Defenders In the News
The Endangered Species Act (ESA) has raised continual controversy since its enactment more than four decades ago, inciting many a heated debate over the need to protect threatened plants and animals versus how such protections could crimp land use or economic development. But a surprising new analysis shows that the Act might not be quite the economic threat that critics believe it is — at least, not anymore.
The Sierra Club on Wednesday released a report on the final text of the Trans-Pacific Partnership, concluding that the landmark trade deal would be a significant setback in efforts to combat climate change and protect the environment. "In its more than 6,000 pages of binding rules, the deal fails to even mention the words 'climate change,'" the report reads.
From steamy lowland jungle and lush cloud forests to rich coastal mangroves and underwater oases, Latin America is home to a cornucopia of diverse plants and animal species. With rampant corruption, poor enforcement, and a high number of endemic and endangered species, the illegal wildlife trafficking business is booming in Latin America. Catering to consumers’ taste for exotic pets, purses and meat, traffickers are smuggling billions of dollars’ worth of wildlife and animal products – including bird feathers, crocodile shoes, caiman purses, and turtle eggs – from Latin America into the U.S. As one of the world’s largest consumers of illegal wildlife products, the U.S. is a key actor in the global wildlife trade, accounting for some $6 billion of legal and $2 billion of illegal wildlife trade annually.
Rob McInerney had a safety-code rating for everything happening in a photo of a roadway – until he saw the goat. The CEO of the International Road Assessment Program looked for speed limit signs, how the road lanes were divided, whether there were parking or sidewalk areas, the presence of pedestrian crossing facilities and how closely people appeared to be following the rules. There was no workshop dedicated to animal crashes at the Second Global High-Level Conference on Road Safety that brought delegates from 116 nations to Brazil recently. Yet when asked, many quickly observed how animals were a regular hazard for their drivers.
The US government has failed to properly protect the red wolf, one of the world’s rarest wolves, by allowing a member of the species’ small wild population to be killed, conservationists have claimed. The US Fish and Wildlife Service has been taken to court by a coalition of environmental groups that argues it has not properly protected the endangered red wolf, with estimates of just 50 to 75 of the animals left in the wild in North Carolina. A lawsuit filed with the US district court for the eastern district of North Carolina states that the FWS permitted a landowner to kill an adult female red wolf in June that was known to have mothered a total of 16 pups through four litters.
The bear arrives around 8 p.m., snuggling her 400 pounds of girth between the house and the adjacent row of bushes. It's quiet there, and she won’t be disturbed. She even has access to the neighbor’s apple trees. When UM senior Tana Wilson went home to Libby for the weekend on Oct. 24, she found she wasn’t the only guest. This female black bear had been consistently staying the night in her family’s yard. The Wilsons aren’t the only western Montana family to host a bear this fall. A bear in the hallways of Bozeman High School made national news. Jamie Jonkel is a bear biologist for Fish, Wildlife and Parks in Region 2, which covers 1,500 square miles of western Montana. On a normal year, he receives around seven calls per day. This year, he receives around 40, or an increase of approximately 600 percent. There are six other wardens in Region 2 who receive similar amounts of calls.
There’s no question that the Endangered Species Act has had some major successes...But an endangered listing typically serves as an option of last resort for declining species in America — something that can swoop in when numbers get frighteningly low. There are many species that aren’t yet listed as endangered but whose numbers are threatened by pollution, loss of habitat, and other factors. That’s why a new report from the Center for American Progress recommends that the federal government create a new category under the Endangered Species Act — “at risk.” An at risk species would be a lower category than the ESA’s threatened or endangered listing, and wouldn’t afford a species any legal protections. But it would encourage voluntary efforts to conserve the at-risk species’ habitat, and would prioritize federal funding for incentives for this voluntary conservation.
Florida panthers numbered as few as five and as many as 20 by best guess nearly 50 years ago. After a 48-year-old ban on hunting the big cats, their population is estimated to be least 180 adults in the wild. Florida’s iconic official state animal is at a crossroad in its survival. Federal authorities have a plan to guide the Florida panthers’ recovery, which includes establishing at least two more separate populations of 240 adults outside of South Florida.
Senator Dianne Feinstein is drummed up support for three proposed national monuments in the southern California desert by holding a public listening session at the Whitewater Preserve near Palm Springs on Tuesday. She introduced a bill earlier this year, the California Desert Conservation and Recreation Act of 2015, that would, among other things, create the Sand to Snow and Mojave Trails National Monuments in areas that are home to the endangered desert bighorn sheep and the threatened desert tortoise.
Defenders of Wildlife has hired an experienced conservationist and longtime Tar Heel to open a new office in Asheville, N.C. As Southeast program director, Ben Prater will be responsible for working to conserve priority imperiled wildlife including red wolves, Florida panthers, manatees, freshwater mussels, freshwater fish, amphibians, whales and migratory shorebirds, according to his LinkedIn profile.