Trump administration wants to remove the gray wolf from the endangered species list

March 11, 2019 by  
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Government officials in the U.S. are looking to remove the gray wolf from the endangered species list. The move, proposed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, would allow states in the Lower 48 to lawfully hunt populations of the gray wolf. “Recovery of the gray wolf under the Endangered Species Act (ESA) is one of our nation’s great conservation successes,” a spokesperson for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service shared. According to NPR , the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is publishing the proposal in the Federal Register this month. After the rule is published, officials will entertain public comments for a short period before passing anything into law. The public comments period usually lasts a few weeks. Related: 10 species at risk of extinction under the Trump administration Gray wolves were labeled endangered back in 1978, when populations dwindled to only 1,000 in the United States. Since then, the numbers have risen to more than 5,000 across the country. As populations have grown, ranchers and farmers have spoken out against the federal protections, as they often consider wolves a threat to livestock. While the numbers are a good sign, conservationists warn that the gray wolf has not fully recovered in all of the areas it used to roam. In some locations, the numbers are so small that removing the hunting ban could have disastrous effects on populations. For example, wolves may never reach recoverable levels in the southern Rockies unless the federal protections are extended. The former head of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Jamie Rappaport Clark, believes that states will not treat gray wolves the same as other species once the endangered status is lifted. Clark is fighting for additional protections that will ensure the wolves will not be hunted in mass once they are off the list. It is unclear when the law would be put in place if officials decide to move forward with their plan. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has yet to respond to the criticism of removing the gray wolf from the endangered species list. Via NPR Image via Christels

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Trump administration wants to remove the gray wolf from the endangered species list

COBE unveils LEED Gold-seeking affordable housing units in Toronto

March 11, 2019 by  
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Danish architectural firm COBE has unveiled a new mixed-use residential development in Toronto designed for LEED Gold certification. Created in collaboration with Toronto-based architectural firm architectsAlliance , the project will comprise three buildings — two designed by COBE — set in West Don Lands, a former industrial area on Toronto’s waterfront. The housing development will consist of 761 market rental apartments, including 30 percent affordable rental units indistinguishable in design from the others. Designed to celebrate the area’s different building typologies, the mixed-use residential buildings are made up of three architectural styles stacked one atop of another. The first layer at the street level will be a contemporary take on the redbrick warehouses found in the neighboring Distillery District; the middle layer is an interpretation of the Canary District warehouses north of the site; and the uppermost section is built of light concrete in reference to the existing industrial silos found on the harbor front. The resulting towers will be an “urban ensemble of unique structures,” the architects said. These three architecturally distinct layers are stacked and staggered to make way for large landscaped terraces to serve as shared outdoor amenity spaces, where residents can enjoy urban farming  and al fresco dining as well as landscape gardens, a playground and a pool area. This strong sense of community is strengthened in the center-most building containing additional amenities such as a cinema, fitness center, spa and music and childcare facilities; the other two buildings will also have local resident lounges and dining areas. Publicly accessible retail and restaurants will be located on the ground floor. Related: Former concrete factory is reborn as a unique music-inspired high school in Denmark “We want to create attractive homes that appeal to many different types of people,” said Dan Stubbergaard, architect and founder of COBE. “We have been working alongside the client team to develop a concept of radical mixed-use that provides all residents with a generous apartment, flooded with light through floor-to-ceiling windows  and access to attractive amenity spaces.” The project is expected to begin construction in mid-2019 with completion scheduled for early 2022. + COBE Images by COBE

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COBE unveils LEED Gold-seeking affordable housing units in Toronto

