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Frontline Dispatches – Vol 1, No. 8


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North & South America

Frontline Dispatches - North & South America

Rocky Mountain goats will be eradicated from Grand Teton National Park (GTNP) and Olympic National Park (ONP) because they are non-native. Goats in Washington’s ONP were captured by the Dept. of Fish & Wildlife for relocation to native habitat in the Cascade Mountains. During July and August 2019, ONP hopes to live-capture another 250 goats for relocation. Final live-capture is planned for next year before switching to lethal removal after Labor Day 2020. GTNP is campaigning for a similar goat-removal plan to preserve its native bighorn sheep population. The Rocky Mountain Goat Alliance (RMGA) is involved in ONP’s goat project and looks forward to assisting GTNP in its work later.

The Modernizing the Pittman-Robertson Fund for Tomorrow’s Needs Act (Pittman-Robertson Modernization Act) will strengthen hunters’ and other sportsmen’s support for wildlife conservation and help ensure that hunting, shooting sports and outdoor recreation remain central to America’s wildlife heritage. “The new legislation will help state agencies recruit future hunter-conservationists, who will in turn generate more revenue for wildlife conservation,” said Collin O’Mara, president and CEO of the National Wildlife Federation. Since its inception, in 1937, the Pittman-Robertson Act has provided $18.8 billion to state fish and wildlife agencies, all funded by hunters and recreational shooters. This bipartisan bill is a long-standing priority for the Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation (CSF) and now awaits further action in the US Senate. Learn about the National Wildlife Federation’s work with hunters and anglers at www.nwf.org/outdoors.

Authorities in Brazil have broken up a gang of poachers accused of killing red brocket deer, collared peccary and jaguars. Temistocles Barbosa Freire, a dentist, was one of seven men (including a farmer, a doctor and a member of the judiciary) arrested in the country’s northwestern state of Acre. It is alleged that Freire has engaged in poaching at least since 1987, and that he alone may have killed more than a thousand jaguars. Brazilian authorities say they have photos and videos of poaching activities filmed by the accused.

Rhukanrhuka Municipal Park and Natural Area of Integral Management, a new protected area in Reyes, northwest Bolivia, will promote wildlife conservation and sustainable development. The protected area encompasses some 859,451 hectares (2.1 million acres), making it nearly as large as Yellowstone National Park. According to a story on the conservation website Mongabay dated July 5, 2019, the Wildlife Conservation Society and Rainforest Trust worked with the local government and communities to establish Rhukanrhuka.

“If you venerate Theodore Roosevelt, then you’ll want to know how important Grinnell was in building TR’s legacy, getting behind the cause of saving bison and elk from extinction, and protecting public lands in their nascent beginnings from robber barons.”—from Todd Wilkinson’s review of John Taliaferro’s Grinnell: America’s environmental Pioneer and His Restless Drive to Save the West. George Bird Grinnell helped craft many of the tenets Roosevelt advanced for fair chase and ethical hunting when they founded the Boone & Crockett Club, laying the groundwork for what became the North American Model of Wildlife Conservation.

“America’s hunters and anglers are a diverse group that come from across the nation: from rural and urban areas, from Democratic and Republican states. We do not agree on everything, but we do agree that we must work diligently to protect our natural spaces and the resources that support our outdoor traditions.” So writes Marcia Brownlee, program manager for the National Wildlife Federation’s Artemis Initiative in an op-ed in The Hill on July 19, 2019. In “Trump let down American hunters and anglers,” Brownlee explains that the Trump Administration’s energy dominance doctrine has hastily and without appropriate safeguards offered millions of acres of public lands and waters to mining and oil and gas leasing while simultaneously weakening environmental regulations and restricting public comment meant to ensure responsible development.

In 1982, when just 22 California condors were left in the world and the species’ obituary was being prepared, scientists captured the remaining population to breed the birds in captivity. Nearly four decades later, according to a Washington Post story dated July 22, 2019, a consortium of government agencies and nonprofit groups announced a miraculous milestone: 1,000 California condor chicks have hatched since the official rescue program began. The raptors are now found mainly in California, Arizona, southern Utah and Baja California, Mexico. Although the leading cause of California condor mortality is lead poisoning, the North American Non-lead Partnership advocates for better education in the hunting community instead of banning lead-based ammunition.

