GOP Candidate for Congress Kills Mama Prairie Dogs with Trump Jr in Montana

black-tailed-prairie-dog-public domain

Black-tailed prairie dog (Public Domain)

On May 25, voters in Montana will participate in a special election for a vacant seat in the U.S. House of Representatives.  The two frontrunners are Democrat Rob Quist and Republican Greg Gianforte.  Gianforte recently got an assist from Donald Trump Jr. who campaigned with him in four cities.  One of the campaign events was shooting prairie dogs, currently in their breeding season.  On Earth Day.  Because fun:

“As good Montanans, we want to show good hospitality to people,” Gianforte said. “What can be more fun than to spend an afternoon shooting the little rodents?”

Animal advocates were horrified.  But fun:

Gianforte, whose campaign has focused on gun rights, dismissed the [Prairie Dog Coalition’s]  concerns.

“Clearly they’ve never shot a prairie dog,” he said. “They don’t know how much fun it is.”

No word on how many pregnant or nursing prairie dogs were killed in the campaign event or how many orphaned pups were left to slowly die agonizing deaths in their burrows.  But yeah, sounds like fun.

(Thanks Clarice.)

Manly Men Totally Not Compensating for Anything Hope to Kill Baby Bears in Alaska Thanks to GOP

You and I and all American taxpayers fund 16 wildlife refuges in Alaska representing 85% of our country’s federal wildlife refuges.  So we all – not just Alaskans – have a vested interest in the management of these 76 million acres.

For years, Alaskan state officials have been asking the feds for permission to extend their so-called predator control tactics to these refuges – basically seeking sanction to allow for cruel and unbalanced killing of bears and wolves.  The US Fish and Wildlife Service has repeatedly denied these requests and last year, the denial was made permanent via a federal rule.  This year, the Republican controlled Congress and President Trump have officially revoked that rule, creating an opening for kill-freaks to get their rocks off:

These [anti-predator] tactics include killing black bear cubs or mother with cubs at den sites; killing brown bears over bait; trapping and killing brown and black bears with steel-jaw leghold traps or wire snares; killing wolves and coyotes during denning season; and killing brown and black bears from aircraft.

Now sure, that all sounds horrible and revolting and vomity but have you considered the other side’s argument?

“Some of you will say, ‘Oh, we have to protect the wolf puppies,”‘ [Representative Don] Young [(R- AK)] told colleagues on the floor of the House.
“That’s not what it’s about. It’s about the law.”

Oh those uppity we-shouldn’t-shoot-animal-familes-in-their-dens people.  Sheesh.

Senator Lisa Murkowski (R- AK) adds that anyone who gets ill thinking about sadists running down animals in helicopters for slaughter should be comforted knowing that it’s still illegal to use “gas against wolves” in Alaskan wildlife refuges.  So see, not actually worse than Hitler on the Sean Spicer scale, I guess.

And as usual with political issues, we can follow the money:

At the heart of the disagreement between state and federal wildlife managers is what each group thinks should guide its purpose. The federal government has argued that the goal on refuges and in parks should be biodiversity. The state Board of Game has an interest in ensuring maximum sustained populations for hunting.

In other words, kill the predators so there are more prey (e.g. moose and caribou) for richie rich trophy hunters who have powerful lobbying groups like the NRA behind them, supporting the revocation of this rule.  And never mind about a balanced ecosystem or any of that science stuff which, as we now know, is FAKE NEWS.

But as we have seen with other flailing attempts by the Trump administration to govern, the courts may end up sorting this out:

Geoff Haskett, former Alaska regional director for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, […] left the agency and is now acting director of the National Wildlife Refuge Association. Even though President Trump signed the congressional resolution, Haskett believes it will not give the state of Alaska carte blanche to begin predator control on federal refuges.

“It doesn’t change the laws and authorities and existing regulations that the service already has,” Haskett said. “It’s really back to square one.”

Ken Marsh, spokesman for the Alaska Department of Fish and Game, agreed. Without a blanket rule, federal refuge managers likely will consider predator control requests on a case-by-case basis, he said, under provisions of federal environmental law.

Thankfully, common sense and decency still have defenders. And they are willing to go to court. Stay tuned.

Potential Good News for Whales (Giant Asterisk)

Warning: Second link contains an image of a dead whale.

Minke whale, [x]

Minke whale, [x]

In 1986, the International Whaling Commission (IWC) banned commercial whaling but this did not prevent countries from hunting whales.  Indeed, a few countries dropped out of the IWC or simply “opted out” of the ban in order to continue killing whales for profit.  The 1986 ban also offered exceptions for aboriginal people, such as those in Alaska, to continue their traditional whale hunts and for the killing of whales in the name of science.  Japan has infamously made use of the scientific research exception, killing hundreds of whales every year, including endangered species.