Iceland approves killing of more than 2,000 whales

February 26, 2019 by  
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Iceland has just approved the killing of 2,000 whales over the course of the next five years. The country’s government is allowing whaling companies to slaughter 217 minke and 209 fin whales per year until 2025, sparking outrage among environmental and conservation groups around the world. Officials in Iceland believe that killing these two groups of whales is sustainable and based on scientific studies. In fact, the minister of the fisheries department, Kristján Þór Júlíusson, says that minke and fin whales are overpopulated in Iceland’s oceans and hunting them will help reduce overpopulation. Related: Ghost gear is haunting our oceans “Whaling in Icelandic waters is only directed at abundant whale stocks, North Atlantic common minke whales and fin whales, it is science-based, sustainable, strictly managed and in accordance with international law,” a statement from the government read. Not everyone agrees with the ministry’s research. Conservationists say that their conclusion is based on faulty research and that killing whales does not offer any benefits to the country. The Whale and Dolphin Conservation (WDC), heavily criticized the new law, and claims that it does not have support from local residents— many of whom do not use whale products on a regular basis. Whale watching is a huge tourism draw for Iceland. The whale watching industry accounts for $13.4 million of the country’s economy. Hunting whales, meanwhile, brings in around $8 million. While Iceland employs more individuals in whale watching, hunting these ocean faring creatures pays more. Regardless of the justification, hunting whales was banned by the International Whaling Commission back in 1986. The law was put in place because whale populations were on the decline due to hunting. Despite these widely upheld laws, Iceland continues to kill whales on an annual basis — and minke and fin whales are not the only two species caught in the crosshairs. In 2018, a whaling crew out of Iceland called Hvalur hf killed a blue whale, an act in direct violation of international laws . The incident sparked outrage around the world and drew attention to the country’s whaling practices. Undeterred by worldwide condemnation, Iceland has not shown any signs of stopping the hunting of whales over the next five years. Via CNN Images via janeb13

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Iceland approves killing of more than 2,000 whales

Eastern Puma officially extinct, allows for mountain lion reintroduction

February 8, 2019 by  
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The eastern puma, which used to range from Quebec and Manitoba to South Carolina and Illinois, is now officially  extinct , said Officials with the United States Fish and Wildlife Service. The government agency has also removed the cougars from endangered species list. Taking the eastern pumas off the endangered list will enable eastern states, such as New York, to reintroduce western pumas, also called mountain lions, into the region. The last eastern puma killed in the wild was in Maine over 80 years ago. Hunters killed off the majority of these pumas in the 18th and 19th centuries. “We need large carnivores like cougars to keep the wild food web healthy, so we hope eastern and midwestern states will reintroduce them,” Michael Robinson, who works for the Center for Biological Diversity, explained. Reintroducing western pumas will cut down on deer population and help decrease tick-borne illnesses that are harmful to humans. Government officials believe there are eastern regions that are suitable for the reintroduction of pumas. These areas include New England, Adirondacks and the Great Lakes. Related: Conchs in the Bahamas could be extinct in 10 years Unlike their eastern counterparts, western pumas have successfully repopulated regions in Nebraska, South Dakota and North Dakota. Although western pumas and their close relative the Florida panthers have been spotted in eastern states, they have not been able to successfully reproduce because of human intervention and hunting . Deer populations have skyrocketed in the absence of predators like pumas and wolves. Certain kinds of deer populations, like white-tail deer, eat saplings and acorns, which has led to a rapid decline in new tree growth in the region. This also hurts ground-nesting birds as they do not have enough vegetation to protect themselves. Now that eastern pumas have been taken off the endangered list, politicians can start spearheading efforts to reintroduce western pumas into the region. Although it is extremely sad that the eastern puma has gone extinct, experts hope that reintroducing another predator will help the environment in the long run. At one point in time, pumas were one of the most widespread animals in North and South America. Via Biological Diversity Image via Shutterstock

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Flat-pack treehouse offers "extreme wilderness" glamping with a light footprint