More than 42% of US hunters now live in an urban or suburban environment, according to a June 2019 study released by the NSSF, the National Shooting Sports Foundation. City-based hunters’ lifestyles include the arts, extensive travel (for business and leisure) and extensive reading. These hunters are digitally savvy white-collar single men and women, or dual-income married couples with no children. Overall, more than 90% of hunters across the US are men, but Millennial hunters show a higher bias toward women—nearly 20%. Almost 22 million Americans hunted at least once in the past five years, and more than 14 million people in the US hunt every year; together, they contributed more than $1 billion to wildlife conservation through the purchase of hunting licenses.

A single grizzly bear has returned to Idaho’s Bitterroot Mountains—part of a vast bear-suitable ecosystem that, biologists believe, can eventually sustain a population of some 300 grizzlies. According to a July 11, 2019, story in Idaho’s Lewiston Tribune, the bear was released in Montana’s Cabinet Mountains last year and has been moving south ever since, even after being recaptured and brought back to Montana. The 3-year-old male wears a trackable radio collar. In the early 1900s, trappers and hunters killed 25 to 40 grizzly bears annually in the Bitterroot Mountains; the last grizzly seen there was documented in 1932. In the Lower 48 states, the grizzly bear is protected as an Endangered Species.

 

Asia

Frontline Dispatches - Asia

One hundred and one prominent Iranian university professors have written a letter to the head of Iran’s judiciary calling for the release of eight environmentalist activists arrested last year. The letter says that some of the most “renowned Iranian environmental specialists and activists” have been imprisoned for more than 500 days on espionage charges. It also highlights a disagreement between the Revolutionary Guards—who charged the environmentalists with espionage—and the Intelligence Ministry, which dismisses the charges.

Four game reserves of Pakistan’s Sindh Wildlife Department—Eri, Sumbak, Surjan and Hothiano—in the mountainous Kohistan region, outside Kirthar National Park, allow controlled trophy hunting of urial and ibex in order to generate revenue. Eighty percent of the proceeds go to the community and the rest to the provincial treasury. According to Pakistan’s Dawn newspaper (July 22, 2019), the previous hunting season generated 13,204,483 rupees ($82,530) in total revenue.

A Chinese elephant research center will be established in Pu’er and the existing center, in Xishuangbanna Dai Autonomous Prefecture, is being expanded. According to a recent advert in The New York Times, both centers are in Yunnan Province, which has the only Asian elephant habitat in China and where the elephant population has grown from 170 in the 1970s to a present level of 300. The centers “will encourage cross-border studies and research, including the ecology where elephants live, their behavior, genetics and relationship with local society” in order to “help save the species from extinction and ease tension between elephants and residents.”

China’s new elite are developing an interest in hunting in Africa, Europe and Asia, according to an April 15, 2019, Time Magazine article that quotes China-based booking agents and hunt organizers. A July 8, 2019, article in Quartz notes that several Chinese Social Media platforms promote hunting and there are now some 20 companies that cater to Chinese who want to hunt abroad. At the first China Hunting Show, in late June 2019 in Shanghai, visitors were intrigued by the booths and displays of 85 hunting outfitters, but very few booked hunts. Exhibitors cited the difficulties of dealing with the Chinese market: translators are needed, and clients have no experience with hunting or firearms. However, as hunting declines in the West, some outfitters see China as a means of “re-energizing the hunting market.”

Singapore has seized a record shipment of elephant ivory and pangolin scales. The illegal cargo—8,800 kg (19,400 lbs) of ivory and 11,900 kg (26,300 lbs) of scales, representing some 300 elephants and 2,000 pangolins and altogether worth $48 million—was found in containers in a shipment from the Democratic Republic of Congo that was passing through Singapore on its way to Vietnam.

The critically endangered tamaraw (Bubalus mindorensis, feral dwarf cattle) population on the island of Mindoro in the Philippines has grown to nearly 500 animals at three locations. The largest herds are in Mounts Iglot-Baco National Park. Conservationists and tribal groups plan to use these core populations to rebuild other herds across Mindoro. In a July 19, 2019, Mongabay article, a senior director of Global Wildlife said “We want to be able to work with the indigenous peoples to somehow control their traditional [tamaraw] hunts but not necessarily stop them, but certainly make sure they are sustainable.”

