Displaying items by tag: conservation
APRIL NEWSLETTER
Our 2018 Accomplishments
Looking back, looking forward
This past year has been a story of challenges: Our coastal community faced another season of devastating storms, navigated a challenging political scene, and fought against cutbacks to vital programs and resources. 
 
Yet at year end, as I reflect upon all we have accomplished despite these hardships, I remember how much we can accomplish together – and that is truly inspiring.
 
In places like Long Beach and Annapolis, we brought together experts and passionate leaders to discuss the future of our estuaries and how to leverage the power of our collective voice. We understand the importance of both science and community, and know that now is the time to take action to protect our coasts for the future. 
 
I’m looking forward to what’s next, knowing that if we tackle it together, our estuaries will surely thrive.
 
Note from RAE president, Jeff Benoit
 
 
Cleaning toxic habitats
 
We're working to remove creosote wood pilings from the beaches of the Puget Sound – helping to restore the local food chain for the region's orcas.
Bay Grasses in Classes
 
Tampa Bay Watch has partnered with 15 schools to educate the next generation of environmental stewards by restoring their estuary.
 
 
Convening the experts
 
The Blue Carbon National Working Group meeting took place this past year and brought together more than 40 experts in science, academia, research, and policy.
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Green tip of the month
 
Adding a rainwater harvesting barrel to your house can help cut down on water utility costs and benefits the environment by preventing contaminated runoff from entering our streams.
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Upcoming Webinars
 
 
RAE is a national leader in understanding the economic importance of estuaries, advancing blue carbon science, creating an imperative for living shorelines, and promoting strategies to enhance coastal resilience across the country.
Photo credits: Aerial photos of the Snohomish Estuary courtesy of Whit Hassett.

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THE FLORIDA AQUARIUM LEADS A MULTI-AGENCY EFFORT OF THE LARGEST GENETICALLY DIVERSE CORAL OUTPLANTING IN FLORIDA'S HISTORY

 

TAMPA, Fla., Tuesday, April 2, 2019- Beginning tomorrow and for the next week, The Florida Aquarium’s biologists and divers, in partnership with the Coral Restoration Foundation and Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, the University of Florida, Nova Southeastern University, and others will embark on an unprecedented conservation mission designed to help the Florida Reef Tract combat a rapidly spreading disease that can potentially put this animal at risk of extinction.
 
Over 3,000 unique genotype corals will be introduced to the Florida Reef Tract. These corals were created from eggs and sperm from the corals in Coral Restoration Foundation Coral Tree nursery, and reared at The Florida Aquarium. They will be outplanted into various specific locations as part of an unprecedented conservation mission.
 
The health of the Florida Reef Tract, which spans nearly 150 miles, from Key Biscayne through the Florida Keys, is the third largest coral barrier reef system in the world, and critical for the animals and people who depend on it. The reefs of the Florida Keys provide food and recreational opportunities for residents and vacationers alike, and protects coastal communities as a buffer for hurricanes and other storms. The economic impact of tourism related to the Florida Reef Tract generates $8.5 billion in economic activity and supports over 70,400 jobs.
 
Recognizing these high stakes, The Florida Aquarium will be leading the largest genetically diverse coral outplanting in Florida’s history along the Florida Reef Tract with many entities helping in this critical conservation initiative.
 
“The Florida Aquarium is proud to be leading this mission. We believe that spawning, rearing and introducing genetically diverse coral is our best hope for saving the Florida Reef Tract,” said Roger Germann, President and CEO, “We could not conduct an outplanting of this scale without the partnership we have with the Coral Restoration Foundation, Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission and others. This is a prime example of how working together is the key to restoring our Blue Planet.”
 
“Given the challenges facing our reefs, we recognize both the importance and complexity of restoring them,” said FWC Chairman, Robert Spottswood.  “Working together through innovative partnerships such as this one is the first step of many that will bring enhanced genetic diversity and resilience to our reefs.”
 
“We are excited to see these corals, spawned here at Coral Restoration Foundation and reared at The Florida Aquarium returned to our nurseries,” Scott Graves, COO said. “This is the most successful spawning and rearing of staghorn coral to date, and we’re extremely excited to continue to partner with The Florida Aquarium on the project.  These sexual recruits embody a significant increase in the genetic diversity of this imperiled species, and represent a big leap forward for coral reef restoration.”


*All research activities occurred within the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary and under permit.*

 
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The Florida Aquarium is a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organization whose mission is to entertain, educate and inspire stewardship of the natural environment, and a vision to protect and restore our blue planet.
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(Washington, D.C., Dec. 1, 2017) Conserving Greater Sage-Grouse requires more habitat protection, not less. That’s the message conservation groups are delivering to the administration as it considers potentially devastating revisions to the landmark 2015 Greater Sage-Grouse conservation planning initiative. The revisions, if enacted, would come at too high a cost to the sage-grouse and the remaining sagebrush habitat on public lands, sending the future of both the bird and its iconic landscape back into uncertainty.

More habitat protection is needed to conserve sage-grouse. Photo by Warren Cooke“Because of these proposed backward-looking changes and new development plans for public lands in the region, the grouse is once again at risk of extinction and in need of stronger protection,” said Steve Holmer, American Bird Conservancy’s Vice President of Policy. “The stability and certainty provided to local communities and land users by the federal management plans and other grouse conservation measures are also now at risk of being lost if these changes are put into place.”

Instead of changing direction, the federal government should live up to promises it made in 2015 to ensure sage-grouse protection — promises that formed the basis for not listing the sage-grouse under the Endangered Species Act. The coalition of conservation groups, which includes those most focused on sage-grouse protection over the past decade, are gravely concerned about the recommendation made in the Interior Department’s Sage-Grouse Report to roll back those vital protections and eliminate Sagebrush Focal Areas.

