Trump Rollback Allows Hunters to Kill Bears and Wolves in Their Dens
In another reversal of Obama-era regulations, the Trump administration is having the National Park Service rescind a 2015 order that protected bears and wolves within protected lands.
The new rule, remarkable in its cruelty, will allow hunters to shoot bears, wolves, along with their cubs and pups while the animals are in their dens in the popular Kenai National Wildlife Refuge. It also puts ends a ban on some nefarious practices like luring bears with doughnuts, according to The Guardian.
Jesse Prentice-Dunn, policy director for the Center for Western Priorities, told The Guardian that the rule change is "amazingly cruel" and said it was "just the latest in a string of efforts to reduce protections for America's wildlife at the behest of oil companies and trophy hunters."
The National Park Service and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service issued separate statements that their actions are designed to align federal and state law, according to the Anchorage Daily News. The National Park Service manages 10 preserves in the state, including Denali National Park and Preserve. The Kenai National Wildlife Refuge lies west of the park.
NPS Alaska spokesperson Pete Christian told Alaska Public Media that although practices like killing bears and wolves in dens go against the Park Service's mission, the Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act, which created or expanded many of Alaska's national preserves, grants the state management authority.
"It supercedes, to some extent, the NPS Organic Act and some of our regular management policies, and so the parks up here were designed to have preserve units in them which allow for hunting and trapping as per state law," Christian said.
The Park Service decision to defer to the state is the latest move in a legal conflict around who has ultimate authority over the protected lands. The conflict dates back to 2015, when the Obama administration initially banned certain state-permitted predator harvests on Alaska's preserve lands, as Alaska Public Media reported.
While the number of hunters that will actually plow ahead into the national preserve to hunt bears and wolves in their dens is probably quite small, the spirit of the practice is extreme and inconsistent with the values of the national preserve, according to Pat Lavin with the Defenders of Wildlife in Anchorage who spoke to Alaska Public Media.
"The Trump administration has shockingly reached a new low in its treatment of wildlife," Defenders of Wildlife President Jamie Rappaport Clark said, as the CBC reported. "Allowing the killing of bear cubs and wolf pups in their dens is barbaric and inhumane."
The new rule also allows hunters to shoot caribou from traveling motorboats and to kill swimming caribou, according to the CBC.
As The Guardian noted, the move is part and parcel with a pattern from Trump's Department of the Interior, which has consistently sought to expand access to public lands to hunters and fossil fuel companies. Last month, it proposed expanding public hunting and fishing access by more than 2.3 million acres on 97 national wildlife refuges and nine national fish hatcheries.
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World leaders and businesses are not putting enough money into adapting to dangerous changes in the climate and must "urgently step up action," according to a report published Thursday by the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP).
Adaptation Has a Long Way to Go<p>The Adaptation Gap Report, now in its 5th year, finds "huge gaps" between what world leaders agreed to do under the 2015 <a href="https://www.dw.com/en/5-years-paris-climate-agreement/a-55901139" target="_blank">Paris Agreement</a> and what they need to do to keep their citizens safe from climate change.</p><p>A review by the Global Adaptation Mapping Initiative of almost 1,700 examples of climate adaptation found that a third were in the early stages of implementation — and only 3% had reached the point of reducing risks.</p><p>Disasters like storms and droughts have grown stronger than they should be because people have warmed the planet by burning fossil fuels and chopping down rainforests. The world has heated by more than 1.1 degrees Celsius since the Industrial Revolution and is on track to warm by about 3°C by the end of the century.</p><p>If world leaders <a href="https://www.dw.com/en/climate-change-performance-index-how-far-have-we-come/a-55846406" target="_blank">deliver on recent pledges</a> to bring emissions to <a href="https://www.dw.com/en/joe-bidens-climate-pledges-are-they-realistic/a-56173821" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">net-zero</a> by the middle of the century, they could almost limit warming to 2°C. The target of the Paris Agreement, however, is to reach a target well below that — ideally 1.5°C. </p><p>There are two ways, scientists say, to lessen the pain that warming will bring: mitigating climate change by cutting carbon pollution and adapting to the hotter, less stable world it brings.</p>
