Bill is result of trapping incident with 12-year-old boy; would ban import, export, and interstate commerce of leghold and Conibear traps

Washington, D.C., June 27, 2016 -- Today, Born Free USA announced its support for the introduction of the Public Safety and Wildlife Protection Act (H.R. 5560) in the U.S. House of Representatives by Congresswoman Alma S. Adams (D-NC) and Congresswoman Nita Lowey (D-NY). This important bill would ban the import, export, and interstate commerce of barbaric steel-jaw leghold traps and Conibear body-gripping traps. H.R. 5560 was inspired by an incident in North Carolina, in which a 12-year-old boy playing near a neighborhood pond got his arm caught in a Conibear trap. It took a team of six doctors several hours to free him from the painful grip of this trap.

Born Free USA applauds and thanks Congresswoman Adams and Congresswoman Lowey for their leadership and urges the swift passage of the legislation to ensure that outdoor spaces are safe for the public, their pets, and wildlife.

According to Adam M. Roberts, CEO of Born Free USA, “Leghold and Conibear traps are the two used most often in the U.S. trapping industry. They are horrific in their brutality. When triggered, these archaic devices slam shut on their victims with bone-crushing force. They are indiscriminate and cause massive pain and suffering not only to targeted wild animals, but also to endangered species, people’s pets, and even children. It is time for the U.S. to take significant steps to limit the barbaric impact of these two dangerous traps.”

“The preservation of human life and wildlife is a priority that lawmakers must take serious. We can no longer afford to disregard the ill-effects that animal cruelty has on our ecosystem and on us as well. Steel-jaw leghold and Conibear traps are body-gripping tools that are inhumane and archaic. They also pose unnecessary risks to humans, especially young children. That is why I am proud to introduce this important piece of legislation with my colleague, Congresswoman Nita Lowey,” said Congresswoman Adams.

Although Conibear and leghold traps are legal in North Carolina, their use is severely restricted or prohibited in several states. Importantly, the Public Safety and Wildlife Protection Act would not alter any state’s own policies on trapping. Instead, it would ensure that these two notoriously dangerous traps do not cross state lines, especially into states with bans already in place. 

“Body-gripping traps are an archaic and indiscriminate method of catching wildlife,” said Congresswoman Lowey. “They cause tremendous suffering to animals and put humans at an unnecessary risk for injury. That is why I am proud to join Congresswoman Adams in introducing the Public Safety and Wildlife Protection Act. It is time for the United States to address the inherent cruelty of these devices and ban their use.”  

Born Free USA asserts that animals and people should be able to enjoy the outdoor spaces of the U.S without the risk of being caught—and possibly killed—in an indiscriminate and painful trap. The organization urges other members of Congress to join Congresswoman Adams and Congresswoman Lowey in support of H.R. 5560.

Born Free USA is a global leader in animal welfare and wildlife conservation. Through litigation, legislation, and public education, Born Free USA leads vital campaigns against animals in entertainment, exotic "pets," trapping and fur, and the destructive international wildlife trade. Born Free USA brings to America the message of "compassionate conservation": the vision of the U.K.-based Born Free Foundation, established in 1984 by Bill Travers and Virginia McKenna, stars of the iconic film Born Free, along with their son, Will Travers. Born Free's mission is to end suffering of wild animals in captivity, conserve threatened and endangered species, and encourage compassionate conservation globally. More at www.bornfreeusa.org, www.twitter.com/bornfreeusa, and www.facebook.com/bornfreeusa.

 

Thousands of Protected Bald and Golden Eagles May Be Threatened by Industry

 

(Washington, D.C., June 23, 2016) A neweagle-management planproposed by the federal government would give wind energy developers 30-year permits to “take” or incidentally kill protected Bald and Golden Eagles, without requiring the industry to share mortality data with the public or take into consideration such critical factors as proper siting. The so-called Eagle Take Rule, proposed by the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, puts many thousands of the nation’s protected Bald and Golden Eagles at unacceptable risk.

American Bird Conservancysuccessfully suedthe government over a previous version of the rule, which a federal judge agreed violated federal environmental laws. Unfortunately, the updated rule, open for public comment until July 5, 2016, is as problematic as the previous one.

In alettersent to FWS today, ABC spells out serious concerns about the revised rule. It would increase the number of eagles that can be killed by wind energy and other facilities. It’s based on insufficient data, and doesn’t require energy companies to be transparent about the effects of wind energy on our nation’s ecologically significant birds and bats. The rule doesn’t call for proper siting and regulation of wind energy development. And it allows for 30-year take permits without giving the public and conservation groups a voice in periodic reviews.

All of those flaws will put eagles and other wildlife in serious jeopardy if the rule is adopted. “Eagles are our nation’s symbol and are protected by law,” said Dr. Michael Hutchins, director of ABC’sBird-Smart Wind Energy Campaign. “In the end, the new rule differs little from its previous incarnation and allows wind energy companies to continue to kill our nation’s iconic eagles with little or no consequence.”

