Monday, December 24, 2007

Protect Cloud's Herd: Tell the BLM how you feel about wild horse removal

The end of the year brings many opportunities for you to help wild horses and burros. Write to the BLM about their plans concerning the Pryor Mountain wild horse herd, made famous by filmmaker Ginger Kathrens and the beautiful stallion Cloud.
Last year 7000 wild horses were removed from public lands, with plans to remove 4000 more in the next year. If I'm doing the math right (which might be doubtful) that's nearly half the wild horse population still roaming public lands. It is my belief that wild horses should A) remain wild and B) any necessary roundups should be put off until not only holding but TRAINING and REHOMING facilities can be built to cope with the influx of untrained and often unmanagable wild horses into a world already full of unwanted animals. There are more wild horses in holding facilities across the country than there are roaming the wild.
Another animal which has been let down by laws put into place to protect them is the wild burro of Big Bend State Park, Texas. Park employees have been shooting the animals, a practice apparently sanctioned by the Sierra Club (Sierra Club, por que?) in order to make room for the introduction of Big-Horn Sheep, a species which would increase big game hunting revenues.
If you would like to make your thoughts on any of these subjects heard, go to the American Wild Horse Preservation Campaign website and click the links to email officials.

Sunday, December 2, 2007

Stop Illegal Whaling

Finally, Care2 has come through where Defenders and other organizations have failed me.
I have been in a tizzy since hearing on the news at least a week ago about Japan planning to add Humpback Whales to its list of 'scientifically' harvested species. In this day and age I see no reason why whales must be slaughtered in order to study them...indeed, whales in particular are more easily studied when ALIVE, so that migration patterns and communication can be studied. Japan's harvesting for 'scientific study' is nothing more than commercial whaling in disguise.

From Defenders of Wildlife: "Whaling is one of the biggest threats to whales. By the middle of the 20th century, whaling had left many populations severely depleted. The International Whaling Commission introduced a moratorium which continues to this day. However, there are still some exceptions to this moratorium. This allows countries like Norway, Iceland and Japan and the aboriginal communities of Siberia, Alaska and northern Canada to continue their annual whale hunts. "
Since the international ban on whaling in 1986 more than 30,000 whales have been slaughtered. Japan has already overstepped its bounds in the hunting of commercial fishes, we cannot allow them to continue to expand their control over our marine mammals as well. Whales are an apex and keystone species of the marine ecosystem, and the health of our oceans depends upon, and is reflected in the health of our whales. Please do your part to help them now, but signing this petition today!
Stop Japan's Illegal Whaling!

Friday, November 23, 2007

Wolf Forum, Dec. 3

This article says it nicely, so I won't try to splice an argument together...forgive me if I copy/paste.
From the Alamagordo Daily News:

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service will present a public meeting on the Mexican Gray Wolf Recovery Program Monday, Dec. 3, at the Tays Center from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m.

The program is about a long-debated issue that has raised concerns among ranchers and farmers, while winning support among environmental groups.
"It's important to me, as an environmentalist, to have wolves as a valuable and necessary part of our ecosystem," animal advocate Steven Diehl said in an interview Wednesday. "They are not a threat to humans and they are not an economic detriment to anyone at least not the southwestern sub-species. Any ranchers that have livestock taken by wolves are reimbursed by Defenders of Wildlife for the full market value of their losses."
Diehl said if ranchers modify their livestock husbandry practices, they can greatly reduce depredation.
"It's less than one percent depredation as it stands," he said. "It would be even less with such a modification."
Diehl thinks part of the problem is a land use issue.
"It's not an economic problem," he said. "And it's not a danger issue, as there has never been even one authenticated case of a wolf ever killing a person in the wild in North America. So it has to be something else."

Click the link to read the rest of the article.

My uncle lives in Alamagordo. Lovely place.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Happy Thanksgiving!

Ah, Thanksgiving. The day Yeah. And Turkey. Unless you're vegan, and then its the day of tofu shaped into a turkey. Whatever floats your gravy boat, folks! Thanksgiving is only the beginning of the season of giving, and in my opinion one of the best things you can give to someone else is a gift that symbolizes a lasting future. To this end the World Wildlife Fund has opened a new gift shop where you can find just the right gifts for the important people in your life, and help WWF reach their conservation goals at the same time. In the Adoption Center there are literally dozens of rare and endangered animals to choose from - from pandas and polar bears to tigers and tamarins. With adoption prices starting at $25 your symbolic endangered animal 'adoption' can net your loved one everything from a photo and adoption certificate to plushie likenesses of your chosen animal, framed photo and adoption certificate and a map showing the locations of all 80 adoptable species nicely packaged in a special WWF gift box. If your someone special is a child with conservation aspirations the "Endangered Species Adoption of the Month" club might be just the gift for them. According to the WWF website: "With the WWF Endangered Species Adoption of the Month, you adopt a different endangered animal every month for a full year. Your generous one-time gift creates a lasting foundation for our conservation action around the world. What a terrific way to help preserve wildlife and show the next generation the importance of conservation." A new plushie will arrive every month, along with photo and adoption certificate and a fact sheet to help your little future conservationist learn everything there is to know about our endangered species.
Teenage girls and ladies will love the "Earring of the Month Club", featuring twelve endangered species the WWF is working to protect, and including a beautiful pewter earring tree for display. You can also purchase earrings seperately in the Apparel and Crafts section, along with tote bags, pajama pants and WWF t-shirts. Whatever you choose from the new World Wildlife Fund store, the WWF and the environment will thank you!
Speaking of thank yous, here is a part of the thank you card I recieved today from Defenders of Wildlife:

Defenders members and activists are now one million-strong and growing. And thanks to the support of dedicated folks just like you, we were able to:

  • Pass the Global Warming Wildlife Survival Act in the House, vital legislation to ensure the long-term survival of polar bears and other wildlife as global temperatures rise;
  • Introduce the Protect America’s Wildlife (PAW) Act to stop Alaska’s senseless wolf slaughter from the skies;
  • Stop Alaska Governor Sarah Palin’s gruesome wolf paw bounty plan;
  • Protect rare condors in California from the threat of lead ammunition in their habitat; and much more.
So with these wonderful accomplishments and future goals in mind, I wish you all a Happy Thanksgiving!

Friday, November 9, 2007

Support the PAW Act and save Alaskan Wolves

I said I was tired of having to talk about it. That doesn't mean I'm going to STOP talking about it. Every step we take in the right direction brings us closer than ever to ending Alaska's aerial hunting forever.
A couple of months ago California Congressman George Miller (D) introduced the PAW (Protect Americas Wildlife) Act. Since then more than 100 thousand people have written to their representatives asking them to support Congressman Miller's proposed legislation, and Defenders of Wildlife secured donations to run a series of ads and mini-documentaries highlighting the horrors of Alaska's wolf 'management' plan. Donor support has helped the PAW Act gain crucial support in Congress, but there is still much work to be done before the legislation can be put to work. To this end Defenders is running an ad in Congress Daily and they need your help!
Click here to view the ad.
Already Alaskan officials are handing out wolf hunting permits. Licenses to kill in a most heinous and unsportsman-like fashion.
Don't let this go on for another season of death. Help Defenders of Wildlife stop it, now!