India’s tiger population has climbed by 33% since 2014. According to a New York Times story dated July 30, 2019, an exhaustive survey has found 2,967 Bengal tigers, some 700 more than five years ago. But as the number of tigers has increased, so have conflicts; India’s human population is 1.3 billion. (In 1900, there were approximately 400 million people in India and 50,000 tigers.) India has created nearly two dozen tiger reserves in the past decade, but many are surrounded by villages. As the space between humans and tigers shrinks, the cats spill out of their reserves in search of prey—wild pigs, cattle and sometimes people. Naturalist Valmik Thapar said India had yet to realize its potential as a wildlife tourism destination, which would create jobs for some of the same villagers who are currently hostile toward the cats.

 

Africa

Frontline Dispatches - Africa

Sides of a Horn highlights the plight of rhinos and people. The film shows how two men from the same circumstances and even the same family can end up on opposite sides of the war against poaching. Filmed in South African townships and reserves, the movie shows the tensions and troubles that tear apart communities and drive the rhino to the verge of extinction. Directed by Toby Wosskow and with Sir Richard Branson as executive producer, the 17-minute film follows three characters—a ranger, a poacher and a rhino—as their paths collide.

Namibia’s environment ministry spent N$16.4 million on human-wildlife conflict cases in the past 10 years ($1.2 million). At the annual Namibian conservancy chairs’ forum, at Otjiwarongo in July 2019, Richard Fryer, the ministry’s chief control warden, gave an overview of human-wildlife conflict mitigation measures as well as the role of conservancies and funding sources. A total of 147 problem animals were shot by ministry officers or trophy hunters from 2017 to 2019. The greatest number were lions (34), followed by crocodiles (29) and leopards (29).

Botswana, Namibia, Zambia and Zimbabwe want to sell stockpiled ivory to raise money for conservation. Growing human and elephant populations in these countries lead to more human-wildlife conflict, and these governments see legal ivory sales as a way to pay for conservation and development. Some 20 other countries, most notably Kenya, oppose the proposal. The matter took center stage at the Wildlife Economy Summit at Victoria Falls on June 27, 2019, leading up to the CITES conference in Geneva in mid-August; a detailed report is on Mongabay.

In a related column, an elephant by any other name is still an elephant, writes Tony Weaver in South Africa’s Daily Maverick on July 17, 2019: “Whatever animal rights activists may say, there was nothing unique about the elephant someone named ‘Voortrekker’, other than that he had a good set of tusks, had a name, and was previously saved from hunting by a campaign that raised enough money to buy the hunting permit.”

A recent Sunday Times article on canned lion hunting (also timed to the upcoming CITES meeting) simply repeated a mission statement by the Campaign to Ban Trophy Hunting. This attempt by animal-rights groups to ban trophy hunting as a threat to lions provoked conservationists and specialists to point out that hunting bans are simplistic, misleading and may actually harm the species they want to protect. Researcher and journalism professor Keith Somerville writes that if lions are to survive, nuanced and locally backed conservation strategies must be adopted to ensure that communities do not suffer from lion predation, that habitat is protected and that income is generated to fund conservation and incentivize people to tolerate dangerous wildlife.

Florida Representative Vern Buchanan’s appropriations rider to HR 3055 would prohibit the import of elephant and lion trophies from Tanzania, Zambia and Zimbabwe to the US. George Pangeti, a former deputy director of the Zimbabwe Parks and Wildlife Management Authority, writing in the Washington, DC, website The Daily Caller, labels this the most recent effort by misinformed legislators to try to manage wildlife populations that they are neither responsible for nor knowledgeable about.

An American ban on trophies may have contributed to a growing trade in lion skeletons, according to a July 15, 2019, article in The New York Times. Author Rachel Nuwer explores the connections between the legal and illegal trade in lion bones originating from lion-breeding farms in South Africa and that country’s controversial canned-lion shooting industry. See also “Lion and tiger farming may be inhumane, but we don’t know if it increases poaching” by environmentalists Niki Rust and Amy Hinsley in the US edition of the independent news website The Conversation.

