Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Of bears and biases

From the Huffington Post - Very interesting section on the intersection of ethics and science - Eric
THE BLOG

Of bears and biases: scientific judgment and the fate of Yellowstone’s grizzlies

 06/21/2016 01:25 pm ET | Updated Jun 21, 2016
In March, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) announced its intent to remove protections afforded by the U.S. Endangered Species Act (ESA) to grizzly bears in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem (GYE).
Citing four decades of growth in the bear population, the USFWS Director Dan Ashe heralded the decision as “a historic success for partnership-driven wildlife conservation.”
However, conservation organizations oppose “delisting” GYE grizzlies. They citepersistent threats to grizzlies, public opposition to delisting and ongoing scientific uncertainty regarding the population’s viability. Indeed, scientific uncertainty, especially threats posed by a changing climate, is one reason a federal courtreversed a similar decision back in 2009, returning federal protections to GYE grizzlies.
...A second source of underappreciated insights is from the academic discipline of conservation ethics. A broadly applicable insight from that discipline is that robust conservation decisions result from sound and valid arguments that are necessarily comprised both of scientific premises and ethical premises.
The implication is that in many instances the best an expert can do is explain their judgment fully. That is, to lay bare all of the premises (scientific and otherwise) necessary to arrive at the judgment being proffered; and in so doing, demonstrate the robustness of the judgment (or reveal its flaws).
So an expert judgment is not merely a judgment made within the area of one’s expertise. Rather, an expert judgment is one whose underlying argument can be laid bare and demonstrated to be sound and valid for an audience of nonexperts. Importantly, this includes both scientific assessments as well as value judgments. Sadly, courses that convey skills in analyzing ethical arguments (i.e., courses in critical thinking and environmental ethics) are not typically part of the curricula that produce conservation professionals.
The grizzly, or brown, bear in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem is posed to lose protections under the Endangered Species Act. Jim Peaco, Yellowstone National Park via flickr

Thursday, June 2, 2016

Hunting and Environmentalism: Conflict or Misperceptions

Human Dimensions of Wildlife, 14:12–20, 2009
Copyright © Taylor & Francis Group, LLC

 IRENA KNEZEVIC
Joint Graduate Program in Communication and Culture, York University/
Ryerson University, Toronto, Ontario, Canada

This work examined some assumptions that underpin the conflict between hunters and
anti-hunting movement. The moral contradictions of anti-hunting activism are positioned
in the complex context of consumer culture, managed environmental protection,
and industrial food production. The assumption that environmental groups are by definition
opposed to hunting is investigated. Given that both hunters and environmental
groups are interested in land conservation, and given the rapid habitat loss around the
globe, the question is asked whether joint conservation efforts would prove beneficial
not only to both groups’ interests, but also to the fragile North American ecosystems
and the species that reside in them.

Introduction
There are two billion chickens that are being slaughtered. Why is the fuzzy
seal photo-op the important one? Why aren’t you down in a slaughterhouse
where cows are being killed or calves are being killed or lambs are being
killed or chickens are being killed? (Williams, 2006, p. 10)
Danny Williams, the premier of Newfoundland and Labrador faced off with Paul and
Heather McCartney on Larry King Live in March of 2006. The McCartneys were visiting
to protest the annual harp seal hunt that for several years has been a favourite among activist
celebrities. Photos of red pools of seal blood on white snow and celebrities posing with
baby seals are usually meant to present the hunt as a practice of obtaining seal fur,
frequently obscuring the fact that many residents of the Canadian east coast and the north
consume seal meat on regular basis and that seal oil has a variety of medicinal and other
uses, to say nothing of the local cultural and economic significance of the annual hunt.
Harp seals are not endangered, and if anything they have in recent years seen higher
competition for food due to the shrinking habitat that has resulted from global warming.