Slightly off topic: Border Fence

Yes, I'm going slightly off topic today, but this subject kind of irks me.
Its the proposed (and in some places already being implemented) Border Fence between the US and Mexico.
I will be perfectly honest about my opinion. While I do think that steps must be taken to secure our borders for various reasons, I think the idea of the wall is just plain STUPID. How many times have we seen pictures on the news of people simply climbing over similar structures? What exactly are we expecting to accomplish other than altering our natural environment, probably damaging protected habitat (remind me to tell you more about the ocelots), ticking people on BOTH sides of the border off, and making something really really ugly?
Not only will the proposed fence cut farmers and ranchers off from the much needed resource of the Rio Grande, but it will ruin the natural beauty of what to me are some of the most beautiful states (Sorry folks, I may be a Marylander by birth, but I've spent a whoooole lotta time in Arizona and sorry if I think its purtier.)
The fence will also cut native wildlife off from both water, and natural migration routes. Sonoran wolves and Desert Pronghorn populations are on the verge of collapse, and this sort of meddling can have only dire consequences. (See, I told you I was only SLIGHTLY off topic.)
A big ugly fence is NOT the answer. Until the US and Mexico and fix their economy nothing is going to change, except we'll have spent a whole lot of money one a useless en devour.
As always, just my opinion.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

PMU foal disaster on wheels

On the night of October 27th a double-decker semi truck was involved in what might have been a minor accident involving a pickup truck on a road in Wisconsin. Might have been, if not for the nearly sixty young Belgian Draft Horse foals loaded into the two-level cattle/pig trailer. The driver of the semi was uninjured and the driver of the pickup suffered non-life threatening injuries. The real victims of this accident were the 59 PMU (Pregnant Mare Urine) foals who should not have been on that truck in the first place.
Warning, the images contained in this web page might be hard to view. These horses had to be cut out of the trailer, which had flipped, blocking the doors. Some were already dead. Others severely injured. If you have a weak stomach, you might not want to look. The pictures are here.
At press time it appeared that 45 of the horses were still alive, but I'm unclear about how many will continue to survive, or how many might still succumb to life threatening injuries. To me the real tragedy is not so much this accident, as horrific as it is, but the fact that these foals were brought to such an ill-fated existence in the first place. They can thank the Pregnant Mare Urine industry for that.
For those of you who might wonder what the heck pregnant mare urine is good for, ask the multi-billion dollar drug corporation Wyeth. They use hormones gleaned from the urine of pregnant mares to manufacture hormone replacement drugs for menopausal women such as Premarin and Prempro. How do they do this? Well here's the gist of it. They get a bunch of mares, mostly drafts (larger animal, more water get the idea) and they turn them out to pasture with a stallion. Now, admitted some of the contracted ranches do make some effort to at least get a nice enough stallion to breed some passable, even really nice babies. But with an estimated 7000 mares still involved in PMU production (It was ten times that at its peak!) do you really think there are homes for 7000 even nice draft cross foals every year in a horse market that is already saturated with such crosses, as well as every other grade horse you can imagine? So anyway, now we have 7000 pregnant mares. Who get tied in a five foot wide stall for the next 10 months, their movement purposely restricted so that they're forced to pee in a cup tied under their tails. Just for comparison, the basic minimum size stall a horse should have as 12 x 12 feet. Remember the article on Factory Farming? Same deal. This sort of restriction should constitute CRUEL CONFINEMENT and be CONDEMNED. The process by which such drugs as Premarin are made creates a by-product which is in fact a living, breathing, feeling creature... a precious little foal. Just like puppies and children, no domestic horse should be born into this world without people waiting to love it. And more than love it CARE FOR IT PROPERLY. I've been a little disappointed in searching for PMU foals on rescue sites and finding many of them to be upwards of 3 years old with no apparently training for any career other than pasture ornament, and no qualifications besides being 'big' and 'flashy paint cross!'
Mind you I am in no way bashing the rescue organizations. If not for them the majority of these horses would have gone the way of those 59 Belgians. With or without the trailer accident, they would have come to a gruesome end.
I guess what I'm really trying to say is that I don't understand how women who might otherwise be emotionally fragile due to low hormone levels can sleep at night knowing that they are taking a prescription drug (which is not the only hormone replacement on the market, and has performed poorly in clinical trials) that is gleaned from the death and suffering of innocent animals, just to avoid hot flashes.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Wolf Awareness Week

Author's Note: Having blogger issues, sorry for no pictures. This article is a repost, and some links may no longer be active. To sign the latest petitions concerning wolves visit the Defenders of Wildlife main page and navigate to the wolf section, or click here to send a letter to your local representative supporting the PAW Act and an end to aerial gunning. First, let me repeat in case anyone has somehow managed to miss the bulletin: There is not a single case of a healthy wild wolf fatally attacking a human being in North America. I'm not even sure we have any actual documented attacks, period. Unlike mountain lions, bears, heck even a really grumpy seal will take a bite out of you. So why does the wolf get such a bad rap? I'll tell you, its a mystery to me. Now the mountain lion, you'll never see him coming. He attacks from ambush, pouncing from a ledge or hiding within sprinting distance on the downwind side of a trail. The mountain lion is solitary, and it seems to placate people to think that when they have a problem with a mountain lion they can just shoot that lion and the problem is gone. But wolves are pack animals. Even taking out the alphas might not solve a problem, if the whole pack has learned an aberrant behaviour, such as killing livestock. And wolves stalk their prey. Maybe that's what people find so disturbing about them. The cunning, the study, the psychological game of cat and mouse that the wolf likes to play. Maybe there's something in the personality of wolves that reminds us of ourselves, and people find that offensive. <-Ain't he go-jus? Whatever it is, its something that the people of North America brought over with them when they came from Europe and Asia. When North America was first settled wolves ranged the entirety of the continent, excluding only the deepest parts of the south. Before they were protected in the 1960's they were trapped and killed nearly to extirpation (or local extinction, as there were still plenty of wild wolves in Canada, Alaska, and parts of Europe) with as much as a 14 dollar bounty on their heads. Early trappers didn't much care what else they killed either, and some used poison laced carrion (usually strychnine) which could kill fifty wolves in one night, not to mention the ravens, coyotes and other scavengers it attracted. Sometimes the poison seeped into the ground and even poisoned the grass, long after the carcass was gone, and deer and elk would die. Long after that the bones of the dead animals might be chewed by another, and it too might die. By the time wolf recovery came around wolves were holding out in a very small population in northern Minnesota, but had been otherwise removed from the lower 48 states. Today helped in part by Defenders of Wildlife's program which reimburses ranchers who lose stock to depredation wolf populations in the two main reintroduction sites in Yellowstone Natl. Park and Idaho are well up, and I'm proud to be a member of their "Adopt a wolf pup" program. I've also adopted a Bison, but though I am heartened that wolves have once again begun hunting their most fearsome natural prey in Yellowstone, I hope my wolf pup and my bison never meet! So what is to stop the Grey Wolf from spreading further? Habitat encroachment for one. Game Hunting for another. In Alaska and Canada its still legal to hunt or trap wolves, but not so in the lower 48. So aside from wolves killed through the 'lethal control' plan which eliminates stock killers and other potential problem animals, wolves have to deal with human hunters sharing their food source. Only to the average human hunter it isn't a food source, is it? Its just a pretty rack of antlers to hang on the wall. I've actually had someone spot my 'adopt a wolf pup sticker' and read me the riot act about how wolves kill elk, which rightfully belong to human hunters. Right buddy. There ARE people who still hunt for food. And for them I'm sorry if Mr. Wolf got there first. But before we go shooting wolves for killing elk, why don't we say...limit hunting licenses for SPORT hunter's first? I mean, my god, what would you poor big game hunters do if you couldn't go out and kill something? Maybe play a video game. Try Deer Hunter. As for those of you out there who appreciate our wolves, I urge you to go to the Defenders of Wildlife's 'take action!' page and help stop them from exterminating wolves in the lower 48, and stop the barbaric aerial gunning in alaska! We still need 100,000 actions for halting aerial gunning to reach our goals!

Friday, October 5, 2007

Hooray for progress!

California Congressman George Miller (D) introduce the PAW (Protect America's Wildlife) Act last week and motivated 14 thousand+ new activists to speak out against Aerial Gunning in Alaska, and generated scads of media coverage on the topic. Defenders of Wildlife has posted several ads and mini-documentaries on their YouTube account exposing the gruesome secrets behind the bloodthirsty sport of aerial gunning.
I'll be honest with you, I couldn't watch the whole video myself. To see those beautiful animals running in fear from something they have no hope of escaping is more than I can bear. I also learned something disturbing from this video...all along I have been assuming that aerial gunners were using high powered rifles to gun the wolves down...not so. The distant blast of a 12 gauge shotgun is often not as potent as a single high caliber bullet. Wounded and frightened, the wolves often run until they bleed to death, or pain and fear wear them out, and the plane lands for the final blow. Then the wolves are dismembered or strung up as trophies.
While I wouldn't like to see even the lowliest toad strung up in such a manner, it pains me to no end to see such magnificent creatures as our wolves treated so poorly.
Help us continue to speak out against aerial gunning, inviting your congressmen to support the PAW Act, and provide crucial funding for Defenders to continue to run their life-saving Anti-Gunning ads.

Thursday, October 4, 2007

Check local laws BEFORE you reach for the shovel!