“The Role of well-regulated Hunting Tourism in Namibia in effective Conservation Management” is the title of an article published on the German African University Partnership Platform. Lisa Schmitt and David Rempel explain the consequences of closing hunting in Namibia. They conclude that well-regulated hunting tourism is an important contributor to the conservation of biodiversity. Hunting tourism favors the development of rural areas, incentivizes the fight against poaching and the illegal trade of wild animal products, and has led to substantial growth in wildlife numbers in Namibia over the past 50 years.

Zimbabwe’s Finance Minister Mthuli Ncube said (in a July 15, 2019, story in NewZimbabwe.com) that the government may consider selling its holdings in Zimparks, the Zimbabwe Parks and Wildlife Management Authority, or look for some kind of joint-venture arrangement. The authority manages one of the largest estates in the country, about 5 million hectares (12.36 million acres) of land, about 13% of Zimbabwe’s total area.

Human-wildlife conflicts are a major concern for rural communities and a serious threat to the survival of many wildlife populations, write Sem Shilongo and his co-authors in the peer-reviewed 2018 paper “Using Incentives as Mitigation Measure for Human Wildlife Conflict Management in Namibia,” published by the School of Environmental Science and Engineering at Tongji University in Shanghai, China. The authors stipulate that eco-centric, protectionist views of wildlife do not recognize or accommodate the needs of those who live with wildlife.

Sections of Nouabalé-Ndoki National Park in Congo will be opened to oil exploration, according to a July 18, 2019, story on Mongabay.com. The park, known for its magnificent rainforest and the world’s largest peatlands, is at the northern tip of the country. It protects abundant herds of forest elephant, western lowland gorilla and other wildlife such as western bongo and sitatunga.

 

Europe

Frontline Dispatches - Europe

Hunters play an important role in managing invasive alien species (IAS) in Europe. The European Code of Conduct on Hunting and IAS outlines seven principles that hunters and hunting associations should follow to contribute to the European Strategy on IAS and the 2020 EU Biodiversity Strategy. These principles should improve the sustainability of hunting and will assist in IAS reduction and prevention. Details are in a 2019 implementation report.

The Italian Hunting Federation monitors migratory birds with scientific data collection methods such as satellite telemetry and leg-banding in order to make effective management decisions in national hunting legislation. According to a report from FACE, the European Federation for Hunting and Conservation, the departure dates of the species for breeding sites are used to set optimal hunting seasons that do not compromise reproductive potential, migration routes and environmental preferences such as the choice of nesting sites and overnight stays in the wintering areas.

Hunting in Europe is a highly popular form of nature recreation, an activity enjoyed by 7 million people. It is one of the oldest forms of consumptive use of renewable natural resources and provides significant social, cultural, economic and environmental benefits across Europe. FACE’s Biodiversity Manifesto demonstrates the commitment of Europe’s hunters to biodiversity conservation through 38 action points divided into eight specific sections.

The Real Federación Española de Caza, which represents Spanish hunters, has returned as a full member of FACE. On July 4, 2019, FACE President Torbjörn Larsson said “RFEC will benefit from FACE’s international cooperation on a wide range of issues relating to hunting and conservation in Spain, such as the ongoing decision-making on international processes to regulate migratory bird hunting, the reform of Europe’s farming policy (the EU Common Agricultural Policy post-2020), emerging animal diseases like African swine fever in wild boar, developments in EU large carnivore policy, international pressure on traditional hunting methods.”

In Spain, hunting is seen as a fire-fighting tool. According to an article in the latest CIC Magazine, Spanish estates under sustainable management for shooting do not suffer from wildfires because of constant surveillance by gamekeepers, who are able to respond to fires before they get out of control. In addition, each estate’s network of access roads and water points support fire-fighting, while crop areas and shooting lanes make natural firebreaks.

 

New Additions to the Conservation Frontlines Library

Author

Year

Title

Library Category

Potgieter G 2019 The untold story behind hunting in Botswana Hunting in the 21st Century; Hunting Ethics and Fair Chase; Hunting in Society, Principles, Criteria and Indicators of Sustainable Hunting; Assessment of Hunting Areas and Method, Conservation & Wildlife Management
Chambers M

2019

Wildlife Conservation Needs Perspective Hunting in the 21st Century; Hunting Ethics and Fair Chase; Hunting in Society, Conservation & Wildlife Management
Hayward M W et al.