FWS has said that the revised rule is meant to entice wind energy companies to apply for permits and adhere to the service’s voluntary wind energy guidelines, since they are not doing so at present. ABC believes adhering to these guidelines should be mandatory, not voluntary.

“Voluntary guidelines for an energy company are much the same as voluntary stops signs for motorists,” Hutchins said. “If the law doesn’t require them to stop, many would ignore signs altogether.”

ABC supports the development of clean, renewable sources of energy such as wind and solar power to address climate change, but believes such development must be done responsibly, with minimal impact on our public trust resources, especially federally protected species such as Bald Eagles and Golden Eagles. When it comes to wind energy, proper siting is the most important consideration. (See our 2016 report on “Ten of the Worst-Sited Wind Energy Facilities for Birds.”)

“Conflicts between wind energy development and wildlife could be easily resolved through better mandatory regulation and enforcement of our wildlife laws, leading to proper siting of these facilities,” Hutchins said.

In its explanation of the new rule, FWS asserts that wind energy and other industries could cumulatively kill up to 4,200 Bald Eagles and 2,000 Golden Eagles every year without reducing their populations. These numbers represent a substantial potential increase in eagle take quotas from those allowed under the previous rule.

“The American people are not going to tolerate large numbers of eagles killed by poorly sited wind energy projects,” Hutchins said. “Nor should they. Eagles are not only our national birds and symbols of our democracy, they are sacred to Native Americans.”

Eagles, especially Golden Eagles, are highly vulnerable to collisions with wind turbine blades, which have tips that can rotate at more than 150 miles an hour. The notoriously poorly sited Altamont Wind Resource Area in California has killed more than 2,000 Golden Eagles since wind turbines first went into operation in there in the early 1980s. In addition, both Golden and Bald Eagles are killed by collisions and electrocution at associated power lines and towers.

The proposed rule is especially worrisome for Golden Eagles. Uncertainty about Golden Eagle populations—especially the small Eastern population of the birds—and the lack of knowledge about their behavior, migratory movements, and habitat use are, in ABC's view, the rule’s biggest weaknesses. FWS itself recognizes that Golden Eagle populations in the U.S. may be declining and that the species does not have the capacity to tolerate any additional, unmitigated mortality.

The rule spells bad news for Bald Eagles as well. Bald Eagles have just recently come off the Endangered Species List and are nowhere near their pre-DDT numbers. As wind turbines go up near freshwater lakes and large river systems and on- and offshore in marine coastal areas, however—all areas heavily used by the birds—Bald Eagle mortality is certain to increase.

The primary beneficiary of the proposed new Eagle Take Rule appears to be the wind energy industry, not our nation’s Bald and Golden Eagles, other native birds, and other ecologically important species such as bats. ABC urges the public and other conservation groups tomake their voices heardbefore the July 5 deadline for public comment on FWS’s revised 30-year Eagle Take Rule.

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American Bird Conservancy is the Western Hemisphere's bird conservation specialist—the only organization with a single and steadfast commitment to achieving conservation results for native birds and their habitats throughout the Americas.  With a focus on efficiency and working in partnership, we take on the toughest problems facing birds today, innovating and building on sound science to halt extinctions, protect habitats, eliminate threats, and build capacity for bird conservation.

 

U.S. is Largest Importer of Hunting Trophies By Far

Washington, D.C. (June 14, 2016) – Today the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) released Killing For Trophies: An Analysis of Global Trophy Hunting Trade. The new report provides an in-depth look at the scope and scale of trophy hunting trade and isolates the largest importers of animal trophies worldwide.  

The result of a comprehensive analysis of the Convention on International Trade of Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) Trade Database, the report found that as many as 1.7 million hunting trophies may have been traded between nations between 2004 and 2014, with at least 200,000 of that being made up of categories of species, also known as taxa, that are considered threatened.

“The trophy hunting industry is driven by demand, and sadly, demand for animal trophies is prevalent worldwide,” said Jeff Flocken, North American Regional Director, IFAW. “Even in the face of extinction, imperiled species are still being hunted every day in order to serve as the centerpiece of someone’s décor. It is unconscionable in this modern day when species are under so many threats to survive.”

IFAW’s research found that 107 different nations (comprised of 104 importing nations and 106 exporting nations) participated in trophy hunting between 2004 and 2014, with the top twenty countries responsible for 97 percent of trophy imports. The United States accounted for a staggering 71 percent of the import demand, or about 15 times more than the next highest nation on the list—Germany and Spain (both 5 percent).

Of the top 20 importing countries, most of the trophies were killed and imported from Canada (35 percent), South Africa (23 percent) and Namibia (11 percent), with the largest number of threatened taxa coming from Canada to the U.S., followed by African nations to the U.S.

