Animals
Amazing Animal Stories!

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If one day you stumbled upon a bear’s den as you meandered about a wildlife refuge, it is now legal for you to slaughter the mother and cubs in the den.

The U.S. House of Representatives just voted to overturn the “Fair Chase rule,” a rule put in place by the Obama administration.

The rule limits a number of activities on wildlife refuges, including baiting, trapping, and the hunting of bears and wolves specifically on U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service land in Alaska.

The National Rifle Association was behind the push to put bear cubs in the crosshairs of Alaskan hunters.

The kicker here is that the Obama rule doesn’t stop hunting on these refuges. “subsistence hunting” is perfectly legal, and even “predator control” if it’s based on science.

But I guess to the NRA and House Republicans, any restriction on what you can shoot with a gun should be off the table. Remember this next time you vote.

Sad.


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The rusty patched bumblebee is on the ropes. Its numbers are in decline and there are real concerns that it could go extinct – and soon.

Before the end of President Obama’s term, regulations were finalized that would help protect this pollinator from imminent extinction.

“The Fish and Wildlife Service made a finding, and it was that if we don’t do anything now, the rusty patched bumblebee will go extinct, and it will go extinct soon,” said Rebecca Riley, a senior attorney for the National Resources Defense Council, a conservation group.

“If the Trump administration were to come in and reverse that decision, it would be illegal, and we would strongly consider challenging it in court.”

The endangered bee becomes formally listed under the Endangered Species Act this coming Friday.

Pollinators worldwide are in crisis as their numbers globally are shrinking. The rusty patched bumblebee is the only one to receive protection under the ESA.


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Earlier this week, the USDA moved to remove information about proven animal abusers, from dog breeders to zoos, from public domain. This move was specifically to protect the privacy of those who have abused animals in the past.

The Humane Society of the United States is absolutely having none of it. They’ve sent a letter to the Justice Department declaring intent to pursue legal action if the Agriculture Department doesn’t reverse course in this decision.

“We intend to sue them unless they take remedial action here,” Humane Society President and CEO Wayne Pacelle told TIME in an interview. “The clock starts ticking immediately.”

For the last decade, you could go onto the USDA’s website and see how animals are treated at various facilities, like horse breeders, zoos, circuses, and research labs. But that database has been completely erased, giving privacy to animal abusers and leaving advocacy orgs and the public completely in the dark.

The USDA has not commented on the Humane Society’s threat of legal action.


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25,000 trophy hunters are expected to attend an event today at the Annual Hunters’ Convention put on by Safari Club International. Numerous animals are up for slaughter, and hunters are expected to bed $5 million to kill them.

Among the animals available for slaughter are African leopards, Canadian polar bears, and Namibian elephants.

Advocates say this is a useful tool for raising money to save endangered species, but few agree with that assessment.

“This Las Vegas auction is a key event in SCI’s fundraising calendar where the lives of nearly 1,000 wild animals will be sold off to trophy hunters in a sickening ‘pay to slay’ bidding war,” says Joanna Swabe, executive director of Humane Society International.

For $72,000, you can kill a Canadian polar bear. For $35,000, you can experience the thrill of murdering a Namibian elephant. Throw in an extra $25,000 and you can kill the other one.

“Genuine conservation means saving animals’ lives, not brutally ending them,” says Swabe.


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British Petroleum and Total are preparing to drill for oil dangerously close to a newly discovered coral reef off the coast of Brazil. The closest drilling rig will be just 8 km from the reef.

Scientists credited with discovering the reef are alarmed by the prospect of an oil spill, fearing that it could dramatically effect the future of the reef. They’re pushing for the British ministry of environment to conduct a new environmental study.

The Brazilian government thinks the Amazonian basin could contain 14 billion barrels of oil.

The reef is ecologically unique. It runs 600 km from French Guiana to Brazil and exists under a plume of muddy water.

The region the coral occupies is home to numerous endangered species which do not exist anywhere else on Earth. These include the Amazon river dolphin and Amazonian manatee.

Regardless of the potential damage to the environment, the Brazilian ministry of environment is expected to approve the drilling.


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In an incredible bust of illegal animal parts trafficking, Thai authorities on Thursday announced that they had seized an incredible 3 tons of pangolin scales since December. All together, the scales are worth more than $800,000. 6,000 pangolins were killed to produce the scales.

Pangolin scales are coveted in China and Southeast Asia as a traditional remedy. This has lead to the pangolin being among the most hunted animals on Earth. Their meat is also considered a delicacy.

A global trade ban on pangolin scales went into effect in January, and Thailand has taken busting traffickers very seriously.

Pangolins are nocturnal animals similar to anteaters. Their status ranges from vulnerable to critically endangered according to the World Wildlife Fund’s website.

