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Whale watching (here, off Húsavík, Iceland) may be better for the local economy than whale hunting. Davide Cantelli / Wikimedia / CC BY

By Joe Roman

One of the most important global conservation events of the past year was something that didn't happen. For the first time since 2002, Iceland — one of just three countries that still allow commercial whaling — didn't hunt any whales, even though its government had approved whaling permits in early 2019.

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An elephant in Botswana. Mario Micklisch / CC BY 2.0

Two hunters who shot and killed a research elephant in Botswana and then destroyed its collar to hide the evidence have been banned from further hunting in the country.

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Two silver-backed chevrotain caught on camera trap. The species has only recently been rediscovered after being last seen in 1990. GWC / Mongabay

By Jeremy Hance

VIETNAM, July 2019 – I'm chasing a ghost, I think not for the first time, as night falls and I gather up my gear in a hotel in a village in southern Vietnam. I pack my camera, a bottle of water, and a poncho; outside the window I can see a light rain.

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"The torture of animals should be a federal crime with stiff penalties," said Rep. Buchanan. Pixabay

In Dec. 2010, President Obama signed a law that made it a federal crime to create and distribute animal torture videos. That law, however, did not ban the underlying act of animal torture itself.

That's why Rep. Ted Deutch (D-Fla.) and Rep. Vern Buchanan (R-Fla.) re-introduced the Preventing Animal Cruelty and Torture Act, or (PACT) Act that prohibits "intentional acts of crushing, burning, drowning, suffocating, impaling or otherwise subjecting animals to serious bodily harm," according to a press release, and makes it easier to prosecute those involved in the horrific acts.

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Black bear cubs. Max Pixel

Two Alaska hunters will face jail time and other penalties after fatally shooting a denning black bear sow in front of her two "shrieking" cubs, and then shooting the newborns dead.

Wasilla resident Andrew Renner was sentenced to five months in jail with two months suspended, a fine of $20,000 with $11,000 suspended and the forfeiture of his 22' Sea Sport ocean boat and trailer, 2012 GMC Sierra pickup truck, two rifles, two handguns, two iPhones, and two sets of backcountry skis that were used in the offenses, according to a press release from Alaska's Department of Law. His hunting license was revoked for 10 years.

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An adult and sub-adult Minke whale dragged aboard the Nisshin Maru, a Japanese whaling vessel. Australian Customs and Border Protection Service

Despite a global ban on commercial whaling more than 30 years ago, Japan has caught about 200-1,200 whales every year since 1987—including pregnant and juvenile ones—under the exception of "scientific research." Opponents have fiercely criticized this research program as just a cover so the whales can be killed for human consumption.

Now, the national broadcaster NHK reports that the Japanese government wants to fully resume commercial whaling by pulling out of the International Whaling Commission (IWC). Commercial whaling was paused in 1986 by the IWC because some whales were hunted to near extinction.

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Cinder the bear killed

Cinder, an orphaned bear cub that was severely burned but had remarkably survived after one of the worst recorded wildfires in Washington state history was found dead, wildlife officials recently confirmed to news outlets.

She was likely shot and killed in October 2017 by a hunter, according to the Methow Valley News and a Facebook post by the Idaho Black Bear Rehab, where the famous black bear was treated.

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926F wolf with a glance. Mark Perry / Getty Images

A cherished Lamar Valley wolf known as 926F was shot dead after a legal hunt just five miles outside the sanctuary of Yellowstone National Park, prompting calls from advocacy groups for greater protection of the region's wolves.

Tragically, the 7-year-old female was the daughter of Wolf 06—"the most famous wolf in the world"—who was killed the same way back in December 2012.

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Less than 400 Sumatran tigers currently exist. Steve Wilson / Flickr / CC BY 2.0

One of the world's rarest tigers was killed this week after being caught in a pig trap on the Indonesian island of Sumatra, Agence France Presse reported, citing local officials.

What's worse, the critically endangered Sumatran tiger was pregnant with two cubs when it died and was expected to give birth in two weeks, local reports said.

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A grizzly bear in Yellowstone National Park. Jim Peaco / National Park Service

A federal judge restored endangered species protections for grizzly bears in and around Yellowstone National Park on Monday, The Huffington Post reported, putting a permanent halt to plans by Wyoming and Idaho to launch the first Yellowstone-area grizzly hunt in four decades.

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Moose at North Dakota's Lostwood National Wildlife Refuge can be legally killed for the first time this hunting season. FWS

Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke is expanding or opening hunting in 30 National Wildlife Refuges, the Department of the Interior (DOI) announced Friday.

The move will open more than 251,000 acres and raise the total number of places where hunting is permitted to 377 and where fishing is permitted to 312. The expansion will be in effect in time for the 2018-2019 hunting season.

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