WILDLIFE IN THE CAPITOLS
From ANIMAL PEOPLE, March 2000:
WASHINGTON D.C. ––The Interior Department ruled on February 2 that black-tailed prairie dogs qualify for protection as a threatened species, as they now occupy less than 1% of their former range––but Interior also said it would not act soon to protect prairie dogs, calling scarcer species a higher priority.
Arizona, Kansas, Montana, Nebraska, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Texas, and Wyoming have all reportedly agreed to develop their own prairie dog protection plans.
The National Wildlife Federation, which petitioned for the threatened species designation, said it was pleased with the Interior Department action. However, NWF still has not answered repeated ANIMAL PEOPLE inquiries as to whether it has asked members of the 48 state hunting clubs for which NWF is national umbrella to refrain from participating in prairie dog shoots.
Other organizations seeking threatened species status for prairie dogs included the Fund for Animals, Sinapu, and Rocky Mountain Animal Defense. In November 1999 they jointly sued the federal Bureau of Prisons for poisoning a colony on the grounds of the federal penitentiary at Englewood, Colorado.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service reported on February 7 that nationwide, sales of the most popular prairie dog poison rose from 18,545 pounds in 1998, before prairie dog protection was formally proposed, to 42,595 pounds in 1999, while the “threatened” designation was pending.
WASHINGTON D.C. ––Representatives Randy Cunningham (R-California) and Jim Saxton (R-New Jersey), who heads the House Subcommittee on Fisheries Conservation, on January 27 introduced a federal bill to ban shark finning in any U.S. waters.
The bill would add teeth to a nonbinding resolution against finning passed by the House in November 1999. “Finning,” banned in Atlantic waters since 1993, is the practice of cutting the fins off of sharks, dead or alive, and discarding the rest. Shark fins are in high demand in Asia, especially Japan, where fin soup is popular, but there is little market for most other shark byproducts.
“The number of sharks killed in the Hawaiian longline fisheries has climbed from 2,289 in 1991 to 60,857 in 1998,” an Ocean Wildlife Campaign press release stated.
EnviroWatch investigator Carroll Cox has shared extensive documentation with ANIMAL PEOPLE which indicates that the fins from further tens of thousands of sharks are “transshipped” to Japan through Hawaii, i.e. being transferred from one foreign-flagged vessel to another, without ever being “landed” and therefore without becoming part of the recorded toll.
Cox believes the quickest way to stop finning would be to require trans-shippers to bring to port and transfer whole shark carcasses. The Water, Land, and Hawaiian Affairs Committee of the Hawaii legislature killed a bill to that effect in April 1999.
OTTOWA– – Canadian environment minister David Anderson on December 17, 1999 unveiled a proposed Species At Risk Act, two years after a previous attempt to pass a Canadian federal endangered species protection law failed.
The Anderson bill includes cash incentives for landowners who protect endangered species, as well as penalties for those who harm them.
Environmental groups criticized the new bill for leaving final decisions on which species to protect up to elected officials, instead of scientists, and for failing to automatically protect the 340 species identified as “vulnerable,” “threatened,” or “endangered” by the 22-year-old Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada.
Under similar provincial legislation, Ontario has protected only 19 of 74 native species at risk, and Quebec has protected only one of 12.
Rates of protection in other provinces include 32% in Saskatchewan, 55% in New Brunswick, and 70% in Manitoba. Several provinces have no endangered species protection law.
Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada chair David Green predicted in February that the number of listed endangered and threatened species will more than double during the coming decade.
Of the 340 species now listed, 12 have become extinct; 15