Just a little heads up for some of ya'll out there who might not be fond of the creepies, crawlies, and slitheries you might find in and around your home. Here in Maryland it is ILLEGAL to kill a snake, without a proper licence. While recently prowling several snake-enthusiast photo groups in order to positively identify this little beauty:I came across a number of photos of snakes mashed flat or beheaded and then photographed, with accompanying text like "OMG, can you tell me what this is?! I found it in my bathroom!"
People in southern states seem to live in fear and think that every snake that pokes its head out of the leaves is a copperhead or a cottonmouth. While I have seen cottonmouths, copperheads, and rattlesnakes all in the wild in a number of places, the over all percentage of snake species are NON-Venomous. In every incidence of mashed and beheaded snakes I saw this proved to be the case. Generally speaking, non-venomous types like rat snakes are more likely to slither into your home than say, a rattlesnake (though I did have one under my front porch one time.) It is usually fairly easy to tell with a reasonable look whether a snake is a poisonous variety or not. Rattlesnakes have rattles, though many non-venomous snakes will vibrate their tail when feeling me, the sound is very different. Pit vipers are recognizable by their heat-sensing 'pits' between eye and snout. Most venomous snakes have distinctly triangular heads with the venom glands obvious bulges in the cheek area. Compare this Black Rat Snake to a Copperhead:
The difference in head and body shape is obvious, and close (But not too close!) inspection reveals the 'pit' just in front of the Copperhead's eye.
There are snakes that mimic the colouration of venomous snakes for protection from predators, such as some variations of king snake, and milk snakes, which resemble the poisonous Coral Snake. If you are unsure whether a snake is poisonous DO NOT TOUCH IT. In fact, its best not to touch any snake. If you have a pest problem with snakes call a reputable local wildlife removal expert, as such individuals will be properly licensed and trained to handle, remove, and relocate any pests including venomous snakes. And don't forget, a snake can be an endangered species too! So don't go chopping their heads off, photographing them (Evidence!) and then bragging about it, because evil people like me will turn you in!
If you are concerned or just curious about snake species in your area, you can contact your state's Department of Natural Resources.
They should be able to provide you with a list of species found in your area, including which are threatened or endangered. And please NEVER pick up a snake unless you know what you are doing! Leave it to the professionals.

Friday, September 14, 2007

Continuing controversy for Condors

I signed on today with the simple intention of apologizing for my lack of updates this past month. I have been plagued by set backs from computer problems (Memory upgrade is on the way, and re-installing the browser should help a little) to the tragic death of one of our school horses which has had me depressed for days. I signed on with that intention, and to make note that I was going to re-install the code for my news ticker because it didn't seem to be updating when lo'! and behold! it worketh!
I've been having difficulty posting lately because there seems to be this revolving merry-go-round of issues that never get solved, like the wolves and wild horses. I want desperately to write something NEW but I must plug away at the issues at hand until SOMEONE stands up and MAKES A DAMNED DIFFERENCE. But I digress. Today's issue is also on the merry-go-round: Lead shot poisoning California Condors (not to mention other predatory birds.)
I love this quote. "Some scientific studies say lead bullets are poisonous to the federally endangered birds." Alright folks lets sit down and think about this. Lead. Is. Poisonous. We don't need to do any more scientific studies to 'suggest' this. Condors, hawks, eagles, ravens, they ingest lead shotgun pellets when eating carrion, they get lead poisoning, they die. Hence, and let me put this in little words so the members of the NRA can understand it: Lead shot bad. I'd like to note that I pointed a finger at the NRA before even finishing the article, in which Democrat Nava alluded to the same association.
"I think what it says to other Fish and Game commissioners is if they don't toe the [National Rifle Assn.] line, their jobs are in jeopardy," Nava said. "If this is all it takes to change the composition of the Fish and Game Commission, there's more stability in the Iraqi legislature."

Typically, the NRA could not be reached for comment. (Bowling for Condors, anyone?)

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Outrageous! Alaska's Anti-Wolf Propaganda

From Defenders of Wildlife newsletter: "It’s simply outrageous. Alaska Governor Sarah Palin has signed off on a $400,000 state-funded propaganda campaign to justify the state’s barbaric wolf slaughter from the skies."
Kay, call me a neophyte when it comes to understanding the workings of the government but here's what I just can't get. How can a government official justify spending FOUR HUNDRED THOUSAND of her taxpayers (or is that all us taxpayers? hm) dollars to fund a propaganda campaign AGAINST what the voters have voted for (and been somehow ignored) repeatedly? Doesn't anyone look at government expense reports and go "Hey, that doesn't make sense. She just spent a whole boatload of voters money to do something the voters voted against." Someone define "Democracy" for me again?
Most of the time I try to keep from getting political but it gets harder and harder as I become more and more frustrated with a system of government which will eventually get all of us killed. Yes, the republicans too. No one will be safe. I should start a whole other blog for my political ranting but I admit I don't know enough about politics to say much of intelligence. But I do know right from wrong, and this sort of abuse of power and squandering of taxpayers money, not to mention the heinous slandering of wolves is NOT RIGHT!
In Norse mythology, Ragnarok will be heralded by the wolves Skoll, Hati and Fenrir, who will devour the Moon, the Sun, and the Gods. But Alaska's wolves are not the demons in this tale, Governor Palin. YOU ARE.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Laugh of the Day

In my latest Sierra Club newsletter:
"Hawaii's Next Top Models

Hawaii’s Papahanaumokuakea Marine National Monument, established in 2006 by President George W. Bush (no, that's not a typo) are home to extraordinary sea creatures rarely seen by humans.Photographers Susan Middleton and David Liittschwager accompanied researchers to the usually off-limits Northwestern Hawaiian Islands and photographed loose-limbed turtle hatchlings, neon-colored angelfish, fluff-ball tropic bird chicks, and more in Archipelago: Portraits of Life in the World's Most Remote Island Sanctuary. You can see excerpts of their haunting images in the most recent Sierra magazine."

I'm sorry the whole "No, thats not a typo" thing just cracked me up.
As soon as I have time to do some more research look for another issue on Biofuels.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

America's Symbols: Mustang update

Aha, found it. The 2007 BLM Wild horse and Burro round up schedule. Be warned, this is a pdf file so if your computer hates Adobe Reader as much as mine, I feel for you.
Now apparently the BLM conducts roundups year round (this I didn't know) but the really heavy business seems to be through the months of July, August, and September. July is the height of foaling season, while, especially in the southwestern states like Nevada, August is still high summer and brutally hot. All in all the BLM plans to remove almost seven THOUSAND horses from their rightful range this year. One of the herds listed for a heavy reduction is the Little Book Cliffs herd, made famous by the equally famous "Mustang Annie." This was the herd that inspired her, and they are slated for a reduction that could put the herd below genetic viablility and ultimately cause its collapse. Also listed is the herd of another famous 'person': Cloud, wild Stallion of the Rockies, known for his starring role in Ginger Kathrens' documentary. Drastic population control experiments are being used on Cloud's herd, actions that will soon doom this iconic herd to genetic failure.
~updateupdate~ My apologies for the continued delay. I've had no end of computer problems the last couple weeks. This is the second time I've written this apology because the last time my computer just randomly crashed...when I'd been surfing the web for an hour, five seconds after I start typing (CRASH!). Anywho. Some good news from the The American Wild Horse Preservation Campaign: there will be no repeat of last years disasterous Sheldon roundup (see my last Mustang blog entry for more details) thanks to public outcry over the death and damaged caused by the ill-planned and poorly carried out roundup.
On the other hand, while not dealing necessarily with WILD horses, there is some disturbing news from Malaysia. Visit my fellow blogger for more information on the subject of these abused and neglected animals, including all the info you need to contact the Malaysian gov' and add your voice to those protesting.

Monday, July 30, 2007

How not to save the Planet

Here's a fabulous idea someone came up with to combat our dependence on oil: liquid coal.
Could anything be MORE what we do not need than this? Coal on its own is one of the dirtiest things we can burn, and the process by which it becomes liquid produces TWICE as much carbon dioxide as the coal itself, not to mention the additional pollution created when we USE it. Only the coal exec's who would stand to make even more of a fortune on his venture would think it was a good idea. They're right up there on my list along with the Big Oil exec's, and the politicians who support them.
Carbon emissions aside, the environmental impact of coal mining is staggering. Coal mining makes clear-cut logging seem like child's play. In my home mountain ranges of Appalachia strip- and mountaintop mining techniques are used, both of which leave the mined areas completely devastated, the open pits and neighboring valleys filled with overburden and slag. Many an iconic skyline has changed drastically due to mountaintop mining. Even in underground mining, years after a mine has been closed underground tunnels may collapse, causing drastic changes in topography and damaging nearby infrastructure such as roads and power lines. Furthermore: "Historically, coal mining has been a very dangerous activity. Open cut hazards are principally slope failure, underground mining roof collapse and gas explosions. Most of these risks can be greatly reduced in modern mines, and multiple fatality incidents are now rare in some parts of the developed world."
SOME parts, it says. But if you've been keeping even a remote eye on the news ticker in the past several years we seem to have at least one, usually more instances of mining explosions, cave-ins and floods in the U.S. every year. 2004 reported 28 deaths in mining accidents. This means that the high cost of cheap coal is more than just environmental impact. It's human life.
Let our government know that this is NOT the solution we're looking for!

