JustOneMorePet

Every Pet Deserves A Good Home…

Slaughter on the Island: Highjacking the Flag of Conservation

Santa Rosa Island

Slaughter on the Island: Highjacking the Flag of Conservation

By Lacey Biles, NRA-ILA Hunting Policy Liaison

Nestled in the Pacific Ocean approximately 30 miles from the mainland of Santa Barbara sits a beautiful island where majestic Roosevelt elk and Kaibab mule deer roam free. Ferried across a treacherous channel, these grand species were brought to Santa Rosa Island some 80 years ago, but their days are officially numbered. A complete slaughter of these magnificent animals is scheduled to occur before the midnight tide rises on Dec. 31, 2011. Sharpshooters will be en route to the island soon to comply with a 1996 court settlement and 2007 legislation that reinstated the extermination order.

The 83-square-mile island was privately owned for more than a century before being sold to the National Park Service in 1986 for $30 million. Used as a cattle and sheep ranch for much of its modern history, overgrazing disrupted the balance of the island`s ecosystem. The 1996 lawsuit settlement required the removal of all cattle, sheep and feral hogs from the island, followed by a phased reduction of elk and mule deer to culminate at the end of 2011 with complete extermination.

As this is a government-mandated animal slaughter, you may ask where the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) and People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) have been in the process. They have been curiously absent, giving us a clear picture of their definition of "conservation." In fact, HSUS` congressional allies, U.S. Sens. Dianne Feinstein and Barbara Boxer and U.S. Rep. Lois Capps, blocked NRA`s efforts to prevent the slaughter in 2007 by inserting a provision into the omnibus appropriations bill that reinstated the extermination order. The animal-saving law blocked by the three lawmakers would have allowed disabled veterans to hunt the majestic elk and mule deer based on biologists` harvest recommendations.

The battle over Santa Rosa Island illustrates diverging definitions of "conservation." Theodore Roosevelt was largely responsible for sparking America`s conservation movement after witnessing the detritus left behind by the 19th century`s commercial big game slaughter. An avid hunter throughout his life, Roosevelt could not countenance big game populations dwindling below sustainable hunting levels. He helped to create the North American Wildlife Conservation Model, which used regulated hunting as an essential tool to bring back numerous species from the brink of extinction and help them thrive again.

Regulated hunting of Roosevelt elk and Kaibab mule deer on Santa Rosa Island has been employed and celebrated for decades, keeping populations in check that have no natural predators. Although the presence of such majestic beasts enriches the experience of all who visit the island, HSUS and PETA seem to prefer total extermination of the elk and deer populations rather than allowing one more hunter to take to the field. Again, these anti-hunting extremists refuse to acknowledge that hunters are largely responsible for preserving America`s wild lands and the wild things that Roosevelt held sacrosanct.

Animal "rights" extremists have tried to seize the word "conservation" and change its definition to remove hunting as a tool. Unfortunately, they have had some success and Santa Rosa Island may be their next victory.

The impact that domestic cattle and sheep, and feral hogs, can have on a unique landscape such as Santa Rosa Island is well known. A total of 1,175 hogs were killed during the `90s, but estimates put the number of hogs as high as 3,200 prior to a major drought in the late `80s. With voracious appetites, it is no wonder that the flora and fauna suffered tremendously. Some states see significant habitat impacts with similar hog populations. After the removal of domestic cattle, sheep and feral hogs, Santa Rosa`s ecosystem dramatically rebounded.

So why have the elk and mule deer been sentenced to die when the island`s ecosystem is rebounding? No reasonable answer has been given; the only explanation is that the two ungulate species are "non-native." Allowing the North American Wildlife Conservation Model to prevail through elk and mule deer management would mean a modicum of impact on the island`s environment. That is apparently too tall an order for HSUS and PETA because it would mean continued hunting of a few animals. The animal "rights" folks instead sit idly by as government-paid sharpshooters are scheduled to perform a 19th century-style slaughter, with the modern twist of using helicopters instead of horses.

There are only three native terrestrial mammals on Santa Rosa: the deer mouse, island fox and spotted skunk. With the domestic cattle, sheep and feral hogs gone from the island, a proper ecosystem could be easily maintained with the continued inclusion of scientifically managed elk and deer herds.

Roosevelt elk and Kaibab mule deer are only found in a small segment of North America and they are a celebrated part of Santa Rosa for a multitude of visitors from hikers to hunters. The isolated island population of these magnificent animals represents an important insurance policy if disease ever broke out on the mainland that could lead either species to extinction. Having an isolated species pool, a Noah`s Ark of sorts, can prove invaluable as proper elk and mule deer habitat on the mainland continues to erode because of urbanization, leaving species` health prone to widespread disease events.

President Roosevelt eloquently wrote of elk in 1902:

"Surely all men who care for nature, no less than all men who care for big game hunting, should combine to try to see that not merely the states but the Federal authorities make every effort, and are given every power, to prevent the extermination of this stately and beautiful animal, the lordliest of the deer kind in the entire world."

I believe that the president who sparked the American conservation movement would write the very same words about the Santa Rosa slaughter today. The elk and mule deer herds could be so managed through hunting and other means as to have minimal impact on the island`s various flora and fauna with a continued existence as balanced members of the island`s ecosystem. This would continue the North American Wildlife Conservation Model that has become the envy of the world, albeit to the angst of the animal "rights" crowd simply because hunting would continue. It makes one wonder if these anti-hunting extremists would prefer to see more animals exterminated so that, in their twisted minds, no "suffering" would exist. It is hard to see any other way they would be satisfied given their inaction on Santa Rosa.