“We oppose the administration's plan to roll back these protections, and also oppose efforts to reduce sage-grouse habitat by further reducing protected habitats, reversing adaptive management that occurs when habitat or population triggers are tripped, or eliminating general habitat management areas in Utah,” said Rebecca Fischer of WildEarth Guardians. “It's also appalling that the planning effort is occurring on a state-by-state basis. This ignores the need to consider the species’ needs at a range-wide scale and will result in the failure to apply strong and consistent protections.”

The Greater Sage-Grouse has become a wildly popular and iconic symbol of the American West and its wide-open sagebrush basins. Year after year, sage-grouse gather in the spring at small arenas in the sagebrush called leks to dance, display, and mate. Their mating dance is one of the great natural spectacles of the West.

“The protections which the administration appears ready to eviscerate are essential, not just for sage-grouse but for a broad diversity of wildlife and the health of public lands in the West,” said Erik Molvar of Western Watersheds Project. “Sagebrush Focal Areas are the only habitats where the land-use plans even come close to the protections recommended by scientific experts, so at minimum all of the priority habitats should receive this level of protection.”

The groups are urging Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke to adopt the scientific recommendations of the Bureau of Land Management’s own science team on sage-grouse. Those recommendations include refraining from fluid-mineral leasing in priority habitats, buffering leks by four miles to prevent any impacts from known disturbances, ensuring that all grazing allotments are meeting science-based standards for sagebrush habitat integrity, ceasing vegetation treatments that degrade sagebrush habitat, preserving winter habitats, limiting disturbances to one per section and 3 percent of each square mile of priority habitat, and withdrawing sagebrush habitats from mining. The agencies’ analysis should preserve priority habitats through a network of areas of critical environmental concern and zoological areas managed to protect sage-grouse, according to the groups.

John Fitzpatrick, Director of the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, said: “This ill-timed revision of federal sage-grouse management plans, before they have had a chance to work, runs counter to the best available science.”

Instead of balancing development with conservation, the administration has adopted a policy of “energy dominance,” prioritizing fossil fuel development over other uses on western public lands.

“This attack on sage-grouse conservation is part of a larger trend of plundering public lands and resources,” said Michael Saul of the Center for Biological Diversity. “Secretary Zinke’s proposed gutting of the sage-grouse plans reads like an oil and gas industry wish list, and is a recipe for accelerating the decline of Greater Sage-Grouse across the West.”

Photo of Greater Sage-Grouse by Warren Cooke

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American Bird Conservancy is dedicated to conserving birds and their habitats throughout the Americas. With an emphasis on achieving results and working in partnership, we take on the greatest problems facing birds today, innovating and building on rapid advancements in science to halt extinctions, protect habitats, eliminate threats, and build capacity for bird conservation.

The Center for Biological Diversity is a national, nonprofit conservation organization with more than 1.5 million members and online activists dedicated to the protection of endangered species and wild places.

The Cornell Lab of Ornithology is a membership institution dedicated to interpreting and conserving the earth’s biological diversity through research, education, and citizen science focused on birds.

Western Watersheds Project works to protect and restore western watersheds and wildlife through education, public policy initiatives, and legal advocacy. WWP works to influence and improve public lands management throughout the West with a primary focus on the negative impacts of livestock grazing on 250 million acres of western public lands.

WildEarth Guardians is a nonprofit environmental advocacy organization dedicated to protecting the wildlife, wild places, wild rivers, and health of the American West. Guardians has worked for years and continues to work to protect the Greater Sage-Grouse and the Sagebrush Sea so that future generations might continue to enjoy this spectacular species.

American Bird Conservancy’s Statement on New Bills to Ban Chlorpyrifos

(Washington, D.C., July 25, 2017) We applaud the U.S. Senators who today introduced a bill to ban chlorpyrifos, a widely used pesticide that has been killing birds and poisoning the environment for the past half-century: Tom Udall (D-NM)Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Cory Booker (D-NJ), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Kamala Harris (D-CA), and Edward J. Markey (D-MA). We’re also grateful to Representatives Nydia Velazquez (D-NY) and Keith Ellison (D-MN), who have offered a companion bill in the House.

The “Protect Children, Farmers & Farmworkers from Nerve Agent Pesticides Act” would prohibit all chlorpyrifos use by amending the U.S. Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act that oversees food safety.

Chlorpyrifos, an organophosphate related to sarin nerve gas, is used in production of common crops such as strawberries, apples, citrus, and broccoli. In addition to the pesticide’s well-known threats to human health, American Bird Conservancy (ABC) is concerned about the pesticide’s effects on birds, including to declining species like the Mountain Plover (shown). A recent draft biological evaluation from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) stated that chlorpyrifos is likely to adversely affect 97 percent of all wildlife, including more than 100 listed bird species listed under the Endangered Species Act.

ABC has been calling for a ban on the use of chlorpyrifos for years. EPA scientists agreed and were on course to ban the pesticide from use on all crops. In March 2017, however, the EPA administrator reversed the recommendation of the agency’s own scientists and extended chlorpyrifos’ registration for another five years.

"It’s high time to outlaw the use of chlorpyrifos. It’s well known that this pesticide is lethal to birds, other wildlife, and people,” said Cynthia Palmer, ABC's Pesticide Program Director. “We’re encouraged by the leadership shown today in Congress.”

(Photo: Mountain Plover by Greg Homel/Natural Elements Productions)

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American Bird Conservancy is dedicated to conserving birds and their habitats throughout the Americas. With an emphasis on achieving results and working in partnership, we take on the greatest problems facing birds today, innovating and building on rapid advancements in science to halt extinctions, protect habitats, eliminate threats, and build capacity for bird conservation.