Author's Note: Still working on mustangs! I found a list of all of the BML roundups scheduled for this year but I've misplaced it, I'll have it up as soon as I can!

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Pet Peeves

I know I promised to do a follow-up on the Mustangs, but I keep getting distracted! Hopefully I'll have time to put that one up later tonight. For now I have to do a quick rant.
What is up with people who get pets when they apparently have no desire or intention to take care of them? My neighborhood has always had its share of 'stray' cats that weren't really strays. People just let them wander where they will, despite the dangers of traffic, wild animals, other domestic animals and exposure. Up until now though all the cats I had seen had been clean and well fed. Now we have these two little grey and white kitties wandering about...I'm not sure who they belong to. I see them out in the street or up on the hill behind the house. I didn't like them very much because they stalk the baby bunnies who live up there. But after meeting one up close today I no longer blame them. These kitties aren't chasing rabbits for sport, like the other cats we've had around here. These kitties are STARVING.
The one I met had a flea collar on. Who bothers to buy a flea collar for their cat and then doesn't even bother to feed it?! He was rail thin, his coat a bit scraggly, and has a wound on the inside of one foreleg that looks like it might have been a bite from another cat/animal that got infected, but seems to be healing now. He isn't fixed. And the saddest thing is, he seems to be a really nice cat. He saw Pie (my dog) and I walking up the hill and sat and watched us warily. We crept closer slowly, not wanting to scare him away. Then when we were close enough I told Pie to sit and the cat just walked right over and they sniffed each other, and now they're friends.
Now I will say, some domestic cats are perfectly capable of surviving on their own. One of our barn cats disappeared once, was literally gone for three years, then one day she showed up at dinner time, ate some food, lay on the coffee table just like she used to, and the next day she wandered off into the wilderness again. That was the last we saw of her. She was a bit thinner than she was in her Katchow days, but she was also considerably older. Let me mention also that this was in Florida, where it hardly ever is cold enough for a creature to freeze to death, especially one with a coat like that Maine Coon had. Alas for my little grey and white kitty, he's not so furry, so thick bodied, or so lucky has to live in such a mild climate.
Come on people. Is it really so hard and so expensive just to FEED the animals you bring home? Cats are cheaper than dogs! Males are cheaper to fix than females! If you can buy a damned flea collar, you can buy a bag of Meow Mix for crying out loud.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Arrr, more squid!

The headline reads "Voracious Jumbo Squid invade California!"
What a load of codswallop.
Sure, the Humboldt Squid is usually found in warmer more southerly waters, but it's not as if this is some foreign creature. Living at depths of 600 to below 2000 feet (only surfacing to hunt) and not well researched because of it, Humboldt Squid can none the less be found in numbers in the Baja region of California/Mexico where they're heavily fished by Mexican fisherman. A recent documentary showed the devastating impact this heavy fishing has on the species. While always aggressive on the hunt, the Humboldt Squid is normally a cooperative hunter, hunting its natural prey of anything from krill to hake and anchovies in groups. But when squid are being hooked and hauled aboard left and right the opportunistic predators go into a frenzy, attacking and eating anything in sight...including researcher's camera equipment. There are documented reports of Humboldts attacking divers, and famed videographer Scott Cassell has even made himself a 'squid suit' designed to protect him against their razor sharp beaks and chitinous teeth ringed tentacle suckers. Humboldt Squid only live for an estimated maximum of 4 years (sometimes only 1), growing in that time to a documented 7 feet in length. Researchers conclude that this is the reason for their sometimes uber-aggressive behavior. With such a limited time span the Humboldt Squid has to do whatever it can to survive and progress. This is also the reason why the Humboldt Squid is so adaptable, and therefore a 'problem' to California fishermen.
But let us consider the facts, kids. Why are Humboldts moving north? Could it be the pressure from fishing in the Baja region and the coast of South America? Could it be that Humboldts natural food sources in their historic ranges (aside from other humboldts) has been damaged? Or (my bet) could it be that commercial fishing has so decimated stocks of fish, both predator and prey, that the Humboldts are now filling a gap that was never there before? While the Humboldts feed on anchovies and hake (normally prey of the tuna in this region) the fishermen would love to catch, their numbers increase more dramatically because their natural predators (tuna, swordfish, shark) have been fished into a steep decline.
Why is it that when Nature is out of balance we always try to blame Nature, when really we should be taking a closer look at ourselves?
Unfortunately I can't find any organizations directly dedicated to Squid Conversation, so today you'll just have to suffice with educating yourself!

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Random Rant on Global Warming, Alternative fuels

I've been wanting to get this off my chest for some time. All right. Assume we listen to all the theories about global warming; it's caused by human actions, it's a natural cycle; we can do something about it, we can't do anything about it. Al Gore is an idiot, George Bush is an idiot (I won't argue that second one.) You can believe whichever side of the argument you want to, and it makes no difference when you come right down to it. Say, just for argument, that global warming is a natural cycle and humans can't make any real difference at all. So what? Why is that a reason to not do things that would help our entire planet and ultimately ourselves anyway? How is this a logical argument? At this point there is nothing logical about the debate over global warming. With elections just around the corner and all its nothing but political mudslinging and one-upping these days. So let's pretend global warming just doesn't exist at all. Should we then just go on belching harmful chemicals into our atmosphere, chemicals that cause childhood asthma, acid rain, and ugly smog, just because hey, its not making the planet any hotter, so why not? Is there a good reason to rape our National Parks and public lands for fossil fuels that, lets face it, though it may not be in the foreseeable future are going to run out anyway some day, or become too expensive to extract, when we could be developing and embracing cleaner burning, renewable fuels? The fact that at this point in time (and I have no doubt this will change for the better!) it is no less expensive to make and use alternative fuels such as Ethanol is no excuse not to do it! Its not MORE expensive, and its better for the planet and ourselves. What do you have to lose, people? The problem is people seem to want Ethanol to be a cure all for all of their problems...they want it to solve the problem with the cost of fuel, with global warming, with our agriculture, with jobs...and it's possible that some day it can do all these things. But we're just starting out people. Change like that doesn't happen over night.
The bottom line I'm trying to get to is that there is absolutely no good reason why everyone should not do what they can to keep our planet, animals, and ourselves clean and healthy. It just makes sense.
Author's Note: While I find Earth Day Energy Fast (.org) to be a radical group, I've gone ahead and included their link in the picture above...since I stole the picture from them. haha.

Random Blog Sharing

A friend of mine told me about this blog and I thought I'd check it out. Warning, the author uses lots of bad language and is generally rude. I find her comments to be overly critical and snarky, but she's also pretty funny at times, occasionally right on the money, and she makes a good point. Why not to breed your horse:
Fugly Horse of the Day

Monday, July 23, 2007

Save the Bay, and stop Aerial Gunning

Hello and welcome back. My lack of updates can only mean one thing: I'm back on dialup! It is amazing how easy highspeed makes my research. Anyhow, I'll get to the point!
Petitions are flying far and fast this time of year for some reason. Two of note, one perhaps of more interest to my fellow Marylanders (though it should be important to you all!) being a petition from Environment Maryland urging Governor O'Malley to live up to his campaign promise to protect the world's largest estuary, the Chesapeake Bay. The other is a petition from Defenders of Wildlife that may help put a halt to the brutal practice of aerial gunning all together! Both very important goals.
For the Bay, unfortunately, Environment Maryland doesn't seem to have an online petition to sign, and perhaps the due date has passed (I can't find a date anywhere on the letter or envelope!) but there are many other actions you can take from their website to help protect the Bay, our countryside, even the entire country and the entire world. I urge you to check them out!
While their letter cites mostly land development along the Bay as the major threat, my personal vendetta is against the poultry factories. The Eastern Shore of the Free State is checkered with chicken farms and processing plants, and much of the waste from these facilities gets dumped straight into the Bay. The immediate result is probably a feast for blue crabs, but the chicken waste brings with it bacteria, including those that can cause flesh-eating diseases in humans. 40 some percent of the Bay becomes a 'dead zone' every year due to heavy runoff of agricultural and developmental pollutants, and more and more development grows every year. We must tell our government that we "Treasure the Chesapeake" as the license plate says, and we need to protect it!
My second petition would close a loophole in a previous Aerial Hunting law and stop the Alaskan, Wyoming, and Idaho governments from using this cruel practice to decimate their Grey Wolf population. As I've reported before, aerial gunning is the inhumane practice of chasing the animal to exhaustion with airplanes and sometimes helicopters and then shooting them, or shooting indiscriminately from the air. Not very sportsmanlike conduct if you ask me, and people do consider hunting to be a sport! Visit the Defenders of Wildlife website and sign the petition today! The goal is 40 thousand signatures by Labor Day, and we're already a third of the way there!
If nothing pressing comes up in the next week, I plan to recap my Wild Horse article. We're into roundup season now, and it is important to keep on top of things!