The analysis further revealed that three of the four threatened taxa from the highly-prized species known as the “Africa Big Five” (African elephant, African leopard, and African lion) are among the top six most traded of imperiled taxa. African lions in particular had the strongest statistically significant increase of trophy hunting trade since 2004, with at least 11,000 lion trophies being traded worldwide from 2004 to 2013.  Other big five species also remain popular with trophy hunters, with over 10,000 elephant trophies and over 10,000 leopard trophies being legally traded worldwide between 2004 and 2014. Like African lions, elephant trophy hunting trade has increased since 2004.

To view the full report, please visit: http://www.ifaw.org/united-states/resource-centre/killing-trophies-analysis-global-trophy-hunting-trade

About IFAW

Founded in 1969, IFAW saves animals in crisis around the world. With projects in more than 40 countries, IFAW rescues individual animals, works to prevent cruelty to animals, and advocates for the protection of wildlife and habitats. For more information, visit www.ifaw.org. Follow us on Facebook and Twitter.

FASCINATING NEW ELEPHANT SCIENCE

NAT GEO WILD’S MIND OF A GIANT REVEALS THAT ELEPHANTS ARE SMARTER THAN EVER KNOWN BEFORE

MIND OF A GIANT Premieres Sunday, June 19, at 9/8c on Nat Geo WILD

(WASHINGTON, D.C. — June 1, 2016) Across Africa, elephants are in crisis. Each day, 96 elephants fall victim to poachers, human-elephant conflict and habitat loss. In 2013, Paul G. Allen launched the Great Elephant Census, the first pan-African aerial survey of savanna elephants in more than 40 years. Soon after surveyors began their work, they observed something that truly surprised them. In the past 40 years, in the face of growing threats, elephants have changed where and how they live in their historic ecosystems. This incredible discovery, combined with the latest studies from the top elephant researchers in the world, revealed that elephants are learning to adapt and survive in ways we’ve never seen before. We join the experts in Africa to see their work firsthand in Mind of a Giant, premiering Sunday, June 19, at 9/8c on Nat Geo WILD. For more information, visit www.natgeotv.com or our press site www.foxflash.com, or follow us on Twitter using @NGC_PR.

Mind of a Giant started with a noble cause that turned into revolutionary research that may help save a beloved and threatened species,” said Geoff Daniels, executive vice president and general manager, Nat Geo WILD. “The dedicated scientists and conservationists featured here are pushing the boundaries of elephant research to reveal a smarter, more thoughtful animal than ever known before. We are thrilled to share their story of hope with our viewers who love animals and the people working to save them.”

Never before has this volume of compatible elephant research been featured in a single film. Mind of a Giant is a window into the world of the modern elephant, supremely intelligent creatures living and fighting for their lives in a world of poachers, new human settlements and other dangers. Together with the top elephant researchers in the world, we learn about how these gentle giants exhibit empathy, grief, joy, fear and vengefulness. The more we understand these majestic creatures, the more we can help them live on for future generations.

The Experts

 

Sir Iain Douglas Hamilton is one ofthe world’s foremost authorities on the African elephant and founder of Save the Elephants, a leading research and conservation organization. In 1988 he was awarded the Order of the Golden Ark — one of conservation’s highest awards — and in 2015 he was awarded the Order of the British Empire (CBE). Save the Elephants conducts vital research on elephant behavior and ecology and pioneered GPS radio tracking in Africa to provide fresh insight into the life of elephants.

 

Frank Pope tracks the daily movements of elephants across a dangerous landscape. Pope is chief operations officer for Save the Elephants. He speaks to the fact that that elephants have learned exactly where safe territory ends and enemy territory begins. This new behavior proves that the elephants are aware of the location of their enemies, and that they have learned to proactively strategize their movements to avoid their foes.

Josh Plotnik founded Think Elephants International in 2011.His research on elephant intelligence has been published in some of science’s top peer-reviewed journals and has garnered millions of media impressions since 2006. Perhaps his best-known study centers on elephant self-awareness, which was conducted by placing a mirror in front of captive Asian elephants. He suggests that a mirror may truly be the window to an elephant’s soul, but he’s never shown a wild African elephant a mirror until now.

Joyce Poole, co-founder of Elephant Voices and one of the world’s leading elephant behaviorists, is an expert on how elephants communicate with one another. She shares some of the more than 250 postures, gestures and vocalizations she has identified that elephants use to communicate, and reveals their extraordinary ability to plan and coordinate their responses to threats.

Bob Jacobs studies the brains of elephants and humans at Colorado College. He reveals just how incredibly interconnected elephant brains are, and the massive processing power their huge brains possess. Elephants may be able to understand what what another animal is thinking, a trait that very few creatures can claim.

Caitlin O’Connell is a consulting faculty member at Stanford University School of Medicine who has studied elephants in the wild for the past 25 years. She demonstrates how incredibly sensitive elephants are to underground vibrations. This superhero trait gives them a long-range communication system to aid in detecting potential threats for miles around.