Feared Extinct, the Táchira Antpitta Has Been Found in Remote Andean Region

 

(Washington, D.C., July 25, 2017) An international team of researchers has solved one of South America’s great bird mysteries. Working deep in the mountainous forests of western Venezuela, they have rediscovered the Táchira Antpitta, a plump brown bird species not seen since it was first recorded in the 1950s.

The 7.5-inch-long Táchira (TAH-chee-rah) Antpitta had not been spotted since 1955-56, when ornithologists first recorded and described it. The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) lists the species as Critically Endangered, and many feared it was lost for good.

Last year, scientists of the Red Siskin Initiative (RSI) — a conservation partnership between the Smithsonian and several scientific organizations in Venezuela — organized a team to go in search of the antpitta. The team was led by Jhonathan Miranda of RSI and Provita, and included colleagues Alejandro Nagy, Peter Bichier of the University of California at Santa Cruz, and Miguel Lentino and Miguel Matta of the Colección Ornitólogica Phelps (COP). American Bird Conservancy (ABC) provided financial support through a William Belton Conservation Fund grant as part of its ongoing Search for Lost Birds.

The team set out in June 2016, knowing that several factors were likely to make the antpitta especially challenging to find, if in fact it still existed. The species inhabits dense undergrowth at altitudes of 5,000 to 7,000 feet in a rugged and hard-to-reach region of the Andes. Difficult to identify visually, the bird differs in coloration in subtle ways from related species.

Antpittas are also easier to hear than to see. But without sound recordings, nobody knew what to listen for.

The researchers had an advantage: They knew where to look.  “We followed the route described in the earlier expedition’s field notebooks to locate the original site of the discovery,” Miranda said.

To reach the remote location, part of what is now El Tamá National Park, the team traveled by foot on steep and narrow Andean trails, with a mule train to carry their gear. From their campsite, the team hiked two hours in the dark to reach appropriate habitat at dawn, the best time to hear the birds sing.

The first day there, Miranda and Nagy detected the distinctive song of an antpitta they had not heard before. “We were thrilled to re-find the Táchira Antpitta during our first day in the field,” said Miranda, “and we think they persist in more places we have not yet searched.”

Over the next week, the team was able to confirm the mysterious song as that of the long-lost Táchira Antpitta, obtaining the first photographs and sound recordings ever made of the living bird.

“The rediscovery provides hope and inspiration that we still have a chance to conserve this species,” said Daniel Lebbin, ABC’s Vice President of International Programs. “We hope this rediscovery will lead to improved management of and attention for protected areas like El Tamá National Park.”

“El Tamá National Park is an important part of Venezuela’s natural heritage and recognized by the Alliance for Zero Extinction as a critical site to protect for the Táchira Antpitta and other biodiversity,” said Jon Paul Rodriguez of Instituto Venezolano de Investigaciones Científicas (IVIC, the Venezuelan Institute of Scientific Research), Provita, and the IUCN Species Survival Commission.

“Jhonathan Miranda and his RSI colleagues have resolved one of South America’s great bird mysteries, and we hope their findings will contribute to a renewed effort to conserve this species,” said Lebbin.

In the coming months, the team plans to publish the full details of their findings in a scientific journal, including how the Táchira Antpitta’s voice and visual characteristics distinguish it from other similar species. Additional field work is necessary to learn more about this mysterious bird. Similar habitat can be found nearby in Colombia, and the species might also occur there. Better knowledge of the species’ vocalizations and the visual identification gathered in this study will help researchers determine the species' full range, ecology and habitat requirements, and how best to ensure its conservation.

“This species was originally described by William H. Phelps, Jr. of the COP and Alexander Wetmore, former Secretary of the Smithsonian Institution,” said Michael Braun of the RSI and the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History. “It is fitting that the Red Siskin Initiative, in which COP and the Smithsonian are key collaborators, has been instrumental in the rediscovery. We invite those interested in helping us learn more about this species to join us.”

The Venezuela search team owes its success to a number of individuals and institutions. Logistical support came from ABC, RSI, IVIC, COP, Provita, INPARQUES, Ascanio Birding Tours, the Smithsonian Institution, and the following individuals: Carolina Afan, Miguel Angel Arvelo, David Ascanio, Michael Braun, Felix Briceño, Brian Coyle, Dan Lebbin, Cipriano Ochoa, Tomás Odenall, Jorge Perez Eman, Jon Paul Rodriguez, Kathryn Rodriguez-Clark, and Bibiana Sucre.

(Photo: Táchira Antpitta by Jhonathan Miranda)

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American Bird Conservancy is dedicated to conserving birds and their habitats throughout the Americas. With an emphasis on achieving results and working in partnership, we take on the greatest problems facing birds today, innovating and building on rapid advancements in science to halt extinctions, protect habitats, eliminate threats, and build capacity for bird conservation.

Colección Ornitólogica Phelps (Phelps Ornithological Collection) is a private organization aiming to know the diversity, distribution, taxonomic and systematics of the birds of Venezuela. It is the largest and most complete collection of birds in Latin America, and among the 20 largest collections in the world, which has allowed Venezuela to be the country of Latin America best known in birds.

Provita is an NGO devoted to conservation of Venezuela's environment in its widest sense, using multiple fields of knowledge and innovative approaches to achieve integral solutions. In our almost three decades, we have successfully completed hundreds of projects, ranging from recovery of emblematic endangered species, to developing alternative livelihoods for indigenous and rural communities.

The National Museum of Natural History, Smithsonian Institution, is the largest natural history museum in the world, with more than 140 million cataloged specimens, and annual visitorship of more than 7 million. The Museum conducts natural history research and fieldwork around the globe.

