Friday, June 25, 2010

From the "You Heard It Here First" Department

Earlier this week we reported that Janay Brun was getting the sharp end of the stick in the Macho B debacle. Now, it looks like the Arizona Daily Star is reporting the same thing.
Federal prosecutors have added another criminal charge against Janay Brun, the research technician who blew the whistle on last year's deliberate capture of jaguar Macho B.

The U.S. Attorney's Office added a charge of conspiracy to "take" a jaguar onto an earlier charge that Brun had illegally taken a jaguar in violation of the Endangered Species Act.

The change drew a protest from Brun's attorney, Michael Piccarreta. He said the new charge sends a bad message to people: " 'Cooperate with the government, but only at your own peril. If you know of some illegal acts, keep your mouth shut.'
Uh, yeah. We learned that a long time ago.

In Brun's case, she also brought the illegal actions of the Arizona Game and Fish Department to light, justice that still needs to be served. The AGFD is responsible for the infected dart hole in Macho B's leg, the bungling of the sedative, leaving Macho B in the trap too long, and operating without a permit. Let's not forget those screw-ups, U.S. Attorney.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

No, life isn't fair, but this really sucks

While Emil McCain, large cat killer, got off to Spain with a tiny little slap on the wrist, it looks like Janay Brun, the only honest person in the bunch, is about to get really screwed by the system.

Apparently, she's been charged not only with violating the Endangered Species Act, but also with conspiracy. That's pretty heavy. Apparently, McCain's plea bargain and whatever Thorry Smith got away with didn't include this juicy bit of criminal activity, even though they are the two that lied, covered it up, and conspired for over a year to keep their screw-ups secret. Brun, on the other hand, fessed up right away, leading to the investigation that is now resulting in criminal charges against her.

This is a broken system.

The Arizona Game and Fish Department has yet to feel the sting of any federal spankings for their role in all of this. Indeed, they've just been re-awarded a "take" permit for jaguars and ocelots despite the complete rarity and preciousness of these critters in the state. We wouldn't trust the AGFD to babysit our houseplants, let alone give them permits to kill endangered species. WTF, USFWS?

Thursday, June 17, 2010

La, la, la... fingers in ears... la, la, la...

Thank goodness for Perez Hilton, the World Cup, the best foods for weight loss, and speaking of weight loss, Tori Spelling, the iPad, elections in South Carolina, etc., etc. and JUST ABOUT ANYTHING that keeps us from hearing anything more about the Deepwater Horizon Disaster.

Because really, we're at our limit.

And so is the ocean. And so are the whales. And the crabs. And the dolphins and sharks, etc., etc.

And, holy fuck, it might get worse!

So, hmmm.... will we all just keep shopping? flying in airplanes? eating meat? buying plastic items meant to be disposed of? driving around in cars with the air conditioning on?

You betcha.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Oiled birds: to clean or not to clean

We're the type of people who pick featherless blind birdies who have fallen out of their nests off the sidewalk and try to save them, so for us, it's always seemed like a no-brainer that one would try to save the birds mired in crude oil as a consequence of a drilling disaster. However, is this really the most compassionate thing?

Maybe not.
[Environmental biologist and expert on oil clean-up, Silvia] Gaus claims that 99% of the rescued and cleaned birds will die, usually within about seven days, and it will be a more painful death that takes longer than if they’d just been left alone. As a consequence, many recommend quick and painless euthanization. A National Geographic article complicates the story, reporting that survival rates depend on characteristics of the spill, but still reports that scientists largely have little hope that many birds rescued from the Gulf will survive. A better strategy for saving birds, they say, is trying to keep them out of the oil in the first place.
Or maybe so.
[S]tudies indicate that many seabirds do survive the oiling and rehabilitation process successfully returning to their wild condition. And in some cases (when birds are located and observed in breeding colonies) have been shown to breed successfully for many years following their oiling, rehabilitation and release. These studies show that a bird’s survival is often based on how a specific species can cope with the stress of the entire process from oiling to rehabilitation, and that their overall survivorship across species is far greater than Sharp’s assertions. As survivorship may be correlated to individual species it is irresponsible to draw conclusions of survivability from one species to another, rather, in depth studies must be conducted for each species considered if we are to begin to answer this question with any measure of reliability.
In other words, no one really knows. We've put our money on the birdwashers if only because of the starfish parable, which goes something like this:
A person was walking on the beach where thousands of starfish had been stranded by a high tide. The starfish were drying and dying, so the person started picking up survivors and tossing them back into the surf.

Another person walking along the beach asked, "Why are you doing that? You can't save them all and it will hardly make a difference."

The person sent another starfish back into the ocean and said, "It made a big difference to that one."
So, while we know in our hearts that washing crude off the feathers of a few sea birds won't remedy the tragedy of Deepwater Horizon (or industrial civilization), we know in our hearts that it should be done all the same. It is a small chance for humans to act compassionately and with grace towards non-human species, to be kind and caring for wildlife after all the ills we've wrought against them.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

The Fish and Wildlife Service isn't the only one, Ms. Schneburger

"The Fish and Wildlife Service would like to see us shut up and take our medicine," said Laura Schneberger, a rancher who heads the Gila Livestock Growers Association.
Indeed, the majority of Arizonans and New Mexicans would like to see Mexican gray wolves recovered in the wild. The whining (but gun-toting) naysayers get a lot of grease, but generally, little support outside of Catron County. Everyone knows those folks are cuckoo.
Still, the wolf program is undoubtedly at a crossroads:
Twelve years after Mexican gray wolves were reintroduced in Eastern Arizona, their dwindling numbers are putting the population "at risk of failure," says a recent report by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

Factors such as the rigid borders of the endangered wolves' recovery area, removal of wolves to protect livestock, and illegal shooting of wolves are keeping the only wild population of Mexican gray wolves from growing, says the "conservation assessment" released last month
At last, the USFWS is acknowledging the program's design flaws, but can they get the gumption to fix these problems before the wolves are wiped out?

Friday, June 04, 2010

We Heart Leroy Stick

God bless Leroy Stick. For one, he's made us laugh a little despite the overwhelming despair for the Gulf oil disaster. For another, he's urging the American public to come out swinging at BP:
In the meantime, if you are angry, speak up. Don’t let people forget what has happened here. Don’t let the prolonged nature of this tragedy numb you to its severity. Re-branding doesn’t work if we don’t let it, so let’s hold BP’s feet to the fire. Let’s make them own up to and fix their mistakes NOW and most importantly, let’s make sure we don’t let them do this again.
He (or she) is right, of course. We've got to stop the insanity that is ruining our planet, the insanity manifest by the oil-dependent culture we're sending around the globe.