Mind of a Giant was produced for Nat Geo WILD by Vulcan Productions in association with Off The Fence. For Off The Fence, executive producer is Ellen Windemuth. For Vulcan Productions, executive producers are Paul G. Allen, Jody Allen, Carole Tomkoand Rocky Collins. For Nat Geo WILD, executive producer and senior vice president of development and production is Janet Han Vissering.

National Geographic Channels

The National Geographic Channels (The Channels) form the television and production arm of National Geographic Partners, a joint venture between 21st Century Fox and the National Geographic Society. As a global leader in premium science, adventure and exploration programming, the Channels include: National Geographic Channel (NGC), Nat Geo WILD, Nat Geo People and Nat Geo MUNDO. Additionally, the Channels also run the in-house television production unit, National Geographic Studios. The Channels contribute to the National Geographic Society’s commitment to exploration, conservation and education with entertaining, innovative programming from A-level talent around the world, and with profits that help support the society’s mission. Globally, NGC is available in more than 440 million homes in 171 countries and 45 languages, and Nat Geo WILD is available in 131 countries and 38 languages. National Geographic Partners is also a leader in social media, with a fan base of 250 million people across all of its social pages. NGC contributes over 55 million social media fans globally on Facebook alone. For more information, visit www.natgeotv.com and www.natgeowild.com.

About Vulcan Productions

Vulcan Productions is dedicated to the power of storytelling. The division produces content and large-scale campaigns that entertain, electrify and change the way people understand the world’s toughest challenges. Vulcan Productions’ films, television series and digital content spark ideas and turn action into measurable impact.  Founded by Paul G. Allen and his sister Jody Allen in 1997, Vulcan Productions creates content across all platforms, extending the wide-ranging work of Vulcan Inc. in wildlife, science, climate, oceans, education, technology, current social issues, history and the arts. Award-winning projects include Racing Extinction, Academy Award®-nominated Body Team 12, We The Economy, #ISurvivedEbola,Girl Rising, and The Blues. Upcoming projects include Ivory, Naledi: A Baby Elephant’s Tale and Unseen Enemy.

 

Oakland, CA…May 10, 2016 – Seven little piggies- that is, baby warthogs- are now on exhibit at Oakland Zoo. Almost three years ago, female warthogs Frenchie and Alice were brought to Oakland Zoo in hopes of a ‘love connection’ with Simon – the Zoo’s resident male. It took a little while but Simon has proven himself quite a catch – Alice and Frenchie have both given birth to litters exactly one week apart.

Frenchie birthed the first litter of three on May 6, and days later the second litter of four piglets was born to Alice on May 13 – both sows are also first-time moms. Zookeepers have been readying for the piglets’ arrival for months, via closed circuit cameras in the animals’ night house dens and continue to monitor the maternal care and the developmental milestones of the piglets.

“We are thrilled to have two litters of healthy piglets! Both sows, "Frenchie" and "Alice" are first time moms, and are doing a wonderful job and being very protective. All seven piglets are just now beginning to explore their surroundings under the watchful eyes of their moms and keepers,” Lovesong Cahill, Senior Zookeeper.

Zookeepers worked very hard preparing for the births by making changes to the warthogs’ night houses and exhibit; including modifying denning boxes to receive central heating, piglet-proofing gates and other areas the piglets will have access to, and monitoring the pregnancy progress through positive-reinforcement training. This training resulted in one of the mothers allowing ultrasound imaging of her piglets in utero.

Over the next couple months, both litters will have access to the exhibit, but may or may not be visible depending on their preference to come out or stay in the warthogs' night house. 

Warthogs typically birth two to three piglets complete with tusks to jockey for the best nursing position. The piglets, covered in a sparse coarse fur, are quite mobile soon after birth, but remain in the den for 10-20 days. They will wean from the sow at about three months old. Both sexes are born with the characteristic ‘mutton chops’, but males are easily determined by ‘warts’ that are visible at birth. Both sexes eventually develop ‘warts’, but boars display the most obvious protuberances of thick fleshy pads below their eyes and above their tusks, which protect their face when competing for females. None of the piglets have been sexed yet as Zookeepers are keeping their distance to allow the dams and piglets their privacy.

“Whenever animals breed at the Zoo, we plan not just for the health of the newborns and a great start to their life, but we also work with our animal expert colleagues at AZA accredited zoos across the country to plan for the often arduous task of social introductions,” said Darren Minier, Zoological Manager at Oakland Zoo.

The decision to breed our warthogs is based on a rigorous process with other AZA (Association of Zoos and Aquariums) accredited Zoos, through a program called the SSP (Species Survival Plan), which tracks the genetics of individual animals, the social, environmental and health needs of each, and the overall needs of the population in zoos. The goal is to assure the best in welfare for each animal and the population as a whole. 

