New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez said last week she is asking federal officials not to allow a southeastern New Mexico company to open the nation's first slaughterhouse for horses since 2007. Martinez plans to send a letter to the U.S. Department of Agriculture asking it deny a Roswell meat company's request for inspections that would allow it to operate.
Link: Huffington Post
Josh Bransford, Idaho’s best-known wolf trapper, has violated no state laws, according to the Department of Fish and Game. But if that’s all Fish and Game will say for the record, it’s time someone filled in the blanks. Bransford is the kind of trapper who gives his activity — and his state — a black eye.
Link: Idaho Statesman
With sick and dead dolphins turning up along Louisiana's coast, federal regulators are curbing an oil and natural gas exploration company from using seismic equipment that sends out underwater pulses known to disturb marine mammals. The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management has told Global Geophysical Services Inc. to not conduct deep-penetration seismic surveys until May, when the bottlenose dolphin calving season ends. The agency says the surveys are done with air-guns that the emit sounds that could disrupt mother and calf bonding and mask "important acoustic cues."
Link: Yahoo! News
Charla Nash has two glass eyes. They replaced her real eyes, which were ripped out by a chimpanzee named Travis in a brutal attack Feb. 16, 2009, in Stamford, Conn. Why does this matter to Missourians? Travis was born in Festus, on a chimp sanctuary that still exists. He was purchased for $50,000 by a Stamford couple, Sandra and Jerome Herold, when he was three days old. He had worked in commercials for Coca-Cola and Old Navy before he attacked Ms. Nash, a friend of the Herolds, tearing off most of her face and hands. Missouri didn't require his owners to obtain a permit. Missouri still has no laws against owning chimps or other dangerous primates.
Link: St. Louis Post-Dispatch
A Northern California hiker says he is lucky to be alive after he was attacked by a mountain lion — and saved by a bear, the Paradise Post reports. Robert Biggs, 69, of Paradise, tells his hometown paper that he had stumbled upon a mother bear, a yearling and a newborn cub while hiking Monday above Whiskey Flats.
Link: USA Today
Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission and U.S. Department of Agriculture officials are battling an invasive species in the Keys they thought they got rid of years ago: Gambian rats — giant rodents the size of cats. The outbreak started around 2000, when a Keys resident who breed the 9-pound rats released 6 or 7, according to FWC. Ten years ago, they were often imported from their native Africa as pets until they were banned after a Monkey Pox outbreak in 2003.
Link: Huffington Post
Corvallis parks officials have decided that solving flooding caused by beavers at a local park will take a little engineering of their own. The Gazette-Times reports that for years beavers have caused flooding at the softball fields at Sunset Park from damming the Dunawi Creek. But now parks officials are planning to install pipes to keep the water in ponds at a manageable level.
The dinosaurs needed to go extinct for the mammals, and humans, to arise. At least that's what researchers have been thinking for decades. But a new study indicates that at least one group of ancient mammals was already expanding 20 million years before the dinosaurs were wiped from the Earth. Analysis of ancient mammal teeth indicates they were able to take off not because dinosaur die-off made way for them, but because they discovered a new food source that others weren't consuming.
Scientists have gotten their hands dirty in the name of closer study of snow leopards, one of the planet's most endangered big cats. Because it's notoriously difficult to get their hands on the elusive cats to learn about their movements and habits, the researchers had to settle for the next best thing: their poop. Studying their feces not only allows for DNA analysis, but also offers a glimpse of what the animals like to eat.
State Rep. Diana Urban, D-North Stonington, is supporting a bill that would increase restrictions on the use of leghold hunting traps. Connecticut House Bill 5324, drafted in part by Born Free USA, a California-based animal welfare group, would ban placement of the traps within 1,500 feet of areas likely to be visited by children including schools, playgrounds, and public boat launches. The legislation would also require trappers to report non-targeted catches to the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection within 24 hours.
Link: Norwich (CT) Bulletin
The reintroduction of Mexican gray wolves to a mountain range just south of the U.S.-Mexico border as part of an effort to re-establish the endangered species is off to a rocky start. Correspondence between Mexican wildlife officials and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service confirmed Tuesday that four out of the five wolves released by Mexico's Environment Department last October are dead from poisoning.
Link: Huffington Post
Wildlife activists say poachers have slaughtered at least 200 elephants in four weeks in an ongoing killing spree in a Cameroonian national park. The International Fund for Animal Welfare said Thursday that many orphaned elephant calves have been spotted in the Bouba Ndjida National Park and it is feared they may soon die of hunger and thirst.
