The Case for Living in Harmony with Wildlife

As the outside temperature increases, so do the chances of encountering wildlife in many parts of the country. While seeingrabbit (1) wildlife can sometimes be a pleasant experience, finding skunks under the porch, rabbits in the flower bed, or bats in the attic can be frustrating. As a result, humans have developed an entire arsenal of deadly traps, poisons, and weapons designed to destroy animals we do not like or animals we do not want around our property. While lethal means of “pest control” are in many cases legal, we degrade our environment when we fail to make the effort to live harmoniously with wildlife.

Even the self-described “animal lovers” among us sometimes fall into the erroneous thinking that there are “good animals” and “bad animals.” In reality, all species serve a purpose within their native environments. Consider for instance, the copperhead, sometimes found in rural areas near bodies of water in the summer. Rare is the person who forgives the black rat snake for being a snake – but even rarer is the person who concedes the right of existence to the venomous pit viper. Nonetheless, copperheads, as many other species of snake, are valuable predators that help limit the populations of other animals, including mice and insects. In turn, the copperhead is as well, a food source for larger predators. To destroy native species to satisfy our own fear and contempt will in time lead to permanent imbalances within nature. As the famous conservationist John Muir once wrote, “”When we try to pick out anything by itself, we find it hitched to everything else in the Universe.”

There is also no denying that killing an animal in many cases, may be the quick and easy solution. Therefore, many of us might ask, “Why not snare the rabbit and cut off the head of a snake? It is clearly the quickest way to rid myself of the animal, and there is no law to stop me!” However, as caretakers of our environment, we have a responsibility to consider methods that effectively impede conflicts with wild animals without destroying them. For instance, proper disposal of trash or use of specially designed bins can effectively prevent wild animals from invading outdoor garbage cans. Using lattice under porches and sealing holes in attics can prevent infiltration by groundhogs, opossums, bats, and other animals. Keeping grass neatly trimmed around the home can eliminate hiding places for snakes. While measures like these may require extra effort, they are often more effective in the long-term, and most importantly, preserve our environment and the lives of our animal friends.

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U.S. District Judge Restores Federal Protections to Gray Wolves in Wyoming

pawsupPaws Up!
To U.S. District Court Judge Amy B. Jackson for restoring federal protections to wolves in Wyoming.

Gray wolves are once again an endangered species in Wyoming.

Gray wolves are once again an endangered species in Wyoming.

In 2013, the United States Fish and Wildlife Service proposed an action to delist the gray wolf  in every state  where the species exists. The previous year, the state of Wyoming resumed control over the state’s  gray wolf population after the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service delisted them as a federally protected endangered species in the state.

On September 23, 2014, U.S. District Court Judge Amy B. Jackson reversed the action to delist gray wolves in the state of Wyoming. Under her ruling, she stated the USFWS had erred in accepting non-binding promises from the state of Wyoming to maintain wolf populations. Wyoming’s wolf management plan permitted licensed hunting and permitted citizens in many parts of the state to shoot a wolf on sight. Hunting and on-sight killing of wolves will be illegal now that the wolf is once again an endangered species in the state of Wyoming.

Take Action: Contact the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and express your support of federal protections for gray wolves in every state in their range.

Director Daniel M. Ashe
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
1849 C Street NW Washington DC 20240

Wolves Need Help Now

Wolves are a top predator and, as such, are important to the ecological balance of a region. Removing wolves from the Endangered Species List would upset that balance.

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Wolves occupy a vital part of the food chain.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) has proposed removing protections for wolves in the rest of the lower 48 states, having already stripped wolves of their protection in the Northern Rockies and Great Lakes.

Please let the FWS know you want wolves protected. Comments are being accepted by FWS until March 27. Write the director of FWS now.

Daniel M. Ashe, Director
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
1849 C Street, NW, Room 3358
Washington, DC 20240-0001

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When you think about it…where should companion cats live?

Companion cats that are allowed outdoors are not only at greater risk of harm, but are also likely to harm wildlife.

Companion cats who are allowed outdoors are not only at greater risk of harm, but they are likely to harm other animals.

Do companion cats, as opposed to feral cats, belong indoors or is it okay to let them roam free outdoors? Some people who have cats believe they should be allowed outdoors; it’s more “natural” for them to be outside for part of the day. Others believe the outdoors is unsafe for Fluffy who could be stalked by predators, hit by cars, or stolen by fiendish people. But what about the damage Fluffy can do to the outdoors? Should that be taken into consideration when deciding if companion cats should be indoors or outdoors?

