Sunday, January 27, 2008

Finally, spin we like.

The Guardian's opening line to this story pulls no punches:
America's determination to halt illegal immigration across its border with Mexico is set to claim an unusual victim - the jaguar.
The story goes on to talk about how "delighted" conservationists are that jaguar have been returning to the U.S., and positing that this is "probably because global warming was changing their habitat [in Mexico]". That global warming thing wasn't mentioned in any of the other stories I read on the subject, but it does raise some flags for all the species that have tried to move north.

In addition to giving a whole lot of (mostly correct) airplay to conservationists' concerns, here's what's great about the story: How often are conservationists described as "delighted" with anything? In U.S. media, we're always angry, crying foul, complaining. Here, even though the news itself is crappy (Bush Administration screws another species), conservation groups had been hopeful, providing solutions, and delighted.

Gosh, conservationists sound like nice, reasonable people!

- Lozen

Friday, January 25, 2008

Hope (perhaps) for Brownsville's border

Folks in Brownsville got some good news about their continued access to the Rio Grande yesterday, when a local Border Patrol spokesperson called a combined fence-levee project a "workable, feasible solution."

Not so fast, locals. Just because it's workable and feasible and it's what you want doesn't mean you are going to get it from Washington. Check out this mealy-mouthed hedging from the D.C. B.P.:
Mike Friel, the top CBP spokesman in Washington, later attempted to back away from [the local guy's] statements, however, saying the agency’s official position is that it is still in discussions to determine if a combined levee-fence is the best option.
Discuss away. Discuss 'til you are blue in the face, for all we care. Discuss until at least late January next year, OK?

- Lozen

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Aside

As our dear readers know, this blog is often a commentary and link to media on imperiled species, wild places, and the border. To bring you the latest updates and our cynical rants thereon, we rely on Google news searches. Who doesn't? But here's what's bugging me:
Search for "polar bear" these days and you're likely to fetch fetching photos of Flocke, the little cub born in a Nuremburg zoo. Look, we're softies on living stuffed animals too, but IF ONLY all the folks tuning in to see cute cub photos would consider how global warming is affecting wild bears.

Search for "jaguar" and find out all about how car manufacturers are faring on the stock market.

And, perhaps, most annoyingly, search for "Mexican Gray Wolf" and learn more than you ever wanted to know about ringtones. Ringtones! Saving the world, one phone call at a time.
See? Blogging about the "issues" isn't as easy as it looks.

- Lozen

Thursday, January 17, 2008

"Death Sentence for the Jaguar"

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service today announced it would not develop a recovery plan for a small population of jaguars threatened by a fence going up between the United States and Mexico.
In the new decision, FWS southwest regional director Benjamin Tuggle argues that the jaguar is exempt from recovery planning, because just 1% of its range is found in the United States.
More likely, the jaguar is exempt from recovery planning because it would mess with plans to build the border fence. But what does the FWS say to this?
The fence would not jeopardize the species, even though it could lead to the extinction of the U.S. population.
Say what? Doesn't that sort of count, especially when even the FWS admits that conservation plans outside the United States “have thus far fallen short in stemming the decline of the jaguar.”? I mean!

Check out this link to the Center for Biological Diversity statement.

- Lozen

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Endangered status for six avian species

The US Fish and Wildlife Service announced today that it will list six birds as endangered species. And the lucky winners are:
Black stilt (Himantopus novaezelandiae)
Caerulean paradise-flycatcher (Eutrichomyias rowleyi)
Giant ibis (Pseudibis gigantea)
Gurney's pitta (Pitta gurneyi)
Long-legged thicketbird (Trichocichla rufa)
Socorro mockingbird (Mimus graysoni)
Not to seem ungrateful or anything, we do feel compelled to note that at least one of these species was first petitioned for listing in 1980. And that none of these birds are found in the U.S., which means that the agency doesn't really have to deal with them after all. Isn't that convenient? The Bush Administration breaks its run on not listing species by listing species that won't really affect habitat in the U.S.