Monday, July 2, 2007

Arizona Sonora Desert Museum

Blogger was having a mental problem about the length of my post/title/ wouldn't tell me which. So I truncated it and will post the end part here!
If you live in the Tucson/Marana, Phoenix/Mesa areas or are planning a vacation in the Southwest any time soon I HIGHLY suggest a trip to the Arizona Sonora Desert Museum. They have WONDERFUL exhibits, animal, mineral and historical, from a walk-through hummingbird aviary to an underground adventure in fossil excavation and gemstones. Hike, bike, or drive around their 8-mile wildlife loop road and see everything from roadrunners to tarantulas, javalina, coyote and mule deer. Climb on the Really Big Rocks (official name, just kidding) because its a blast! And if you stop by the gift shop get me some cactus candy. Please? I'm begging you.

Wolves and Polar Bears and prairie dogs? oh my!

I'm finally getting a chance to go through some piled up mail in my box, so pardon me if these 'announcements' are a bit late...I'm sure there are still plenty of ways you can help and a lot you can learn!
All in trouble this month: Southwest or "Lobo" wolves, Polar bears as always, and a funny little rodent you probably never think about: Prairie Dogs.
First the wolves. I've had the privilege and pleasure to meet these creatures up close at the Arizona Sonora Desert Museum outside of Tucson, Arizona, where a staff member invited us to stay a bit past normal closing time, in order to give a howling demonstration. The Coyotes started it off, but the wolves joined in quickly, and the Ravens over in the aviary added their voices as well. To a Raven, Coyote and Wolf talk probably means dinner! I've also seen them in the wild, in New Mexico while visiting family near White Sands. New Mexico Representative (R, of course) Pearce recently attempted to undermine the Southwest Wolf Recovery Program by spreading misleading and often outright untrue information about wolves to his fellow New Mexicans, calling for the termination of the recovery program. Thankfully, he was thwarted! The man actually went so far as to tell people that 'nothing is more appealing to a wolf than the sound of a baby crying.' How outlandish! Everyone knows politicians lie, but really. Despite the recent win for Lobo Wolves, we must remain vigilant that the government continue to support the Endangered Species Act and not allow sensationalism and fantasy sway them.
Meanwhile Polar Bears continue to face threats from every direction...poaching, global warming, habitat loss. For the sake of todays argument I'm not even going to open the Global Warming can of worms. I'm focusing on destruction and disturbance of habitat and LOCAL pollution. Big Oil has been pressing for years to open up arctic wildlands to drilling, lands that include several key wildlife areas, national parks and refuges in Alaska. The Arctic National Wildlife Refuge is the largest wildlife refuge in the United States, and a key denning and breeding habitat for animals from Polar Bears, to Caribou, to migratory birds you can find in your own back yard! Polar Bears den here, Caribou cross thousands of miles to drop their calves, and Arctic Wolves hunt. Oil company development along the coastal plain would have a drastic affect on all local wildlife, including fish and marine mammals such as the endangered Bowhead Whale living in the Beaufort Sea. To understand the impact of drilling and exploration in the arctic refuge, one only need to look as far as nearby Prudhoe Bay.
And last but not least on todays ranting agenda the Prairie Dog. Prairie Dogs get a bad rap. They (as well as numerous other rodents in the mid and southwest) can be carriers of Bubonic Plague, dig holes that old time ranchers will always blame for the breaking of a prize bull or cutting horse's leg, and (heaven forbid!) make use of ranchland that should rightfully belong to cows, ain't that right folks?! There has been noise from many plains states about using poison to destroy up to 2/3 of the prairie dog population in some places. On its own a Prairie Dog might not seem like much. But consider: Prairie Dog's provide food for some of our most endangered small predators, the Black-footed Ferret and the Swift Fox, both of which are currently being managed by recovery programs. If the Prairie Dogs were destroyed, these other key species would also suffer. Also, vacant Prairie Dog burrows are used by Ferrets, Foxes, Owls and snakes, as well as the rodents providing food for other animals such as Coyotes, Bald and Golden Eagles, owls and many species of hawks. The effort to exterminate the Prairie Dog not only highlights the government's serious lack of understanding the impact of its 'management' actions, but costs tax payers billions of dollars a year. Do YOU want to pay for these misguided schemes? I don't!
Visit Defenders of Wildlife and WorldWildlifeFund to find out what you can do to help them in their efforts in these areas. And if you happen to see a Polar Bear, Wolf, or Prairie Dog today tell him I said "Hi! and Good Luck!"

Friday, June 29, 2007

Saving America's Symbols: The Bison

I said I was going to write it, so here it is.Thanks to my fancy new newsreel, I learned of the release of a new book about the beginning of the conservation effort for the American Bison, back in Teddy Roosevelt's day, and it reminded me that I had planned to write this article.
Like the American Mustang, the Bison or Buffalo can be considered one of the founding creatures of our Nation. The constant migration of massive herds of Buffalo, and by massive I mean 30 million of the beasts, kept our great plains open and grassy, thwarting the encroachment of brush and trees. Entire cultures existed because of the Buffalo, Native Americans following the herds, hunting for what meat and hides they needed, and revering the Buffalo as they should, as a giver of life. Then, in the early-mid 1800's American settlers and trophy hunters from Europe began moving further west from the Mississippi. Buffalo were coveted for their hides and tongues, maybe their liver. The rest was left to rot. As the wholesale slaughter of Buffalo continued throughout that century (in the early days the herds were so thick you could shoot animals from a passing train) cultures and ecosystems began to suffer. Wolves, bears and mountain lions, while also coveted for their hides were also seen as competition for the elk and buffalo, and slaughtered. As more people came west and more of their life giving buffalo were taken, the great plains tribes came in to further and further conflict with settlers. By the turn of the century there were reportedly less than 30 buffalo left in Yellowstone National Park. Thats one MILLIONTH the number the great plains originally supported.
Today the American Bison continues to live under seige. While the Yellowstone population is up to a healthy 4000 animals, and South Dakota's Custer State Park holds 1,500, some of these buffalo are virtual prisoners in their supposed sanctuary. By nature the buffalo is a wanderer. This is how 30 million of them could be sustained by our American prairies. They are constantly moving to new grazing, rarely overgrazing an area. However, in Yellowstone National Park they can be rounded up and/or shot if they wander outside the park's three and a half thousand square miles. Speculation that the buffalo carry cattle diseases has ranchers in the northwest states up in arms and prepared to shoot the beasts on sight. My first response to this would be: "Don't you vaccinate your cows, man?" Furthermore, studies have shown that elk also carry the diseases, and elk are not restricted. No case of a buffalo transmitting the disease to cattle has ever been cited, and buffalo seem to naturally prefer not to mingle much with cattle. To me it seems like these animals are not 'living free' within our National Parks, but are being contained as a tourist attraction in a no-touch visual petting zoo. Animals of such dignity deserve better treatment than that.
I shall now descend from my high-horse (Really, he's 16.1!) and leave you with some links to information on buffalo and how you can help save them once again from the thoughtless and selfish actions of mankind. (So glad I'm a woman!)

Defenders Bison Page: Send letters to Congressmen urging them to stop the hazing, containment and slaughter of buffalo.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Houston, we have a widget!