New York, NY – A new study comparing the wildlife conservation commitments of nations around the globe has found that affluent countries in the developed world commit less to the conservation of large mammals than poorer nation states. Panthera, the global wild cat conservation organization, and Oxford University’s Wildlife Conservation Research Unit (WildCRU) directed the study published today in Global Ecology and Conservation.

Led by Panthera Research Associate Dr. Peter Lindsey, scientists created a Mega-Fauna Conservation Index (MCI) to evaluate the footprint of 152 nations around the globe in conserving large, imperiled animal species, such as tigers, lions and gorillas. The MCI evaluates spatial, ecological and financial contributions, including: a) the proportion of the country occupied by each mega-fauna species; b) the proportion of mega-fauna species range that is protected; and c) the amount of money spent on conservation, either domestically or internationally, relative to GDP.

As reported today in The Economist, the study’s findings revealed that poorer countries tend to take a more active approach to the protection of large mammals than richer nations. Ninety percent of countries in North and Central America and 70 percent of countries in Africa were classified as major or above-average mega-fauna conservation performers.

Although challenged by poverty and instability in many parts of the continent, Africa prioritizes and makes more of an effort for large mammal conservation than any other region of the world. In fact, Africa accounts for four of the five top-performing mega-fauna conservation nations, including Botswana, Namibia, Tanzania and Zimbabwe. The United States ranked 19 out of the top 20 performing countries.

Conversely, approximately one-quarter of countries in Asia and Europe were identified as major mega-fauna conservation underperformers. Asia as a region scored lowest on the MCI, home to the greatest number of countries classified as conservation underperformers.

Lead author and Panthera Research Associate, Dr. Peter Lindsey, stated, “Scores of species across the globe, including tigers, lions and rhinos, are at risk of extinction due to a plethora of threats imposed by mankind. We cannot ignore the possibility that we will lose many of these incredible species unless swift, decisive and collective action is taken by the global community.”

Human-caused threats, including poaching for the illegal wildlife trade and habitat loss and persecution due to conflict with people, among others, are devastating large animal populations around the globe. Recent studies indicate that 59% of the world’s largest carnivores and 60% of the world’s largest herbivores are currently threatened with extinction.

Professor David Macdonald, Director of WildCRU and co-author of the paper said, “Every country should strive to do more to protect its wildlife. Our index provides a measure of how well each country is doing, and sets a benchmark for nations that are performing below the average level to understand the kind of contributions they need to make as a minimum. There is a strong case for countries where mega-fauna species have been historically persecuted, to assist their recovery.”

The creation of this conservation index aims to mobilize and elevate international conservation support and action for large animal species, acknowledging those countries making the greatest sacrifices for conservation and encouraging nations who are doing less to increase their efforts. Scientists seek to produce this conservation index annually to provide a public benchmark for commitment to protecting nature’s largest, and, some would say, most charismatic wildlife.

Addressing how countries can improve their MCI scores, Dr. Lindsey commented, “There are three ways. They can ‘re-wild’ their landscapes by reintroducing mega-fauna and/or by allowing the distribution of such species to increase. They can set aside more land as strictly protected areas. And they can invest more in conservation, either at home or abroad.”

At the 1992 Rio Earth Summit, developed nations vowed to allocate at least $2 billion (USD) per annum towards conservation in developing nations. However, current conservation contributions from industrialized nations have reached just half of that amount, averaging $1.1 billion per year (USD).

Co-author and Oregon State University Distinguished Professor William Ripple added, “The Mega-fauna Conservation Index is an important first step to transparency – some of the poorest countries in the world are making some of the most impressive efforts towards the conservation of this global asset and should be congratulated, whereas some of the richest nations just aren’t doing enough.”

About WildCRU
David Macdonald founded the Wildlife Conservation Research Unit (WildCRU) in 1986 at the University of Oxford. Now the foremost University-based centre for biodiversity conservation, the mission of the WildCRU is to achieve practical solutions to conservation problems through original research. WildCRU is renowned for its specialisation in wild carnivores, especially wild cats, for its long-running studies on lion and clouded leopard, and for its training centre, where early-career conservationists, so far from 32 countries, are trained by experts to become leaders in conservation, resulting in a global community of highly skilled and collaborative conservationists. Visit wildcru.org.

   
 
 

 
 
  About
Panthera
Panthera, founded in 2006, is devoted exclusively to preserving wild cats and their critical role in the world’s ecosystems. Panthera’s team of leading biologists, law enforcement experts and wild cat advocates develop innovative strategies based on the best available science to protect cheetahs, jaguars, leopards, lions, pumas, snow leopards and tigers and their vast landscapes. In 36 countries around the world, Panthera works with a wide variety of stakeholders to reduce or eliminate the most pressing threats to wild cats—securing their future, and ours.  
     
    Visit panthera.org  
   

 

Washington, D.C., December 15, 2016 -- As 2016 draws to a close, Born Free USA, a global leader in animal welfare and wildlife conservation, has released a round-up of its top 10 successes for animals this year. According to Adam M. Roberts, CEO of Born Free USA, “Despite significant national and international challenges, we have seen momentous gains for wildlife this year on issues from performing animals, to fur in fashion, to international wildlife trafficking. There is growing public awareness and momentum to stop the abuses animals face when they are held captive, or trapped, or poached for profit. Born Free USA’s successes for animals in 2016 inspire us to fight harder to build upon these gains and ensure that 2017 is an even better year for wildlife around the world.”   

