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By Tara Lohan
Two years into the Trump administration, its attacks on environmental regulations, policy and science are already well documented. But the current partial government shutdown, now more than a month long, provides a unique lens through which to view the administration's priorities. The list of what isn't being done is long and troubling, but equally concerning is what is being done during the shutdown.
A controversial tradition persisted in England and Wales this Boxing Day as around 250,000 people gathered for annual fox hunts around the country, BBC News reported.
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Andrew Renner, 41, and his son Owen, 18 of Palmer, Alaska were charged this week with several felony and misdemeanor crimes after shooting and killing a mother black bear and her two "shrieking" newborn cubs in their den on Esther Island in Prince William in April.
The pair did not know the bears were part of an observation program by the U.S. Forest Service and the Alaska Department of Fish and Game. Their den was monitored by motion-activated camera, meaning the killings were caught on video and audio.
Tess Thompson Talley of Kentucky has sparked public outcry after photos of her proudly posing with a black giraffe she killed in South Africa last year went viral.
The big game hunter posted images of the June 2017 hunt onto her social media page. Then last month, the South Africa-based news outlet Africland tweeted out the images with a missive describing Talley as a "White American savage" for shooting down the "very rare" animal.
By Elly Pepper
In early November—the same week the Trump administration announced its disastrous decision to allow elephant and lion trophy imports from Zimbabwe and Zambia—the administration decided to create an advisory committee, the International Wildlife Conservation Council (IWCC), to advise Trump on how to enhance trophy hunters' ability to hunt internationally.
Yup, that means the administration now has a council dedicated exclusively to promoting the killing of more imperiled species, like elephants and lions, for sport. The council's mandate includes counseling Trump on the economic, conservation, and anti-poaching benefits of trophy hunting, of which there are very few. Sadly, Trump doesn't want advice on the many drawbacks of trophy hunting.
Grizzly bears venturing from dens in search of food this spring will face landscapes dominated by mines, roads, pipelines, clearcuts and ever-expanding towns and cities. As in years past, they'll also face the possibility of painful death at the hands of trophy hunters.
By Alicia Graef
Romania's government has taken action to protect its large carnivores from trophy hunters.iStock
These species are protected under both Romanian law and the European Habitats Directive, but loopholes have allowed for the killing of dangerous animals who have caused damage, or threaten humans and livestock.
Unfortunately, deciding how many dangerous animals there are is up to those who stand to make a lot of money from the continued killing of wildlife.
The Guardian explains that every year, hunting associations would submit two numbers, including the total population of each large carnivore species and the total number which they believed to be likely to cause damages. The second number is used to set quotas for each species, which are then sold by hunting outfitters as permits to the public.
"Hunting for money was already illegal, but it was given a green light anyway," environment minster, Cristiana Pasca-Palmer, told the Guardian. 'The damages [clause in the habitats directive] acted as a cover for trophy hunting."
The system used raises a lot of questions about a serious conflict of interest, yet hunters have taken advantage of it, spending thousands to take home a trophy and the number of animals killed has continued to grow over the years.
In 2016 alone, the quotas set allowed for the killing of 550 bears, 600 wolves and 500 big cats. ZME Science puts that in perspective by likening it to killing "the entire brown bear population in Slovakia, the population of wolves living in France, Norway, and Sweden, and four Poland-worths of lynxes—in one country, in a single year."
Now, the animals will be getting a much-needed reprieve. The decision is expected to divide rural and urban dwellers, but supporters hope other measures will help reduce potential conflicts with wildlife. So far this includes creating a special unit that will deal with conflicts and animals who have caused damage individually, in addition to setting up a working group of experts to study populations of wildlife and come up with solutions for effectively managing them.
For now, it's an epic step in the right direction when it comes to protecting large carnivores from being needlessly killed for sport and entertainment, and it's hopefully one that will send a message to other countries that continue to allow this deplorable practice.
Not only are these species vital to maintaining healthy ecosystems, but studies continue to show that the science being used to justify killing them isn't good, and in many cases continued slaughter has backfired and caused more conflicts, instead of reducing them.
Reposted with permission from our media associate Care2.