Rest assured that NRA will continue the fight to save the Santa Rosa elk and mule deer to the final hour. Join the fight; contact your United States senators and representative and ask them to call off the sharpshooters. If all concerned NRA members join forces, perhaps we can prevent the senseless slaughter of these remarkable animal populations and keep the animal "rights" extremists from taking hunting out of conservation.

Posted: 8/9/2011 12:00:00 AM

Source: NRA-ILA

August 11, 2011 Posted by | animals, Just One More Pet, Political Change, Wild Animals | , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

25% of Wild Mammal Species Are Imperiled

      

BARCELONA, Oct. 6 — At least a quarter of the world’s wild mammal species are at risk of extinction, according to a comprehensive global survey released here Monday.

The new assessment — which took 1,700 experts in 130 countries five years to complete — paints “a bleak picture,” leaders of the project wrote in a paper being published in the journal Science. The overview, made public at the quadrennial World Conservation Congress of the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), covers all 5,487 wild species identified since 1500. It is the most thorough tally of land and marine mammals since 1996.

“Mammals are definitely declining, and the driving factors are habitat destruction and over-harvesting,” said Jan Schipper, the paper’s lead writer and the IUCN’s global mammals assessment coordinator. The researchers concluded that 25 percent of the mammal species for which they had sufficient data are threatened with extinction, but Schipper added that the figure could be as high as 36 percent because information on some species is so scarce.

Land and marine mammals face different threats, the scientists said, and large mammals are more vulnerable than small ones. For land species, habitat loss and hunting represent the greatest danger, while marine mammals are more threatened by unintentional killing by pollution, ship strikes and being caught in fishing nets.

While large species such as primates (including the Sumatran orangutan and red colobus monkeys in Africa) and ungulates (hoofed animals such as Africa’s Dama gazelle and the Malaysian tapir) may seem more physically imposing, the researchers wrote that these animals are more imperiled than smaller creatures such as rodents and bats because they “tend to have lower population densities, slower life histories, and larger home ranges, and are more likely to be hunted.”

Primates face some of the most intense pressures: According to the survey, 79 percent of primates in South and Southeast Asia are facing extinction.

Conservation International President Russell A. Mittermeier, one of the paper’s writers and a primate specialist, said animals in the region are being hit with “a triple whammy.”

“It’s not that surprising, given the high population pressures, the level of habitat destruction, and the fairly extreme hunting of primates for food and medicinal purposes,” he said in an interview. He added that some areas in Vietnam and Cambodia are facing “an empty forest syndrome,” as even once-populous species such as the crab-eating macaque, or temple monkey, are “actually getting vacuumed out of some areas where it was common.

In some cases, the scientists have a precise sense of how imperiled a species has become: There are 19 Hainan gibbons left in the wild on the island off China’s southeast coast, Mittermeier said, which actually counts as progress because there used to be just a dozen.

With others, including the beaked whale and the jaguar, researchers have a much vaguer idea of their numbers despite technological advances — such as satellite and radio tagging, camera tracking and satellite-based GPS (global positioning system) mapping. The authors of the assessment wrote that most land mammals occupy “areas smaller than the United Kingdom,” while “the range of most marine mammals is smaller than one-fifth of the Indian Ocean.”

The report on mammals came on the same day that the IUCN updated its “Red List” — a separate periodic survey of nearly 45,000 species of plants and animals — and concluded that 32 percent are threatened with extinction. Its scientists added 20 of the world’s 161 species of grouper to the list of those at risk of extinction, along with several tarantula species.

Jonathan Baillie, who directs conservation programs at the Zoological Society of London, said: “It’s a continual decline in all cases.”

Not all of the news was grim yesterday: IUCN officials said that the La Palma giant lizard, believed to be extinct for 500 years, was rediscovered last year in the Canary Islands and is now considered critically endangered.

The writers of the mammals assessment said the observed declines are not inevitable. “At least 5 percent of currently threatened species have stable or increasing populations,” they wrote, “which indicates that they are recovering from past threats.”

Said Mittermeier: “It comes down to protecting habitats effectively, through protected areas, and preventing hunting and other forms of exploitation.” As one example of how conservation can be effective, he noted that in areas where scientific researchers work, animals stand a much better chance of surviving. “Where you have a research presence, it’s as good or better than a guard force,” he said.

Schipper offered the model of the U.S. effort to bring back the black-footed ferret, which was essentially extinct on the North American prairie as of 1996. “Now it’s endangered, which, in this case, is a huge improvement,” he said. “When governments and scientists commit resources to a project, many species can be recovered.”

Monday’s reports come as researchers have been documenting effects of human-generated greenhouse gases. In a paper published Thursday in the journal Geophysical Research Letters, a team at the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute found that ocean acidification spurred by carbon emissions will cause sound to travel farther underwater, because increasingly acidic seawater absorbs less low- and mid-frequency sound.

By 2050, the researchers predicted, sounds could travel as much as 70 percent farther in parts of the Atlantic Ocean and other areas, which may improve marine mammals’ ability to communicate but also increase background noise, which could prove disorienting.

“We understand the chemistry of the ocean is changing. The biological implications of that we really don’t know,” said ocean chemist Keith Hester, the lead writer. “The magnitude to which sound absorption will change, based mainly on human contribution, is really astounding.”

By Juliet Elperin, Washington Post Staff Writer, Tuesday, October 7, 2008; Page A13

Permalink: https://justonemorepet.wordpress.com/2008/10/09/25-of-wild-mam…-are-imperiled/

Posted:  Just One More Pet

Related Articles:

October 9, 2008 Posted by | Just One More Pet, Pets, Political Change, Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments