NO Oil Exploration in Belize Barrier Reef

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The Belize government has approved a policy that will legally ban offshore exploration in all seven areas that make up the Belize Barrier Reef Reserve System World Heritage area. The decision will effectively exclude the entire World Heritage area from any future oil exploration and make the site consistent with the World Heritage Committee’s position that oil exploration is incompatible with World Heritage status.

The decision is a major first step forward in the government’s efforts to remove Belize Barrier Reef from the List of World Heritage in Danger. Following an IUCN-WHC mission to Belize last January, the government of Belize agreed on an ambitious 3-year roadmap that sets out a Desired State of Conservation for removal of the site from the List of World Heritage in Danger. A permanent ban on oil in the World Heritage area and its surrounding zones with a functional ecological connection to the property is anticipated by 31 January 2016.

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The Belize Barrier Reef is the second largest reef system in the world. In 2009, the site was inscribed on the List of World Heritage in Danger because of concerns on the sale, lease and development of mangrove islands and the absence of a solid regulatory framework that can ensure the conservation of its exceptional values. In 2010, the World Heritage Committee expressed serious concern about the potential for oil developments within and immediately adjacent to the iconic World Heritage site.

The World Heritage Committee has taken a very clear position that oil and mining exploration and exploitation are incompatible with World Heritage status. In recent months, a growing number of firms in the extractive sector recognize their shared responsibility in conserving the worlds’s most iconic places and subscribe to a no-go commitment in World Heritage sites.

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Governor of Montana gives Christmas gift to Bison

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Wild bison will be allowed to migrate out of Yellowstone National Park and stay in parts of Montana year-round thanks to Governor Steve Bullock. The governor agreed on 12/12/15 to expand year-round habitat protection for wild bison in Montana outside Yellowstone National Park.  Historically, thousands of wild bison have been hazed or killed as they migrated from Yellowstone into Montana during the winter and spring months. This will allow hundreds of wild bison to live without the fear of being killed as the search for food in lower elevations in an area 400 square miles north and west of the park.

Wild bison have largely been blocked from staying in Montana year-round like other wildlife due to a concern by cattleman and ranchers that their livestock could contract brucellosis, an introduced disease that can cause infected pregnant animals to miscarry. This disease may spread to domestic livestock from the migrating wild bison and elk.

The chances of infection are small and there are management tools available to prevent such a transmission from happening. In fact, no documented transmission from wild bison to livestock has ever occurred.

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The governor did ad that he plans to continue to pressure the National Park Service to reduce Yellowstone population of nearly 5,000 bison. Yellowstone has one of the largest wild bison herds remaining. Since the 1980’s more than 6,300 wild bison have been killed to “cull” the species in response to the fear of brucellosis spreading.


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Why is Government killing Wild Horses?

American Wild Horse

The American Wild Horse, also known as “Mustangs” descended from Spanish horses and were brought to North America in the 16th century by Spanish explorers. Their name in Spanish, mustengo, means “stray horse.”

In November of 2015, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) completed a roundup of roughly 1,400 wild horses in the state of Oregon, in Beaty’s Butte, historically known as the area of the Kiger mustangs.

According to a Pacific Standard report, there were five deaths on November 19, including “one 8 year old mare with old break in right hind leg and one 4 month old colt with old break in left hind leg.” Two days later, 16 horses were dead. According to another report published in the same article, “The most heartbreaking [scene] of the day involved the foals. The helicopters are running these horses from very long distances, and often foals just can’t keep up for as long as the rest of their herd.”

Once 2 million wild horses roamed across the United States during the in the 19th century. By the time the wild horse received federal protection in 1971, it was officially estimated that only about 17,000 of them roamed America’s plains. More than 1 million had been conscripted for World War I combat; the rest had been hunted for their flesh, for the chicken feed and dog food companies, and for the sport of it.”

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In response to public outrage over the horses’ annihilation, the 1971 Wild Free-Roaming Horse & Burro Act was passed, protecting wild horses from capture and death. The BLM and the U.S. Forest Service were responsible for implementing the act and ensuring protections were in place for the wild horses while they also issued grazing permits to cattle ranchers on public land.

While they were once considered iconic and majestic, wild horses are now deemed nothing more than a nuisance by ranchers who use federal land for subsidized grazing. And we’ve let them down. Big time.