2019

Deconstructing compassionate conservation Hunting in the 21st Century; Hunting Ethics and Fair Chase; Hunting in Society, Conservation & Wildlife Management
Oommen M A et al.

2019

The fatal flaws of compassionate conservation Hunting in the 21st Century; Hunting Ethics and Fair Chase; Hunting in Society, Conservation & Wildlife Management
Dorrington Stewart (The Daily Maverick)

2019

You may not like trophy hunting but do not try to kill the industry. The alternatives are far worse and the consequences far-reaching Hunting in the 21st Century; Hunting Ethics and Fair Chase; Hunting in Society, Conservation & Wildlife Management
Busani Bafana (Mongabay.com)

2019

‘Let us trade’: Debate over ivory sales rages ahead of CITES summit Rural Communities, the Hereditary Custodians of Land and Wildlife, Conservation & Wildlife Management
Flueck W T & Smith‑Flueck J-A

2017

Troubling disease syndrome in endangered live Patagonian huemul deer

(Hippocamelus bisulcus) from the Protected Park Shoonem: unusually high prevalence of osteopathology

Wildlife Diseases
Huemul Task Force.

2012

Reassessment of morphology and historical distribution as factors in conservation efforts for endangered Patagonian huemul deer Hippocamelus bisulcus Wildlife Diseases
Flueck W T & Smith‑Flueck J-A

2012

Diseases of red deer introduced to Patagonia and implications for native ungulates Wildlife Diseases
Flueck W T & Smith‑Flueck J-A

2012

A review of introduced cervids in Chile. Conservation & Wildlife Management
Rust Niki & Hinsley Amy

2019

Lion and tiger farming may be inhumane, but we don’t know if it increases poaching Conservation & Wildlife Management
Brownlee Marcia (NWF Artemis Initiative)

2019

Trump let down American hunters and anglers Hunting in the 21st Century; Hunting Ethics and Fair Chase; Hunting in Society
Wilkinson Todd (Mountain Journal)

2019

George Bird Grinnell: His Impact As “The Father of American Conservation” Written Across Today’s West Conservation & Wildlife Management
Natusch D, Webb G & Shine R

2019

Banning exotic leather in fashion hurts snakes and crocodiles in the long run Rural Communities, the Hereditary Custodians of Land and Wildlife, Conservation & Wildlife Management
Natusch D, Webb G, Shine R, Cooney R et al.

2019

Is banning exotic leather bad for reptiles? Rural Communities, the Hereditary Custodians of Land and Wildlife, Conservation & Wildlife Management
Corlatti L et al.

2019

Long‐term dynamics of Alpine ungulates suggest interspecific competition Evolutionary Consequences of Hunting, Conservation & Wildlife Management
Zent John

2019

Food Plots: Proof Hunters Care About America’s Wildlife Hunting in the 21st Century; Hunting Ethics and Fair Chase; Hunting in Society
Chhetri Priyam (MEAWW)

2019

The Lion King is dying: Conservation funding stagnates as clock ticks down on saving the king of the jungle Conservation & Wildlife Management
Ly Jenny (Backcountry Hunters and Anglers)

2019

Vietnamese Caul Fat Sausages Wild Foods
Nguyen-Wheatley Jenny (Backcountry Hunters and Anglers)

2019

Grilled Jerk Frog Legs Wild Foods
Nguyen-Wheatley Jenny (Bowhunter)

2019

Wild Turkey Birria – A Spicy Mexican Stew Wild Foods
Dorsey Patt (Backcountry Hunters and Anglers)

2019

Is CWD an ethical issue? Wildlife Diseases
Nicolson Courtney (Backcountry Hunters and Anglers)

2019

Traditional Michigan Venison Pasties Wild Foods
Healy Tom (Backcountry Hunters and Anglers)

2019

Maple Buttermilk Frozen Custard with Elk Bacon, Almond & Bear Fat Brittle Wild Foods
Healy Tom (Backcountry Hunters and Anglers)

2019

Elk Shoulder Bacon Wild Foods