U.S. District Court Ruling Could Allow the Killing of 460 Federally Protected Sea Lions
There is a court case currently taking place which could have a serious impact on the future protection of endangered and threatened species in the U.S. The Humane Society of the U.S. and the Wild Fish Conservancy have filed a complaint and a temporary restraining order (TRO) against the National Marine Fisheries Services (NMFS). This action follows a decision by the NMFS to allow State Wildlife Agencies to kill up to 460 federally protected California sea lions over the next five years. The restraining order was denied on March 22 in U.S. District Court. The court will allow the NMFS to kill California Sea Lions while waiting for the full case to be heard.
The Humane Society shared these main points from the court proceedings this morning:
- The court denied the temporary restraining order
- The number of sea lions which can be killed has been temporarily lowered from 90 to 30
- The court requires the sea lions to be killed by euthanasia
- The court felt the issues raised were important and the case will continue on all merits
- The Humane Society is confident they will prevail
These are the facts surrounding this issue:
- The Marine Mammal Protection Act protects sea lions in the U.S.
- Some California Sea Lions have chosen the Bonneville Dam on the Columbia River as their feeding grounds. The dam is located about 40 miles east of Portland, Oregon.
- Several groups of people in Washington, Oregon and Idaho want to blame sea lions for “taking their fish,” and have used the sea lion as a scapegoat, even though the amount of salmon caught by sea lions equals approximately only 1 percent.
- On behalf of these groups, the states of Oregon, Washington and Idaho petitioned the U.S. National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) to grant them authority to kill the sea lions. This group has lost prior cases in court, but managed to kill sea lions before the rulings took place. A new application was submitted on their behalf on August 18, 2011, once again requesting authority to lethally remove individually identifiable California sea lions seen eating salmon at Bonneville Dam. On March 15, 2012, NMFS again granted the states’ request, authorizing state agents to kill as many as 92 federally protected California sea lions each year for 5 years—a total of 460 animals.
- The slaughter was set to begin on March 19, however, the Humane Society, the Wild Fish Conservancy and two individuals filed for a temporary restraining order in U.S. District Court in Washington, D.C.
Scott West, director of intelligence and investigations for Sea Shepherd Conservation Society, said:
“The fact is that human activity is destroying fish populations. The construction of dams, the activity of fish farming, the introduction of non-native species, the discharge of pollutants, sport fishing, rigid treaty fishing rights and mechanized commercial fishing operations contribute to catastrophic failure of fish species. These are all human activities and have been increasing in recent years along with the human population on the planet. What is normal is the predation of fish by other fish, by birds, by sharks and by marine mammals. Predation is far older than the presence of humans on the planet. Subsistence and artisanal fishing (predation) by humans has been around a long time and for the most part has been able to coexist with the natural order. Pinning the blame elsewhere and drawing attention away from the real culprit(s) are common human behaviors. The scapegoat is nothing new. Seals, sea lions and dolphins have been blamed the world over through ignorance and greed for the collapse of fish stocks when the real reasons (human activity) are ignored. Using marine mammals as scapegoats knows no race, cultural or nationalistic limits. Canadians, Chileans, Japanese and yes, even folks in the U.S. participate.”
Although sea lions do eat fish, they only consume between 0.4 and 4.2 percent of the 80,000 to 300,000 salmon that spawn in the Columbia River each year. The following list based on NMFS estimates shows the percentages for salmon takes in the Columbia River:
- The dams along the Columbia River take up to 60 percent of juvenile salmon and up to 17 percent of adult salmon.
- Human fishing activity takes approximately 16 percent of the adult salmon from the river.
- Non-native, introduced sport-fishing species consume up to 3 million young salmon a year.
- Birds eat up to 18 percent.
- Sea lions take roughly 1 percent.
- In addition, by-catch of Columbia River salmon in open ocean fisheries contributes to the loss of Columbia River salmon.
Salmon runs vary on a yearly basis and scientists are predicting a large run this year in the Columbia River. Yet the states still want to kill the scapegoat. “Few people want to look for the real reasons fish populations are declining because doing so will require them to look in the mirror,” said West.
There is a war being waged against U.S. environmental protection efforts. There are groups and forces that are attempting to dismantle the very laws that have been put in place to improve and protect the quality of the air, water and soil in the U.S. and against the laws that have allowed several species to return from the brink of extinction. This issue could very well be a starting point to return the U.S. to a time when it was common and legal to kill marine mammals (and other creatures) which “get in the way” of human enterprise. This is a critical time for our world’s ecosystems and many of animal species. Our laws should be providing extra protection for our environment, not diminishing the small amount of safeguards which already exist.
