Wildlife

From ANIMAL PEOPLE, December 1993:

A study of the efficacy of the Endangered
Species Act by wildlife biologists with the U.S. Fish and
Wildlife Service and the University of Idaho at Moscow
reported November 12 in Science that, “Few species have
actually recovered,” because population goals are set too
low in 60% of the cases where vertebrate populations can
be counted. “Even if population goals were achieved”
they added, “60% of the ESA’s threatened or endangered
vertebrate species would remain in peril, with roughly a
20% probability of extinction within 20 years or 10 gener-
ations, whichever is longer.”
The wild population of bonobo apes, or
pygmy chimpanzees, who are the closest relatives of
humans after the common chimpanzee, has fallen from
50,000 to under 10,000 in two decades; extinction is pro-
jected within seven years. Native to Zaire, bonobos are
threatened by habitat loss, meat poachers, and pet traders
who traffic in the orphaned infants. Young bonobos typi-
cally die within days when apart from their mothers. The
usual customers are visiting non-Africans, who buy
bonobo babies in misguided hopes of saving them, says to
primatologist Jo Thompson. But this encourages the
poachers to capture more. The human and bonobo DNA
sequences differ by only 2-3%.

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Wildlife: wolves and elephants and turtles and bison and bats and bears––oh my!

From ANIMAL PEOPLE, November 1993:

The North American Free Trade
Agreement could harm endangered species
and wildlife sanctuaries along the
U.S./Mexican border, a U.S. Fish and
Wildlife Service impact analysis says. “There
are serious habitat problems and endangered
species problems on the border now, and we
expect that NAFTA may in fact exacerbate
some of them,” USFWS international affairs
specialist Doug Ryan told the Los Angeles
Times on September 27. The USFWS report
confirms the view of the majority of national
animal and habitat protection groups; see
“Animal and habitat protection groups split”
on page 6 of the October issue of ANIMAL
PEOPLE.

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Marine mammals

From ANIMAL PEOPLE, October 1993:

The Dolphin Alliance, of
Melbourne Beach, Florida, announced
September 22 that Bogie and Bacall, the
Ocean Reef Club dolphins, will be going
home to the Indian River Lagoon as soon
as they complete rehabilitation with former
“Flipper” trainer Ric O’Barry, who heads
the closely allied Dolphin Project.
Publicity surrounding the 1988 capture of
Bogie and Bacall influenced the National
Marine Fisheries Service to ban further dol-
phin captures for the benefit of facilities
not open to the public. When the Ocean
Reef Club was sold recently, it lost the
grandfather clause enabling it to keep
Bogie and Bacall.

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Animal Control & Rescue

From ANIMAL PEOPLE, October 1993:

The National Cat Protection Society, a shelter in
Long Beach, California, has paid $26,500 in civil penalties
and costs for providing misleading information about euthana-
sia policies and adoption rates to donors and people who sur-
render cats. NCPS attorney Richard Tanzer denied the organi-
zation had done anything wrong and said the settlement was
reached to avoid the cost of defending itself against the charges,
brought by the Los Angeles County district attorney.
Chows are now responsible for the most dog bites
of any breed in St, Bernard Parish, Louisiana, according to
animal control officer Ceily Trog––10 of 89 total bites,
through the first half of this year. Other Louisiana animal con-
trol departments also report a rise in chow bites.

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Marine Mammals

From ANIMAL PEOPLE, September 1993:

The hit film Free Willy gave new
impetus to the ongoing campaign to persuade
Sea World in San Diego to return an orca named
Corky to her native habitat off British Columbia.
Her mother and several siblings remain with the
pod from which she was captured 24 years ago.
Sea World contends Corky could no longer sur-
vive in the wild. Free Willy has also started a
campaign on behalf of Keiko, the star of the
film, who resides at the El Nuevo Reino
Aventura amusement park in Mexico City. Free
Willy producers Lauren Shuler-Donner and
Richard Donner are reportedly ready to buy
Keiko and move him to a better facility, perhaps
even a fenced inlet off Cape Cod, using
$200,000 contributed by Warner Brothers, the
film’s distributor. Captured off Iceland in 1982,
and kept at Marineland in Niagara Falls before
being sold to his present keepers, Keiko hasn’t
drawn interest from major aquariums because of
a purportedly debilitating skin condition.

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Agriculture

From ANIMAL PEOPLE, June 1993:

The Food and Drug Admini-
stration held hearings May 6-7 on whether
to approve the sale of milk produced with
the aid of the genetically engineered hor-
mone bovine somatotropin (BST), and if
sale is approved, whether the milk should
be specially labeled. Four chemical
firms––Upjohn, Monsanto, American
Cyanamid, and Eli Lilly––have reportedly
spent $500 million to develop and introduce
BST, which boosts milk production per cow
by up to 20%. BST is opposed by con-
sumer groups concerned about the possible
effects of the drug on human health, which
may include altering the growth rate of
bone and liver cells; animal protection
groups worried that BST may increase the
stress on cows; and dairy farmers anxious
that many of them could be put out of busi-
ness, since BST enables fewer cows to pro-
duce more milk, which is already in over-
supply. The same debate is underway in
Canada, where a multi-department review
of the possible effects of BST is to be com-
pleted later this year.

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COURT CALENDAR

From ANIMAL PEOPLE, May 1993:

Animal Trafficking
Worldwide Primates propri-
etor Matthew Block, 31, of Miami,
drew 13 months in federal prison on April
17 for his part in arranging for six infant
orangutans to be smuggled from Indonesia
to the Soviet Union––the 1990 Bangkok
Six case. Hoping to win a plea bargain,
Block testified against three accomplices
and helped set up the January 26 arrest of
a Mexican zoo director for allegedly trying
to smuggle a gorilla. However, assistant
U.S. attorney Guy Lewis told U.S. district
judge James Kehoe that Block had never
fully cooperated with either investigation,
had lied about his degree of involvement
in the orangutan deal, and was still in
touch with smuggling associates. Block
now faces USDA action for allegedly
feeding primates at his facility spoiled
food, failing to provide water, and keep-
ing them in vermin-infested cages.

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Wildlife in no-man’s-land: Are war zones safer than refuges?

From ANIMAL PEOPLE, April 1993:

When the Persian Gulf War erupted in February
1991, ecologists shuddered at the probable fate of the wet-
lands at the confluence of the Tigris and Euphrates rivers.
The region, where Kuwait meets Iraq, is among the world’s
busiest corridors for migratory birds––both songbirds and
waterfowl, coming and going from Europe, Africa, Asia,
and the Indian subcontinent. The bird populations were
already in trouble. Intensive sheep-grazing had desertified
thousands of acres of vegetation. Oil-rich Kuwaiti
thrillseekers compounded the damage with reckless use of
offroad vehicles and contests to see who could shotgun the
most birds, without regard for either endangered species or
bag limits.

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