Letter from Exmoor: The Rescue of Monsieur Chapeau

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Greatness

And how you treat animals

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Stop the Slaughter!

wildlifeNewborn fox and coyote pups are pulled from their dens and shot.

Thousands of animals gasp their final breaths in neck snares that sometimes ensnare legs or entire torsos leading to lengthy struggles before death.

Others, caught in traps that go unchecked for weeks at a time, die slow, excruciating deaths from starvation, thirst or heat.

Still others asphyxiate from poisonous fumigants placed in their dens — sometimes after hours of painful convulsions.

This unregulated and highly unnecessary annual slaughter of bears, foxes, otters, eagles, songbirds and dozens of other species is the ongoing legacy of the highly secretive Wildlife Services, which just since 1996 has shot, snared and poisoned more than 22 million native animals.

The number is likely much higher. Because of a quirk in how the agency was set up by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, its activities are not guided by the kind of legally binding regulations that typically structure other federal agencies and require transparency.

As a result, Wildlife Services operates without the guidance of a broad public mission and allows virtually no public scrutiny. Instead, the agency works almost entirely as a covert livestock industry-guided wildlife extermination service. And that must change.

To that end, a legal petition I co-authored was filed this month asking the U.S. Department of Agriculture to put binding rules in place to regulate and make public the agencies’ activities (see Washington Post coverage of the petition). And the USDA Office of Inspector General just announced it will complete an audit of the agency in Fiscal Year 2014.

With about 1.5 million wild animals needlessly dying every year, the need for reform is urgent. Despite repeated calls over the last century from investigative panels, scientists and legislators for greater transparency and use of science-based models to guide the agency’s work, little has changed.

The few figures released by Wildlife Services offer a chilling portrait of a cold-blooded killing operation. In Fiscal Year 2012 alone the agency killed more than 1.6 million native animals, including 503 gray wolves, 76,000 coyotes, 567 black bears, two grizzlies, nearly 25,000 beaver, 533 river otters, 78 osprey, 396 mountain lions, and thousands of hawks and foxes.

Since 1996 the agency has killed 13 endangered species, including Hawaiian stilts, Mexican gray wolves and island foxes. Other species commonly killed include prairie dogs, bobcats, blackbirds, egrets and killdeers.

For decades there’s been no shortage of evidence documenting problems with the rogue agency’s indiscriminate killing tactics that lead to the deaths of thousands of non-target animals every year.

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Tell Us Your Story!

Tell us your favorite animal story. Maybe you have a favorite pet who might have past, a funny encounter with a zoo animal.

Tell us and it might get published! 🙂

If you would like to submit a photo of you or an animal please send it to jenjohnson3090@gmail.com

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4 Tips for Cozy Winter Birdhouses

birdFall and winter doesn’t mean your garden has to go on hiatus. Since some birds will also use roost boxes to stay warm in the winter, you can keep your yard bustling all year long by providing a cozy abode for these feathered friends.

These birds include ones that nest in tree cavities or birdhouses in spring—such as bluebirds, chickadees, titmice, screech owls and some woodpeckers.

Providing shelter is one of the key elements to ensuring your yard is a welcoming space for wildlife.

Turn your yard, balcony or garden into an official Certified Wildlife Habitat® site, and you can be sure you are doing your part for your neighborhood birds all year round.

Here are 4 tips for luring birds in—and helping them out!

  1. Try a prefabricated box. Look for boxes where the entrance holes are near the bottom instead of in the middle or near the top. The idea is that hot air rises, so a low entrance hole keeps warm air from leaking out.
  2. Leave nest boxes up all winter. Some evidence suggests roosting birds prefer boxes mounted 10 feet high or more in winter—possibly because birds feel safer up high.
  3. Winterize your birdhouse. If reusing a spring nest box that has large ventilation holes (which keep the summer sun from overheating the interior), consider blocking them to keep out the draft. Don’t seal the box up too tight though, since most birds like to check out a roost box before calling it home.
  4. Protect the box from predators. Since most bird predators can climb trees and wooden posts, opt for a metal pole to mount the box instead.

Certify your yard, garden or other outdoor space as an official Certified Wildlife Habitat® site, and you’ll join a network of the most dedicated gardeners who go the extra mile for local birds.

We’ll encourage and assist you with tips and advice all year, plus you’ll be entitled to all of the great benefits listed to the right, including a free garden flag.

Birds and other neighborhood wildlife need you this season—certify today!

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Young Puffins Facing Starvation

puffinsRecently, scientific reports revealed that high numbers of young puffins in the Gulf of Maine starved to death while still in their nests last summer.

Warming temperatures caused herring to decline and butterfish to move north into the warming waters around puffins’ islands in Maine. But, butterfish are too large for young puffins to eat—and they were dying with piles of fish beside them.

Please make a generous donation today to help protect puffins from the dangerous impacts of climate change.

Puffins returning each year to the islands off the coast of Maine to nest are completely dependent on fish in nearby waters to feed their young. Last summer, warm ocean temperatures from climate change caused the usually abundant herring to dwindle and butterfish to move into the warming waters. Young puffins starved as a result.

Our opposition is funded by Big Polluters who want to stop the Environmental Protection Agency from limiting harmful carbon pollution from coal-fired power plants—our country’s single greatest source of carbon pollution.

But with your help today, we can mobilize hundreds of thousands of people to send messages to Congress and President Obama in support of climate action. We can alert the media to the devastating impacts climate change is already having on our wildlife. And, we can also organize people in cities across the nation to speak up in person at Environmental Protection Agency public meetings in the coming weeks.

Your donation today can go right to work strengthening the fight for puffins’ future—please help today.

Puffins in the Gulf of Maine are warning us that climate change is making our oceans dangerously warm. Further north in the ocean, melting Arctic ice is causing polar bears to go hungry, and to the south, sea turtles are losing their nesting beaches from sea level rise.

We still have time to listen to what puffins, polar bears and sea turtles are telling us. And together, we can achieve historic victories on saving wildlife from climate change.

Please join the fight for puffins, polar bears and sea turtles by donating today.

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State, Pebble seek legal fees in failed lawsuit

ANCHORAGE — The state of Alaska and developers of the proposed Pebble Mine are seeking $1 million in attorney fees from mine foes who unsuccessfully sued over the public’s right to know about mine exploration work.

The lawsuit was filed in July 2009 by individuals, including former state Sen. Vic Fischer, who helped write the Alaska Constitution, and former First Lady Bella Hammond, widow of former Gov. Jay Hammond. Plaintiffs also included Bristol Bay-area tribal entities and their sister village corporations.

They claimed the state Department of Natural Resources erred by issuing temporary permits for exploration to the Pebble Ltd. Partnership and had in effect disposed of state lands without public notice or a finding that it was managing the land for the common good.

Superior Court Judge Eric Aarseth rejected the claim after a 10-day trial. In a 154-page ruling, Aarseth said Pebble’s activities were designed for minimal disruption and the land could be restored. An appeal is now before the Alaska Supreme Court.

Under state law, the state and Pebble, which joined the lawsuit to help defend the permit system, can recover fees. Pebble attorney Matt Singer said the public interest environmental firm Trustees for Alaska had used heavy tactics in the case, the Anchorage Daily News reported.

“When I reference scorched earth, I mean that it shouldn’t require more than a million dollars of state funds or company funds to resolve a dispute about temporary use permits, and that very few entities could afford to do business in this state if they faced this level of legal acrimony just to conduct exploration,” Singer said.

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