International Wildlife Conservation. In the fall, a Born Free USA delegation attended the 17th Meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) in Johannesburg, South Africa. CITES Parties approved decisions and enacted measures to increase protection for several imperiled species. Born Free USA helped secure recommendations on the long-term conservation of cheetahs, including efforts to stop the illegal trade in the species; succeeded in getting CITES Parties to consider the threats facing African wild dogs for the first time; and helped stop attempts to reopen the elephant ivory and rhino horn trades. Born Free USA also played an important role in securing the adoption of a prohibition of commercial trade in all eight pangolin species.

Fur for the Animals Campaign. Born Free USA’s annual Fur for the Animals campaign—a donation drive to collect fur coats, hats, and other items to send to wildlife rehabilitators to comfort orphaned and injured animals—made international headlines this year. Since September 2016, Born Free USA has collected more than 1,000 fur item donations: more than double the donations from 2015. To date, the three-year program has received more than 1,600 fur donations, worth an estimated $3.5M, from more than 54,000 animals killed for their fur.

Debate about Whether Hunters Conserve Wildlife. In the spring, at a nationally-broadcasted live debate in New York, Born Free USA’s CEO, Adam M. Roberts, and President and CEO of The Humane Society of the United States, Wayne Pacelle, successfully argued that trophy hunting depletes wild animal populations; that it occurs in countries in which governments set non-science-based quotas; and that the millions of dollars spent on these violent “thrill kills” do not promote conservation. Roberts and Pacelle won, convincing 65% of the audience that hunting does not conserve wildlife.

Undercover Trapping Report. Five years after the release of Born Free USA’s groundbreaking undercover trapping investigation, Victims of Vanity, the organization released Victims of Vanity II in September. This investigation focuses on trapping that takes place on private, public, and protected lands in New York and Iowa. The footage exposes the brutal world of trapping, documenting everyday trapping practices that are shockingly cruel and dangerous—and which are sometimes illegal. The compelling investigation is being used to push for bans on trapping on federal and state public lands.

Report to Expose Online Sales of Exotic Pets. In October, Born Free USA released a report titled Downloading Cruelty: An Investigation into the Online Sales of Exotic Pets in the U.S. The research confirmed the enormous quantity of exotic animals advertised on the internet; at least 3,706 individual exotic animals across 1,816 unique ads were listed for sale during a three-month period. The locations of these ads situated sellers in 49 states and Washington, D.C., and the species for sale were highly diverse. The report is being used to demand greater accountability from the classified ad websites, and stronger state and federal laws to crack down on the online exotic pet trade.

Banning Weapons Used on Elephants in Traveling Shows. Born Free USA successfully worked with coalitions in Rhode Island and California to pass legislation prohibiting the use of weapons designed to inflict pain on elephants in traveling shows. These precedent-setting laws will ensure that elephant trainers can no longer use these brutal tools, like the bullhook: a long, thick pole with a sharp metal hook attached to the end that trainers often embed into the soft tissue of elephants. Born Free USA also worked with a New York City coalition on an ordinance to prohibit the use of performing exotic animals within the city, including testifying at a hearing in October. Born Free USA Program Associate Kate Dylewsky told the council: “There are plentiful alternatives to shows that feature animals, and neither the economic strength nor the vibrant culture of New York City will suffer a loss from this law.” Born Free USA will continue pushing New York City aggressively to adopt this bill.

Trapping Legislation Introduced. In June, Representatives Alma Adams (D-NC) and Nita Lowey (D-NY) introduced the Public Safety and Wildlife Protection Act (H.R. 5560): a bill that would ban the import, export, and interstate commerce of steel-jaw leghold traps and Conibear traps. In September, Representative Earl Blumenauer (D-OR) introduced H.R. 5954: the Limiting Inhumane Federal Trapping (LIFT) for Public Safety Act. This bill would ban trapping on all lands managed by the U.S. Department of the Interior and the U.S. Department of Agriculture. It would also prohibit these federal personnel from using traps in the line of duty. Born Free USA assisted these efforts by providing information on U.S. trapping and calling on members of Congress to support the legislation after it was introduced. 

Armani Goes Fur Free. In April, luxury fashion icon Giorgio Armani announced the brand would eliminate the use of real fur beginning with its 2016 Fall/Winter line. Armani committed to this humane, fur free policy after working with the Fur Free Alliance, which includes Born Free USA. By committing to a fur free policy, Armani joins other high-end brands (such as Hugo Boss, Tommy Hilfiger, Calvin Klein, and Stella McCartney) and acknowledges the ethical concerns of a new generation of fashion consumers.

Strengthening Protection of African Manatees. Illegal trade, bycatch, poaching, and human population growth are increasing threats for the fewer than 10,000 African manatees ranging in West and Central Africa. In some regions, the species is reported as being close to extinct. Local communities urgently need to understand the role they can play in its conservation. In July, Born Free USA joined forces with other groups to distribute posters throughout West Africa to educate citizens in manatee Range States about the threats affecting the species and about the need to end the illegal trade in manatee products

New Accommodations for Primates—and New Primates. In November 2015, a crew began the intensive process of creating new enclosures at the Born Free USA Primate Sanctuary in Dilley, Texas. In March 2016, the enclosures were ready to be occupied by monkeys. These new enclosures contain necessary shade along with climbing and loafing structures. Each enclosure has its own propane-heated cinderblock house for inclement weather. The windows open, as well, so they will provide comfort in the summer heat. We also accepted new sanctuary residents, including two monkeys from biomedical research and one from a private owner who kept the vervet as a “pet.” Additionally, one of our resident monkeys from a zoo was released into the main 56-acre enclosure after a nearly year-long rehabilitation program.

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.