...Violence and death associated with hunting is so overt and immediate that it makes
hunting an easy target for criticism. That criticism in turn ignores the “great paradox of
eating” (Kass, 1994). Death of living creatures is fundamental to continuation of life. Pete
Dunne, the director of Cape May Bird Observatory and as avid a hunter as he is a birdwatcher
writes, “Today, most people fail to recognize death as a natural part of life, to
view hunting as a mechanism that makes people an integral part of that natural process”
(2005, p. 662). Our detachment from our food sources has made it possible for us to eat
meat and somehow pretend that killing is not a part of the process. Aldo Leopold noted
that there are dangers in not owning a farm, one being “the danger of supposing that
breakfast comes from the grocery” (1968, p. 6).

...Culture creates an atmosphere where: “Nature is viewed by the mechanism of social domination
as a healthy contrast to society, and it is therefore denatured” (Adorno & Horkheimer,
1944, p. 19). These understandings of nature misdirect energy and resources into a conflict
rather than cooperation. Questioning our relationship with nature as well as our food system
is more productive than the persistent questioning, by both hunters and environmentalists,
of each other’s motives. That process can only benefit the population segment profits from
stalled conservation efforts (i.e., land developers and corporate polluters).
Our general understanding of and relationship to nature needs to be re-examined lest
our nostalgia continues to justify the commercial, utilitarian attitude that has become so
essential to how we treat our environment. For that task to be performed properly, prejudices
against hunting must be re-examined. To critique hunting without comprehensively
critiquing the larger context within which hunting exist is to gloss over more pressing
social and environmental issues by picking an easy scapegoat issue.

Read full paper -Human Dimensions of Wildlife
Publication details, including instructions for authors and subscription information:
http://www.informaworld.com/smpp/title~content=t713666717

Monday, February 1, 2016

Blind Men and the Elephant of Conservation

Blind Men and the Elephant of Conservation: Toward Ideological Diversity

By Tovar Cerulli, 2015 Mi Casita Writer-in-Residence
As conservationists, we take it for granted that diversity is good. Biological diversity, at least.
We know that diverse, intact ecosystems are adaptable and resilient, benefiting not only us but all members of what Leopold called “the land community.” We take it on faith that all community members should be respected and that they have, as he put it, an inherent “right to continued existence.”
When I walk down to the beaver pond near home and look out at the water and surrounding land, I know that each plant, fungus, insect, amphibian, reptile, fish, bird, and mammal—even each unseen microbe in the soil—is part of that community, part of a larger, dynamic, evolving organism. As such, each deserves my respect: pine and alder, mayfly and jewelwing, salamander and turtle, minnow and trout, heron and mallard, mouse and coyote.
Diversity
A snapping turtle lays its eggs near the Leopold Center.
Concerning ideological and cultural diversity, we are ambivalent at best.
more:

Friday, November 20, 2015

Beaver Dams Control Nitrogen Flow in Northeastern Rivers

And I thought beaver dams were just great wildlife and fish habitat! Eric


Beaver Dams Control Nitrogen Flow in Northeastern Rivers

By Joshua Rapp Learn

Image Credit: David Smith, licensed by cc 2.0
Beavers may be providing watersheds a service by removing some of the agricultural nitrogen runoff in northeast rivers.
“There’s a huge concern about the amount of nutrients of our lands that get into coastal waters,” said Arthur Gold, a professor and chair of the Department of Natural Resources Science at the University of Rhode Island and coauthor of a study published recently in theJournal of Environmental Quality.
Read more at the TWS web site

Friday, November 13, 2015

Global Anti-Poaching Act Passed by House

Global Anti-Poaching Act Passed by House

By Zachary Sheldon

Poaching of black rhinoceros (Diceros bicornis) in South Africa increased by 21% from 2013 to 2014.
Image Credit: Ray Morris, licensed by cc 2.0
On 2 November the U.S. House of Representatives passed H.R. 2494, the “Global Anti-Poaching Act”. The bill passed by voice vote after 23 minutes of speeches in favor of the act.
Describing the importance of the bill, House Foreign Affairs Chairman Ed Royce (R-CA) said, “The very disturbing reality is that some of the world’s most majestic animals have become ‘blood currency’ for rebel groups and terrorist organizations in Africa,” adding, “Time isn’t on our side. Each day of inaction means more animals poached and more cash for terrorists.”
The legislation seeks action against wildlife trafficking through three main avenues: strengthening and expanding wildlife enforcement networks; punishing countries failing to make efforts to combat wildlife trafficking; and increasing the penalties of wildlife trafficking.