 

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ABOUT WARTHOGS: Warthogs have been known to live into their mid to late teens in captivity. They are found in sub-Sahara Africa, in the grassland and savannah habitats. Typically, these animals are seen eating, sleeping, and wallowing in the mud. They will rest frequently during the afternoon hours. Warthogs are in the pig family and can make the grunting and squealing sounds associated with that type of animal. When greeting one another through the fence or on exhibit, they make what is described by zookeepers as a low repetitious grunt. Gestation period is approximately 170 days.  Sows typically birth two-four piglets, each weighing about 6 pounds. Piglets will nurse up to four months of age, and become independent at six months.

ABOUT OAKLAND ZOO:

The Bay Area's award-winning Oakland Zoo is home to more than 660 native and exotic animals. The Zoo offers many educational programs and kid's activities perfect for science field trips, family day trips and exciting birthday parties. Oakland Zoo is dedicated to the humane treatment of animals and wildlife conservation onsite and worldwide; with 25¢ from each ticket donated to support conservation partners and programs around the world. The California Trail, a transformational project that more than doubles our size, opens in 2018, and will further our commitment to animal care, education, and conservation with a focus on this state’s remarkable native wildlife. Nestled in the Oakland Hills, in 500-acre Knowland Park, the Zoo is located at 9777 Golf Links Road, off Highway 580. The East Bay Zoological Society (Oakland Zoo) is a nonprofit 501(c)3 organization supported in part by members, contributions, the City of Oakland and the East Bay Regional Parks. For more information, go to: www.oaklandzoo.org

 

 

Widespread Contamination Also Affects Humans and Other Wildlife
 

(Washington, D.C., June 2, 2016)A new study published in theJournal of Wildlife Diseaseshas documented evidence of “widespread contamination of habitat” in Hawai‘i caused by feral cats. This latest research has alarming implications for the endangered Hawaiian Goose (Nēnē) and other animals found throughout the Hawaiian Islands.

The peer-reviewedstudy, conducted by scientists from the United States Geological Survey, the U.S.  Department of Agriculture, the University of Tennessee, and the state’s Division of Forestry and Wildlife, evaluated the prevalence of infection withToxoplasma gondiiamong Nēnē, Hawai‘i’s state bird.T. gondiiis a protozoan parasite that causes toxoplasmosis in humans and wildlife and is the “most-commonly encountered infectious disease” in Nēnē, the study reports.T. gondiirelies on cats to complete its life cycle and is excreted into the environment through cat feces. A single cat may excrete hundreds of millions of infectious eggs (called “oocysts”) in its feces.

The study found between 21 and 48 percent of Nēnē tested positive for past infection, depending on the island. The island of Moloka‘i had the highest infection rate (48 percent), followed by 23 percent on Maui and 21 percent on Kaua‘i. According to the authors, the higher rate on Moloka‘i may have been due to “a conspicuously consistent presence of feral cats.”

“This research confirms earlier studies dating from the 1970s that this parasite is probably found in tropical island ecosystems wherever there are feral cats,” said Dr. Thierry Work, the study’s lead author. “Recent studies also suggest that animals and humans are more prone to trauma when infected withT. gondii. Trauma is the chief cause of death for Nēnē, and infections withT. gondiimay be making them more vulnerable, but confirming that will require additional studies.”

Nēnē are not the only Hawaiian wildlife to test positive forT. gondii. Other birds, such as the endangered Hawaiian Crow (‘Alalā), and mammals, such as endangered Hawaiian monk seals, are also susceptible and have died from infection. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), in response to increasing seal deaths, elevated toxoplasmosis to a disease of “serious concern.” According to the Main Hawaiian Islands Monk Seal Management Plan, NOAA is concerned both with seal deaths and “the secondary and cumulative impacts of subclinical or chronic disease.”

Visitors to and residents of Hawai‘i are also at risk from toxoplasmosis. Ingestion or inhalation of cat-transmitted oocysts may result in miscarriages, fetal abnormalities, blindness, memory loss, or death. A 2011studyfound that nearly 80 percent of sampled mothers of congenitally infected infants (those infected byT. gondiiin the womb) contracted their infections as a result of environmental contamination from cat feces.

A 2013studyby scientists from the Stanley Medical Research Institute and Johns Hopkins University also called attention to cats as the means of transmission to people. “Because cats are now so ubiquitous in the environment, one may become infected [withT. gondii] by neighboring cats which defecate in one’s garden or play area, or by playing in public areas such as parks or school grounds,” the study said.  “Indeed, as cats increasingly contaminate public areas with T. gondii oocysts, it will become progressively more difficult to avoid exposure.”

As well as spreading disease, cats are also a non-native predator that directly kill native wildlife in Hawai‘i and on islands around the world. In Hawai‘i, already known as the bird extinction capital of the world, feral cats kill endangered Hawaiian Petrels (‘Ua‘u), Newell’s Shearwaters (‘A‘o), and Palila, among others. A 2011studyrecorded feral cat impacts on at least 120 different islands worldwide and determined that feral cats are responsible for at least 14 percent of global bird, mammal, and reptile extinctions.