“The endangered Barbary macaque could get a new chance at survival at CITES CoP17”

September 27, 2016, Johannesburg - For the first time in 30 years, Parties to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) will discuss increasing the level of protection for a monkey species. Barbary macaques will take center stage in Johannesburg, alongside emblematic fauna such as elephants, lions, rhinos and sharks.

The CITES Meeting of the Conference of the Parties (CoP17), which is currently taking place in South Africa, has the power to change the fate of Barbary macaques and stop their race towards extinction. In an almost unprecedented move, all range States and the main consumer countries providing the market for these animals have rallied together behind a joint Morocco-EU proposal to transfer the species to Appendix I of the Convention, which will afford them the highest level of international protection from trade and help enhance enforcement measures against trafficking in this species. The proposal has also received overwhelming support from the global animal welfare and conservation community. 

The Barbary macaque (Macaca sylvanus) is the only African primate species north of the Sahara, the only macaque species in Africa and the only non-human primate living in the wild in Europe (Gibraltar). In the last 30 years, the populations of this unique primate in Morocco and Algeria have dwindled from approximately 23,000 to the latest estimates of 6,500 – 9,100. The largest wild subpopulation, which inhabits the mixed cedar forests of the Middle Atlas Mountains in Morocco, has been decimated: only 5,000 remain, a 65% decrease in just three decades.

A significant number of Barbary macaques, mostly infants, are illegally captured from the wild and traded every year, mainly to feed the European exotic pet trade and to be used as tourist photo props. The protection granted to the species both in Morocco and Algeria, its listing on Appendix II of CITES and an EU import ban have done little to help curb poaching and trafficking in these intelligent and sensitive endangered primates. This criminal activity is increasingly in the hands of organized international networks. Barbary macaques remain the most frequently seized CITES-listed live mammal in the EU.

Animal Defenders International (ADI) President Jan Creamer says: “The illegal trade is pushing Barbary macaques to the brink and action must be taken before it is too late. Like so many wild animals, these little monkeys are paying the price for unscrupulous traders bartering with their lives.” It is estimated that approximately 3,000 Barbary macaques could be currently being kept as pets in Europe.
 
Musician Moby said: "I refuse to stand by and do nothing as these endangered monkeys are snatched from the wild and their families for photo props and the pet trade. Barbary macaques need our urgent help and I hope governments will join ADI and 'back the macaque' and grant them the greater protection they need".

Gerben Jan Gerbrandy, Member of the European Parliament for D66 and Head of the European Parliament Delegation to CoP17, agrees on the importance of this moment: “The adoption of the joint proposal from the EU and Morocco would be a key next step in protecting a species for which the EU is unfortunately a key destination market. Now we have to make sure that any agreement is properly and coherently enforced to the fullest effect. That is where the real difference will be made.”

North Africa is the gateway to Europe for other illegal wildlife products, including live specimens such as endangered tortoises. Tackling Barbary macaque trafficking is expected to help with protection of other endangered species, some of which are also on the agenda at CoP17.  

"This truly unique and endangered primate species needs all the protection we can provide as international community. The highest possible protection from CITES will strengthen conservation efforts underway to help the Barbary macaque survive and thrive. It makes total sense to support the range states, Morocco and Algeria, in this goal," adds Rikkert Reijnen of the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW).

Highly intelligent, emotional and sensitive, Barbary macaques live up to 22 years of age, in social groups comprising as many as 80 individuals, with males playing a primary role in caring for their young. They prefer high altitude cedar forests, but can also be found in oak forests, coastal scrub, and rocky slopes, feeding on fruits, tree leaves, and plants.

Having campaigned for over 20 years to educate the public about the use of primates for entertainment, research, and as pets, exposing the huge numbers of animals taken from the wild each year and the suffering of the animals during captivity and transport, the plight of the Barbary macaque is a cause close to the heart of Animal Defenders International (ADI).
 
Last year, ADI rescued more than 30 illegally traded monkeys in Peru during an 18-month mission against wildlife trafficking and to enforce a ban on wild animals in circuses. Over 100 animals were saved during the operation. Having nursed the monkeys back to health, ADI relocated new family groups from six different primate species to sanctuaries in their native Amazon habitats where ADI continues to fund their care for life.
 
ADI previously rescued two Hamadryas baboons – one from a Bolivian circus and the other from the pet trade in Cyprus. They now live happily together at the Lakeview Monkey Sanctuary in the UK, where ADI funds their care for life, along with three macaques born at the notorious and now closed Israeli monkey breeder Mazor Farm. Born to wild-caught parents, Baloo, Betty and Boo were sold to a European research laboratory and used in neurology experiments. When the monkeys were no longer required, ADI stepped in to save them from being killed.

Scientific support for the proposal

Dr. Shirley McGreal of the International Primate Protection League has also expressed strong support: “I am at the NAPSA (North American Primate Alliance) conference in Tacoma and of course IPPL is delighted that Morocco and the EU have proposed the elevation of the Barbary macaque to Appendix I of CITES. There are less of them in the world than there are humans in the small town where I live!”   

Dr. John Cortes, co-editor of The Barbary Macaque: Biology, Management and Conservation (2006) has been a long-time defender of the species: “I fully support and endorse the proposal. As Minister for the Environment in Gibraltar, a range State for the Barbary Macaque, and familiar with the species in North Africa, I agree fully with the statement and its aims.”