Just wanted to stop by for a moment and tell everyone to check out my new newsreel on the right sidebar there. I may need to tweak my keywords in order to get the most relevant articles possible, but for now it looks pretty good!
No further updates at this time, Firefox is having severe mental problems. Proof that even having Broadband does not make my life with computers any easier.

Monday, June 18, 2007

Same old, Same new, and sustainable fishing

Let me be honest. I get really tired of trying to plug the same stories every time Defenders or WWF, or NWF or some other charity that I get regular publications from sends me a new alert. It is encouraging to see the results in their newsletters. So many actions were taken to stop aerial gunning in Alaska, so many people attended a rally in Washington, D.C., such a law was passed to protect endangered wildlife. These are truly remarkable things that every day people like you and me CAN and DO help happen. But we never seem to quite do enough. We're constantly fighting the same battles, gaining ground, losing ground, but even when remarkable things happen we seem to never win. A new species is discovered today, and tomorrow its habitat might be threatened by off-shore drilling, or expanding agriculture. How do we find balance? Where do we draw the line between saving wildlife and saving people?
My current pet beef (moo) is about sustainable fisheries...both what it means to our oceans and our planet, and what it means to people like us. Well, maybe not exactly like us, because last I checked I wasn't a starving Angola. Also as I write this I'm eating a tuna sandwich and realizing belatedly that I have no idea if the tuna I'm eating was caught in an ethical and sustainable manner. But I digress.
In the Mediterranean Bluefin Tuna have been so overfished that the population is in danger of collapsing completely. First and foremost that means there'll be no more tuna. But what else does it mean, and what problems has it caused along the line? Consider that fifty years and more ago Giant Bluefin were harvested by countless small fishing companies along the shores of the Mediterranean. Today only a handful of those fisheries survive, one of the most magnificent existing only as a tourist attraction...they make one big tuna gather a year and make a big show of it...they can't afford to fish more than that. Instead the unsustainable number of tuna caught in the Med is caught mostly by huge corporations with fleets of purse seiners and spotter aircraft. While people are appalled by the idea of land animals being hunted and shot from planes, they either don't know or don't care that the same is done to our oceanic equivalent to the buffalo. Not only that, but many of these fleets are owned by companies in landlocked portions of Europe, fish are exported, and the money to be made in the catching goes with them. Not only in the Med, but all around the world this is the way in which small fishing communities die.
And not just communities, but people themselves. Off the coast of West Africa poorly managed fleets are wiping the ocean clean in order to export highly sought after species to Europe, while sustenance fisherman are left with empty hooks. Edible by-catch is thrown back into the ocean as useless and only the best stocks are saved for export, meanwhile hungry people in the marketplaces can only afford to purchase the post-filleting head, tail and bones of fish to supplement their protein poor diets.
Fish are slaughtered before they reach full size and sexual maturity, which is not only wasteful in that we've destroyed something for less than it was worth, but also means that these fish do not reproduce before they're killed, which leaves a gap in the cycle of life.
The oceans are suffering, and people are suffering. What more needs to happen before people will take action?
Read more about overfishing in National Geographic Online, and visit the WWF and Defenders webpages to make a donation or just find a list of companies that sell only dolphin-safe and sustainably caught fish.

Thursday, May 31, 2007

To kill, or not to kill: The Giant Squid

To scientists the answer to this question would likely be: kill! Kill with all speed, chop up into itty bitty pieces and cure in formaldehyde!
Recently, for the first time, Japanese scientist captured a live mature (mostly?) giant squid. This was the first time anyone had even caught one on film in the wild. Previously everything we knew about giant squid had been learned by studying their carcasses which wash up on shore or get caught in fishing nets and lines. Now for the first time we have photographs, graciously provided for all by National Geographic.
Scientists used bags of pulped shrimp and smaller species of squid as bait on large multi-pronged hooks to capture the beastie. You can see one of the hooks in the photograph of the squid's severed tentacle. Not a very nice 'howdy do'. The Squid tore the tentacle off when it struggled and made its escape. Lucky little devil fish. Call me a cynic if you will, but I just can't imagine scientists hauling a 25 foot long (that's roughly half the size we KNOW a giant squid can grow to, though its perfectly possible they get larger) species of squid that science has never studied up close before all the way up from the blackest depths of the ocean and then just letting it go. It would have probably ended up like this little beauty from the Philippines. Only in a rather larger jar. "Over 100 samples of rare species." If they're so gawdawful rare, perhaps it'd be best not to disturb them so much?
Now I'm not implying that the giant squid is a rare species, far from it. But that shouldn't be any reason to treat one like we can just go down to the store and pick one up, right?

This one reminds me of Cthulhu, encased in a block of ice, awaiting the day when he can wreak his vengeance upon the world, muahhahahaha. Ahem. Pardon me.

(Author's note: This is an old entry that somehow missed getting posted...since then I've become aware that sources are inconsistent in describing exactly what happened to the unfortunate squid. Some say he escaped, sans one tentacle, while others claim that he was hauled aboard and dissected. Personally, I'd like to believe NG when they say he escaped!)

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Get out, clean up, enjoy the day!

Alas! If only I wasn't one of those people who works 7 days a week, I would love to spend my weekend helping other volunteers and Defenders of Wildlife clean up Big Meadows at Shenandoah National Park. The Big Meadows area of the park is home to hundreds of species of rare plant life. Plant life which is integral to the continued survival of many species of birds and other animals. Invasive species (non-native, highly adaptable plant life) such as Garlic Mustard and Oriental Bittersweet are choking out the native plants this ecosystem depends on, but Defenders and the National Park service have teamed up to help repair the damage, and they need volunteers to help with the dirty work!
Now come on, I know you all love the dirty work. Me, I spent all last week tirelessly weeding my herb garden and I have the ant bites and poison ivy to show for it! That said, if you live in the Shenandoah Natl. Park area and want to volunteer, I'd advise wearing long pants and substantial work gloves!
Clean up is this Saturday and Sunday (May 19th and 20th) at Big Meadows swamp in Shenandoah Natl. Park, Luray, VA. Volunteering includes orientation and a history lesson about the park, snacks and beverages, and all your weeding tools will be supplied. So instead of just cruising along Skyline Drive this weekend, why not jump in and get your hands dirty, helping to keep our favorite ('our' being us people from Maryland, Virginia, West Virginia and Tennessee!) National Park happy and healthy!
For more information visit Defenders online and fill out their survey.

Tuesday, May 8, 2007

A portrait for conservation: Tiger Mosaic

(Note from the Author: Apologies, once again blogger refuses to publish pictures.)
The tiger is the planet's largest feline. Individuals can weigh anywhere from 400 to 700+ pounds, depending on age, gender, and subspecies. Their distinctive striped coat pattern is as unique to an individual cat as a humans fingerprint. One of the most revered and reviled of predatory creatures in the world, it is no wonder that they are coveted by lover and loather alike.
Although tigers are listed as "Endangered" and bans on the sale of tiger skins and parts have been in place for years the biggest threat to the world's dwindling populations of Sumatran, Siberian, Bengal, Malayan, Indochinese, and South China tigers (the most critically endangered subspecies) is still poaching. Several subspecies of tiger have already been hunted to extinction.
Fortunately for tigers, they breed well in captivity. In fact, they breed so well in captivity that there are more CAPTIVE tigers than wild tigers. Unfortunately for tigers this has caused a problem...In china tigers are bred on 'tiger farms' as a sort of tourist attraction, but with the hope that someday the government will lift the ban on tiger trade and allow them to sell parts from captive tigers. At first glance this might not seem a bad idea. After all, the alligator shoe and belt trade helped save the American Alligator through captive breeding on alligator farms. Other fur and leather bearing animals are bred on farms, helping to preserve their wild populations. The problem is that the tiger's habitat has become so constricted in some places and it's population so fragile that it cannot at this point sustain itself without human intervention. And ANY lift of the ban on tiger trade would create an opening for poachers to sneak illegal tiger parts and pelts into the market. Poaching would increase, and the delicate balance of nature would be lost.
The World Wildlife Fund has come up with a wonderful and unique way for us to tell China that we oppose any lift of the ban on tiger trade. By uploading your photo to their website you can be included in the world's largest tiger photo mosaic, to be presented at the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species. They can even show you exactly where you are in the tiger! The deadline for uploading photos is May 21 so that the mosaic can be presented at the convention in June.
Last year the Dalai Lama preached against using, selling or buying wild animals, their pelts or derivatives. Thousands of Tibetans responded by burning, tearing, or throwing away tiger and leopard hides used as rugs and decorations. Only time will tell if this sentiment will spread. Will you help?