February 8, 2019 by  
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British company Tree Tents International has unveiled its most innovative and adaptable glamping structure yet. Meet the Fuselage, a flat-pack treehouse that can be set up almost anywhere, even on the most challenging terrain. Dubbed by the firm as an “extreme wilderness cabin,” the cylindrical dwelling takes inspiration from modern aerospace design for its durable and lightweight structure. Designed with a triple-layer insulated skin, low-voltage radiant heating and a micro wood stove, the solar-powered Fuselage has been precision-engineered for thermal comfort in a wide variety of climate conditions, including the wintry environment of Northern Sweden, where one of Tree Tents’ first Fuselages was installed just a few hundred miles below the Arctic Circle. “I designed the Fuselage to access some pretty extreme environments — allowing people to stay in these amazing locations with a structure that is both lightweight in construction but as tough as old boots,” Fuselage designer Jason Thawley said in a press release. To minimize the environmental impact of the Fuselage, the structures are flat-pack and modular so that no heavy machinery is required onsite for installation. Built from sustainably sourced wood and recycled aluminum , the units can be suspended from trees or mounted on stilted feet without need for large foundations. The firm even uses the waste from the manufacturing process to make camping accessories, such as stools and rucksacks, as part of its commitment to sustainable design. Related: Pinecone-shaped treehouse provides stunning 360-degree views of dense Redwood forest Assembled from a kit, the Fuselage features a fully insulated wood-and-aluminum structural frame with an aluminum outer shell. The interior, which measures 3 by 5 meters, includes quality marine ply hardwood flooring and birch liner as well as a lockable entrance door and double-glazed windows . Each bespoke unit also comes with furnishings and can be upgraded with different custom offerings. The base price for Fuselage starts at £26,000 (about $33,672 USD), not including valued-added tax or installation costs. + Fuselage

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Judge stops bear hunt and returns Yellowstone grizzlies to the endangered list

September 27, 2018 by  
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The hunt for grizzlies in Yellowstone National Park is officially over. This week, a judge ordered that all grizzly bears living in or near the park to be put back on the list of endangered species. The ruling stops the attempts of wildlife officials to issue licenses for those want to hunt the bears, which have been protected from hunting for the past four decades. According to The Guardian , the population of grizzly bears has increased in the last 30 years from around 135 to more than 700 today. While the numbers are improving, grizzlies are only present in four locations in the Rocky Mountains. This has raised concerns about the recovery of grizzlies, as the populations are still isolated from each other. This is one reason why Judge Dana Christensen, who put in a lot of research on the case, decided to put the bears back on the endangered list. As Judge Christensen explained, true recovery means expanding grizzly populations to regions outside of the Rocky Mountains. Related: Montana judge to rule on first grizzly bear hunt in 40 years While environmental groups and activists praised the ruling, wildlife officials were disappointed by the turn of events. Officials in Wyoming recently put in motion plans for a bear hunt later this year. Up to 22 individuals were granted licenses to hunt grizzlies when the season opened. Luckily, citizens and conservationists launched a massive campaign — including the Shoot’em with a Camera, Not A Gun initiative  — to stop the sport hunting of these beautiful creatures. The fight to keep grizzly bears on the endangered list is sadly not over. Experts believe that state officials will attempt to repeal the ruling at a higher court. The pro-hunting organization Safari Club International is also expected to make a push toward making grizzly hunts legal once again. We can only hope that Judge Christensen’s ruling stands the test of time, allowing grizzlies to make a true recovery in the wild. Via The Guardian Image via Neal Herbert / Yellowstone National Park

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Judge stops bear hunt and returns Yellowstone grizzlies to the endangered list

For the first time in 86 years, environmental activists in the UK sentenced to jail

