AWI Quarterly » 2014 Fall

The Society for Conservation Biology (SCB) is a professional society for conservation scientists and practitioners from academia, government, charities, and professional associations. In 2009 its Marine Section held the first International Marine Conservation Congress (IMCC).
It is no secret that there is a worldwide extinction crisis plaguing the world’s sharks, and this crisis is fueled primarily by anthropogenic sources. In addition to overfishing, pollution, and climate change, shark finning remains the critical factor in plummeting shark populations. It is currently predicted that 28 percent of shark species will go extinct within a decade or two, and up to 73 million sharks are killed annually for their fins.
In September 2014, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) published a new study on a dangerous phenomenon known as “ghost fishing.” Ghost fishing occurs when derelict fishing gear, including lost or abandoned nets and traps, continue to ensnare marine life.
The 65th meeting of the International Whaling Commission (IWC) opened on September 15 in the picturesque Slovenian city of Portorož. Key issues on the IWC's agenda at this plenary meeting—the first since the Commission went to biennial meetings in 2012—included a proposal for a whaling quota for Greenland, a renewed proposal from Japan to create a new type of commercial whaling, and a resolution from several West African nations on food security in relation to whales.
AWI’s Dr. Naomi Rose attended the Marine Mammals of the Holarctic International Conference in St. Petersburg, Russia, in late September, in an effort to learn about, and network among, Russian scientists and managers involved in the disturbing trade in wild-caught belugas and orcas.
South Africa's Kruger National Park is taking bids from private landowners for 500 of its white rhinos. Newspaper ads advise parties to "make a written offer to purchase white rhinos in batches of 20 or more."
Ranking Member of the House Natural Resources Committee, Rep. Peter DeFazio (D-OR), introduced the Targeted Use of Sanctions for Killing Elephants in their Range (TUSKER) Act on September 11, a bill to impose trade sanctions on countries that facilitate ivory trafficking.
One country may already be turning the table on traffickers. On June 20, Mozambique passed a law that mandates a prison term of 8 to 12 years for poaching of endangered species. In the past, such poachers often escaped with a fine.
Try as they might, hard-working wildlife officials cannot be everywhere at once. In remote areas, it is a depressingly familiar scenario for such officials to come upon grisly crime scenes strewn with the bodies of wantonly slaughtered animals. By the time they arrive, the killers have long since fled and the damage has been done.
Two distinct, loud “thumps”—that is how, in a September 27, 2014, Facebook post, the president of Lobo Watch, an anti-wolf organization, described the sound when his minivan struck two wolves chasing an elk calf traversing I-90 in remote western Montana. He claimed it was an “accident,” but admits to hitting the accelerator in order to “save that calf.”
A federal judge has ruled that an Arizona animal cruelty case, involving a former employee of USDA’s Wildlife Services who trapped and severely injured his neighbor's dog, can go forward. The accused, Russell Files, had sought to dismiss the case, claiming that he was immune from state prosecution because his job with the federal government permitted him to trap animals.
Deer management is a significant issue across the country, and traditionally has resulted in lethal population control via sharpshooting, hunting with firearms, and bow hunting—despite the latter method’s documented inefficiency and potential for animals to be non-fatally wounded and suffer considerably.
On September 11, the US Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) revised its critical habitat designation for threatened Canada lynx, as well as its definition of the animal’s distinct population segment (DPS) protected by the Endangered Species Act (ESA). The move was considered a mixed bag by conservationists.
This summer, New Jersey and New York, two states that represent key ports of entry into the United States for consumer goods (and wildlife trafficking), passed laws to help stem the illegal trade in ivory and rhino horn.
On February 1, 2013, the US Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) announced a proposal to list the North American wolverine as a threatened species under the Endangered Species Act (ESA).