Category Archives: North America

Truck Stop Tiger

tony the truck stop tiger

“Tony” is a tiger imprisoned at a Truck Stop in Grosse Tete, Louisiana. Signs posted on Tony’s cage, indicate he was born in July 2000, now making him 15-years old. It is reported that Tony was acquired by Michael Sandlin as a 6-month old cub from a Texas breeder.

The Animal Legal Defense Fund found the permit issued by the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries was illegal and revoked; LDWF was blocked from issuing a new permit. Unfortunately Michael Sandlin, “Tony’s” captor, enlisted his state Senator, Rick Ward, to propose a bill, SB 250, to exempt himself from Louisiana state law banning private ownership of big cats. This outrageous bill passed both the Senate and House and was signed by Governor Jindal. Immediately the Animal Legal Defense issued a statement saying they would challenge the validity of SB 250. On June 25, 2014 ALDF filed suit against the State of Louisiana for violating the Louisiana Constitution by passing a law that exempts a single individual from existing state public safety and animal welfare laws. Defendants include the State of Louisiana, the Louisiana Wildlife and Fisheries Commission, the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries (LDWF), the Tiger Truck Stop, and Michael Sandlin.

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Please go to Tony’s change.org petition asking the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries to enforce the 2006 law banning private ownership of big cats remains open and is nearing 49,000 signatures.

There are an estimated 10,000 to 20,000 big cats kept captive by private owners. The exact number is a unknown because of insufficient record keeping requirements. These animals are kept as pets, exhibited in roadside zoos, perform in circuses and traveling exhibitions, and bred for profit. Cubs are used in “pay-for-play” schemes and photo ops.

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British Columbia Wildlife Hero

 

bear cubs

British Columbia conservation officer Bryce Casavant has been suspended without pay for refusing to kill two black bear cubs. He was reportedly asked to destroy the cubs, as well as their mother, after the mother repeatedly raided a freezer full of meat and salmon. The cubs — a brother and sister — returned to the property looking for her.

Despite an order to kill the cubs too, Casavant took them to a veterinary hospital. They are now at a recovery centre run by the North Island Wildlife Recovery Association in Errington which, like Port Hardy, is on Vancouver Island.

According to CBC’s Robin Campbell, the recovery centre’s manager said that the conservation officer did the right thing as the cubs are not habituated to humans and can be reintroduced to the wild. “The mother bear was a problem, but these cubs did nothing.”

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B.C. conservation officer Bryce Casavant

The conservation service was called by a concerned homeowner whose freezer had been repeatedly raided by the cubs’ mother, The incident was then reported by a community paper, the North Island Gazette, an online petition was started to reinstate the conservation officer. (North Island Gazette). “In 30 years, this is the first time we’ve ever had an issue like this,” said the paper. “There has to be some kind of misunderstanding. Hopefully somebody will come to their senses.”

The B.C. Ministry of Environment hasn’t said what it plans to do about the cubs now, but in a statement said the Conservation Officer Service is investigating “this situation, including the actions of its members.”

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The Vaquita: Desert Porpoise of Mexico

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The vaquita, is the smallest members of the porpoise family and found only in the waters of Mexico’s northern Gulf of California. The marine mammal, whose name means “little cow” in Spanish is rapidly becoming extinct as they accidentally drown in the gill nets local fishers deploy for fish and shrimp. According to a new report, their numbers have declined by more than 40 percent in just a single year. Now, only around 50

Vaquitas are shy creatures, and rarely seen, except when they are pulled to the surface, usually dead in fishing nets. They have been known to science only since 1958, when three skulls were found on a beach. At the time, it was thought that they numbered in the low thousands. Scientists and fishers alike say the animals, with their pretty facial markings and sleek bodies, are endearing.

There’s danger now that the porpoises will become the second cetacean (the first was the baiji, or Chinese river dolphin) to succumb to human pressures, most likely disappearing forever by 2018.

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Indeed, the government of Mexico established a presidential commission on vaquita conservation in 2012, when scientists estimated the porpoise’s population at 200. In 2005 Mexico created a refuge for them, banned all commercial fishing in the refuge’s waters, beefed up enforcement, and invested more than $30 million (U.S.) to compensate fishers and encourage them to switch to other fishing methods.