September 27, 2018 by  
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Three men who participated in protests against Cuadrilla at a Lancashire fracking site are being jailed in the U.K. The demonstrators participated in a July 2017 push back that lasted approximately four days. Simon Blevins, 26, and Richard Roberts, 36, received 16-month sentences, while Rich Loizou, 31, will be serving a 15-month sentence. These rulings follow the 12-month sentence doled out to Julian Brock, 47, who pleaded guilty in an earlier hearing and earned an 18-month suspension to his imprisonment. The men are said to be the first environmental protesters in the U.K. to face jail time in 86 years. Blevins, Roberts and Loizou stepped down voluntarily from the protest for various reasons including work and fatigue. Despite this, Judge Robert Latham of the Preston Crown Court prescribed the Frack Free Four sentences from one to two years after they were convicted of being a public nuisance by a jury in August. The judge insisted that the demonstration “caused costs and disruption” to the U.K. shale gas company Cuadrilla Resources and added, “their other victims were the many members of public who were nothing to do with Cuadrilla,” according to the BBC . Related: UK fracking measures could make exploratory drilling “as easy as building a garden wall” The four men blocked the entry of a convoy headed into the Lancashire site by climbing on top of the truck, which was transporting drilling equipment. The protest lasted just under 100 hours and was aided by supporters who supplied the quartet with food, water and blankets. I’m speechless that four comrades have been sent to jail for an anti-fracking protest at Preston New Road in July 2017. They stood on top of the fracking trucks for 3 days waving flags and banners. This is wholly disproportionate. #FrackFreeFour pic.twitter.com/UwBo9YKsAw — Robbie Gillett (@RobbieGillett) September 26, 2018 “As the world’s leading scientists are about to issue their latest warning on the existential threat fossil fuels pose to our living world, these Lancashire protesters deserve our gratitude, not a prison term,” Executive Director of Greenpeace U.K. John Sauven said in an online statement . Still, the judge maintained that the four “provide a risk of re-offending.” He added, “Each of them remains motivated by unswerving confidence that they are right. Even at their trial they felt justified by their actions.” A report by The Guardian  determined that the men are probably the first environmental activists in 86 years to be reprimanded with jail time. In 1932, a mass trespass in Derbyshire saw five men imprisoned over a “right to roam” protest on private land. Still, the group is not dissuaded from its mission. “Some may view us as victims, but we refuse to be victimized by this,” Blevins said in a statement to Climate Home News . “The real victims will be future generations suffering preventable disasters caused by climate change . Our friends and fellow campaigners outside will continue to fight for a ban on fracking and for a just transition to a renewable and democratically owned energy system.” The Cuadrilla company, which has just been accorded a license to open a second well at the New Preston Road site in Lancashire, has been met with a high volume of protesters. More than 300 people have been arrested by police at the fracking pad since January 2017. While fracking is banned or suspended in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, the U.K. government has administered Cuadrilla the drilling permits needed for its operations in England. Despite the company’s payments to Lancaster residents in the area and the jailing of the Frack Free Four, it seems that the high-profile dissent over the Preston New Road fracking site is still gaining momentum. + Frack Free Four Via BBC , The Guardian ,  EcoWatch , Climate Home News , Greenpeace Images via  Zbynek Burival and Shutterstock

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For the first time in 86 years, environmental activists in the UK sentenced to jail

Movement to save grizzly bears from hunters scores a victory

July 30, 2018 by  
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Thomas Mangelsen, the animal photographer who brought fame to Yellowstone’s “Grizzly 399,” has been selected to receive a hunting license in Wyoming. Mangelsen was one of 7,000 hopeful lottery applicants to appear on the “Issuance List” released on Thursday by the state’s Game and Fish Department. However, unlike the majority of entrants in Yellowstone’s first bear hunt in nearly half a century, Mangelsen hopes to tag his catch in a photo rather than a body bag. Mangelsen’s application was part of the “Shoot ‘Em with a Camera, Not a Gun” campaign, which wildlife activists launched in an effort to lower the number of hunters granted licenses in Wyoming’s bear permit lottery. The randomly selected candidates were drawn in order of when they will be given access to the hunting grounds; only one ticket holder will be allowed in the zone at a time. Each hunter is given a maximum of 10 days to “tag” – that is to say, kill – a grizzly before the next individual is allowed in. The hunt will last either two months or until the quota of 22 kills is met. Related: Jane Goodall and conservationists move to obtain bear hunting licences in Wyoming Mangelsen was happy to report on Shoot ‘Em With A Camera’s Facebook page that he had drawn the eighth slot in the 2018 hunt and would most likely be able to save at least one bear, or possibly more. “The odds of winning a tag were extremely low considering over 7,000 people applied,” the photographer noted. “There are certain circumstances that would keep me from getting in the field, but if given the opportunity, you can be sure that I will be buying the $600 license and spending all of the allotted ten days hunting with a camera. With only one person allowed in the field at one time, hopefully the ten days I take up will save the lives of some of these amazing animals.” Related: Trump administration wants to allow “extreme and cruel” hunting methods in Alaska The activist group was formed in Jackson, Wyoming on account of the bears’ 2017 removal from the Endangered Species Act list of threatened wildlife and the opening of Wyoming, Idaho, and Montana’s hunting seasons. The group has raised just over $40,000 to stop the hunting expeditions through their Go Fund Me page and allied themselves with a network of environmental champions such as primatologist Jane Goodall and the Center for Biological Diversity’s Stop the Griz Hunt organization. + Shoot ‘Em With A Camera + Go Fund Me + Stop The Griz Hunt Via NPR and USA Today

