Poaching: National Statistics… Nonexistant

•April 2, 2009 • 2 Comments

With the recent attacks on the gray wolf pack in Washington, and my research heading to a more American view of how poaching reaches us closer to home I had a question of my own– Which State has the most occurrences of poaching in the U.S. I soon found that because poaching in The United States is not a federal offense, there are no national statistics for poaching in the U.S. From here I figured I could just look at state departments, and check how trends have changed. One of the few states I was able to find figures for poaching on was California.

In California, in 2007 there were over 17,840. This was up from just over 14,000 in 2005, the state has contributed the increase in poaching to a straining economy. However I was unable to find specific statistics such as these for many states in the United States. Many states glorify their accomplishments of arresting suspected poachers, but fail to reveal statistics similar to the state of California. Is poaching not prominent enough to keep national statistics? How can our country monitor efforts to hinder poaching if we do not not where we are coming from or where we are going? This makes little sense to me.

If anyone has better luck finding statistics similar to these feel free to let me know.

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The Jakarta Post on Government Poaching Intervention

•April 2, 2009 • Leave a Comment

As of late, there has been much news concerning government intervention of poaching throughout the world. The Jakarta Post recently published an article dealing with government decisions to intervene in poaching practices.

“An environmental non-governmental organization (NGO) has on Thursday called for the government to intervene in the prevention of further wildlife poaching in Sumatra following the death of two female elephants at an elephant conservation center in Bengkulu last week.

“Elephant and tiger poaching is increasing and the death of the female elephants wasn’t the first. At least seven others were killed at the conservation park between 2004 and 2007,” representative of wildlife protection NGO ProFauna Radius Nursidi said.

He added that the perpetrators were never caught nor processed.
 
Apart from endangered elephants, the second most poached wildlife animal is the Sumatran tiger.

A survey conducted by ProFauna in March this year revealed 12 tiger snares were found around a conservation park in Bengkulu.

One of these snare had successfully trapped a Bornean leopard in 2007.

The authorities were informed of the perpetrator but no legal recourse was taken.

“The police need to fully enforce the law on wildlife crime. Without law enforcement, elephant and tiger poaching in Bengkulu will persist”, Nursidi argued.

Under the law, poaching and trading protected species is against the law and offenders are liable to a maximum of five years in jail and a Rp 100 millions (10,000 USD) fine.”–The Jakarta Post

Within this article you notice that the government seems to agree with the public assumption that poaching has been on the increase in recent times. I feel that the falling economy has compounded many people to turn to black market economies, in this case poaching, to earn their living. A majority of nations have public policies detailing the consequences if convicted of poaching, however according to this piece it appears that many countries are not following through with reprimanding those associated with these acts. Having the laws in place only deters a portion of the population from committing these vile acts, and for many people these guidelines are just loopholes to be run through. For these policies to be effective the governments of the world need to follow through and have more strict guidelines to punishing people.

One of the more telling statements in the article was the report of 12 tiger snares being found on a reservation in Bengkulu. If these wild animals aren’t safe even in their protected areas, there is little hope of survival outside of these conservations. Nations with these types of conservation areas should go to greater lengths to eliminate acts such as these being committed on their lands, whether this involves more patrol over the areas (which would indeed be a difficult task due to the sheer immense size of area that would need to be covered), or having stricter punishments for acts committed on lands that part of reservations.

Court Rejects Blue Whale Protection

•April 1, 2009 • 3 Comments

One recurring theme I seem to come across when researching endangered whales and their poaching, is government sanctions to either protect them or just the opposite. Such is the case in a recent release by the AP in which courts in Southern California recently rejected a lawsuit against the coast guard for better protection of blue whales. Apparently in recent months several were killed by passing ships in the Santa Barbara Channel.

“U.S. District Judge Maxine Chesney rejected an argument by the Center for Biological Diversity that the Coast Guard should comply with the Endangered Species Act when it regulates ship traffic. Chesney issued a summary judgment Monday in San Francisco.

In her decision, Chesney said that the Coast Guard’s daily management of shipping traffic does not by itself trigger Endangered Species Act requirements. The environmental group failed to show that the agency is engaged in any specific action that would require it to initiate such measures, the judge said.

Andrea Treece, an attorney for the environmental group, said her client has not decided whether to appeal the decision.

“It’s unfortunate the judge took such a narrow view of what was before her,” she said.

Stephanie Young, spokeswoman for the Coast Guard in Los Angeles, said they don’t comment on legal decisions but added that the agency takes protecting marine animals seriously. Following the whale deaths that prompted the lawsuit, the Coast Guard conducted aerial monitoring of whales and recommended that mariners reduce their speeds in the Santa Barbara Channel.

The lawsuit was filed after three of the endangered mammals were confirmed to have been hit by ships and another two whale carcasses were also spotted in 2007. The incidents around the channel caught the group’s attention because the death toll was much higher than the acceptable level for non-natural whale deaths, said Treece, who called the deaths “heart-stopping.”

