Yellowstone superintendent says the Trump administration forced him out of his job due to wildlife advocacy

June 11, 2018 by  
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Yellowstone National Park superintendent Dan Wenk says he was forced out of his position by President Donald Trump’s administration because of his wildlife advocacy, The Guardian reported . Former National Park Service director Jon Jarvis told the publication the move was meant to make Wenk into an example to weaken a culture of conservation . Wenk said, “It’s a hell of a way to be treated at the end of four decades spent trying to do my best for the park service and places like Yellowstone, but that’s how these guys are. Throughout my career, I’ve not encountered anything like this, ever.” Last week, the United States Department of the Interior (DOI) told Wenk, who has been the Yellowstone superintendent since 2011, that he must accept a reassignment to the Capital Region in Washington, D.C. in 60 days or resign. The Guardian said Wenk had been outspoken about creating more room for wild bison to ramble outside the national park to Montana, a move opposed by the cattle industry, which comprises a core section of Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke ‘s constituency. Wenk had also questioned proposed sport hunting of grizzly bears. Related: US DOI scientist claims he was reassigned for speaking up on climate change Jarvis told The Guardian that preservation in large parks, largely in Alaska and the American West, conflicts with Zinke’s hopes to increase industrial development and monetize natural resources located on public lands . He said that Zinke “holds little regard for the esprit de corps traditions of the park service. Dan [Wenk] was set up as the first domino to fall.” An April 2018 Office of Inspector General at the DOI report scrutinized the reassignment of 27 senior executives between June 15, 2017 and October 29, 2017 and discovered the DOI’s Executive Resources Board “did not document its plan for selecting senior executives for reassignment, nor did it consistently apply the reasons it stated it used to select senior executives for reassignment.” They also found the board “did not gather the information needed to make informed decisions about the reassignments” and didn’t effectively communicate with the senior executives or most managers impacted by the reassignments. The report said, “As a result, many of the affected senior executives questioned whether these reassignments were political or punitive, based on a prior conflict with DOI leadership, or on the senior executive’s nearness to retirement. Many executives…believed their reassignment may have been related to their prior work assignments, including climate change , energy, or conservation.” Via The Guardian Images via Wikimedia Commons (1)

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Yellowstone superintendent says the Trump administration forced him out of his job due to wildlife advocacy

Beekeepers file a complaint against Bayer after glyphosate was discovered in honey

June 11, 2018 by  
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Beekeepers in France aren’t happy with Bayer . Agence France Presse reported (AFP) a beekeeping cooperative in the northern part of the country filed a legal complaint against the chemical giant after the controversial herbicide glyphosate was found in honey . The complaint was filed the same day as the close of Bayer’s acquisition of Monsanto . The head of the beekeeping cooperative, which represents around 200 beekeepers, detected traces of glyphosate in three batches of honey from one of the members. A lawyer for the beekeeping cooperative, Emmanuel Ludot, told AFP the member’s hives are close to beet, rapeseed and sunflower fields, “But you also can’t forget the weekend gardeners who often tend to use Roundup .” Roundup, according to the news agency, “is the most widely used in France.” President Emmanuel Macron has said he’ll outlaw the weedkiller by 2021. Related: Monsanto will scrap its notorious name after acquisition by Bayer It is Ludot’s hope that this legal complaint will incite an inquiry to nail down the percentage of glyphosate in the honey batches and find if there are any health ramifications for humans. If glyphosate is detected in honey, the whole shipment is rejected, Famille Michaud president Vincent Michaud told AFP. Famille Michaud is one of France’s biggest honey marketers and Michaud said they “regularly detect foreign substances, including glyphosate.” Michaud said beekeepers usually say they’ll sell the honey at a market or roadside stand where there is no quality control if their shipments are rejected, “but this beekeeper had the courage to say, ‘I’m not going to be like everyone else; I’m going to file suit against Monsanto.’” On the date of Monsanto’s acquisition by Bayer, June 7, Monsanto CEO Hugh Grant said in a statement he was “proud of the path we have paved as Monsanto.” Bayer CEO Werner Baumann said, “Our sustainability targets are as important to us as our financial targets. We aim to live up to the heightened responsibility that a leadership position in agriculture entails and to deepen our dialogue with society.” The AFP said some scientists suspect glyphosate of causing cancer . Via Agence France Presse Images via Depositphotos (1, 2)

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Beekeepers file a complaint against Bayer after glyphosate was discovered in honey

Trump administration wants to allow "extreme and cruel" hunting methods in Alaska

May 23, 2018 by  
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Donald Trump’s administration is angling to amend hunting regulations for national preserves in Alaska , and not for the better. Announced this week, the proposed changes would reverse Obama-era rules that forbid hunting methods the Sierra Club described as cruel and extreme. Among these methods? Baiting bears with human food and shooting wolf pups and bear cubs in their dens. The National Park Service (NPS) announced the proposal this week, saying it would toss out 2015 regulatory provisions banning hunting practices that Alaska allows on state land. Their proposal would affect national preserves, but not national parks . The Associated Press reported that increasing hunting rights on federal lands has been among Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke’s priorities; the Washington Post said that the NPS’s proposal is in keeping with an order from Zinke to assent to states’ wishes to expand recreational hunting. Related: Trump fills his wildlife protection board with big-game trophy hunters These rules would allow Alaska officials to make the final decision about methods such as killing bear cubs with their mothers, shooting swimming caribou from a boat, targeting animals from snowmobiles or airplanes, hunting animals in their dens, baiting animals with sweets, or poisoning animals. “Targeting cubs and mothers through baiting and other extreme hunting measures has no place on our public lands ,” said Alli Harvey, an Alaska representative for the Sierra Club’s Our Wild America campaign. “Zinke is undermining science-based wildlife management and the basic premise of public lands as places for wildlife conservation . This decision overrides fundamental national environmental safeguards in the name of narrow interests.” You can comment on the proposal on the Regulations.gov website until July 23. + Sierra Club + National Park Service Via The Washington Post and the Associated Press Images via  Depositphotos (1)