“While we appreciate cats as pets and acknowledge the important role pet cats play in many people’s lives, it is clear that the continued presence of feral cats in our parks and neighborhoods is having detrimental impacts on people and wildlife,” said Grant Sizemore, Director of Invasive Species Programs at American Bird Conservancy. “Before another species goes extinct or another person is affected by toxoplasmosis, we need to acknowledge the severity of the problem and take decisive actions to resolve it. What is required is responsible pet ownership and the effective removal of free-roaming feral cats from the landscape.”

Image: Endangered Nēnē (Hawaiian Goose) is the direct and indirect victim of disease-spreading feral cats. Photo by Jack Jeffrey.

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American Bird Conservancy is the Western Hemisphere's bird conservation specialist—the only organization with a single and steadfast commitment to achieving conservation results for native birds and their habitats throughout the Americas.  With a focus on efficiency and working in partnership, we take on the toughest problems facing birds today, innovating and building on sound science to halt extinctions, protect habitats, eliminate threats, and build capacity for bird conservation.

Marbled Murrelet’s protected zone reduced by 98 percent, carbon sequestration cut by 38 percent

MAMU inNest_Thomas Hamer_HamerEnviornmental LP_U (002)

(Washington, D.C. May 16, 2016)The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) is proposing a final forest plan for the forests it manages in Oregon that weakens existing protections for the threatenedMarbled Murrelet and Northern Spotted Owl. These protections were put in place in 1995 as part of President Clinton’s Northwest Forest Plan.

American Bird Conservancy (ABC) has submitted aletterto BLM, and is urging Obama administration officials to shelve the proposed plan and to keep the Northwest Forest Plan in effect until it can be updated next year in conjunction with the Forest Service.

“The Marbled Murrelet is an endangered species being placed at great risk by the BLM’s plan to increase logging in mature forests,” said Steve Holmer, ABC’s Senior Policy Advisor. “The Northwest Forest Plan provided for half-mile buffers needed to mitigate for the heavily fragmented landscape. This common-sense safeguard must be retained.”

The Marbled Murrelet nests on large branches of mature and old-growth trees. It is listed as a threatened species under the Endangered Species Act because of habitat loss caused primarily by logging of old-growth forests. An estimated 19,000 birds remain, but the Washington State population is currently in a steep 5.9 percent annual decline, and long-term population projections indicate a high risk of extinction in California and Oregon within the next 100 years.

Marbled Murrelet nests suffer heavier predation in areas where the forest is not intact. Clearcutting proposed in the BLM plan for Oregon will further fragment the landscape. The current buffers protect 503 acres of habitat based on a circular radius from the nest site. A 300-foot buffer provides for only 6.5 acres of protected habitat,a 98% reduction from the current standard.

The BLM plan calls for commercial logging that is not focused on restoration of late-successional conditions in the reserves, which raises doubt that they will function as intended. The Northwest Forest Plan would increase the amount of carbon stored in the area over the next 100 years by 82 percent, reducing the amount of heat-trapping gas in the atmosphere. But the BLM plan would sequester much less carbon--only 44 percent, a blow to efforts to fight global climate change.

In the system of late-successional reserves, the loss of carbon storage is even more glaring. The Northwest Forest Plan anticipates that reserves will have a 100 percent increase in carbon sequestration. Under the BLM plan the reserves, which will be heavily logged, will only store 58 percent more carbon.

The BLM plan is proposing a five-to-eight-year moratorium on owl take until a Barred Owl control program is initiated in the planning area. Research on the effectiveness of Barred Owl removal has just begun, and uncertainty remains as to how much Barred Owl control the public will support over the long term.

“The Northern Spotted Owl will benefit from the proposed moratorium on take, but its habitat is at greater risk over the long-term because of the extensive logging planned in the late-successional reserves,” said Holmer. “We advise placing a much longer moratorium on owl take. In about 30 years, a large amount of new, suitable owl habitat will become available under the Northwest Forest Plan as forests mature. We need to stay the course and be as protective of the owl as possible until then.”

(Photo: The Marbled Murrelet nests on the branches of mature and old-growth trees. Photo by Thomas Hamer of Hamer Environmental.)

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American Bird Conservancy is the Western Hemisphere's bird conservation specialist—the only organization with a single and steadfast commitment to achieving conservation results for native birds and their habitats throughout the Americas.  With a focus on efficiency and working in partnership, we take on the toughest problems facing birds today, innovating and building on sound science to halt extinctions, protect habitats, eliminate threats, and build capacity for bird conservation.

 

For Ten Years Running, Wild Birds Unlimited Helps Children Go To Camp

NEW YORK (May 12, 2016)- Each year, more than 6,000 campers from grades Pre-K to 12 spend time outside and connect with the natural world at any one of the National Audubon Society’s 30 nature camps in 21 states. For the past decade, thousands of these campers have been able to attend thanks to the generosity of Wild Birds Unlimited, North America’s largest franchise system of bird-feeding and nature specialty stores. This year, 125 more children will gain the experience of a lifetime made possible by a Wild Birds Unlimited $25,000 scholarship.