It also established the international scientific team to monitor the porpoise’s population, reproductive rates, and habitat. Its members hail from such august conservation bodies as the International Union for Conservation of Nature, the International Whaling Commission, the U.S. Marine Mammal Commission, and Norway’s Institute of Marine Research.

All were optimistic then. “We thought we were going to see the vaquitas’ numbers increasing by 4 percent a year,” said Barbara Taylor, a marine biologist with the Southwest Fisheries Science Center in San Diego, California, and a member of the team. “Instead, they’ve had a catastrophic decline of 18.5 percent per year.”

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The decline is due to illegal fishing that is out of control. In the past three years, illegal gillnetting for the totoaba, a critically endangered fish that can grow to more than six feet long (1.8 meters) and 300 pounds (136 kilograms), has surged. Unfortunately, the Vaquita and the similarly sized totoaba live in the same parts of the gulf.

The totoaba’s swim bladder, highly prized as a traditional health food and medicine in China, can fetch thousands of dollars. Few fishers can resist the temptation.

Scientists estimate that about 435 miles (700 kilometers) of legal nets are in the water every day during the fishing season, from mid-September to mid-June. That number is not counting the illegal nets for the totoaba,” Taylor says.

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Because of the vaquita’s timid nature (a sighting at 300 feet [90 meters] is considered close), scientists are not able to make visual counts of the animals. They rely instead on an array of special acoustic devices, deployed every year before the fishing season begins (they too are easily tangled in the nets), to record the sounds of the animals as they forage in the murky waters they favor. From these sounds, the researchers are able to estimate the vaquitas’ numbers.

Because the animal’s population is so low, the team says there is only one solution: Ban all gillnetting in the gulf’s upper regions, including the waters surrounding the vaquitas’ refuge. The ban must be strictly applied, even to the legal shrimp and fin fish fishery, and enforced with more police patrols on sea and land.

“It’s a hard choice,” Taylor acknowledges. Such a ban will hurt all the fishers, including those who aren’t engaged in the illegal fishery. But, she said, if Mexico doesn’t do that, it “will lose the vaquita.”

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Mexico, China, and the United States governments need to work together to control—if not end—the trade in totoaba swim bladders. The dried bladders are often smuggled across the U.S. border before ending up in the Chinese marketplace.

There is a modicum of hope. Even at only 50- 97 animals. the species can still be saved. Most marine mammals, including other cetaceans, that have been taken down through hunting have come back, so it’s not too late. But if nothing is done, they can also go extinct rapidly, as happened with the baiji. They can be gone before you know it.”

The commission will meet again at the end of August to discuss what to do next to save the vaquita.

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Ohio High School Abuses Tiger Cubs

tiger cubs caged

In the state of Ohio, the Massillon Washington High School’s football boosters club has purchased or leased tiger cubs from a local private exotic animal breeder each year for the past 44 years.  dubbing each “Obie,”, these cubs are separated prematurely from their mothers and declawed, the young animals are forced to experience the stresses of human contact, paraded in front of thousands of screaming crowds.

The tigers’ tenure as mascots is brief. When football season’s over, they’re sent away to endure the rigors of captivity elsewhere, only to be replaced by a new “Obie.”

Critics say that generations of these “retired” tigers routinely wind up caged as roadside attractions, or are sold into private hands as breeding animals, pets or worse, targets for canned hunting operations.

A spokeswoman for Stump Hill Exotic Animal Farm, where boosters have acquired tiger cubs for the last few years, told Cleveland.com that it’s “no one’s business” where the “Obies” are sent, “except the Massillon Boosters Club, Stump Hill and the USDA.”

While the breeder can keep some details closely guarded, USDA reports are still a matter of public record — and they hint at a dismal life for the big cats. Stump Hill has been cited on numerous occasions for welfare violations, most recently on Dec. 5, when a routine inspection uncovered an unreported tiger cub who had been seriously injured after getting stuck in an enclosure fence. The inspector believes that the cub had chewed off part of her paw in an attempt to free herself.

