Wildlife briefs

From ANIMAL PEOPLE, October 1994:

Three related California bills to
decriminalize accidental killings of protect-

ed species, improve scientific review of
species proposed for protection, and allow
some killing of endangered species in eco-
nomic activities providing compensation was
made died September 2 when a coalition of
business interests and environmentalists split
over the definition of the word “conserve.”
The business groups objected that the word
might commit them to species recovery work,
not just to paying for habitat or individuals
lost. The bills were touted as potential mod-
els for reforming the federal Endangered
Species Act, reauthorization of which is more
than two years overdue.

The Biodiversity Legal
Foundation has asked the U.S. Fish and
Wildlife Service to list the wolverine as
endangered except in Alaska. Never numer-
ous, slow to breed, and threatened by habitat
loss, wolverines are persecuted by trappers
because they prey upon baited traps and other
trapped animals. “All leghold bait trapping
must be eliminated in wolverine recovery
areas,” said BLF director Jasper Carlton.
Wolverines have already been trapped to vir-
tual extinction in Canada east of Hudson’s
Bay; their last U.S. stronghold is in north-
western Montana.
Siberian reindeer herds have been
driven farther north by development and
poaching pressure than they’ve been in 100
years, New York Times correspondent
Michael Specter reported on September 4.
Economic activity, unrestrained by environ-
mental protection laws, could make Siberia
“the greatest environmental disaster area ever
created by man,” Permafrost Institute deputy
director Mark Shatz told Specter.
The International Paper Co. and
the Adirondack Nature Conservancy have
struck a deal to preserve the former Dixon-
Ticonderoga graphite mine near Hague, New
York, as a hibernaculum for an estimated
120,000 bats, of all six nonmigratory species
native to the state. “More bats sleep here than
in all of New England and New Jersey,” said
ANC executive director Timothy Barnett.
Friends of Animals on August 12
flew a nine-year-old gibbon confiscated by
Israeli authorities home to Thailand, where
he is being rehabilitated for possible release
back into the jungle.
The Ugandan Ministry of
Agriculture, Animal Industry, and
Fisheries has created a National Animal
Genetic Resources Steering Committee, to
“identify the numerous desirable traits of
indigenous animals and draw a sustainable
program to conserve them.” Translation:
find a way to farm or hunt wildlife.
Despite the failure of a $3 million
government-built caribou slaughterhouse
to create a market for caribou meat in 1986-
1987, the outgoing Liberal government of
Quebec (replaced in September by the Parti
Quebecois) passed a bill to permit the Cree
and Inuit to sell dead caribou in supermarkets
outside their own territory––and to build cari-
bou slaughterhouses in each of 14 Inuit vil-
lages. The first-year kill quota is 5,000––the
peak number of caribou processed by the
plant built in 1985, which had a projected
break-even point of 7,000 capacity of 50,000.
Natives and sport hunters now kill about
20,000 Quebec caribou per year.
While the state of Alaska is set to
resume massacring wolves to increase the
numbers of moose and caribou available to
hunters, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
has proposed killing 800 caribou on Adak
Island to save an endangered species of fern.
Friends of Animals argues that the caribou
should be relocated to the closely related but
depleted Kenai Peninsula herd. The USFWS
killed 790 reindeer for similar reasons on
Hagemeister Island in 1992––where 800 rein-
deer starved in 1990–– just as the wolf-killing
policy drew public notice and protest.
Australian Museum researcher
Tim Flannery on July 25 announced the
discovery of a previously unknown species
of dog-sized tree kangaroo, native to the
Mauke mountains of Irian Jaya province on
the island of New Guinea. But neither
Flannery nor any other non-native of the
region has seen a live one; the identification
was made from the remains of five specimens
trapped by natives for their fur and claws.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife
Service forensic laboratory confirmed in
early September that droppings found near
Craftsbury, Vermont, last April were indeed
from a cougar, as reported by a witness.
Cougars have been officially extinct in
Vermont since 1881, despite many reported
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