Wednesday, May 2, 2007

Keep Wolves in Yellowstone!

I just took action to stop one of the worst wolf massacres in decades -- and I hope you will, too.
It's easy to help. Just go to the website below to take action:
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has proposed to strip wolves of crucial Endangered Species Act protections in the Northern Rockies. Such a plan would allow Wyoming and Idaho to move forward with plans to eliminate as many wolves as possible within their borders.
Please help me save these magnificent animals. Tell the federal government to maintain federal protections for gray wolves by sending a message at the website below: Help generate 200,000 comments to federal officials -- take action at the website above, then forward this message on to others who care about wildlife.
These wolves are in trouble. But, together, I know we can save them. I hope you'll help...

There, Defenders said to send it to five friends, hopefully I have reached at least that many people through this blog.
To be perfectly honest, and I love wolves, but I'm begining to feel like I'm beating a dead horse with this issue. For some reason beyond my ken wolves are one of the most revered, and most hated animals in the animal kingdom. There are people who would die to keep them, and people who would kill to be rid of them. Even if you aren't a wolf fanatic, most sane people will admit that wolves have their place in our world, just like every thing else nature has molded. Literally hundreds of thousands of people have already poured their heart and soul into pleading with officials to save wolves, be it in Idaho, Wyoming, New Mexico, or Alaska. How can anyone else take what they love away from them?
Wolves are killers. They are predators of the most elite variety. Cunning. Bold. Ruthless.
But they are also animals who love and respect one another. Caring. Nuturing. Family.
Truth be told, wolves are a lot like us.
Someone said once (and of course I can't remember who) "Wolves are people too."
There you have it.
Wolves are people too.

Saturday, April 28, 2007

Clouded Leopard of Borneo

Author's Note: I originally wrote this post when the news was first announced, but I got distracted by the baby tigers and orangs and forgot to post it! But here it is now only a day after I promised it.
Borneo is big in the news these days, and thats good! With the help of the special "Expedition Borneo" Discovery recently ran, WWF has been working to preserve the mountainous inner regions of the island of Borneo with a preserve called the "Heart of Borneo." And as with all issues, the more people know about it the better!
Recent studies to prove how biologically unique and diverse this jungle habitat is have turned up one startling bit of information: The Bornean Clouded Leopard, long thought to be the same species as the clouded leopards living on the mainland has been proven through genetic testing and close study to be a completely seperate species. Scientist estimate that the two species diverged around one and a half million years ago. Bornean clouded leopards have longer canines, and distinctly different coat patterns than their mainland cousins. Their spots are much darker, flecked with little dots, and they have a twin dorsal stripe, a feature often thought to be a sign of 'primitive' origins.
Clouded Leopards are the largest predators on the island of Borneo, and so their preservation is key to the health of the entire ecosystem. The main threat to clouded leopards, and all of Borneo's wildlife is habitat destruction. To find out what you can do to help preserve this important habitat, one of the few remaining homes of the Asian Elephant and Rhinos as well, go to the Heart of Borneo website and read!

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Super Big Birthday Update!

Is it a coincidence that my birthday is in the same month as Defender's of Wildlife's anniversary? Perhaps, perhaps not. The card I received from my Grandmother today said "To a very special granddaughter who blends in with nature." Thats a great compliment, in my opinion!
In honour of Defender's anniversary I'm posting this list of some of their greatest accomplishment's over their 60 years of service to nature, along with updates on the subject and links you can click if you'd like to help in their continuing efforts in these areas.

Wolves: Defenders led a decades-long battle against wolf opposition to return these iconic predators to the wolf paradise which is Yellowstone National Park. Wolves were finally reintroduced in 1995, and have made an amazing come back! Their numbers are finally high enough that they can reclaim their place in the Yellowstone ecosystem, hunting Bison as they are meant to do. Not only is this great for the wolves, but it helps keep Yellowstone's Bison and Elk populations healthy. North American Grey Wolves still have a long road to travel though: we're still fighting to keep their protections and keep anti-wolf officials in New Mexico, Alaska, Wyoming and Idaho from trying to exterminate them! Take Action to help Wolves.

Bald Eagles and California Condors: The Bald Eagle is the internationally recognized icon of of the United States of America and our national symbol, but 50 years ago there were fewer than 500 nesting pairs in our country! Since then the banning of various pesticides (DDT, Carbofuran), efforts to protect habitat and crack down on illegal shooting of the birds has brought their numbers back up to somewhere around 70,000. But Bald Eagles and California Condors still share one common enemy: Lead shotgun pellets. Studies in California suggest that the most common threat to the endangered Condor is lead poisoning from ingesting shotgun pellets found in carrion. Recently legislation passed a key committee in California to reduce the use of lead shotgun pellets. Learn more about endangered avians!

Dolphins and Sea Turtles: You know that 'Dolphin Safe' lable you now see on your tuna can? That's because of a ban on large-scale drift nets that Defenders helped put in place in the 80's and 90's. Countless dolphins, whales, sea turtles and 'junk fish' have been unintentionally maimed and killed by drift nets, so continue to make sure you only buy dolphin safe tuna! Defenders thoughtfully supplies us with a list of which retailers sell dolphin safe, or non-dolphin safe tuna here.

Here are some of Defenders' most recent successes!
Defenders' supporters helped defeat a proposal to expand hunting near Alaska's McNeil River State Game Sanctuary and Refuge, potentially saving the lives of Brown Bears and other species.
Cook Inlet's Beluga whales have all but vanished, but pressure from Defenders' supporters convinced the National Marine Fisheries to reverse its earlier decision about the whales and propose listing them as an Endangered Species.
Finally, THANK YOU GOV. O'MALLEY! Just yesterday Mr. O'Malley signed a ban on commercial harvesting of Maryland's beloved Diamond Back Terrapins, which over harvesting had reduced to a quarter of their population two decades ago. GO TERPS!
I'd have more pictures for you, but blogger is having mental problems. Another update tomorrow because it's my birthday and I can do whatever I want to, nyah! Tomorrow a highly belated feature on the newly classified Bornean Clouded Leopard.

Thursday, April 19, 2007


That's right, this sunday is Earth Day! Why? I have no idea! But who needs an excuse to party, right? So this Sunday, weather willing, gather up your closest friends and have a little get together to celebrate our Mother Earth! Just don't forget to recycle your soda cans!

Speaking of recycling and Earth Day, one of the easiest things you can do on an every day basis to help our planet is recycle. In some neighborhoods recycling can be picked up just like your trash, in others there are designated drop-off centers, like at a fire station or community building. And in many places you can recycle such things as aluminum, tin, and other scrap metals or glass for cold hard cash! Recoup some of your 10 dollar a week cola habit by recycling all your aluminum cans for as much as 55 cents a pound. Just a trunk full of empty soda cans delivered to a paying scrap metal recycling center can net you an easy 15 bucks. It's a great way to inspire otherwise uninspireable teenagers to get involved. If your kids are anything like me, they probably have that 15 bucks stacked all around their room, or rolling around in the floorboard of their car. But whether for profit or the simple health of the planet, you can find a place to sell or dump just about anything you can think of to recycle using's Traders and Recyclers Directory.

If the weather cooperates you might make Earth Day an outing with the family to a local nature spot. Visit the zoo or a nearby water garden and impress upon your children the importance of preserving our planet's natural wonders, not only for their beauty (though that ought to be reason enough!) but because our planet (and us!) simply cannot survive without them! To locate a National Park near you go to the National Park Service website, or to find a Wildlife Refuge visit the U.S. Fish and Wildlife service's Refuge Finder.

Here's where I wish I was going to be on Earth Day!

Apache Lake, Arizona. Surrounded by the Superstition Wilderness, Three Bar Wildlife Area and located in Tonto National Forest. We've seen Big Horn Sheep, Coyotes, Coati, Herons and seasonal water fowl, Falcons and Bald Eagles. We even know up which canyon a mama Mountain Lion lives, and have heard the squeaky chirps of her newborn cubs. Needless to say, we left her alone!