Sea Shepherd cannot ignore this slaughter—which might soon occur on the U.S.’s doorstep. We are currently offering a reward for information leading to the arrest of the person or persons responsible for shooting sea lions in the Puget Sound. With the Bonneville Dam temporary restraining order not being granted and the full lawsuit coming up, we will need to bring this issue to the forefront. The Humane Society has been in this fight for some time and we are happy to offer help. We have experience with documenting senseless slaughter. Perhaps we will need to institute a “Dam Guardian” campaign at the Bonneville Dam. How many volunteers would be willing to come to the dam and help? Stay tuned.
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By Jan Ellen Spiegel
It wasn't so long ago that the issue of climate change was poised to play a huge – possibly even a decisive – role in the 2020 election, especially in the race for control of the U.S. Senate. Many people supporting Democratic candidates saw a possible Democratic majority as a hedge against a potential Trump re-election … a way to plug the firehose spray of more than 100 environmental regulation rollbacks and new anti-climate initiatives by the administration over its first term.
Potential Climate Voters<p>In a September 1 memo on climate and the election, Andrew Baumann, vice president of the consultants Global Strategy Group, wrote: "Few issues have seen as dramatic a shift in public opinion as climate change has over the last few years. Only marriage equality and the recent shift in views around racial justice outpace the rapid growth in the salience of climate change as an issue."</p><p>Calling it a "winning political issue" the memo says: "First, it is clearly a motivator for both younger and Latinx voters. Second, it has the power to move swing voters, particularly center-right white women."</p><p>Baumann points to a finding that when a group of such women were asked generic ballot questions, Democrats trailed by nine percentage points. But when the question was revised as a choice between:</p><p>"A Democrat who supports taking strong government action to combat climate change.<br>A Republican who opposes taking strong government action to combat climate change."</p><p>… the result was a 29 percentage point shift, putting Democrats ahead by 20 percentage points among that same group.</p><p>"I think it is playing a role," says Senator Sheldon Whitehouse, D-RI, a longtime outspoken climate activist who is on the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee and also on the Senate Democrats' Special Committee on the Climate Crisis. If Democrats win back the Senate, he stands to play an even more pivotal climate role as part of the majority. He is not up for re-election this year.</p><p><span></span>"I think from the Democratic side it's playing a role in generating enthusiasm – particularly making younger voters feel that they have a real stake in this election. On the Republican side, I think things have moved enough that candidates can no longer get away with simply scoffing about climate change."</p>
Climate a Top Concern for Youths, Latinx<p>So who's still thinking climate? Mostly young voters – 18 to 25 or 29 and Latinx voters.</p><p>Climate and the environment are the top concern among young voters, just above racism and healthcare according to <a href="https://circle.tufts.edu/latest-research/poll-young-people-believe-they-can-lead-change-unprecedented-election-cycle" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">CIRCLE</a>, the Center for Information and Research on Civic Learning and Engagement at Tufts University, which focuses on the political life of young people in the U.S. For Latinx youth, it drops a bit but remains in the top three.</p><p>The issues young people care about have an impact on how they volunteer their time, says Kristian Lundberg, an associate researcher at CIRCLE. He says that's played out most notably through the Sunrise Movement, which focuses on climate change and the environment along with other key activist groups such as Black Lives Matter and March for Our Lives.</p><p>He points to polling this summer that showed that 83% of 18-to-29-year-olds felt they had the power to change things. "Young people feel much more empowerment than in 2016 and 2018," Lundberg says. "It's intentional these movements are carving out space for young people. It's an important strategy."</p><p>In positions of power in these organizations, young people have developed peer-to-peer outreach on activism. And Lundberg says young people have made the leap that connects activism to voting as a lever for change. "In the past in very close races, young people breaking heavily have provided the margin of victory," he says.</p><p>CIRCLE is highlighting 10 U.S. Senate races as ones in which young voters can be decisive. Several of them have notable climate or environmental components – most prominently the Colorado and Montana races.</p><p>The Republican incumbents in each state – Cory Gardner in Colorado and Steve Daines in Montana – are running against a popular Democratic governor – John Hickenlooper in Colorado, now out of office — and Steve Bullock, still the governor of Montana. Both governors have had to balance their state's fossil fuel economic interests with supporting climate change solutions.</p>
Tying Climate Change to the Economy<p>In August, Data for Progress, a progressive research think tank, released polling on climate change – including in the battleground Senate elections in Arizona, Iowa, Maine, and North Carolina – showing voters back a Senate candidate supporting strong climate action.</p><blockquote>Climate change as 'mobilizing issue … key persuasion issue.'<br></blockquote><p>It also showed that linking climate change to the economy may be key. That means talking about clean energy and jobs together, says Danielle Deiseroth, climate data analyst for <a href="https://circle.tufts.edu/latest-research/poll-young-people-believe-they-can-lead-change-unprecedented-election-cycle" target="_blank">Data for Progress</a>. She says that in addition to jobs, climate change issues include climate justice and economic equality – both of heightened interest because of fallout from western wildfires.</p><p>"Climate change, we've observed over the last year or so, is a key mobilizing issue and a key persuasion issue," she says. "Climate issues can only grow support for Democratic candidates.</p><p>"I think it's pretty naive to say climate is the key issue for voters. For a lot of voters it really exemplifies so many things that are wrong with the Trump presidency," Deiseroth says.</p><p>So a factor among others. Helpful, but pivotal only in narrow circumstances.</p><p>At the League of Conservations Voters, a progressive environmentalist organization putting a lot of money and effort into the 2020 races, Senior Director of Political Affairs Craig Auster says: "I'll push back that climate change doesn't matter or isn't registering."</p><p>"It's still showing up in several Senate races. It's been playing a role in almost all of them."</p><p>Candidates are still talking about it, he says, pointing to Colorado, Montana, Iowa, and other states where ads are addressing climate and environmental issues. That shows the candidates believe their opponent is vulnerable on the issue or they're strong on it, he says.</p><p>Like others, Auster calls climate a motivator.</p><p>"Climate change matters," he says. "We have proof point after proof point about what's happening, whether it's a hurricane, a superstorm, derechos in Iowa, or wildfires out west.</p><p>"Pre-COVID it was top tier for Democratic voters along with healthcare. If COVID didn't happen I think climate would be a big deal."</p>
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Two lawmakers introduced a bill Tuesday addressing previous actions the U.S. government inflicted upon Native Americans.