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Stump Hill and Massillon Washington High School’s football boosters club have been the targets of multiple petitions in recent years, but none have been able to end the use of living mascots. In fact, when Ohio updated its laws regulating exotic animals in 2010, the new legislation was written in a way that allowed the school’s use of tigers to continue.

So far the schools boosters are not swayed by mounting pressure. “We talked about the petition but we really haven’t done anything as far as making a move to make any changes or do anything in the future,” said booster club historian Gary Vogt.

The World Wildlife Fund (WWF), estimates there are 5,000 tigers held in captivity throughout the United States “in backyards, urban apartments and sideshows, often by those untrained in handling tigers.” The WWF has called for a ban on private possession of big cats.

This article was written by Stephen Messenger and published by The Dodo.

Tiger cubs, recovered from poachers who had planned to smuggle the animals out of the country, are seen in an iron cage in the custody of Rapid Action Battalion (RAB) in Dhaka

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35,000 Walrus

Pacific-Walrus

Pacific walrus that can’t find sea ice for resting in Arctic waters are coming ashore in record numbers on a beach in northwest Alaska.

An estimated 35,000 walrus were photographed Saturday about 5 miles north of Point Lay, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Point Lay is an Inupiat Eskimo village 300 miles southwest of Barrow and 700 miles northwest of Anchorage.

The Federal Aviation Authority has re-routed flights, and local communities have called on bush pilots to keep their distance in an effort to avoid setting off a panic that could see scores of walruses trampled to death, federal government scientists told reporters. Baby walrus are most at risk during a stampede and are easily crushed by adults.

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U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, said walrus were first spotted Sept. 13 and have been moving on and off shore. Observers last week saw about 50 carcasses on the beach from animals that may have been killed in a stampede, and the agency was assembly a necropsy team to determine their cause of death.

As temperatures warm in summer, the edge of the sea ice recedes north. Females and their young ride the edge of the sea ice into the Chukchi Sea, the body of water north of the Bering Strait. In recent years, sea ice has receded north beyond shallow continental shelf waters and into Arctic Ocean water, where depths exceed 2 miles and walrus cannot dive to the bottom.

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Scientists estimated there be as many as 35 ,000 walruses
along 1 kilometer of beach near Point Lay, Alaska

Pacific Walrus

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New Treaty to Restore American Bison

North American bison photo

This week, dignitaries from U.S. Tribes and Canadian First Nations signed a treaty-the first among them in more than 150 years-to establish intertribal alliances for cooperation in the restoration of American buffalo (or bison) on Tribal/First Nations Reserves or co-managed lands within the U.S. and Canada.

This historic signing of the “Northern Tribes Buffalo treaty” occurred in Blackfeet territory in Browning, Montana, and brought together members of the Blackfeet Nation, Blood Tribe, Siksika Nation, Piikani Nation, the Assiniboine and Gros Ventre Tribes of Fort Belknap Indian Reservation, the Assiniboine and Sioux Tribes of Fort Peck Indian Reservation, the Salish and Kootenai Tribes of the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Indian Reservation, and the Tsuu T’ina Nation.

Collectively, the Tribes/ First Nations have more resources and political influence than they might individually. The groups own and manage a vast amount of grassland and prairie habitats-about 6.3 million acres; almost three times the size of Yellowstone National Park — throughout the United States and Canada.

Through their combined voice and a formal expression of political unity, their goal is to achieve ecological restoration of the buffalo on their respective lands, and in so doing to re-affirm and strengthen ties that formed the basis for traditions thousands of years old. Along with agreeing to work together for bison restoration and grassland conservation on tribal lands, the treaty encourages youth education and cultural restoration among the tribes.

The treaty is an ancient and enduring way of forming agreements between plains tribes. Although treaty has been a traditional practice for Native Americans for thousands of years, an intertribal peace treaty of this nature has not been signed among these tribes for more than 150 years. The last peace treaty signed by these tribes, The Lame Bull Treaty of 1855, established a large common hunting ground and focused on preserving their cultures and ways of life.

bison herd at catalina island, california

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