Less than 10,000 blue whales are left in the world’s oceans after being reduced by whaling.

Blue whales normally pass through the channel on their way to feed in grounds further north and are usually gone by the end of August. In 2007, however, a large number of whales stayed to feed in the channel, which holds some of the busiest shipping lanes in the world.”– Noaki Schwartz (AP)

Don’t get me wrong, I am much in the support of saving endangered whales, however I think there has to be a line drawn somewhere. The coast guard has enough problems of its own with just regulating ship traffic in and out of the seas surrounding California; to put this additional helping on their plate seems a bit ludicrous to me.

Iceland Plans to Stop Commercial Whaling

•March 31, 2009 • Leave a Comment

A recent report by Bloomberg says that Iceland wants to stop commercial whaling as early as next year. This plan, forwarded by  Steingrimur Sigfusson, would reverse a five-year hunting approval that was instated by a previous administration.

One of the last acts of the previous administration, headed by Einar K. Gudfinnsson was to allow the hunting of fin and minke whales for the past five years. This came almost twenty years after the IWC outlawed the whaling practice to try and preserve whale numbers in our seas.

“I distinguish between the traditional small-town coastal whaling, and I fully support our right to do that in a self- sustainable way as we have always done,” Sigfusson said. “But commercial industrial whaling is another thing.”

I found this story rather interesting in contrast to the views of Japanese government officials that I shared in an earlier post. I feel that the quote by Mr. Sigfusson is quite relevant, as he points out the stark differences between small whaling and commercial whaling. In many ways I agree with his statements; for many cultures small coastal whaling is a way of life, and as sad as it may be for many activists, we cannot erase a cultures values. Although commercial whaling, which much of the time is wasteful, can drastically reduce populations of whales for little reason. The Bloomberg article is posted in the links to the right

Making a Difference, Even a Small One

•March 31, 2009 • Leave a Comment

Most of the stories I post on here leave me with a negative feeling towards members of society; mostly because all of them in some way, shape, or form are concerned with some unethical slaughter of animals for little reason. However, I recently ran across a heartwarming story of a young 5-year-old’s efforts to help save endangered tigers.

The story was posted on seacost.com, and told the tale of Kai, a young student with a big heart for the environment. Kai and his classmates organized a bake sale at their local elementary school after hearing that Kai had originally raised $25 to save polar bears– which he know feels are not endangered. The class had a goal to raise $250 dollars, the minimum to symbolically “adopt” a tiger through the world wildlife fun. However, much to everyone’s surprise the class was able to raise $633 dollars.

Some may look at this and think, “Okay what is $633 dollars going to do in the big scheme of things,” and to them I answer this– it will help. I found this story to be rather inspiring, that a 5 year old in a town of Portsmouth can, from his elementary school, make a small difference across the world. This should serve to inspire anybody that feels they cannot make a different that they are indeed, wrong. As usual the full story is linked on the right for those of you who want to read the full contents.

Also I have included a link for anyone who was curious about the “Adopt-a-tiger” Kai was raising money for, the page is in the links to the right.

Congress Looks To Relieve Wolves

•March 31, 2009 • Leave a Comment

Congress recently passed the Omnibus Public Land Management Act of 2009. One key portion of the act is the “Wolf Livestock Loss Demonstration Project”. This is basically a wordy way of saying that the U.S. government plans to allocate 5 million dollars over the next five years to compensate livestock producers for livestock that is lost due to predatory acts of wolves. The act also will give some funds to help farmers and Indian tribes to use non-lethal means of deterring wolves from their lands, in an attempt to preserve the gray wolf population within the United States.

If managed correctly, this act could save many wolves in America from being gunned down do to their predatory actions. However, there is some concern that the act will lead to farmers baiting their livestock, so that wolves will attack them, and allow the farmers to get a larger return on the cattle than they would within the free market.

It should be interesting to see how this plays out, considering how recent government plans have ran astray, hopefully this act ends up working out for the better, and wolf populations will continue to increase in North America.

Furadan Follow Up

•March 31, 2009 • 2 Comments

In the previous post I discussed the 60 Minutes segment on Lions being poisoned through the use of the pesticide Furadan. At the end of the segment they said they could not get an interview with the producer of the pesticides, FMC Corp. They did say however that the company has suspended the sale of the product within the country of Kenya.

Following up on this report I looked into Furadan, and other problems that have been associated with its use. I found that there was originally a granular form (more or less like a “fertilizer”); production on this was ended midway through the 1990’s, after the deaths of more than 2,000,000 birds were attributed to its use.

“FMC company has no proof its product was involved. But he said it wants to work with conservationists to resolve the problem.” –Vice President Milton Steele

This is a positive sign as the involvement of the Vice President of the company shows that they are aware of the problems, and seem to be wanting to put an end to them. Also, I found that aside from simply stopping the sale of Furadan within Kenya, they are making attempts to buy back stocks of the pesticide within the country. This is a small but positive step in the conservation of lions, as well as other mammalian predators within the African savannah.