New threat to endangered species...restoration

The success of recent American efforts at endangered species reintroduction has come back to bite us in the butt...so to speak.

In Florida we have too many gators, in Montana too many wolves, too many wild horses out west and too many otters I'll bet and yes, it's said, too many bald eagles overhead; what is a nation to do - answer, bring on the hunters and earn some revenue.

full story on ENN
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Congo Police, Army Accused of Elephant Poaching

January 20, 2005 KINSHASA — Congo's police and fractious army have been accused of involvement in rampant elephant poaching that threatens to wipe them out from a world heritage site in the east of the former Zaire, a new study has warned.

The investigation by the Congolese Institute for Conservation of Nature estimates 17 tonnes of elephant ivory was smuggled out of the Okapi Wildlife Reserve (OWR) in the volatile Ituri district during the last six months of 2004 alone...

Trade in ivory is outlawed under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES). South Africa, Botswana and Namibia were granted permission in 2002 for one-off sales of stockpiled ivory, which have yet to go ahead, but Namibia failed in its bid for an annual export quota of 2,000 kg (4,400 lb) at a CITES meeting in Bangkok in October.

Read the whole story on ENN
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Vegetarian predator

Perhaps rather it should be called the pesco-vegetarian bird of prey or P. vegeraptor urbanisis but by whatever name you apply this magnificent hunter is a true vegetarian, an evolved specialist whose ability to exploit the fertile coast lands from Alaska to Key West is legendary.

The Osprey, Pandion haliaetus or "Sea Eagle" nests, sometimes in large communities, near shore lines hunting nearby estuaries and presenting a breathtaking aerial display for incredulous human observers. They build large nests, often 8' in diameter at the top of tall standing dead wood. From these lofty perches the osprey has an unobstructed view of their entire range.

Osprey circle high overhead sometimes in pairs sometimes alone, spotting their quarry from as much as 200' in the air. Using the cover of tree lines they sweep down appearing suddenly, out of nowhere, snatching fish unlucky enough to be shallowing too near the shore. Some reports put his hunting success ratio at 80%.

I have no illusions that this great bird of prey is fisher-vegetarian by choice but it is interesting to speculate on the power of nature and adaptation that could create in such a creature the ability to thrive so magnificently on a diet of fish. For all our omnivorous friends - food for thought.

Read more about the Osprey
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Three rescued sea turtles released in the Gulf

(Clearwater, Florida, USA) January 13, 2005 . . . . .It’s a great start to the New Year for three rescued Loggerhead Sea Turtles. Mitch, Lori and Baker were returned to their home in the waters of the Gulf of Mexico today.

At 9 AM they began to gather at Frenchy's Rockaway Grill on Clearwater Beach which played host to the event. Aquarium staffers and about 200 interested well wishers milled about in expectation of the arrival of the 3 rescued turtles, see photos Animal Broadcast Network: Loggerhead Turtles

“We’re always excited when we can return an animal to its natural environment,” said Glenn Harman, Clearwater Marine Aquarium Director of Animal Programs. “We exist for that very purpose, and it is very rewarding when we get to fulfill our mission.”

The three loggerheads, a threatened species, had been rescued by CMA, and subsequently rehabilitated over the past several months. Mitch, a sub-adult, was found floating off Indian Shores Beach in May of 2004. He was rescued by Harman who spotted him and swam out to assist the young sea turtle. After a round of antibiotics, Mitch is eating well and like all youngsters full of energy.

Lori, also a sub-adult, was rescued off Historic Anclote Key. Found floating and with a bad list by a passing boater last October she had substantial algae growth on her carapace which was treated successfully with antibiotics. Lori has a healthy appetite and will thrive in her natural habitat.

The third rescued turtle released today was Baker. Baker was caught by a fisherman near Ft. DeSoto Park in October 2004, Baker had to have a hook removed from his throat and despite the close call has completely recovered.

Currently, CMA has about fifty animals in its care. It maintains a permanent residence for seventeen sea turtles of various species, four North American river otters, and three Atlantic bottlenose dolphins. The remaining animals are in treatment and rehabilitation.
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Spirit of Horses and Burros Act threatened

Since its' enactment in 1971 the Wild Horses and Burros Act has been charged with managing and maintaining the population of wild equines in the American west. The current administration recently broke with tradition and has provided additional funds to reduce the managed herds - the reason: to free up range land for increased cattle production.

The week-end before Thanksgiving Congress passed the omnibus Federal Appropriations bill. Hidden within this massive tome is rider #142 that strips federal protection for America's wild horses. Without public debate Congress opened the way for the animals to be slaughtered for profit. President Bush will sign the bill into law December 6.

Fate for many of these wild horses will be the dinner plates of Europe.

Portrait compliments of Christa Kroos

Read more at IF4H The International Fund for Horses.
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Bucks for bucks

...the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) and the Fund for Animals (FFA) will merge at the beginning of the year. According to a recent report by Scripps Howard News Service, the merger will result in a megabucks organization that has more than $95 million to fight hunters — and eventually sport anglers.
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