Link: Huffington Post
Officials at the Calgary Zoo may be anxiously awaiting the 2018 arrival of a pair of giant pandas on loan from China, but some animal advocate groups are sounding a cautionary note. Julie Woodyer, campaign director for the national animal protection charity Zoocheck Canada, said her organization has reservations about the $1-million per year lending fee that both the Calgary and Toronto zoos will have to cough up as a result of the Chinese deal.
Link: Calgary Herald
For centuries the tribal Nyishi people in the Indian state of Arunachal Pradesh have worn the magnificent beaks of hornbill birds as a part of their traditional headgear, called pudum, which are considered a sign of manhood and tribal identity. Hornbills are the state birds of Arunachal Pradesh, but overhunting for pudum threatened all five resident species with regional extinction at the end of the 20th century. According to a recent article from Firstpost, forestry officials had almost given up hope on saving the birds, which were growing increasingly rare in the state.
Link: Huffington Post Green
Quiet oceans make for calmer right whales, new research suggests. When fewer ships sail the Bay of Fundy, the big baleen whales are less stressed — as evidenced by hormone levels in their poop. This stress could be one reason the North Atlantic population of right whales, which spend part of their lives in the Bay of Fundy off the East Coast, is having such a hard time reproducing. If the sounds chronically stress them, they could be more prone to disease and it could possibly interfere with their ability to reproduce, the researchers say.
Link: Yahoo! News
The Sumatran elephant could be extinct in the wild within three decades unless immediate steps are taken to slow the breakneck pace of deforestation, environmentalists warned Jan. 24. The International Union for Conservation of Nature recently listed the animals as "critically endangered" after their numbers dropped to between 2,400 and 2,800 from an estimated 5,000 in 1985.
Link: Huffington Post
The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources announced in early January that it will propose a new wolf-hunting season for as early as this fall. Management of the population is expected to fall back into state hands after the gray wolf in the western Great Lakes region is officially removed from federal endangered species protection later this month.
Link: Minnesota Public Radio
Born Free USA Primate Sanctuary
(photograph by Mike Di Paola)
The approach to the Born Free USA Primate Sanctuary in Dilley, Texas, has an ominous look — lonely dirt road, padlocked gate, a sign warning “Not Open to the Public.” Inside the fence, however, the place is full of life, with dozens of macaque monkeys roaming the grounds.
“There’s something inherently wrong with these animals living their lives in little cages,” says the sanctuary director, Tim Ajax. Most of the more than 500 nonhuman primates here have the run of a 56-acre area, while the rest stay in fairly spacious enclosures. “We’re at capacity right now,” Ajax says, but he’s
preparing for more newcomers.
Thai customs officials said they had seized four boxes of smuggled tiger skins and bones worth tens of thousands of dollars, believed to be destined for interior decoration. The tigers, whose parts were found earlier this week, were thought to have come from Indonesia and eventually be destined for China, according to Somchai Poolsawasdi, director general of Royal Thai Customs.
Retired fisherman Sada Fall is upbeat. His two sons are returning from sea with a boatload of "gold", as he calls shark fins, whose value has near-obliterated the ocean's top predator in these seas. Fall, 62, walks along the beach in this fishing village in the north of Senegal, his blue-grey boubou flapping in the dry, dusty wind, a bright red flowered umbrella shielding him from the scorching sun.
Link: Agence France-Presse
MONTERREY, Mexico — An escaped pet tiger named Deborah spurred a massive deployment of police, firefighters and other first responders in the northern Mexican state of Coahuila, authorities said. Apolonio Armenta, the Coahuila delegate of Mexico’s environmental protection agency, Profepa, told Efe that alarmed residents began calling police late Dec. 28 with reports about a tiger roaming the streets of Saltillo, the state capital.
From the comforts of a 100-year-old Georgian Colonial he shares here with former New Jersey Gov. James McGreevey, his partner, Mark O'Donnell has become the unlikely champion of legislation that could give New Jersey some of the nation's toughest anti-tiger trafficking laws.
Link: Wall Street Journal
A final autopsy report reveals that Terry W. Thompson, the Muskingum County man who released 50 wild animals he kept as pets before killing himself in October, was not under the influence of drugs or alcohol at the time of his death. The autopsy, released Dec. 21 by Muskingum County Coroner Perry M. Kalis, provides additional — and in some cases gruesome — details about the death of Thompson on Oct. 18.