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Efforts to increase protection and better conservation measures for Barbary macaques are being led by the following organizations:

AAP Animal Advocacy and Protection, www.aap.nl/en


Animal Defenders International, www.ad-international.org

Born Free Foundation and Born Free Foundation USA, www.bornfree.org

Eurogroup for Animals, www.eurogroupforanimals.org

Fondation Brigitte Bardot, www.fondationbrigittebardot.fr

Fondation Franz Weber, www.ffw.ch

Humane Society International, www.hsi.org

International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW), www.ifaw.org

International Primate Protection League, www.ippl.org

Pro Wildlife, www.pro-wildlife.de

Species Survival Network, www.ssn.org


 
Animal Defenders International (ADI) is active worldwide to end the suffering of captive animals in commercial use: animals used in entertainment – film, television, advertising, circuses and sport or leisure such as hunting or for products such as fur. Replacement of animals in scientific research; funding and promotion of non-animal advanced methods. ADI investigates, produces evidence and reports on the scientific, legal and economic issues for each case study, recommending solutions. Information is distributed to the media, public and officials. Where ADI’s evidence has been a catalyst for change, we collaborate with governments to conduct large scale seizures or rescues of wild animals in captivity and relocate them to forever homes – back to their natural habitat wherever possible.  http://www.ad-international.org
Animal Defenders International: Ending the suffering of animals in captivity and protecting wild animals and their environments
 
 

 

 

Restoration efforts already underway must happen faster to protect water,

wildlife habitat and other natural resources

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (Corps) and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) are taking additional steps under the Endangered Species Act (ESA) to restore balance to the Florida Everglades ecosystem and help reverse decades-long population declines of the endangered Cape Sable seaside sparrow. 

These steps are outlined in a new biological opinion on the Corps’ Everglades Restoration Transition Plan(ERTP), which was implemented in 2012 to guide improved management of water flows in the Everglades. The new biological opinion will guide the Corps and partners in the Everglades restoration effort in better managing water in ways that improve habitat essential to the Cape Sable seaside sparrow. 

Actions called for in the biological opinion include operational modifications and expediting restoration initiatives already planned for the southern portion of the Everglades ecosystem to aid in providing suitable nesting habitat for the sparrow. These measures will allow the movement of additional water southward under the Tamiami Trail One-Mile Bridge flowing through the Everglades and into Florida Bay in ways that avoid prolonged flooding of the sparrow’s habitat during the nesting season. They will also provide much-needed fresh water into the Everglades and Florida Bay, benefitting wildlife such as American crocodiles, West Indian manatees, sea turtles, dolphins, a variety of bird species and gamefish. 

The ESA consultation, biological opinion, and the resulting operational modifications are part of a broad collaboration between the Service, the Corps, the U.S. Geological Survey, the National Park Service, which manages Everglades National Park, and many others to save the ground-nesting Cape Sable seaside sparrow and meet water management needs. The actions reflect the complexity of restoration requirements across the Everglades and the commitment of local, state and federal partners to find creative ways to achieve long-term restoration and conservation. 

“Although the Cape Sable seaside sparrow is on the brink of extinction, we believe with the timely and coordinated action of partners, we can save this and other imperiled wildlife for the long term,” said Larry Williams, the Service’s State Supervisor for Ecological Services in Florida. 

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers echoed the importance of state and federal partners collaborating in conserving the sparrow and the Everglades. 

"We’re moving forward with restoration efforts and operational modifications that will ultimately provide beneficial conditions to the many species that call the Everglades home," said Col. Jason Kirk, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Jacksonville District Commander. “We have been coordinating closely with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to determine what measures can be taken to improve the habitat of the Cape Sable seaside sparrow and ensure we are able to operate our water management system in compliance with the Endangered Species Act. Nonetheless, multiple environmental factors continue to threaten the survival of this rare species. Successful recovery of the Cape Sable seaside sparrow requires continued collaborative efforts among our federal and state partnering agencies and we look forward to this ongoing dialogue.” 

Prior to Hurricane Andrew in 1992, there were 6,576 sparrows inhabiting Everglades National Park. Hurricane Andrew was followed by several wet years and high discharges of water through water control structures, causing several years of poor conditions for the Cape Sable seaside sparrow. This reduced the sparrow’s ability to recover from the impact of the hurricane and its total population declined to 3,312 in 1993. The Service began consulting with the Corps on the ERTP in 2015. Due to many factors, including loss of habitat, the sparrow’s population dropped to 2,720 in 2014. After one of the wettest nesting periods on record current preliminary results for 2016 indicate the population may have decreased to approximately 2,400 birds, the lowest on record. 

The biological opinion also addresses potential impacts to two other federally listed species—American wood storks and Everglade snail kites. Current water operations are not likely to impact these birds. 

As a result of this interagency consultation and biological opinion, the Corps has committed to: 

  • Provide habitat conditions that will continue to facilitate sparrow breeding in areas where the existing habitat is of better quality.
  • Provide habitat conditions that will allow the sparrow to successfully breed and recruit in currently degraded areas.
  • Promote sparrow population resilience by identifying additional areas of habitat expansion or movement that may occur with implementation of water management projects and the onset of sea level rise.
  • Monitor and demonstrate that successful sparrow breeding and recruitment is occurring in response to the implementation of management actions. 

The Service has developed a revised set of targets to improve the conditions of the Cape Sable seaside sparrow and contribute towards the survival and recovery of the species. Targets include providing at least 90 consecutive dry nesting-season days between March 1 and July 15. The marl prairie habitat that the Cape Sable seaside sparrow requires persists under a hydrologic regime of 90-210 wet days. If the habitat is dry fewer than 90 days, the grass habitat the sparrow requires often is taken over by woody plants. If the habitat is under water more than 210 days, a wetland habitat emerges. 

Conservation efforts on behalf of the Cape Sable seaside sparrow include annual range-wide population surveys by ground and helicopter, vegetation and hydrologic monitoring, use of prescribed fire to control woody vegetation, controlling wildfires to protect sparrow habitats, and banding birds so they can be identified in the future. The Service and partners are also developing new modeling tools and genetic studies and analyzing of sparrow blood and feathers to determine if there are contaminants, such as mercury that may be negatively affecting them.  