- Lozen

Monday, January 14, 2008

Dateline: Ironwood Forest National Monument

The Waco Tribune has a so-far excellent series on the U.S.-Mexico border situation this week. Nary a word was spent on the ecological impacts of all this migration and enforcement, but we're so sure that is coming. They couldn't skip that, could they?

Read the stories. Watch the video. Be sure to have your tissues handy.

- Lozen

All about the Benjamins

Well, not quite. It's all about whatever they call money in Canada.
Leaders of Canada's Arctic Inuit people denounced U.S. environmentalists on Monday for pushing Washington to declare the polar bear a threatened species, saying the move was unnecessary and would hurt the local economy.
OK, substitute "loggers" and "spotted owl" and you have the same tired story about money being more important than biological diversity.
Mary Simon, president of the Inuit Tapiriit of Canada group, said green organizations were using polar bears as an excuse to attack the administration of U.S. President George Bush over its position on climate change....

"It's a complex and multilevel concern. But it seems the media, environmental groups, and the public are looking at this in overly simplistic black-and-white terms as the demise of the polar bear from climate change and sports hunting."
Um, OK. So, we should be looking at it strictly from the perspective of the folks who make "millions" annually from U.S. schmucks paying to kill polar bears for office decorations?

It is actually quite simple: Hell in a handbasket. Your millions won't be worth much, folks.

- Lozen

Friday, January 11, 2008

Lizards and bunnies and bear, oh my!

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has agreed to review the biological status of two species this week! Drumroll, please: the two lucky winners are a distinct population segment of the mojave fringe-toed lizard and the pygmy rabbit. If you haven't yet seen a pygmy rabbit (and, let's face it, you probably haven't, unless you are Katie Fite), be prepared for your cute circuits to blow. They are freaking outrageously cute.

The FWS has agreed to conduct further analysis on these two charismatic mini-fauna in order to determine whether they are threatened or endangered. (Or, more likely, that listing is warranted but precluded. But let's leave our cynicism aside for the moment, shall we?) So, aside from the shenanigans with the polar bear, it's been a pretty positive week for the ESA.

Bottoms up!

- Lozen

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Ya Basta Indeed!

The Apaches have a well-deserved reputation for being fearless, and here's the latest proof. The Department of Homeland Security had ordered them to surrender their lands "voluntarily" by January 7th or they would be seized; the Texas Apache community says, "HELL NO."
Margo Tamez, poet and scholar, said, "We are not a people of walls. It is against our culture to have walls. The Earth and the River go together. We must be with the river. We must be with this land. We were born for this land."
Meanwhile, Michael Chertoff has resumed demonstrating that he was born to be an evil bastard.
Homeland Security declared that it will use the principle of eminent domain to take possession of land currently held by private ownership. DHS has also presented waivers requesting that the landowners grant DHS personnel access to their property for a twelve-month period in order to conduct surveys for the intended construction project. The property owners were informed that if they do not voluntarily allow the federal agents on their property, the U.S. government will file a law suit so that DHS authorities can have unimpeded access to private land, despite the owners' opposition. DHS has stated that it will seize property even without the consent of landowners if necessary to complete the construction of the border fence.
Hey, I've got an idea: Smallpox!

- Lozen

Monday, January 07, 2008

U.S. delays decision to list polar bears

Reuters reports that the U.S. needs more time to figure out how to thwart the determination that polar bears are endangered. The Bush Administration's Fish and Wildlife Service hasn't exactly been green-lighting endangered species listings; it's been 608 days since the last species was added. In this case, the feds are stalling because, since all the evidence points to melting habitat for the polar bear, an ESA listing would surely mean we need to reduce carbon emissions and try to thwart global warming instead.

(Note that the Reuters article linked above shows a picture of a polar bear in a zoo. Ironic, no?)

- Lozen

Friday, January 04, 2008

Leave it to the socialists

There's more to love than the monkey puzzle tree: Chile's Senate passed a formal resolution opposing the U.S.-Mexico border wall on Wednesday. Here's what they said about it: The construction of the wall is a racist policy that violates numerous international human rights treaties and agreements.

One Chilean Senator called the wall “a policy based on military principles.” Perhaps he meant to say military-industrial complex, but he was close enough.

Bless their little pinko hearts.

- Lozen