Donald Trump Jr. Killed an Endangered Mongolian Sheep
ProPublica, which broke the news of the kill Wednesday, reported it was unusual for the Mongolian government to issue permits after a hunter has left the region. Trump Jr. was given other forms of special treatment. He was protected on his hunt by both U.S. and Mongolian security services, and afterwards had a private meeting with Mongolian President Khaltmaagiin Battulga.
"What are the chances the Mongolian government would've done any of that to someone who wasn't the son of the United States' president?" Kathleen Clark, a legal ethics professor at the Washington University in St. Louis School of Law, asked ProPublica.
Argali sheep are beautiful and deeply endangered. They live in remote western Mongolia. Don Jr. went there and sh… https://t.co/w9dM8CeT4b— Eric Umansky (@Eric Umansky)1576066942.0
Trump Jr.'s spokesperson said the trip was purchased at a National Rifle Association charity auction before his father ran for office. It is not clear if the trip included meetings with government officials or the chance to kill an argali. Trump Jr. also killed a red deer on the trip, a kill that also required a permit.
The argali is the largest sheep in the world, with curving horns that can measure more than six feet. The species overall is listed as near threatened by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), but the Mongolian subspecies is considered regionally endangered, according to the World Wildlife Fund (WWF). The U.S. Endangered Species Act lists the argali as threatened. Between 1985 and 2009, their Mongolian population more than halved from 50,000 to 18,000, ProPublica reported.
Mongolia issues permits to hunt the sheep, a practice which is ostensibly intended to fund conservation. Those familiar with the permitting system told ProPublica that it encouraged favoritism.
Jandos Kontorbai Ahat, a member of the current president's political party who arranged the trip Trump Jr. won, said Mongolian trophy hunting permits were "very political."
There are also sometimes discrepancies between hunting quotas and the number of permits issued. While the hunters' fees are supposed to go to programs like population surveys, argali researcher Amgalanbaatar Sukh told ProPublica he had never received government funding for such a survey.
ProPublica could not determine if Trump Jr. imported the trophies from his argali kill into the U.S. To do so, he would have needed to apply for permission from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. But his kill comes as U.S. law concerning the importing of hunting trophies is in flux, as The Guardian explained:
The legality of the importation of big game trophies into the United States has been, like many other issues in the Trump administration, confusing and ever-changing. The president himself has spoken out against the practice, calling such hunting practices a "horror show" despite his two sons being avid trophy hunters.
In order to import trophies of animals on the endangered species list, a U.S. hunter must show that its killing would be beneficial overall to the species at large. In 2017, the Trump administration pushed back against such restrictions on trophy hunting from the Obama era before reinstating the ban. A court ruling found thereafter it was done improperly, allowing imports to continue.
Environmental groups have criticized the Trump administration for its trophy hunting policies, including its decision to allow the import of lion and elephant trophies from Zimbabwe and Zambia and its creation of the International Wildlife Conservation Council designed specifically to promote trophy hunting.
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For centuries, the delicate silver dove has been a symbol of love and fidelity.
Biodiversity and Habitat Loss<p>Their near extinction is a symbol of the <a href="https://www.dw.com/en/global-biodiversity-outlook-targets-extinction-summit-new-york-pledge/a-54932895" target="_blank">biodiversity crisis</a> in the UK, largely driven by habitat destruction. Britain is now one of the countries with the most <a href="https://www.wwf.org.uk/future-of-UK-nature#:~:text=The%20UK%20is%20one%20of,than%20half%20are%20in%20decline" target="_blank">depleted nature</a> in the world according to the World Wildlife Fund. Half its plant and animal species are in decline and more than <a href="https://www.rspb.org.uk/about-the-rspb/about-us/media-centre/press-releases/let-nature-sing-wales/#:~:text=a%20natural%20tragedy.-,Over%2040%20million%20birds%20have%20vanished%20from%20UK%20skies%20in,unaware%20of%20the%20impending%20danger" target="_blank">40 million birds</a> have vanished in just half a century.</p><p>"[Turtle doves] are the canary in the [coal] mine because there are all these other species before it and after it," said Tree. "It's an umbrella for all the other species that are heading that way."</p><p>Turtle doves migrate south through Europe to sub-Saharan Africa between July and September, ending up in dry woodland and farmland areas of countries like Mali and Senegal for winter. </p><p>Droughts in West Africa and the Sahel region are believed to have contributed to the fall in turtle dove species recorded in northern Europe, with low rainfall reducing supplies of the seeds and insects the birds rely on for energy for the long journey home.</p>
Conservation and Farming<p><a href="https://www.operationturtledove.org/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Operation Turtle Dove,</a> a partnership project of charities including the Essex Wildlife trust, works with landowners and farmers to actively build turtle dove habitat.</p><p>Outten works with <a href="https://www.ebws.org.uk/birdsites/blue-house-farm-ewt-north-fambridge" target="_blank">Blue House Farm</a>, a 660-acre nature reserve in the UK county of Essex, where they have replicated weedy fallow plots. </p><p>"We work on it every year to make sure it's in the condition it needs to be with plants such as clovers and black medic," Outten said. "These plants are native to the landscape and produce the seed the birds feed on." </p><p>The birds eat a wide range of seeds from various plants that would have been abundant 50 or 100 years ago, added Guy Anderson, program manager for species recovery with The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB). </p><p>"But it's simply true that with the gradual process of <a href="https://www.dw.com/en/farming-without-pesticides-how-can-we-make-agriculture-greener/a-52216796" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">intensifying our agricultural production</a>, the availability of those seeds has dropped and dropped," said Anderson.</p><p>Part of the project includes supplementary feeding — providing sources of food in the form of seed or grain. Under the Countryside Stewardship Scheme in England, farmers can receive financial support to create a turtle dove habitat. </p><p>Though they haven't recorded an increase in doves across the sites in the four years of working on the project, Outten said they are seeing improvements in how landowners and farmers manage habitat for the birds. </p>
A Turtle Dove Haven<p>The 3,500-acre Knepp Estate in West Sussex is another project taking a different approach and one of the few places where turtle dove numbers are increasing.</p><p>Isabella Tree and her husband Charlie Burrell converted their intensively farmed land into a rewilding project almost 20 years ago. They have let the land return to nature.</p><p>Just one year after they'd finished <a href="https://www.dw.com/en/uks-most-talented-architects-are-not-human/a-35952128" target="_blank">rewilding</a> the southern part of their property, they heard turtle doves for the first time. It's now a breeding hotspot for the birds with an estimated 19 pairs. Knepp is also home to <a href="https://www.rewildingbritain.org.uk/rewilding/rewilding-projects/knepp-estate" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">2% of the UK's population</a> of nightingales. </p><p>Tree is critical of supplementary feeding schemes that, in her view, are short term. She questions the chances of turtle doves getting to feed on scattered seeds before other mammals eat them first.</p>
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