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Saving America's Symbols: Mustangs

Saving America's Symbols is a new article series I'm starting, featuring some of the most influential and prominent species in North America, such as Bison, Bald Eagles, and the American Mustang. Many of these animals are the backbone on which our nation was created and as such deserve our respect and continuing protection. I'm starting with the Mustangs because we're coming up on foaling season soon. Its been a strange, hard, changeable winter all over the country this year, and I doubt the Mustangs are fairing any better than the rest of us. For wild horse herds all over the southwest and in their northern ranges of Montana and Oregon and some in Alberta and British Columbia late spring and into the summer is the foaling season. For the Buruea of Land Management and other entities set with 'managing' the mustang herds this is also the height of roundup season.
During the summer of 2006 Front Range Equine Rescue (sister charity of the Cloud Foundation to save wild horses) published heartbreaking accounts of roundups that took place in Utah and Nevada. Chased by helicopters with days old foals running along side, panicked horses stumbled, broke legs, trampled foals, and collapsed from exhaustion to perish in the desert, or be rounded up later and hauled by truck to pen sites. A corraled horse panicked and broke its neck when it crashed into the fence, and another kicked a foal that had gotten mixed up with the adult horses, killing it. Even unborn foals were lost, when stress caused the mares to abort their babies. In 1971, the United States Congress recognized Mustangs as “living symbols of the historic and pioneer spirit of the West [...] that [...] contribute to the diversity of life forms within the Nation and enrich the lives of the American people.” Is this the way we treat such living legends?
Anyone familiar with horses, wild or otherwise, has heard of the Burns Amendment. This illegal appendix to the 1971 Wild Horse and Burro Protection Act virtually gutted protections for these animals, as well as impacting the lives of countless domestic horses. Further plans by Mustang management calls for using birth control on mares over 10 years of age to help hold down the population. While this is a less expensive route than the barbaric roundups (conducted at the taxpayers expense, I might add) it will still help to contribute to the downfall of one of America's most recognizable symbols of freedom. Wild Mustangs have been pushed into isolated rangelands in some areas, far seperated from other herds, and birth control would only weaken their already compromised genetic diversity. These beautiful animals, once desenced from Andalusians, Arabians, and some of the most graceful and intelligent breeds in the world would become the 'weeds' that western ranchers have long held them to be.
For more information, or to donate to FRER's campaign to save our Mustangs, visit: (Warning, this website contains disturbing photos taken by press and onlookers at Wild Horse Roundups)

When I was 13, a 30 year old adopted Mustang taught me how to jump high, and how to dream. If Bandit is still alive today he'd be in his forties. Where ever you are I still love you, Bandito.

Monday, April 9, 2007

Factory Farming

Here's one I didn't know about until recently: factory farms keeping breeding female pigs in 'gestation crates', tiny metal cages basically the same size as the pig. She can't move forward or backward more than a couple of shuffling inches, can't turn around, hardly has enough room to even lay down and get back up.
Now, I always assumed that factory farms kept their animals in fairly confined spaces, but not even enough room to lay down? That's like if you kept your 70 lb golden retriever in a shopping cart basket its entire life and never let it out. That's cruel confinement. And it happens to more than just pigs. Baby cows are taken from their mothers, placed in similar 'crates' and tethered to the wall to keep them from moving about, all while being fed a diet purposely lacking in vital minerals and fiber, all to make the perfect cut of veal. Chicken eggs are hatched out in incubators, and the chickens spend their entire life packed one on top of another in wire cages hardly tall enough for them to stand up in. I get dozens of letters in the mail every year from horse rescue groups looking for homes for Premarin foals, but I've only ever gotten one letter from a group who was actually trying to do something to help the MARES. Premarin producing mares have a nice life, part of the time. They get to live outdoors in large groups, enjoying the grass and sunshine. Until they get pregnant, then it's into the barn for the next so many months, confined to a stall with a bag stuck under your tail, just so middle-aged women don't get hot flashes. And meanwhile the foal gets tossed by the wayside, a 'by product' of Premarin production.
Do you remember when you were a kid, getting fried chicken for summer picnics? Now think about the last time to picked up a bucket of fried chicken on the weekend. Those thighs and drumsticks just don't look as plump as they used to, do they? Heck, there's hardly any wing in that bucket. That's because that chicken probably spent her whole life in a tiny little cage, hardly moving around, being fed unappetizing supplements, and never grew or muscled out properly to make a nice chunk of chicken.
Dairy cows are slightly better off. They don't have to stand around in the milking barn all day at least, though I'm not sure what the situation is these days with those milk-production boosting drugs and supplements. I haven't noted it to be a widespread practice at least in my part of the country but I can cite at least one farm that still practices tail docking. Upon noticing to my outrage a farm full of Holsteins with their tails chopped off, I had to call my mother who grew up on a dairy farm and ask her if they had docked the tails of the cows at her farm. She said no, but she knew that the practice existed. I've since read that 'nicking and docking' are BANNED in the UK and a number of European countries.
Many of what the New Jersey Department of Agriculture calls 'routine animal agricultural practices performed by farms on a daily basis' have been CONDEMNED as cruel by the American Veterinary Medical Association, yet these practices continue. How can a country that is so forward thinking when it comes to human rights be so backwards when it comes to the basic rights of animals?
Here's a Glouceshershire Old Spots sow and her little piggies as they were meant to be, roaming free range in an orchard! You're never going to hear me say 'don't eat meat.' I'm not a vegetarian, I'm never going to be a vegetarian, and I don't think you should have to be either. If you are vegan or a vegetarian, more power to you! I wish I was that strong. But while we might eventually convince 60% of the world to drive hybrid cars, we're never going to convince them all to eat soybeans instead of beef. We're not going to stop the slaughter of domestic livestock. But we CAN do our best to see that these animals don't suffer. What can you do to help? Go to Farm Sanctuary to find out more about cruel farming practices, and how you can help change the legislature that allows it! And you know, if you happen to have 40 odd acres and no mule, maybe you can adopt one.

I may not be a Veg, but I applaud those who are!
Says creator GreenBites of this design: Being a smart investor, and being a Vegetarian or a Vegan, you are really bullish on saving lives. Invest in nature, invest in peace, invest in lives. And we will get the returns that we never dreamt

Friday, March 23, 2007

North America's Wolves on the chopping block!

This is one of those really timely topics that always has me on edge. We have until the end of March to help put an end to aerial gunning in Alaska, as well as some Northwestern states plans to immediately eradicate wolves as soon as the government lifts the protections that have allowed wolf recovery to take place in the Rocky Mountains.
After the government and charitable organizations have spent years and uncountable (I'm sure SOMEONE is counting, but it isn't me) amounts of money attempting to insure that one of America's keystone species survives, it is completely amazing that they would then allow local government officials to expend enormous amounts of money to turn around and simply KILL the animals that others have worked so hard to save. And for absolutely, positively, No Good Reason. Alaskan Governor Sarah Palin is even offering a 150 dollar bounty for wolves killed within designated 'management' zones, and also left open the possibility of allowing hunters to use not only fixed-wing aircraft but helicopters to gun the animals down, despite the fact that Alaskan voters have twice voted to restrict aerial gunning of wolves! We aren't alone in this cause, however. One of Defenders of Wildlife's generous donors has agreed to double all contributions made before 5 pm on Monday (up to 24,000 dollars.) To help halt this travesty go to Defenders' Action page and make your contribution now!

Meanwhile in the lower 48, Idaho and Wyoming are gearing up to kill 2/3 of their state's wolf populations if the government decides to reduce or remove protections placed on the animals. This means that any wolf who sets paw outside a wildlife refuge or national park in these states could be shot on sight. This is not people killing wolves in protection of themselves or even livestock. This is people killing wolves because wolves somehow offend them, and they just want them gone. Personally I equate the situation to this: the president of a home owners association spends a lot of money to advertise the benefits of living in her neighborhood, thereby attracting new home owners. Then she decides she doesn't like these new people in her neighborhood. Now these people haven't bothered her. They're just living where they should, minding their own business. But Madame President doesn't want them so much as LOOKING toward her perfectly manicured front lawn. So if one of them pokes their head out the door she shoots them! Thats exacally how insane Idaho and Wyoming's so-called wolf 'management' plans are. Not to mention that these states are also considering aerial gunning. Please continue to show your support for the Rocky Mountain grey wolf, America's iconic predator and one of the main attractions at our largest National Park, Yellowstone.

Another beauty from DCR Images. Don't let these magnificent animals be hunted and harrassed to the brink of extinction!

More beautiful artwork by Shevin. The Wolf and the Bald Eagle are icons of America.