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

This Week on "Randy Newberg Unfiltered"

From the Outdoor Wire
Wednesday, October 28, 2015
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BOZEMAN, Mont. – On the latest episode of "Randy Newberg Unfiltered"radio show, host Randy Newberg chats with Jim Pozewitz, long time friend, conservationist and founder of Orion – the Hunter's Institute.

The show is available now on RandyNewberg.Com, iTunes and Stitcher,
"We referred to this podcast as the Poz-cast since Jim and I go way back and talk, unfiltered, on hunter responsibilities and how conservation is led by hunters and their success," said Newberg. "Jim is a leader in the conservation field as many of his books and papers on conservation are still used today by state wildlife agencies, schools and more."

Newberg talks with Pozewitz on the "Dirty Thirties," which is the start of the conservation movement with key leader, President Theodore Roosevelt. The duo dissects Roosevelt's legacy, beginning with his start in forming a relationship with government and society to better land and wildlife.

Learn more at RandyNewberg.Com, http://Facebook.com/RandyNewbergand http://Instagram.Com/RandyNewbergHunter

About Randy Newberg, Hunter: Randy Newberg is the voice of the public land hunter in America. Decades of hunting all species across public lands has provided both the experience and perspective that has allowed him to become the leading advocate for the self-guided hunter; hunters dependent upon public lands for hunting access. With his popular TV show, Leupold's Fresh Tracks with Randy Newberg airing on Sportsman Channel, accompanied by the long-standing Hunt Talk web forum, Newberg is looked to for advocacy and leadership as hunting and access issues become politicized. Now added to those platforms is the Hunt Talk Podcast where Newberg discusses relevant issues to hunters - unfiltered. Visit RandyNewberg.Com to download the bi-weekly podcast, information to download the weekly TV show and log in to the Hunt Talk forum. Subscribe to Randy Newberg's YouTube channel to get tips, behind the scenes, and ideas for the western big game hunter. Learn more at RandyNewberg.Com,http://Facebook.com/RandyNewberg and http://Instagram.Com/RandyNewbergHunter

MEDIA CONTACTS:
Michelle Scheuermann, BulletProof Communications LLC, 651.964.0264; michelle@bulletproofcomm.com

Monday, August 31, 2015

A hunter's elevator speech

If you had less than a minute to tell a stranger what drives your love of hunting, fishing and wild places, what would you say?
Here is what a small group of us in the Eastern Chapter of the Backcountry Hunter's and Angler's came up with.


We unite avid outdoors people who enjoy getting off the trail, and who hunt and fish following strong conservation ethics.

Grounded in the views of Aldo Leopold and Theodore Roosevelt, we value the full range of wild flora and fauna, from apex predators to invertebrates. We believe that what we do as hunters and anglers must put  the good of the environment first. We are vocal about conservation policy, speaking up for wildlife and wild places. We look for common ground where hunters, anglers, and environmentalists can work together.

Whether we hunt and fish in the West, the East, or both, we value the “backcountry ideal”—the quiet and solitude of wild places near and far, large and small. We see ourselves as full participants in the natural world and enjoy being immersed in it.

Firmly embracing ethical hunting and fishing practices, we honor the animals and fish we pursue. We voluntarily limit our use of off-road vehicles and other gadgets, and also limit our take.
From wild places across the nation to Washington, DC, we are boots-on-the-ground people. We make a difference by caring and by being involved.



Monday, July 13, 2015

New ethics campaign

The new hunter ethics campaign being launched by one group of Montana volunteers is simply the latest step in what will likely be a long process to educate hunters and nonhunters alike.

Last week the Citizen Advisory Committee for Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks’ region 3 announced the official plan for its Hunt Right campaign. The goal is to promote ethical hunting and educate nonhunters to the fact that the vast majority of sportsmen and women keep ethics at the forefront of their mind while out in the field.