For more information, please visit:  https://www.fws.gov/verobeach/20160722NRERTPJeopardyBO.html

The mission of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is working with others to conserve, protect, and enhance fish, wildlife, plants, and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American people. For more information on our work and the people who make it happen, visit www.fws.gov.

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“People put themselves in grave danger when they respond inappropriately during an encounter with wildlife… Selfies are only making the problem worse.” - Born Free USA CEO

Washington, D.C., July 21, 2016 -- According to Born Free USA, a global leader in animal welfare and wildlife conservation, in order to safely enjoy hikes and campouts without endangering themselves or wildlife, the public needs to stay alert to their surroundings, and make smart and compassionate decisions.

Over the past two months alone, we have seen an increasing number of incidents involving human conflicts with wild animals, particularly bears. In June, a Pennsylvania man lost his dog after a fatal run-in with a black bear and her cubs; a New Mexico marathon runner suffered injuries from a black bear after inadvertently scaring the bear’s cub; a young bear in California ripped open a tent, presumably foraging for food, injuring the camper inside; and a Montana Forest Service law enforcement officer startled a grizzly bear and was tragically killed. In July, Shenandoah National Park made the decision to close certain trails after a black bear approached a hiker, again looking to the human to provide food.

Animal welfare and wildlife conservation expert Adam M. Roberts, CEO of Born Free USA, explains: “Hiking trails and campsites are filled with natural wildlife populations and it is crucial that enthusiasts are aware of potential encounters, understand how to avoid conflict, and know exactly what to do if it happens. Human conflicts with wildlife are often due to people responding inappropriately when an animal is near. They put the animal and themselves at severe risk by how they react when they see a bear, coyote, bobcat, or other dangerous animal. These animals are wild, wary of humans, and protective of their territory, and should never be lured or encouraged to approach you for any reason.”

Roberts adds, “In the last two years, there has been an increase in people vying for an impressive selfie with animals ranging from seal pups, to bison, to black bears. This is becoming a dangerous epidemic that is reckless and harmful for both the public and wildlife. No selfie is worth getting killed or condemning an animal to death.”

Born Free USA offers these safety tips for outdoor adventures:

  • Keep food out of reach and never feed wild animals. Once they become accustomed to hand-outs, they lose their natural wariness and feel comfortable getting closer to humans. 
  • Resist taking wildlife selfies. Getting close to predators—like black bears—and then turning your back on them can rouse their prey drive and cause them to charge. Even getting too close to non-predatory animals—like bison—for a photo opportunity can also result in tragedy, as they might perceive you as an encroaching threat. Manipulating, touching, or removing wild animals from their habitats for a photo, or for any reason, causes severe anxiety for the animal, and puts everyone at risk for injury or death.
  • Beware of hidden animal traps. Steel-jaw leghold traps and other barbaric traps are widely used to catch and kill wild animals for their fur, and trappers often use the same trails and public lands that hikers do. Because traps are indiscriminate and can snap shut on any person or animal who triggers them, they frequently catch “non-targeted” animals, including family pets. Dogs end up maimed or killed as their families struggle to free them. For every target animal caught in a trap, two non-target animals are trapped. Adults and children have also been injured in traps, as reported in this Born Free USA database.  
  • Bears cause enormous fear for humans in the great outdoors. Most negative black bear encounters are caused by surprising the bears, luring them with food, or giving them a reason to think you are a threat. Bears have an exceptional sense of smell —seven times more powerful than dogs—and can detect odors over a mile away. Avoid packing odorous food and use bear-proof, odor-proof containers. Do not leave food or ice chests on decks or in vehicles, and become familiar with techniques for hanging food out of bears' reach. (Hang food and scented items at least 10 feet off of the ground and five feet from a tree. Be sure that tents, sleeping bags, and clothes are free of lingering food odors.)
  • As you travel through bear territory, make plenty of noise to avoid surprising a bear. If you do encounter a black bear, help him/her recognize that you are a human by talking calmly and by slowly waving your arms. During the encounter, do not make loud noises, try to imitate the bear, or run, as running may entice the bear to chase you. Slowly back away, always facing the bear, making no sudden movements, and always leave the bear an escape route. Avoid direct eye contact and pick up small children to prevent them from running and screaming. Contain and restrain dogs.
  • A black bear may stand on his/her hind legs as he/she investigates you; a standing bear is usually curious, not aggressive. Black bears may pounce forward on their front feet and bellow loudly, followed by clacking their jaw. This is a sign of fear. Mothers with cubs sometimes make “bluff charges”: short rushes or a series of forward pounces. These are signs of nervousness and not intent to attack. If this happens, momentarily hold your ground. Then, keep backing away and talking softly.
  • While camping or hiking, other predators (like coyotes and bobcats) may also be seen moving about their territory. If the animals act afraid of you, either running away or observing you from a safe distance, they are displaying normal, nonaggressive behavior. Aggressive behavior—an animal who does not run from humans or approaches them—is most often a result of habituation due to feeding by humans. If approached by a coyote or bobcat, make loud noises with pots and pans, yell, wave your arms, blow a whistle, or shake a can with rocks. Show dominance and re-instill their natural fear of humans. Do not run, as this may elicit a chase response. If hiking with dogs in coyote country, keep them on a leash. Small dogs may be especially tempting to a coyote. 

Roberts explains, “While we all deserve to explore, enjoy, and appreciate nature, we also need to understand that we are visiting the natural habitats and homes of wild animals. We can easily co-exist, as long as we treat the wilderness and its occupants respectfully and thoughtfully.”

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.

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