had begun and her name was Kaya.

To Declaw or Not to Declaw? How This Procedure Affects Cats (Big and Small)

My Experience With Kaya

I had done everything to make sure we were a perfect match and that I could give her the best home possible. I researched cats and breeds. I looked into purchasing from a breeder or adopting from a shelter. I learned what costs would be involved in having a pet and I adapted my apartment to create a cat amusement park.

I know they say dogs are man’s best friend. But for me, it was Kaya. I couldn’t imagine life without her.

To Declaw or Not to Declaw? How This Procedure Affects Cats (Big and Small)

It was our first visit to the vet for her to be spayed and being away from her for a day seemed unbearable. Upon check-in, the front desk asked if I would like her declawed, too? I was told this was a common practice and would even receive a discount for performing both surgeries at once. I wanted to be the best cat guardian, and if that was recommended by the vet, then that is what I was going to do.

Oh, how little I knew! Even after treating Kaya for several paw infections later, I still believed this was just part of having a cat as a member of the family. Over my life, I have declawed three cats, something I am not proud of at all. But, also something I am not ashamed to admit because I can educate others in hopes of changing the future.

Deciding to Declaw

It took being invited to see a surgery first hand when I realized this is not declawing at all. They were surgically removing the first digits of my cat’s toes with a surgical knife – it was an amputation! That was the last cat I ever declawed. Was this really necessary? I thought to myself. Why was I doing it: To make the cat safe? To protect my furniture? I didn’t have a clear answer except, that’s what pet guardians did.

How far I’ve come! I can’t judge others for something I’ve done, but I hope to offer more information so that people can make better decisions.

Big Cats Versus Small

The Wildcat Sanctuary is home to over 100 cat residents, exotic and domestic. Seventy percent of the cats come to us four-paw declawed and we see the devastating effects. People tend to agree that declawing big cats is cruel and causes permanent damage, but it can be difficult to convince them that declawing small cats can cause the same damage – even if your cat isn’t showing the signs.

We often have to say good-bye to cats earlier than we should due to debilitating arthritis and lameness. Pain medications only help for so long. But the cats who are genetically designed to bear weight on their toes are now putting all their weight on scar tissue and exposed bone. No pain medications or soft substrate can compensate for that.

Halifax, one of the servals in our care, had several surgeries to remove bone and claw fragments, well into his teens. The regrowth would cause abscesses that had to be surgically corrected.

To Declaw or Not to Declaw? How This Procedure Affects Cats (Big and Small)

Even small cats like Bullet, a Bengal cat, have chronic issues. Bullet has had several radiographs on his feet. His toes have fused at a 90-degree angle because of his arthritis. His bone is right at the skin and he often shifts weight from foot to foot.

To Declaw or Not to Declaw? How This Procedure Affects Cats (Big and Small)

The Paw Project

We are hoping that through education, pet guardians will stop, think and ask more questions before they make the decision to declaw. That is why we support the work of the Paw Project. They are educating thousands of people and trying to make a cultural shift on how America views declawing. We also know that we cannot change everyone’s mind so therefore, we encourage people who will only open their home to a declawed cat, to adopt one from a shelter versus putting another cat through this surgery.

We know this is a controversial topic and will ruffle some feathers. Whenever you try and make change, it often does. But, we hope it will start a conversation about what is best for our feline friends.

For those that love cats enough to have one (or more) in your home, please love them for what they truly are – claws and all. Even the best dogs will chew your shoes and put wear and tear on the house. Kids color on walls, break precious items while playing. Cats are not any different. They shouldn’t be penalized for doing what comes naturally. Instead, love their wild side and give them more options that are acceptable.

Your little tiger will be happy that you love her for ALL of her! I wish I had done that for Kaya.

In-text images courtesy of Tammy Thies

Lead image source: Wikimedia Commons

See something, Say something. Bookmark, share and help further build our directory of Animal Rescue Hotlines and let’s be prepared to help animals today!

Lawsuit Challenges Government’s Large-scale Wildlife Killing in Idaho   9 comments

From:  The Wildlife News

Killing Thousands of Animals Each Year Violates Environmental Laws

wolf

BOISE, Idaho— Five conservation groups filed a lawsuit today over the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s failure to fully analyze and disclose the impact of its “Wildlife Services” program in Idaho, which kills thousands of wolves, coyotes, foxes, cougars, birds and other wild animals each year at taxpayer expense. The multimillion-dollar federal program, whose work primarily benefits the agriculture industry, relies on an array of lethal methods including aerial and ground shooting, poison, trapping and explosives.

Following a notice of intent to sue sent by the conservation groups in September 2014, the agency agreed to prepare a new environmental analysis for its wildlife-killing activities in Idaho — an incremental step that falls short of the more comprehensive analysis required by law. Today’s lawsuit seeks long-term changes in the agency’s operations to adopt nonlethal methods, as well as the development of an environmental impact statement to analyze the impacts of killing wildlife across the state year after year.

“Wildlife Services spends millions of dollars each year to indiscriminately shoot, poison and trap coyotes, wolves, mountain lions, foxes, badgers and many other wildlife species — yet it refuses to comply with our nation’s basic environmental laws,” said Laird J. Lucas, director of litigation at Advocates for the West. “This lawsuit will shine a bright line on this rogue agency and force it to reveal publicly exactly what wildlife killing programs it is engaged in and the adverse impacts of those activities.”

“A transparent and public analysis of Wildlife Services’ activities is long overdue,” said Greta Anderson, deputy director of Western Watersheds Project, adding that “Wildlife Services’ wanton killing of Idaho’s wildlife is morally wrong, environmentally counterproductive, and procedurally illegal.”

The agency has never comprehensively examined how its actions affect grizzly bears, Canada lynx and bull trout, all protected under the Endangered Species Act. The agency sets traps and snares across the state that accidentally capture and kill federally protected wildlife, as well as domestic pets. Bull trout are killed when the agency detonates explosives to remove beaver dams.

“Without a comprehensive analysis of Wildlife Service’s wildlife-killing activities across the state, it’s impossible to know whether it’s leading to widespread damage to other species like grizzly bears,” said Andrea Santarsiere, staff attorney at the Center for Biological Diversity. “The public deserves more, and so does Idaho’s wildlife.”

“Shrouded in secrecy, Wildlife Services operates as though it is above the law, further endangering already imperiled species and wasting our taxpayer dollars,” said Bethany Cotton, wildlife program director for WildEarth Guardians. “A full accounting and scientific analysis of Wildlife Services’ cruel practices is long overdue.”

The state of knowledge about the impacts of wildlife killing has changed significantly over the years. “Current science doesn’t support the arbitrary killing of animals as a ‘management’ tool,” added Camilla Fox, founder and executive director of Project Coyote. “For example, killing wolves and coyotes indiscriminately can exacerbate livestock conflicts and is simply a waste of taxpayer dollars.”

“The long reach of this killing program kills key predators like wolves even in remote wildlands like the backcountry of the Clearwater Basin,” said Gary Macfarlane of Friends of the Clearwater. “It is past time the agency is held accountable to we the people.”

In 2013 Wildlife Services killed more than 3,000 mammals in Idaho using methods such as aerial gunning, neck snares, foothold traps, and toxic devices known as M-44s that spray sodium cyanide into the victim’s mouth, causing tremendous suffering and releasing toxic chemicals into the environment.

Western Watersheds Project, WildEarth Guardians, the Center for Biological Diversity,Friends of the Clearwater and Project Coyote are represented by attorneys Laurie Rule and Talasi Brooks of Advocates for the West, and Kristin Ruether of Western Watersheds Project.

A copy of today’s filing can be read online here.

 

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