Note: Orion board member Thomas Baumeister is involved with this effort with other Orion member input.

 
To find out more information about the Hunt Right campaign, look at their Facebook page at www.facebook.com/huntrightmt or go to a website set up for them by the Montana’s Outdoor Legacy Foundation at huntrightmt.org.

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Final 'Waters of the U.S.' Rule Represents Victory for Sportsmen, Fish and Wildlife, Clean Water

Thank you EPA and Army Corps for your 3 2WASHINGTON - A highly anticipated rule that would enhance critical fish and wildlife habitat, improve the nation's supply of drinking water and restore clarity to the federal Clean Water Act was finalized this morning, eliciting praise from business owners and sportsmen's groups, including Backcountry Hunters & Anglers.
Today's announcement by the administration concludes a multi-stakeholder process aimed at eliminating confusion surrounding the scope of the Clean Water Act. The resulting "Waters of the U.S." rule reflects a lengthy and comprehensive vetting process, including more than 1 million public comments. Widely supported by citizens, sportsmen and outdoor-focused businesses, it represents a practical approach that addresses the needs of both industry and the general populace.
"The release by the administration of the final Waters of the U.S. rule culminates an unprecedented effort to restore clarity to a bedrock natural resources law, the federal Clean Water Act," said BHA Executive Director Land Tawney. "The rule will conserve resources important to our fish, our wildlife, our citizens - and to the waters and wetlands that are central to our national identity.
"A chorus of ducks can be heard quacking from the wetlands where waterfowl are busy nesting and rearing their young, and fishtail slap high-fives are surfacing on the headwaters of our nation's most precious trout and salmon streams," continued Tawney, an avid waterfowler and angler. "These are some of the key habitats protected via the Waters of the U.S. rule. We thank the administration for persevering in the face of unrelenting opposition to sustain these places - and the outdoor opportunities they provide - for future generations to experience and enjoy."   
More                                                         

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Stewardship and the Hunt

From the Backcountry Hunters and Anglers website

The following is a talk given by Dr. George N. Wallace at Colorado State University's (CSU) College of Natural Resources Fall Seminar Series on "The Culture of Stewardship", December 9th, 2004. George is an active BHA member and retired CSU professor.
george wallaceI know that the number of fishery and wildlife biology students that hunt has declined and are perhaps now a minority. I am going to propose that hunting can contribute to land stewardship and foster a commitment to land health as it has for many noted conservationists - though it does not always do so.
Read on - it is worth the time!

Friday, April 17, 2015

Sara the Bear Has 105 Descendants

From the Bangor Daily News:

Bear cub Image Courtesy of Randy Cross/Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife
 
Sara the bear and her prodigious family left an incredible impression on biologists in Maine who have been studying the animals for decades. While Sara died in 1987, seven years after first being studied by biologists, 15 of her black bear (Ursus americanus) descendants have been collared and are being tracked by biologists with the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries. Now, five generations of cubs trace their lineage back to Sara. The sheer amount of cubs that have come from Sara may be partly due to abnormal longevity in the family line, according to Randy Cross, a biologist with the Department and a member of The Wildlife Society.
Read more at the Bangor Daily News.

Monday, March 9, 2015

Birdwatchers, Hunters Train Their Scopes on Conservation

March 9, 2015 |  

The views expressed are those of the author and are not necessarily those of Scientific American.


A group of men stand birdwatching. (Ryan Hagerty/U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service/Wikimedia)
Sparked by Richard Louv’s book on Nature-Deficit Disorder, many organizations, agencies, teachers and the White House have made the push to get people outside for the benefit of their mental and physical health. Now there is another reason: to benefit environmental health. In a new study my colleagues and I show that outdoor recreationists—in this case, birdwatchers and hunters—are more likely than non-recreationists to carry out conservation activities.
We chose to publish the paper in the Journal of Wildlife Management because state wildlife agencies have a long history of designing programs for their hunting
more:

Saturday, December 13, 2014

California wildlife managers ban prizes for competitive hunts

The California Fish and Game Commission voted last week to prohibit rewards for hunting contests involving species such as coyotes and foxes, classified by the state as non-game species or furbearers. Previously cash and merchandise prizes were awarded in competitions, often termed “predator derbies”, for contestants who harvested the most animals. The ban will not prohibit hunting the species, nor will it prohibit trophy hunts for game animals such as deer.
Read more about the ban at Reuters.