“Inspiring the next generation of leaders to care about birds and the environment is paramount to the overall success of Audubon’s conservation mission,” said Elaine O’Sullivan, Director of Educational Publishing at Audubon. “Thanks to the generosity of Wild Birds Unlimited, we can attract campers from all socioeconomic backgrounds. Do yourself, your children and the world’s birds a favor and enroll your kid in an Audubon nature camp today. Not only will the children and their families benefit from a world-class environmental education, but birds will have gained a lifelong advocate.”

Study after study show children are spending less time outdoors than ever before. Not only are America’s youth missing out on the natural beauty of the United States, but studies also demonstrate lifelong benefits of unplugging and connecting with nature. Each of Audubon’s 30 day camps and 3 overnight camps have their own unique themes and cater to the interests and needs of the children in their respective communities.

“By providing children with an opportunity to experience natural surroundings in these camps, we’re building what often becomes a lifelong passion for nature and conservation,” said Jim Carpenter, CEO and Founder of Wild Birds Unlimited.

For more information on details about general registration, camp programs and scholarships please contact the camp where you or your children want to connect to nature. Scholarship eligibility is determined by each camp. A full list of Audubon camps and locations can be found here.

ABOUT WILD BIRDS UNLIMITED

Wild Birds Unlimited is the original and largest franchise system of backyard bird feeding and nature specialty stores with more than 280 locations throughout the United States and Canada. Wild Birds Unlimited specializes in bringing people and nature together with bird feeding and nature products, expert advice and educational events. Visit their Web site and shop online at www.wbu.com.

ABOUT AUDUBON

The National Audubon Society saves birds and their habitats throughout the Americas using science, advocacy, education and on-the-ground conservation. Audubon's state programs, nature centers, chapters and partners have an unparalleled wingspan that reaches millions of people each year to inform, inspire and unite diverse communities in conservation action. Since 1905, Audubon's vision has been a world in which people and wildlife thrive. Audubon is a nonprofit conservation organization. Learn more at www.audubon.org and @audubonsociety.

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Reserve Expansion Will Help Create New Ecological Corridor to Conserve Vanishing Cloud Forests

El Oro Parakeets are among the rare species protected at the Buenaventura Reserve. Photo by

(Washington, D.C. May 10, 2016)The Ecuadorian nonprofit Fundación Jocotoco, with the support of American Bird Conservancy and U.K.-based international conservation group World Land Trust, has acquired 233 acres (94 hectares) of critically important cloud-forest habitat in Ecuador, home to a rare parakeet—the endangeredEl Oro Parakeet—as well as El Oro Tapaculo and other rare species. The acquisition expands the existing Buenaventura Reserve from 5,583 acres (2,259 hectares) to 5,816 acres (2,354 hectares), and contributes to the creation of an ecological corridor that will connect Buenventura to three proposed government reserves, encompassing an area 56 miles long.

“This corridor is vital because although Buenaventura Reserve is a safe haven for numerous endangered species, it is becoming isolated within a sea of cattle-ranched landscape,” said Wendy Willis, ABC International Conservation Program Officer.

“This is a crucial addition to Buenaventura Reserve,” said Martin Schaefer, Executive Director of Fundación Jocotoco. “Most important, the newly acquired property includes one of the last remaining forests in the area. Protecting it allows us to reduce the largest non-forested gap in the southern distribution range of the El Oro Parakeet.” Pastureland that is also part of the just-acquired land will be allowed to regenerate, restoring forest cover for the rare parakeet and other birds.

“Until 1999, when Fundación Jocotoco stepped in, none of this important habitat was protected,” said Roger Wilson, World Land Trust’s Director of Conservation. “Fundación Jocotoco are to be congratulated on successfully expanding this protected area and safeguarding the future of its endangered species, including El Oro Parakeet.”

The colorful, highly social, cavity-nesting El Oro Parakeet was only discovered in 1980, and its range is limited to a few areas on the western slope of the Andes in southwestern Ecuador. The Buenaventura Reserve, a stronghold for the birds, is the only place where they are protected. Fortunately, the reserve suffered no serious damage from the recent 7.8-magnitude earthquake that struck Ecuador, though other areas of the country were hard hit.

ABC and World Land Trust each raised half the money to cover the purchase of the land and related legal costs. The Buenaventura expansion was supported by more than 200 donors, including David and Patricia Davidson, David Harrison, Barbara Rizzo, and a matching contribution by The Robert W. Wilson Trust. ABC also raised an additional $15,000 to cover management costs for the new property, which includes guard salaries, fencing, and marking boundaries.

