Wildlife Updates

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December 2, 2000
Young male elephant behavior dependent on older males.
Adolescent male elephants in South Africa's Pilansberg National Park
killed more than 40 white rhinos in five years.  Biologists restored order by bringing in six additional mature male elephants from Kruger National Park which suppressed testosterone surges in the youngsters reducing the length of time they spent in musth.  No rhinos were killed during the next 20 months.  The abnormally high number of adolescent males in the Pilansberg population resulted from rearing orphaned
elephants and turning them loose.  The 500 km trip necessitate the services of a veterinarian to keep the tranquilized elephants sufficiently awake to stay on their feet in the transport vehicle.

November 29, 2000
Hopi "harvest" (opinion in an Arizona paper)  "The decision by the Department of the Interior to give Hopi Tribe members permission to gather eaglets from Wupatki National Monument may be cathartic in easing White angst over previous mistreatments of Native Americans, but it will have quite a different effect on the eagles of Wupatki.

"'Harvesting' implies taking the excess production of a renewable resource.  Lost in this political discussion is the fact that there is only a single pair of eagles nests within the monument and in that environment they do not fledge one bird every year. It doesn't take much real science to anticipate how long eagles will persist there.  Perhaps this is the reason the Hopis can no longer find enough eagles within their own nation.  When the eagles of Wupatki are gone, where will the
Hopis wish to 'harvest' next?"

November 28, 2000
Audubon criticizes CDC recommendations for combatting West Nile encephalitis.  The National Audubon Society has taken issue with the recommendations of the federal Centers for Disease Control which advise widespread spraying of insecticides whenever a dead bird is diagnosed to be infected with the virus.  The disease does not represent a threat to the majority of people who may not even know they are infected with the virus.  Others may suffer mild flu-like symptoms. As always with any disease, it can be a serious health risk to a small minority.  Spraying insecticides can pose a long-term health risk for both humans and wildlife, however. Cornell University researchers have stated that spraying is both ineffective and inappropriate because it may increase the insects resistance to pesticides.

November 25, 2000
Fishermen destroy Galapagos Park headquarters, smash computer and communications equipment demanding higher quotas.  Factory fishing methods, pollution and global warming are endangering all ocean life.  With home fish stocks depleted, Ecuadorian and neighboring fishermen have moved into the waters of the Galapagos sanctuary in such numbers that the quotas meant to protect species from overfishing no longer satisfy their needs.  They are demanding higher lobster quotas and threatening park personnel and tourists,  They are reported to have taken a giant tortoise hostage.  Sea Shepherd is sending its fast patrol boat Sirenian to help the Ecuadorian government prevent illegal fishing.  They are also trying to raise money to help the park replace its damaged equipment.  Sea Shepherd Conservation Society PO B  2616, Friday Harbor WA 98250 USA

November 3, 2000
USFWS has in effect authorized hunting of rare trumpeter swans by opening a season tundra swans because it is hard to distinguish between the two species.  Only 70 breeding pairs of trumpeters are known to live in the US.  The Biodiviersity Legal Foundation, TheFund for Animals and Utah Environmental Congress are suing to stop the hunt and secure emergency endangered species protection.

November 1, 2000
Sagebrush habitat suffered in last summer's fires.  Over half of 6.5 million acres burned were sage brush which is critical for the survival of species like the sage grouse.  The grouse's scratching under the sage enables other plants to grow in its shade and support other animals in the harsh desert climate.

October 29, 2000                                                                                  home
The Department of the Interior has decided Hopis should be allowed to capture and kill eaglets from Wupatki National Monument in Arizona.  As the proposal is still in draft form (NYT, Oct 29)  letters to Secretary of the Interior Bruce Babbitt , 1849 C Street NW Washington DC 20240  may influence this backward decision.  The Hopi tribe claims that it is their right under the Constitution's guarantee of religious freedom to smother eaglets is a religious ceremony.  They further claim that their ancestors traditionally stole eaglets from the monument's lands for this purpose   The worst thing about this situation is that half of the 40 large parks surveryed by Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility had received  demands for hunting rights from neighboring tribes.  Yielding to these demands would destroy the preservation ethic of the parks and other public lands where wild animals are presently protected from human exploitation.  The Hopi's are not the only ones who had a destructive religious ceremony.  The Inquisition, witch burning and other malpractices were performed in the name of religion.  Sacrificing animals in the name of whatever gods is a religious ceremony best consigned to a  less enlightened past..

October 29, 2000
Urban coyotes A coyote was caught dragging a 2-month-old baby from a car in Mesa AZ while father was unloading groceries.  Father later shot what was presumably the same coyote.  It was not rabid.
The Vancouver Sun (Oct. 10) reported four attacks on children in area parks: an 18-month old boy was bitten in the face; a 4-year-old girl had her skin punctured at the hip; the other two incidents were "nips".  Officials blame the problem on people who feed these animals, either deliberately or because they make dog and cat food available which changes their behavior toward humans.  Coyotes consider cats and snmall dogs fair prey.  Randomly killing coyotes will not help because others will move in take their place.

September 2000
Elephants in southern African countries are reproducing too fast for the human population to tolerate.  Dr Antoni Milewski at the University of Capetown has suggested this may be due to modern boreholes  which make iodine-rich water available to roving elephants. Elephants have evolved with a naturally iodine-deficient diet that tends to limit reproduction.  In eastern Africa, elephants are known to excavate caves in hillsides to reach iodine-rich salt deposits.  Closing boreholes would reduce available iodine, but it would also run the risk od death by dehydration.

September 1, 2000
Texas Governor Bush blocked endangered listing for Barton Spring salamander according to Employees for Environmental Responsibility.  They accused him of burying biological reports unfavorable to industry and threatening or reassigning employees who wrote unfavorable reports.

previous update           subsequent update      Winter 2000-01 C-paper
November 2000 news of Buffalo Field Campaign

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