The bill, authored by Rep. Deb Haaland from New Mexico and Sen. Elizabeth Warren from Massachusetts, specifically addresses the "intergenerational trauma" caused by policies that tore Native American children away from their families and sent them to boarding schools to be educated in white culture, HuffPost reported.
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By Gudrun Heise
Just as scientists are scoring successes in coronavirus research, new problems are on their way. Fall is with us and winter is around the corner, so the season for colds and flu has begun — joining COVID-19.
Influenza Vaccination<p>A flu vaccination may thus be able to narrow down the diagnostic options when flu-like symptoms occur, but whether such a vaccination also has an influence on the behavior of the dangerous new virus is — like so much else — not clear. "It is conceivable that there is an indirect effect. But it is, I believe, a matter of speculation whether it has an immunological effect in the narrower sense," says Krause.</p><p>Every winter, doctors' waiting rooms are full of people who are coughing and sniffing but who mostly turn out to have only a severe respiratory infection. According to current knowledge, the virus that causes COVID-19, SARS-CoV-2, is also likely to be subject to seasonal fluctuations. </p><p>In winter, cold viruses, at least, flourish because cold and dry air offers ideal conditions for their spread. In addition, it becomes more difficult to air rooms regularly and intensively — an important further measure to counteract the coronavirus and contain to some extent the danger posed by aerosols.</p><p>According to the <a href="https://www.rki.de/DE/Home/homepage_node.html" target="_blank">Robert Koch Institute, Germany's public health agency</a>, between 5% and 20% of people in Germany become infected with flu viruses every year. These viruses are also dangerous and can be fatal. The flu vaccination must be adapted to the influenza viruses every year, because they mutate. But at least there is a vaccination.</p><p>Most experts agree that there is unlikely to be a vaccine against the coronavirus by the time the next wave of influenza comes around. And even if a vaccine were to be approved, many unknowns remain.</p>
COVID-19 and Flu Simultaneously<p>For example, there is a lack of practical experience in dealing simultaneously with SARS-CoV-2 and influenza. It is possible to speculate that having influenza could facilitate the entry of the coronavirus into the human body. "The general weakening of the immune system during an influenza infection could increase the susceptibility of a patient to a SARS-CoV-2 infection," Krause says.</p><p>However, it is uncertain how dangerous this double infection could ultimately be and what can be done about it. Krause is of the opinion that we must arm ourselves against all three diseases — colds, flu and COVID-19. If we have a cold, bed rest, hot tea and cough medicine usually help. We can get vaccinated against flu. But how do we deal with COVID-19?</p><p><span></span>Probably people can only hope that if they get the illness, they will have a mild form with as few after-effects as possible. Here, it will certainly help to stick to suggested rules on hygiene to reduce or prevent our exposure to the virus. In an interview with DW, Bonn-based virology professor Hendrik Streeck made it clear that COVID-19 usually takes a more severe course when there is a high viral load at infection.</p>
Hygiene, Hygiene, Hygiene<p>The same hygiene measures with which we are trying to get at least some kind of grip on COVID-19 also apply to influenza. The less we come into contact with viruses, the greater the chance that we will be spared an infection or that it will be mild.</p><p>These measures include general hygiene precautions such as frequent hand washing and the wearing of protective face masks. "The various hygienic measures against COVID-19 will also reduce the spread of influenza," says Krause. "Possibly, further connections of a more immunological nature will be discovered."</p><p>Let us hope that is the case, because the flu season hasn't even started.</p>
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A grim new assessment of the world's flora and fungi has found that two-fifths of its species are at risk of extinction as humans encroach on the natural world, as The Guardian reported. That puts the number of species at risk near 140,000.
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