The acquisition enables Fundación Jocotoco to fill in some of the gaps in a landscape increasingly threatened by habitat loss and ranching. Less than 10 percent of the original forests in the area remain, putting both the El Oro Parakeet and other species like El Oro Tapaculo at risk.

“More than 14 years of intense research have shown that the genetic diversity of both species suffers from ongoing fragmentation and isolation,” Schaefer said. That makes the expansion of the Buenaventura Reserve and the longer-term creation of an ecological corridor in the area essential to the long-term conservation of the El Oro Parakeet and the many other species endemic to this unique and threatened area.

(Pictured: El Oro Parakeets are among the rare species protected at the Buenaventura Reserve. Photo by Francisco Sornoza, Fundación Jocotoco.)

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American Bird Conservancy is the Western Hemisphere's bird conservation specialist—the only organization with a single and steadfast commitment to achieving conservation results for native birds and their habitats throughout the Americas.  With a focus on efficiency and working in partnership, we take on the toughest problems facing birds today, innovating and building on sound science to halt extinctions, protect habitats, eliminate threats, and build capacity for bird conservation.

World Land Trust (WLT) is an international conservation charity, which protects the world’s most biologically important and threatened habitats acre by acre. Since its foundation in 1989, WLT has funded partner organizations around the world to create reserves, and give permanent protection to habitats and wildlife.

Fundación Jocotoco is an Ecuadorian nongovernmental organization established in 1998 to protect land of critical importance to the conservation of Ecuador’s endangered birds and associated biodiversity. Jocotoco primarily achieves this by purchasing lands and managing them as ecological reserves.

ARE WE SMART ENOUGH

TO KNOW

HOW SMART ANIMALS ARE?

by Frans de Waal

“A remarkable book by a remarkable scientist. Drawing on a growing body of research including his own, de Waal shows that animals, from elephants and chimpanzees to the lowly invertebrates, are not only smarter than we thought but also engaged in forms of thought we have only begun to understand.”

—Edward O. Wilson,

University Professor Emeritus, Harvard University

ARE WE SMART ENOUGH TO KNOW HOW SMART ANIMALS ARE? will completely change your perception of the abilities of animals. This book takes the reader on the fascinating journey of discovery into the world of animal problem-solving.”

—Temple Grandin,

author of Animals in Translation and Animals Make Us Human

“So, are we ‘smart enough to know how smart animals are?’ The question will occur to you many times as you read Frans de Waal’s remarkable distillations of science in this astonishingly broad-spectrum book. I guarantee one thing: readers come away a lot smarter. As this book shows, we are here on Planet Earth with plenty of intelligent company.”

—Carl Safina,

author of Beyond Words: What Animals Think and Feel

A fascinating history of the study of animal behavior and cognition from a world-renowned expert, ARE WE SMART ENOUGH TO KNOW HOW SMART ANIMALS ARE? [W. W. Norton & Company; April 25, 2016; $27.95 hardcover] reflects author Frans de Waal’s deep love for animals as well as his dedication to forwarding his field of study. With anecdotes and humor, de Waal, director of the Living Links Center at the Yerkes National Primate Research Center, relates the story of his own career and surveys an enormous variety of animal intelligence, which he places on a spectrum that also includes human intelligence—putting to rest any lingering doubts that the era of behaviorism is over.

From ravens to wasps, elephants to whales, spiders to octopuses, de Waal explores the yin-yang relationship between studying captive animals and observing them in the wild, outlining the advantages and limitations to both. He reviews key theories and methodologies, giving generous and widespread credit to the scientists who came before him while also discussing the problematic attitudes that he and his contemporaries are still unraveling. Many of the controversies in the field center around one question: How unique is human consciousness in the animal kingdom? Winding through topics like language, culture, politics, and problem solving, de Waal asks us to measure animal cognition not against human cognition but alongside it.

Imagine a world that didn’t rely on an individual’s ability to recognize other individuals. Imagine that a trunk means for elephant cognition what a grasping hand means for ours. De Waal builds up to the idea that for scientists to truly chart animal cognition, they must stop measuring animals’ success at a presented task against human success at that same task and accept that animals are experts at what is required for survival in their own natural environments.

Full of compassion for humans and animals alike, ARE WE SMART ENOUGH TO KNOW HOW SMART ANIMALS ARE?depicts aspects of animal behavior few people witness, and leads the reader to contemplate not only the definition of humanity but why we seek—or fear finding—humanity in nature.

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Frans de Waal has been named one of Time magazine’s 100 Most Influential People. The author of The Bonobo and the Atheist, among many other works, he is the C. H. Candler Professor in Emory University’s Psychology Department and director of the Living Links Center at the Yerkes National Primate Research Center. He lives in Atlanta.

TITLE: ARE WE SMART ENOUGH TO KNOW HOW SMART ANIMALS ARE?

AUTHOR: Frans de Waal

ISBN: 978-0-393-24618-6

PUBLICATION DATE: April 25, 2016

PRICE: $27.95 hardcover

PAGES: 352

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