Before approving the measure, California Fish and Game President Michael Sutton said awarding prizes for killing the largest number of coyotes and other creatures was unethical and that such contests “are an anachronism and have no place in modern wildlife management.”

Note from Eric - The quote from Sutton above brings out an interesting nuance - it seems like he is saying that the attitude or mind set of the hunter is important as it relates to ethics. If you are doing it for fame or money primarily it is unethical. If you do it for challenge and utilization of the animal (honoring the animal) it is ethical.  

In a recent discussion on the controversial Idaho derby one of the Orion board members said this

Todd Wilkinson recently published an excellent piece that addresses several of the questions you raise below, Eric. I highly recommend it to all:


One of the most interesting observations of the researchers upon whom he is reporting is that most hunters of conventional game animals (i.e. those that will become meat) report deep feelings of empathy with their prey, whereas predator hunting seems to be rooted in a lack of empathy. Ironic, to say the very least.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Man Charged for Feeding Bears


VERMONT FISH & WILDLIFE
Press Release

For Immediate Release:  July 15, 2014
Media Contact:  Col. David LeCours, 802-828-1529; Forrest Hammond, 802-885-8832

Man Charged for Feeding Bears

MONTGOMERY, Vt. -- A Montgomery Vermont man was charged by the Fish & Wildlife Department for intentionally feeding bears.   

Jeffrey Messier, 54, of Black Falls Road was charged with feeding bears after Game Warden Sgt. Carl Wedin received a report of a bear being killed in self-defense at a neighboring residence on June 22, 2014.  Sgt. Wedin responded and recovered the bear.  Its stomach contained a large number of sunflower seeds. 

The investigating warden went to Jeffrey Messier’s residence where he discovered evidence of bear feeding and encountered a bear walking around the residence.  The bear showed no sign of being afraid of people and walked right up to the warden.  The bear then approached a picnic table where sunflower seeds were placed.  It was obvious to the warden that this bear had been intentionally fed on several occasions and had lost its fear of humans. 

Further investigation by Sgt. Wedin revealed that several other bears also came to the residence often enough to be named and that many of them in recent years may have been killed or injured in incidents with other landowners.

According to the Vermont Fish &Wildlife Department, black bears are found in most forested portions of Vermont where they rely on wild foods such as berries, cherries, beechnuts, apples and acorns to survive.  But the department also points out that bears can easily become attracted to other foods such as birdseed, garbage and pet food. 

“Bears are normally shy and not aggressive toward humans,” says bear biologist Forrest Hammond.  “However, a bear that has been fed by humans soon loses its shyness and can become dangerous, especially to the landowner feeding the bears and to their neighbors.  Often, as in this case, fed bears will seek similar foods elsewhere, and in the process cause property damage and scare people not expecting to find bears on their porches and in their back yards.”  

“At this time we are responding to reports throughout the state of bears causing damage while attempting to get at chicken feed, bird seed, stored garbage, and food kept in screened porches.   In most cases this does not end well for the bears.”

“People such as Mr. Messier that feed bears often think they are helping them,” said Hammond, “but in reality such behavior causes problems for other landowners and often ends with the death of the bears being fed.  When we start receiving multiple reports of bears causing problems in an area we most often find that someone is intentionally feeding them.” 
The intentional feeding of bears is illegal in Vermont.  If convicted Messier faces a fine of up to $1,000 and a one-year revocation of his hunting, fishing and trapping licenses.

For information about living with Vermont’s black bears, see the Vermont Fish & Wildlife website (www.vtfishandwildlife.com).