Land and Wildlife Issues

Initiatives to exploit fossil fuels, minerals, water, forests and other resources, as well as the expansion of cities and other developments are major sources of habitat loss for wildlife. Without a safe place to live, wildlife species will go extinct. Also threatening many wildlife species’ chances for survival are hunting and harassment–people kill animals for food, recreation and economic purposes. And in some cases, animals are killed for no good reason at all.

If you care about land and wildlife issues, here are some things you can do:
Tell the Trump Administration gray wolves belong on the Endangered Species List
Help ban M-44 cyanide bombs used to poison predators
Don’t support roadside zoos, animal circuses or the illegal wildlife pet trade

Tell the Trump Administration gray wolves belong on the Endangered Species List
ACT BY: May 14, 2019
This March David Bernhardt, acting secretary of the Department of the Interior and a former oil-industry lobbyist, announced a proposal to remove gray wolves from the Endangered Species List throughout the lower 48 states. He says that gray wolves have recovered from their previously low population levels and have established a “stable and healthy” population across nine states in the U.S., so they no longer need federal protections. The gray wolf is already delisted in the Northern Rocky Mountain region, which gives hunters the green light to kill wolves there. Wolves were almost wiped out across the United States until a few decades ago when they were given greater protections.

But the problem is that gray wolves are actually not recovered. While more numerous now than in years past, gray wolves still have a generally low population that’s spread thinly across just nine states. Wolves’ habitat is being cleared for human development, they are being killed illegally by farmers who claim wolves are eating their livestock, wolves are shot by hunters seeking trophies and the very ecosystems wolves depend upon for survival are being greatly changed due to global warming. And yet wolves are essential for a healthy environment. The loss of this large native predator could lead to huge ecosystem collapse and change.

Luckily, the government has opened up a public comment period that’s open until May 14, 2019. So you have time to tell the Trump Administration they must start taking gray wolf recovery seriously.

Here’s a sample comment you can send to the government here online:

To Whom It May Concern

Thanks to the Endangered Species Act, gray wolves have finally started to recover across the lower 48 states. But they are still extinct over much of the range that they used to cover, and their numbers remain generally low. For these reasons, I urge you not to delist the gray wolf across the lower 48 states, as is now proposed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

Wolves are an essential part of the environment. Besides helping keep ecosystems healthy, they bring in money from tourists who visit our nation’s beautiful national parks and open spaces to see them. We’ve seen how delisting gray wolves in the Northern Rockies has already led to thousands of wolves being killed. If we delist and create an open season for wolves across the rest of the lower 48, we will see a similar loss of wolves. And that would take us back to square one.

Endangered Species Act protections have greatly helped the gray wolf recover across the U.S. Removing these protections now would reverse all the progress that’s been made in keeping gray wolves healthy and wild across the country.

[your name here]

Help ban M-44 cyanide bombs used to poison predators
ACT BY: June 1, 2019
M-44 “cyanide bombs” are used by the U.S. government agency USDA Wildlife Services to kill predator animals like coyotes and foxes in 14 states—Oregon, Nevada, Utah, Colorado (only on private land), Montana, Wyoming, New Mexico, Texas, Oklahoma, North Dakota, South Dakota, Nebraska, Virginia, and West Virginia. But they have killed and injured many more species than the target predators, including pet dogs and even a child. Several wildlife conservation groups such as the Center for Biological Diversity have pushed for a nationwide ban on these lethal devices, but as the Federal government resists, they’re also pushing ahead on a state-level bans which can be easier to get implemented. For example, Oregon’s State Senate passed a bill prohibiting M-44s in March 2019, and two years earlier the state stopped funding use of the devices. It has yet to pass the House in Oregon, so until then it remains an active bill.

M-44 cyanide bombs look like metal sprinklers and are implanted into the ground. Coated with a meaty bait, they attract carnivorous and scavenger animals, and when touched or pulled they emit a cloud of toxic cyanide gas. Effects of this gas include internal bleeding, seizures, lung failure and death. The U.S. government uses these devices even though science has shown that killing predator animals does not make life safer for the livestock these predator-killing schemes are meant to protect. Read this detailed article in The Revelator to learn more about cyanide bombs and the danger they pose, or check out the film “Lethal ControlLethal Control.”

If you live in or near one of the 14 states where cyanide bombs are still currently used, write to or call your State Representative and demand a ban on these inhumane killing devices which endanger human and animal welfare. You can find their contact information here.

Below is a sample letter you can send or dictate to your Representative:

Dear Representative [their last name here],

I strongly urge you to implement a ban on M-44 “cyanide bombs” used by USDA Wildlife Services in our state.

M-44 cyanide bombs are indiscriminate killers that cannot be used safely. They put human, pet and wildlife lives at risk and can cause serious, lifelong injuries. This despite the best available science showing that killing predator animals does not reduce livestock deaths. Please set an example for other states where these dangerous devices are currently used by implementing a ban in your state. Doing so is simply the right thing to do.

Please think about the health and safety of our nation’s wildlife, and its people and their pets.

[your name here]

Don’t support roadside zoos, animal circuses or the illegal wildlife pet trade
Wild animals belong in the wild. They do not belong in abusive roadside zoos or circuses as entertainment, or in homes as pets.

You can help wildlife. Here’s what to do:

  • Do not visit or support roadside, non-AZA (Association of Zoos and Aquariums)  or non-WAZA (World Association of Zoos and Aquariums) zoos or aquariums. AZA accredited zoos are held to a higher standard of animal care, education efforts and conservation work.
  • Do not purchase “exotic” animals from pet stores. Many of these exotic animals (including fish and corals) are taken directly from the wild.
  • Support the movement of wild animals from unsuitable captive conditions into safe wildlife sanctuaries. The Safina Center stands by the work of The Whale Sanctuary Project, an organization founded by Safina Center Creative Affiliate Lori Marino that works to get captive cetaceans into humane seaside sanctuaries where they can live out their lives in more natural conditions.

(cover photo: Magee Marsh Wildlife Area. Parula Warbler. ©Carl Safina)