Link: Columbus Dispatch
A naturalized U.S. citizen from Vietnam whose primary means of employment is as a nail technician allegedly was supplementing his income by trafficking in black bear paws and gall bladders in Hamblen County, Tennessee, authorities say. The Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency has evidence of three bear-parts transactions conducted by 49-year-old Kheim Tung "Michael" Quach, according to Nathan Ripley, a Hamblen County TWRA agent.
A transfer of 113 primates from the defunct Wild Animal Orphanage to the Born Free USA Primate Sanctuary in Dilley was approved Monday by the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Western District of Texas. In August 2010, the Northwest Side animal orphanage announced on its website that it was being dissolved because of overpopulation, underfunding and inadequate housing. More than 190 animals were at two locations, a 7-acre site at 9626 Leslie Road and 102 acres on Talley Road, at the time of the announcement.
Thousands of migratory birds were killed or injured after apparently mistaking a Walmart in Cedar City, football fields and other snow-covered areas of southern Utah for bodies of water and plummeting to the ground in what one state wildlife expert called the worst mass bird crash she'd ever seen. Crews went to work cleaning up the dead birds and rescuing the injured survivors after the creatures crash-landed in the St. George area on Dec. 12.
The Obama administration has issued a new interpretation of the Endangered Species Act aimed at streamlining the classification of threatened plants or animals. The Bush-era policy was withdrawn last spring after two federal courts rejected it. The new policy would clarify that a species could be listed as threatened or endangered if threats occur in a “significant portion of its range,” even if the threat does not apply in the entire range.
Link: Washington Post
(WARNING: The video this story links to contains graphic images.)
PHOENIX — A tiger cub named Orion born at the Wildlife World Zoo in the west valley was eventually given to a small roadside zoo back east — a zoo that had a history of problems. Now Orion is coming back to Arizona, but it got us wondering — what else can happen to tigers in captivity? It turns out Orion is one very lucky cat.
A Senate panel has approved a measure intended to serve as an international model to prevent trafficking in tigers and their body parts. The bill (S3061) would establish strict reporting and registration requirements for captive tigers in New Jersey to prevent their illegal trade. It cleared the Senate Economic Growth Committee unanimously. “This bill will send a message throughout the country and indeed the world that this illegal trade in tiger parts is horrible,” said its sponsor, state Sen. Raymond Lesniak (D-Union).
Horses could soon be butchered in the United States for human consumption after Congress quietly lifted a 5-year-old ban on funding horse meat inspections, and activists say slaughterhouses could be up and running in as little as a month.
Link: AP/Huffington Post
One attraction holiday shoppers might notice at the mall this year is not a photo op with Santa, but instead, with tiger cubs. At malls across the United States shoppers can pay a fee to have their photos taken with baby tigers and even play with them in their pens. But Lisa Guerrero and the "Inside Edition" I-Squad discovered that shoppers might be surprised to learn where these tigers come.
A transfer of 113 primates from the defunct Wild Animal Orphanage to the Born Free USA Primate Sanctuary in Dilley was approved Monday by the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Western District of Texas. In August 2010, the Northwest Side animal orphanage announced on its website that it was being dissolved because of overpopulation, underfunding and inadequate housing.
Link: San Antonio Express-News
A wildlife shelter that went bust will be transferring 113 primates to a nearby sanctuary after a bankruptcy judge on Monday approved the move. "We don't have definitive historical numbers on rescues, but it is clearly one of the largest single rescues we know of," Adam Roberts, executive vice president of Born Free USA, told msnbc.com.
Umoya, one of the dominant female elephants at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park, died early Thursday apparently following an altercation with another elephant. “When trainers arrived they found Umoya had been injured and subsequently died shortly thereafter,” said Yadira Galindo, a zoo spokeswoman. The elephant was down on the ground when zookeepers found her. “There were a few injuries that indicated there may have been some sort of aggressive interaction with another elephant,” Galindo said.
The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission has approved a ban on the harvest of tiger sharks and three species of hammerhead sharks in state waters, beginning Jan. 1, 2012. he measure was approved Nov. 16 during meetings in Key Largo. The news is sure to please shark conservationists and scientists who had grown increasingly concerned that too many large, slow-to-reproduce sharks were being killed.
Rescuers were racing against the clock Monday to save two huge sperm whales stranded on a Tasmanian sandbank after 22 others died, the Australian Parks and Wildlife Service said. Marine mammal specialists were on site in Macquarie Harbour at Strahan on Tasmania's northwest coast, but the rescue bid was hampered by rough weather. Twenty-two of the whales washed ashore on Saturday at Ocean Beach near Strahan, and all of them died.