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Movement to save grizzly bears from hunters scores a victory

Hunters issued permits to import lion trophies to United States

July 27, 2018 by  
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A Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request has revealed that the U.S. government has issued over three dozen permits allowing trophy parts hunted from lions to be brought back into the United States from Africa. Despite the permits’ issue, lions remain on the Endangered Species Act (ESA) due to their threatened survival status in the wild. Friends of Animals obtained the documents and released them through The Huffington Post , which reported the animal rights violation on Thursday. The memorandum , released by the United States Department of the Interior, Fish and Wildlife Service on March 1, 2018, removes trophy import bans dating as far back as 1995. “If African wildlife is to survive the next few decades in their homelands, these elephants, lions and other animals—coveted by hunters for their strength and beauty—must be worth more alive than dead. That means safeguarding habitat along with photographic safaris and ecotourism must outpace blood-drenched trophy hunting expeditions,” declared Priscilla Feral, President of Friends of Animals, in a press release. Related: The Trump Administration decides to allow the import of elephant trophies after all New rules by the Fish and Wildlife Service require the filing of a FOIA request to see the details of government-issued permits that are determined on an individual basis – information that used to be publicly available . In this case, the majority of the permit recipients are Republican donors or are part of Safari Club International, a hunting advocacy group. While big game hunters argue that their activities help conservation efforts and local economies, animal rights supporters say that killing big game animals only further endangers their already at-risk populations. + Friends of Animals Via EcoWatch and The New York Times

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Hunters issued permits to import lion trophies to United States

Only 13% of Earth’s oceans remain untouched by humans for now

July 27, 2018 by  
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Only 13 percent of the planet’s oceans are unaffected by human activities, such as fishing and pollution, according to a recent study from the Wildlife Conservation Society . The study , published in Current Biology and executed in tandem with the University of Queensland, has completed the first systematic analysis of the Earth’s oceans and revealed that the only intact portions of global waters could be found in protected parts of the remote Pacific Ocean and around the poles. But even those waters have their tides turning toward becoming unsafe territories for marine wildlife . The research comes after studies in January and February revealed dead zones of marine wildlife quadrupled since the 1950s, and industrial fishing areas now cover half of the world’s oceans. “We were astonished by just how little marine wilderness remains,” Kendall Jones, lead researcher on the project, told NPR . “The ocean is immense, covering over 70 percent of our planet, but we’ve managed to significantly impact almost all of this vast ecosystem.” The cause of this human impression is due to enormous fishing fleets, global shipping and pollution run-offs from land. Add all of this to the distress caused by climate change , and it’s no surprise we’ve arrived at this point. Still, only 5 percent of the remaining wilderness found in the ocean resides in marine protection areas. Related: Astounding responsive map shows shark interactions with commercial fishers “Beyond just valuing nature for nature’s sake, having these large intact seascapes that function in a way that they always have done is really important for the Earth,” Jones said. “They maintain the ecological processes that are how the climate and Earth system function — [without them], you can start seeing big knock-on effects with drastic and unforeseen consequences.” In response to mounting pressure by scientists to create a protection status for the high seas, the UN Law of the Sea Convention (UNCLOS) has planned negotiations to create a treaty in September 2018. The debate will center around cutting fishing subsidies valued at more than $4 billion by governments worldwide. According to Jones, fishing “would actually be unprofitable if it weren’t for big subsidies.” He continued by noting that “the vast majority of marine wilderness could be lost at any time, as improvements in technology allow us to fish deeper and ship farther than ever before.” + Wildlife Conservation Society + Current Biology Via  The Guardian Images via Nelly Lendvai and Rey Perezoso

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