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Trump administration wants to allow "extreme and cruel" hunting methods in Alaska

Trump official delays protection of endangered species at oil lobbyist’s request

April 20, 2018 by  
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A top United States Department of the Interior official appears to have used his position to delay the protection of an endangered species at the request of the oil industry. As reported by the Guardian based on acquired documents, Interior official Vincent deVito acquiesced to a 2017 e-mail from the Independent Petroleum Association of America (IPAA) asking that the Texas hornshell mussel not be placed under protection for six months in the interest of continued, uninhibited oil industry activity. While the mussel was eventually placed on the endangered species list in 2018, former Interior officials and government watchdogs have expressed concerns over the ethics and legality of deVito’s actions. Of particular concern is the Trump Administration’s seeming disregard to science in favor of political decision making. “Listing decisions under the Endangered Species Act are meant to be entirely science-based decisions that result from – in some cases – years of review by experts in the field, not political appointees,” former Interior associate deputy secretary Elizabeth Klein told The Guardian . “A delay in and of itself might not be the end of the world – but then again it very well could be for an imperiled species.” In response to criticism, Interior press secretary Heather Swift said in a statement that deVito “maintains that he simply responded with an acknowledgment of receipt on the mussel email and maintains he had no role whatsoever in the listing.” Related: New evidence shows oil and coal were central in the decision to reduce Bears Ears There’s a portfolio of instances where DeVito used his official capacity in ways that would appear to be favorable to the fossil fuel industry. For example, DeVito described his close consultation of industry lobbyists before proposing a reduction of royalty rates on offshore oil and gas from 18.75% to 12.5% – a recommendation that was ultimately rejected by Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke. DeVito was also influential in approving a coal project near the habitat of the endangered Big Sandy crayfish in West Virginia . “It a scientific integrity violation for a political appointee to essentially leapfrog the Fish and Wildlife Service’s process when you have an Endangered Species Act listing involved,” former career Interior scientist Joel Clement told The Guardian . Via The Guardian Images via New Mexico State Land Office and YouTube

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Oil and gas leases open up in Bears Ears National Monument area

March 20, 2018 by  
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Despite all its rhetoric to the contrary, the Interior Department is offering up 51,000 acres of oil and gas leases in the areas surrounding Bears Ears National Monument . Conservationists warn that fossil fuel extraction threatens priceless Native American artifacts, historical sites, dinosaur fossils and the southern Utah environment. The move comes just weeks after it was revealed that mining and extraction interests played a primary role in determining the new boundaries of Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante monuments. Today, officials will auction off 51,000 acres of land near areas previously protected under the Bears Ears monument boundaries. It also opens extraction near Hovenweep and Canyons of the Ancients monuments, and the cultural rich Alkali Ridge area. “BLM’s ‘lease everything, lease everywhere’ approach to oil and gas development needlessly threatens iconic red rock landscapes and irreplaceable cultural history in the ill-conceived push for ‘energy dominance,” said Stephen Block, legal director with the Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance . Related: New evidence shows oil and coal were central in the decision to reduce Bears Ears Local officials cheered the move, saying it will help bring economic opportunity to the rural towns of San Juan County. However, when the region was opened to mining on February 7 this year, no one submitted an application for a plot in the area. Oil and gas developers also hold stockpiles of unused land they have leased from the government – less than 40 percent of leased land is actually under development in Utah. Via Reuters Images via Larry Lamsa  and John Fowler

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Oil and gas leases open up in Bears Ears National Monument area

The world’s last male northern white rhino has died in Kenya

March 20, 2018 by  
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Devastating news for wildlife enthusiasts: Sudan, the world’s last male northern white rhino , has died. Ol Pejeta Conservancy and the Dv?r Králové Zoo announced the 45-year-old rhino was euthanized at the 90,000-acre non-profit wildlife facility Kenya on March 19 after being unable to overcome age-related muscle and bone degeneration or debilitating skin wounds. “His condition worsened significantly in the last 24 hours; he was unable to stand up and was suffering a great deal,” Ol Pejeta wrote on their Facebook page . Ol Pejeta says Sudan escaped extinction of his kind when he was first moved to the zoo in the 1970s, and then sired two females, significantly contributing to the survival of his species. Before he was euthanized, they collected his genetic material in anticipation of advanced cellular technologies they might be able to use in future reproductive efforts. Related: The last male northern white rhino suffers declining health “We on Ol Pejeta are all saddened by Sudan’s death. He was a great ambassador for his species and will be remembered for the work he did to raise awareness globally of the plight facing not only rhinos, but also the many thousands of other species facing extinction as a result of unsustainable human activity,” said Richard Vigne, Ol Pejeta’s CEO. “One day, his demise will hopefully be seen as a seminal moment for conservationists world wide.” With Sudan’s death, the only remaining northern white rhinos are Sudan’s daughter Najin and her daughter Fatu, according to Ol Pejeta. In their statement, the conservancy said, “The only hope for the preservation of this subspecies now lies in developing in vitro fertilisation (IVF) techniques using eggs from the two remaining females, stored northern white rhino semen from males and surrogate southern white rhino females.” While Sudan died of old age, it’s worth noting that humanity is a main driver of the sixth mass extinction, which, according to a news report released last year, is killing off wildlife 100 times faster than normal . + Ol Pejeta Conservancy All images via Ol Pejeta

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The world’s last male northern white rhino has died in Kenya

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