When the BLM deems wild horse numbers to be in excess of manageable levels, today there are roundups where helicopters along with men on horseback chase down fearful and frantic herds. These frightened animals are often wounded in the process, many are trampled by their fellow horses and many die. Numerous captured horses are sent to long-term holding pens. Some even end up being adopted. Others end up at slaughter. Although the BLM states firmly that they do not send horses to slaughter, among other claims, others say the horses they “manage” meet grim fates. A recent investigative report by the Office of Inspector General found unsettling information about the BLM selling horses to a Colorado rancher who in turn sent those horses to Mexico for slaughter.

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These violent culls happen all too often. Many cattleman seem to consider wild horses a nuisance. Many cattleman and ranchers who are opposed to wild horses say they are destroying the habitat and reproduce too quickly.  The almighty dollar is the root of the problem, with the beef industry at the center of it. The Department of Interior’s ‘multiple-use’ principles, allow only so much cattle, wildlife, and wild horses on federal lands.  The cattleman and United states government see that each horse removed  frees up space cattle or sheep.

Unfortunately there is nothing illegal with these culling’s. I believe it is immoral, but in the eyes of federal “law” it is not illegal. It is legal to buy horses in the United States and transport across country to sell for slaughter in Canada and Mexico.

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1,000 Bison to be killed in Yellowstone

 

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The National Park Service has announced that Yellowstone National Park intends to cull as many as a thousand of the park’s genetically unique and only continuously wild herd of bison. This annual slaughter has no basis in science, is unethical and is corrupted management precipitated by cattle ranching interests. The killing of bison is an annual event. Since 1985 some 8,634 Yellowstone bison have been “culled” to appease the livestock industry.

The main justification given for this killing is the fear of brucellosis transmission to domestic livestock. The Montana Dept. of Livestock and the USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) have worked together to perpetrate the idea that brucellosis poses a threat to the livestock industry. As a consequence the state and federal agencies, including the National Park Service, more or less restrict bison to Yellowstone Park (although there is a small area where bison are permitted outside of the park for a short period of time—but they are then killed by Native Americans and Montana hunters).

A BISON WALL EXISTS

Unfortunately for the bison, the urge to migrate in winter to find accessible food under shallow snow cover puts them in the cross hairs of the Montana livestock industry. A“bison wall” (analogous to the Berlin Wall) effectively confines them to Yellowstone National Park.

The main justification given by the livestock industry for its continued support of slaughter or hazing of wild bison is a disease known as brucellosis. There are reasons to believe that brucellosis is a Trojan Horse.

First, only infected pregnant bison cows  can potentially transmit brucellosis during the last trimester of pregnancy (February – April), bison bulls and calves are regularly slaughtered, so the killing of these animals demonstrates that brucellosis is not the primary reason for the containment of buffalo in the park.

Elk

There are other animals that carry brucellosis. Some elk in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem (GYE) are also infected with brucellosis. Predators and scavengers, such as coyotes, crows, vultures, and bears, are rarely infected as well, though they are not at high risk for shedding the bacteria.

Though there has never been a single documented case of brucellosis transmission to cattle from wild bison, all the instances of cattle infection seem to be the result of elk transmission.  Despite these well-known facts, bison are still singled out for control and death.

YELLOWSTONE BISON ARE UNIQUE AND THREATENED

The wild bison in Yellowstone are not just any bison herd. They are the only continuously wild bison left in the United States. They are the most  significant bison herd free of cattle genes. They are a national and international heritage. Most of the bison in the Untied States are managed as commercial livestock and selection is for traits favorable to domestication.

Both the Buffalo Field Campaign and Western Watersheds Project have petitioned to have Yellowstone’s bison declared a threatened distinct population segment under the Endangered Species Act. An earlier attempt to get the bison listed in 1999 resulted in the Fish and Wildlife Service’s refusal to consider the listing, however, they did acknowledge that the Yellowstone population may be discrete and may meet the criteria for Distinct Population Segment.

To treat Yellowstone’s bison in this matter is a national disgrace and crime against the environment. The fact that this killing has been on-going for decades without resolution is also a scandal and sheds light on the corrupt power the cattle industry has on American politics.

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Christopher J. Gervais, F.R.G.S.
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