About one in four mammal species are at risk of extinction, and the Western black rhino has officially been declared extinct, according to a new assessment of biodiversity by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) and partners. For the latest update, researchers assessed the status of 61,900 species of plants and animals.
Born free but sentenced to a life in captivity, four majestic lions can once again feel the sun on their flowing manes and the soft spring of lush grass under their paws. The sight of these kings of the African savannah returning to their roots brought a glowing smile to one of the great animal champions last week. Virginia McKenna, star of the 1966 cinema classic "Born Free," was there to see two of the mighty big cats begin their epic journey from their cramped confinement in a presidential palace compound to the nearest thing to true wilderness. (Read more about the Ethiopian Wildlife Center in Born Free USA's Global Field Projects.)
Link: Express Yourself (U.K.)
Many of you volunteer on behalf of animals, and some days are harder than others. When I visit a shelter, I try to focus on the good that is being done by so many who work and volunteer in animal rescue. I have a lot of heroes. Here are a few of their stories and their advice on how to cope. [Born Free USA's chief executive officer, Will Travers, is featured in this story.]
Link: Pet News and Views
Charlie the Central Park, New York City, carriage horse, who dropped dead on his way to work in midtown, was suffering from a pronounced, chronic ulceration of the stomach and a fractured tooth before his death, according to his preliminary necropsy results. The horse's cause of death has yet to be determined, but the necropsy results likely meant Charlie was in severe pain prior to dropping dead en route to work at 54th Street and Eighth Avenue on Oct. 23, according to the ASPCA, which performed the necropsy.
Link: Huffington Post
Toronto city council has voted to ban the sale of shark fin in the city. The ban, suggested by councillors John Parker, Glenn De Baeremaeker and Kristyn Wong-Tam, will outlaw the possession, sale, trade and distribution of shark fins or their derivative products. The proposal passed easily - by a vote of 38 to 4.
Link: CBC News
ZANESVILLE, Ohio — The woman’s voice sounded a little annoyed. “There’s a bear and a lion out,” she told the 911 operator on Tuesday. “Right up behind us.” Come again? the operator said. “Yeah,” the caller replied. “They’re chasing Terry’s horses.”
Link: New York Times
The case of an Ohio man who set loose his collection of wild bears, lions, tigers and other beasts before apparently killing himself has animal-welfare organizations renewing their call for a clampdown on ownership of exotic animals. “Exotic, dangerous animals simply do not belong in private hands. It’s not worth the risk,” said Adam Roberts, executive vice president of Born Free USA.
Police in Vietnam say a circus elephant has trampled to death a girl who sneaked into a yard to feed it. Police officer Pham Ngoc Tien of Lao Cai province in the north says the elephant was part of a troupe from Hanoi on a 10-day tour of the province. He says the elephant was tied to a chain in the fenced backyard of a cultural center when it was not performing.
Industrial chemicals are being transported from the industrialized world to the Arctic via air and sea currents. Here, the cocktail of environmental toxins is absorbed by the sea's food chains, of which the polar bear is the top predator.
Maggie retired from the petting zoo at the Brevard Zoo shortly after her 16th birthday. A fallow deer with familiar white dapples on her back, Maggie had lived at the Florida zoo since 1994, where staff and guests alike knew her for her calm, sweet nature and attraction to men wearing strong cologne.
"Elsa: The Lioness That Changed the World" (Brian Leith Productions/BBC/WNET) captured the prestigious Conservation Hero prize at the 11th Jackson Hole (WY)Wildlife Film Festival Awards this week. In the competitive world of documentaries, the work and legacy of pioneering conservationists George and Joy Adamson won plaudits from judges and the public.
Link: Born Free Foundation
Florida is now officially the world capital for invasive and potentially invasive reptiles and amphibians, according to a 20-year study verifying that 56 non-native species of these animals have become established in the sunshine state.
Nevada's controversial bear hunting season has just become permanent. State wildlife commissions voted 8-0 at a meeting in Reno on Sept. 24 to continue Nevada's first ever bear hunt again next year and every year after that from Aug. 20 to Dec. 31. The commission will review the season annually and could alter the number of bears that can be shot in a given year. The current limit is 20 bears, only six of which can be females.
Link: AP/San Jose Mercury News
Zimbabwe's wildlife authority says poachers have begun poisoning watering holes, killing nine elephants and at least five lions in recent weeks.
Link: AP/Huffington Post