Australia filed suit against Japan for its whale killing in the United Nations’ International Court of Justice.  This week, the court agreed with Australia that Japan’s whale killings do not appear to be scientific in nature, citing:

  • Japan could use non-lethal methods to collect the data it purportedly seeks.
  • The sample sizes are not justified.
  • There is no time-frame for the research to be concluded.
  • Japan doesn’t talk whale science with other whale scientists.
  • Very little scientific output has been produced as a result of the mass slaughter.

The UN Court determined Japan’s science was not so sciencey and ordered the country to stop hunting Antarctic whales.  Japan says it will comply with the order but Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Minister Yoshimasa Hayashi, who regularly eats science whale meat, vowed to “closely examine the ruling and swiftly figure out ways to continue whaling” which doesn’t exactly scream Compliance so much as it does Sinister Scheming 2.0.  The ag minister seems very enthusiastic about continued killings, apparently because science must not be thwarted whale meat is ALL THE DELICIOUS.

There do not appear to be any meaningful repercussions if Japan decides not to comply with the order or comes up with some new loophole to exploit.  And the order only applies to large whales, meaning that Japan’s slaughter of dolphins and small whales in Taiji Cove will continue.  But the ruling is significant in that it calls out fake science (more, please) and puts additional international pressure on Japan to stop the killing, for what it’s worth.

By the way Australia, next time we run into each other I’ll be giving you a long hug, past the point of awkwardness and bordering on creepy.

HSUS Seeks to Outlaw Bear Baying in SC

Hunting dogs are trained in various ways including the use of a live animal of whatever type the dog is being trained to hunt (or at least an animal similar to that type).  For example, a retriever might be trained to pick up a duck who has been shackled.  A terrier might be sent down a tunnel which has caged rats at the end.  Hounds might chase a rabbit or fox around a fenced-in area.  There are alternatives to using live game in training (lures, dummies, etc.) and many trainers make use of those as well.  Some of these faux hunting scenarios are used in competitive events such as field trials.

Bear baying is the term used to describe Plott Hounds (or whatever hound the trainer uses) being trained to bark at a live, chained bear and get him to stand up on his hind legs (so the hunter can get a clean shot, in an actual hunting scenario).  You may have come across the term in the news this week due to an HSUS media push on the subject but opponents have been trying to get the practice outlawed for years.  John Goodwin of HSUS held a presser in SC yesterday and HSUS released undercover videos of SC bear baying events to the AP.  The bear in the videos has reportedly had her claws and some teeth removed.  There is no barrier between the dogs and the bear.  (I haven’t watched the video and don’t intend to but that is the description I’ve read.)

Before I go on, I want to be perfectly clear that I am opposed to the practice of bear baying (including the bear mutilation that accompanies it) and would be happy to see it made illegal in SC.  We have laws against “animal fighting and baiting” but there is a specific provision addressing hunting dogs:

This chapter does not apply to dogs used for the purpose of hunting, including, but not limited to, hunting on shooting preserves or wildlife management areas authorized pursuant to Title 50, or to dogs used in field trials, including events more commonly known as “water races”, “treeing contests”, “coon-on-a-log”, “bear-baying”, or “fox- pen-trials”.

This is why bear baying is legal in SC.  However, just one day after the HSUS campaign began:

A South Carolina lawmaker says he will introduce legislation banning a practice known as “bear baying.

So it looks as if the HSUS efforts are seeing an immediate payoff.  Of course there are a lot of ifs/ands/buts between this announcement and getting a bill passed.  And as I said, I will be glad if bear baying is made illegal.

However, as in so many things, there are shades of grey.  Specifically, if bear baying is outlawed, what will be the next hunting dog event targeted?  On the one hand, it could be argued that no other events are at risk and SC will never hear from HSUS again on the subject of how dogs are trained using live bait.  But on the other hand, and more plausible to my mind, maybe HSUS will see how quickly their campaign garnered political results and will be motivated to expand their targets.

Some of you perhaps feel this would be great because all hunting is cruel.  Others might want to outlaw only the bear baying and leave all other dog events intact.  Still others might want to pick and choose from the list which ones you’d like stricken and which to keep.  But this is all just discussion because you and I do not hunt with dogs in SC.  For those who do, as well as those who simply like to participate in the field trial type events with their dogs, I can understand why they’d be concerned.  What are your thoughts?