Hunters or Hunted?

gray-wolf-gazing

This week, the Wisconsin DNR reported that a number of gray wolves (recently re-listed as endangered in the state) were shot and killed during last month’s deer hunting season. Due to the Endangered Species Act, it is a full-fledged crime to kill a wolf in the state of Wisconsin. The full story is below:

Wisconsin DNR Reports 6 Endangered Wolves Killed

Is it time for a new Supreme Court yet?

whalesmombaby

In a new ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court this week, the Navy has won a victory over sea mammals. The Court lifted sanctions placed on the Navy over underwater sonar testing that has been shown to harm whales and other marine mammals. Hopefully, the new administration will not flaunt this power the way the current one has.

For the full story click here.

Campaign Scorecard

After in-depth analysis of the two presidential candidate’s past environmental record and their future promises for the planet, the League of Conservation Voters has released their 2008 Presidential Environmental Scorecard. The link to the PDF version of the scorecard can be found here, and candidate fact sheets can be viewed at the links below:

BARACK OBAMA – POSITION SUMMARY

JOHN McCAIN – POSITION SUMMARY

Sarah Palin’s Answer to Wolf Conservation? “Kill them.”

A new ad created by the Defenders of Wildlife will be aired in key battleground states this week surrounding the Vice Presidential debates. Donations are being accepted on the Defenders’ website to help the ad air in states other than Ohio, Michigan, and Florida, where it is already being shown. From the Defenders’ website:

Governor Palin is an active promoter of Alaska’s aerial hunting program whereby wolves and bears are shot from the air or chased by airplanes to the point of exhaustion before the pilot lands the plane and a gunner shoots the animals point blank. 

  • Palin offered a $150 bounty for wolves to entice hunters to kill more wolves in certain parts of the state, with hunters having to present a wolf’s foreleg to collect the bounty. 
  • She actively opposed a ballot measure campaign seeking to end the aerial hunting of wolves by private hunters and approved a $400,000 state-funded campaign aimed at swaying people’s votes on the issue. 
  • She also introduced legislation to make it easier to kill wolves and bears and which would have also removed the aerial hunting initiative from the ballot and block the ability of citizens to vote on the issue.
  • The Board of Game, which she appoints, has approved the killing of black bear sows with cubs as part of the program and expanded the aerial control programs.
  • The media is currently looking into reports that state officials implementing one of the aerial wolf killing programs illegally killed five-week old wolf pups just outside their dens.

Watch the video here, or visit the site.

Gray Wolf Put Back On Endangered Species List in Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Michigan

Brother Wolf, photo by Jim Brandenburg

In a ruling Monday, a federal court judge overturned the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s decision to take wolves off the endangered species list last year. In what hopefully indicates a trend for gray wolf re-listing, U.S. District Judge Paul Friedman contended that the USFWS should not have simultaneously designated a distinct population of wolves and delisted them.

Friedman, who defended his decision to reporters soon after the ruling, said that the USFWS decision last year wasn’t clearly supported by the language or purpose of the Endangered Species Act.

“Little confusion or inefficiency will result from reinstating a regulatory regime that was in place from 1978 to 2007, particularly given the fact that state and federal wolf management authorities have been working in tandem for years,” Friedman wrote.

For almost three decades until their delisting in 2007, gray wolves, or timber wolves, had been listed as threatened in Minnesota and endangered in the other two states- they are now back to that protected status, although there are those who would certainly wish to see them de-listed once again.

No Green Elephant: McCain Calls on Congress to Lift Offshore Drilling Ban

Thumbs up for oil companies everywhere.

In an address on Tuesday, the presumptive Republican presidential nominee offered his solution to the high prices of oil and gasoline: more drilling! While certainly not a new idea amongst his GOP peers, McCain’s proposal for more offshore drilling raises serious concerns, as it is coming from one of two men who will be the next President of the United States. What it suggests is that McCain’s interests lie more in temporarily patching (while simultaneously worsening) the US’s fossil-fuel crisis. These temporary fixes to the many issues that face the US and its economy are common during election year, but McCain has to realize that his actions, were Congress to follow his lead, would only stop the United States from seeking out permanent solutions in the form of alternative energy. 