This seizure represents only 10% of the total global trade in pangolin scales.


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We’ve been inundated by stories of what government websites have removed and censored since Trump’s swearing in ceremony last month. Among the most disturbing is the USDA censorship of animal welfare violation reports.

As of 11 a.m. on February 3rd, all information regarding animal welfare inspection reports had disappeared from the USDA website. Tanya Espinosa, a spokeswoman for the department, would not confirm if it was temporary or permanent.

When searched, the records have been removed and replaced with a message claiming the removal is “based on our commitment to being transparent, remaining responsive to our stakeholders’ informational needs, and maintaining the privacy rights of individuals.”

Of course, the Trump administration’s quest for respecting the privacy of animal abusers is alarming to advocacy workers.

“What the USDA has done is given cover to people who neglect or harm animals and get cited by USDA inspectors,” said John Goodwin, director of the Stop Puppy Mills Campaign at The Humane Society of the United States.

“The public is no longer going to know which commercial dog breeders, horse trainers, which zoos, which research labs have horrible animal welfare track records.”


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Among the numerous executive orders signed by President Donald Trump in the last two weeks was the order to proceed with building the wall he promised voters during his 2016 campaign for president.

But dozens of endangered species are already threatened by the border fences in place. Trump’s wall, a major expansion of those fences, would be a downright disaster.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service notes that there are 100 species that reside in the area along the U.S.-Mexico border that are listed as threatened or endangered under the Endangered Species Act.

Trump’s proposed wall, which would cost about $25 billion (3 times more than the Hoover Dam) is being pushed through without an environmental impact study or analysis on how flora and fauna could be harmed.

Barriers have an incredible impact on species, sometimes cutting two populations of endangered species off from one another, rendering them genetically nonviable in just a few generations.

Border walls also interrupted crucial migratory patterns of some endangered species.

What’s even worse is that these endangered species bear the brunt of a human project that won’t even work as intended. 40% of undocumented immigrants in the U.S. arrive by plane, and numerous more slip through the border via tunnels.


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Evgeny Romanov, poacher, with one of his trophies

In what should come as no surprise to anyone, another rich guy has gotten away with murder, literally. Evgeniy Romanov, pictured above proudly displaying the head of an endangered Amur tiger, has been fined $155,000, but avoided any jail time, for the killing of 6 of the tigers.

Police discovered undeniable evidence of the business man’s illegal hunting, including the body parts of no fewer than 34 bears and 6 tiger skins endemic to eastern Russia.

Additionally, a refrigerator was found to contain 4 Steller’s sea eagles, a vulture, and a mandarin duck.

This raid was conducted back in April of 2012 but Romanov has only been recently punished. Here’s a really satisfying photo of him being arrested:

Evgeny Romanov detained
Evgeny Romanov detained

Of course, seeing this nature hating dirtbag cuffed face down on the ground does no one any justice. The courts ordered him to reimburse the damage done to the environment, but some damage cannot be undone.

In the wake of Romanov’s trial, Russia has tightened its laws regarding poaching.

Featured image from Moskovsky Komsomolets


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An estimated 53,000 sea turtles die each year due to being caught in commercial shrimp nets off the southeastern United States. At least that’s what environmentalists assert in a lawsuit aimed at federal regulators.

Oceana, an ocean conservation group, is suing for stronger protections for sea turtles, many of which are endangered, from shrimping operations. The lawsuit is aimed at the National Marine Fisheries Service and hopes to force the agency to enact closer monitoring and stricter limits on the number of turtles that can be caught and killed.

“If people knew that their order of shrimp cocktail came with a side of government-authorized sea turtle, they would be horrified,” Eric Bilsky, an Oceana lawyer, said in a statement.

The National Marine Fisheries Service estimates that half a million loggerhead, green, leatherback, Kemp’s ridley and hawksbill sea turtles are injured in some way by commercial shrimp fishing every year. Each one of the aforementioned species are listed as threatened or endangered under the Endangered Species Act.

This lawsuit comes on the heels of an analysis issues by the fisheries service showing that annual sea turtle death from commercial fishing does not imperil the survival of the five species of turtle. Still, the lawsuit is asking the judge to discard that opinion. The suit alleges that the fisheries service made “no quantitative analysis” to come to that conclusion.

There is an easy fix to the problem of sea turtle deaths at the hands of commercial fishing operations. There is a device called the turtle excluder that allows the turtles to escape the nets before they die from lack of oxygen. The excluder releases about 97% of the turtles caught and loses the fishermen and women no shrimp at all. Federal regulations do not require all trawlers to use the excluder.

Image credit: Salvatore Barbera, Flickr

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