A recent article breaks down the destruction felines do in the outdoors. It’s considerable. Researchers used kittycams to collect data and what they found was alarming. Cats kill just for the sake of killing, not always to eat or bring back trophies to present to their guardians. They are indiscriminate hunters going after birds, frogs, snakes, lizards, and the favorite mice.

So, when you think about it…where should companion cats live? Most likely they should live where the least harm can be done to them and where they can do the least harm—indoors, with maybe a screened enclosure so they can be outside safely.

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When you think about it…let’s support those who don’t want to kill.

The youth of our country are now the targets of those that must keep the "tradition" of hunting alive.

The youth of our country are targeted by those struggling to keep the dying “tradition” of hunting alive.

While the number of hunters is actually decreasing, those interested in keeping the “tradition” of hunting alive are now focusing on the youth of our country. Get rifles into their hands when they’re young and maybe, just maybe, the “tradition” will continue. However, many young people are not interested in hunting. They don’t see the point of it. Killing wildlife is not high on their list of priorities. So, what’s the hunting industry to do?

Often the decision is to make it easier for children to hunt. Some states lower the age at which children can hunt on their own. Some firearms manufactures make rifles specifically fit for children and in colors to entice their interest. Some wildlife agencies host killing contests designed just for children. Yet, not all children want to stalk squirrels. We should applaud those who do not want to kill for the sake of killing. We need to offer them alternatives to learn about wildlife while preserving wildlife. When you think about it…let’s support those who don’t want to kill. While companies and agencies that make money off hunting will lose, our children and wildlife will reap great rewards.

When you think about it…prairie dogs have rights, too.

Prarie dogs are often considered a menace to farmers and ranchers, and have become a target for destruction.

Prarie dogs are often considered a menace to western farmers and ranchers, and have become a target of extermination.

The prairie dog is arguably the most hated animal especially in the West. “During the 20th century, about 98 percent of all prairie dogs were exterminated, and their range has shrunk to perhaps five percent of its historic spread.”

So why are these cute little critters so persecuted? Ranchers claim prairie dogs destroy land and their burrows injure livestock. But these animals aren’t all bad. In fact, they are intelligent mammals who can recognize the difference between a dog and a coyote and alert their families to those differences. They know a human from a hawk and use different signals to call out the danger of one or the other. They live in family groups called towns. Their burrowing aerates the soil and their droppings enrich soil quality.

Yet, they are still hated, hated to the point their burrows are often closed up by trappers and then flooded with water or poisonous gas. They become the target of shooters who take part in a blood sport known as “red mist.” Shot at by high-powered rifles, prairie dogs explode in a mist of blood.

Ranchers, farmers, and wildlife sometimes clash. When that happens, wildlife suffer immeasurably. But if all can learn to get along, then when you think about it…prairie dogs have rights, too. And those rights need to be honored.

Genetically Engineered Salmon

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The longterm effects of genetically modified salmon on human health and the environment are still unknown.

Protecting animals and the environment should be high on everyone’s list. The US Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation and the US House Subcommittee on Fisheries, Wildlife, Oceans, and Insular Affairs have before them S 246 /HR 1667 , the Prevention of Escapement of Genetically Altered Salmon in the United States Act, which would ban the transportation, sale, purchase or possession of genetically modified fish in interstate or foreign commerce.

We strongly object to the genetic manipulation of salmon as such manipulation can affect animal and human health as well as environmental welfare. The threat to wild salmon and the general ocean ecosystem has not been mitigated nor have there been sufficient studies to determine what effect genetically engineered salmon would have on human health.

Write a brief note to the leadership of these committees expressing your concern regarding genetically engineered salmon and your support of this legislation. Also, write your senators and representatives expressing your concerns about the introduction of genetically engineered foods.

The Honorable Jay Rockefeller, Chairman
The Honorable John Thune, Ranking Member
Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation
Russell Senate Office Building 254
Washington, DC 20510

The Honorable John Fleming, Chairman
The Honorable Gregorio Kilili Camacho Sablan, Ranking Member
House Subcommittee on Fisheries, Wildlife, Oceans, and Insular Affairs
1324 Longworth House Office Building
Washington, DC 20515

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