So what is McCain’s answer to the call for alternative fuels? 

He says Americans struggling to pay $4 for a gallon of gasoline cannot afford to wait for those “far off plans of futurists and politicians.”

We severely disagree with Senator McCain as to how “far off” these energy sources are (apparently far off is when something is currently being put to use?). His proposed short-term fix is more drilling now off the coasts of Florida, California and elsewhere. “We have proven oil reserves of at least 21 billion barrels in the United States,” he said. “But a broad federal moratorium stands in the way of energy exploration and production. And I believe it’s time for the federal government to lift these restrictions and to put our own reserves to use.”

In another shocking turn that truly had to be for the benefit of his Houston, TX crowd, McCain mentioned that “We also need to be looking at the Alaska areas as well.” (Collective jaw-drop, anyone?) McCain previously opposed drilling in both Alaska and in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, policies that his Democratic opponent, Sen. Barack Obama, has remained firm on. 

Independent energy analyst Phillip Verleger commented on the McCain proposals, agreeing with other economists by saying the best way to address high gas prices is through conservation and improved efficiency.

“We’re only going to get out of this problem by using less,” he said.

While he has not completely dismissed putting efforts into renewable energy immediately, McCain continues to push his plan for new oil, while still urging Congress to lift the federal gas tax, another temporary and potentially harmful band-aid on the US’s traumatic head-wound of an environmental and economic crisis. 

Bush Holds the Opportunity to Create the Largest Marine Reserves in the World

Palmyra Island

In a surprising new development, George Bush and members of his administration have been given the opportunity to oversee one of the largest conservation programs in history.

If launched, the program could protect vast stretches of U.S. territorial waters from fishing, oil exploration and other forms of commercial development. The initiative could also create some of the largest marine reserves in the world — far larger than national parks like Yellowstone or the Grand Canyon.

While the details of the possible initiative are still “under review,” the idea seems to be drawing strong supposrt from those who have typically been very critical of the Bush camp and its policies.

Conservationists say that White House Council on Environmental Quality officials invited a small number of ocean advocates to an unusual, closed-door meeting to discuss the idea last year. The CEQ asked them to help identify potential reserves in waters within the United States’ “exclusive economic zone,” which extends 200 nautical miles out from the mainland and U.S.-owned islands around the world.

The idea, says Jack Sobel, a senior scientist for the Ocean Conservancy, was to highlight areas where President Bush could create “marine monuments” under the Antiquities Act of 1906. It seem s that political conniving may have its uses, because this law gives the president broad powers to protect areas of “historic or scientific interest” without congressional approval.

The groups eventually developed a “wish list” that included about 30 potential marine monuments. They ranged from small reserves in U.S. coastal waters to vast swaths around U.S. territories in the Central Pacific. The candidates stretched “from Bar Harbor, Maine, to Dutch Harbor, Alaska” and beyond, says Jay Nelson of the Washington-based Pew Environment Group.

The final list, which has now been shortened to about 5 by the White House, has not yet been released to the public. However, some of the leading nominees have been identified.

The biggest proposal is the protection of more than 600,000 square miles around a number of small, mostly uninhabited islands in the Central Pacific. The islands — including Palmyra, Howland and Baker — are surrounded by biologically rich coral reefs and are home to huge seabird colonies. If implemented, the reserve would be among the largest in the world and about three times as large as the Hawaiian monument.

Another proposal calls for protecting more than 100,000 square miles of notoriously rough waters around the Northern Mariana Islands, in the Western Pacific. The area includes the 36,000-foot-deep Marianas Trench.

What is most astounding is the possibility of Bush becoming the “Teddy Roosevelt of the Seas,” a title that he would ultimately earn if the programs succeed. A bit late in his career as commander-in-chief, the Bush programs would aim to create a “blue legacy,” most likely to balance out the other rather unfortunate trails that Bush will leave behind when he leaves office in January of next year.

Better late than never, right?