The Cost of Climate Adaptation<p>About three-quarters of the world's countries have national plans to adapt to climate change, according to the report, but most lack the regulations, incentives and funding to make them work.</p><p>More than a decade ago, rich countries most responsible for climate change pledged to mobilize $100 billion a year by 2020 in climate finance for poorer countries. UNEP says it is "impossible to answer" whether that goal has been met, while an OECD study published in November found that between 2013 and 2018, the target sum had not once been achieved. Even in 2018, which recorded the highest level of contributions, rich countries were still $20 billion short.</p><p>The yearly adaptation costs for developing countries alone are estimated at $70 billion. This figure is expected to at least double by the end of the decade as temperatures rise, and will hit $280-500 billion by 2050, according to the report.</p><p>But failing to adapt is even more expensive.</p><p>When powerful storms like cyclones Fani and Bulbul struck South Asia, early-warning systems allowed governments to move millions of people out of danger at short notice. Storms of similar strength that have hit East Africa, like <a href="https://www.dw.com/en/zimbabwe-after-cyclone-idai-building-climate-friendly-practices/a-54251885" target="_blank">cyclones Idai</a> and Kenneth, have proved more deadly because fewer people were evacuated before disaster struck.</p><p>The Global Commission on Adaptation estimated in 2019 that a $1.8 trillion investment in early warning systems, buildings, agriculture, mangroves and water resources could reap $7.1 trillion in benefits from economic activity and avoided costs when disasters strike.</p>
Exploring Nature-Based Solutions<p>The report also highlights how restoring nature can protect people from climate change while benefiting local communities and ecology.</p><p><a href="https://www.dw.com/en/climate-fires-risk-climate-change-bushfires-australia-california-extreme-weather-firefighters/a-54817927" target="_blank">Wildfires</a>, for instance, could be made less punishing by restoring grasslands and regularly burning the land in controlled settings. Indigenous communities from Australia to Canada have done this for millennia in a way that encourages plant growth while reducing the risk of uncontrolled wildfires. Reforestation, meanwhile, can stop soil erosion and flooding during heavy rainfall while trapping carbon and protecting wildlife.</p><p>In countries like Brazil and Malaysia, governments could better protect coastal homes from floods and storms by restoring <a href="https://www.dw.com/en/mudflats-mangroves-and-marshes-the-great-coastal-protectors/a-50628747" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">mangroves</a> — tangled trees that grow in tropical swamps. As well as anchoring sediments and absorbing the crash of waves, mangroves can store carbon, help fish populations grow and boost local economies through tourism. </p><p>While nature-based solutions are often cheaper than building hard infrastructure, their funding makes up a "tiny fraction" of adaptation finance, the report authors wrote. An analysis of four global climate funds that spent $94 billion on adaptation projects found that just $12 billion went to nature-based solutions and little of this was spent implementing projects on the ground.</p><p>But little is known about their long-term effectiveness. At higher temperatures, the effects of climate change may be so great that they overwhelm natural defenses like mangroves.</p><p>By 2050, <a href="https://www.dw.com/en/rising-sea-levels-should-we-let-the-ocean-in-a-50704953/a-50704953" target="_blank">coastal floods</a> that used to hit once a century will strike many cities every year, according to a 2019 report on oceans by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the gold standard on climate science. This could force dense cities on low-lying coasts to build higher sea walls, like in Indonesia and South Korea, or evacuate entire communities from sinking islands, like in Fiji.</p><p>It's not a case of replacing infrastructure, said Matthias Garschagen, a geographer at Ludwig Maximilian University in Germany and IPCC author, who was not involved in the UNEP report. "The case for nature-based solutions is often misinterpreted as a battle... but they're part of a toolkit that we've ignored for too long."</p>
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