AWI Quarterly » 2015 Fall

On October 8, the California Coastal Commission voted to allow SeaWorld San Diego to build its $100 million expansion of Shamu Stadium, a project known as Blue World, but only under the following conditions: the orca breeding program must end; consistent with federal law, no whales can be transferred into or out of the park; and the number of whales held in the new complex must be capped at 15.
Fish tanks are ubiquitous—found in doctor’s offices, Chinese restaurants, corporate headquarters, and in millions of homes throughout the world. Some studies report that they reduce anxiety, stress, and blood pressure, calm hyperactive children, and provide some relief for those suffering from Alzheimer’s disease.
For more than a decade, AWI has been working to stop the US Navy from using harmful active sonar in areas where it can negatively impact marine animals. Over the summer of 2015, the tide finally turned. For the first time ever, the US Navy has agreed to put important habitat for numerous marine animal populations off-limits to both mid-frequency active sonar training and testing and the use of powerful explosives.
On August 17, AWI and allies filed a lawsuit against the US Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) for allowing trappers in Maine to seriously injure and kill (“take”) Canada lynx (Lynx canadensis), a federally protected species. The lawsuit requests that the court close down the state’s trapping season. As we go to press, we await news on when the case will be heard.
Three Sisters Springs is an important 1.5 acre manatee wintering area within the Crystal River National Wildlife Refuge on Florida’s Gulf coast, about 50 miles north of Tampa. The Florida manatee (Trichechus manatus latirostris) is an endangered subspecies of the West Indian manatee.
The US District Court for the Northern District of California, on August 11, struck down a decision by the US Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) to allow wind energy developers to obtain 30-year permits to accidentally kill or injure (“take”) bald and golden eagles (see AWI Quarterly, winter 2014).
AWI is gravely disappointed in the outcome of the review of the federal Wildlife Services program by the USDA Office of Inspector General (OIG). The OIG took up the investigation after members of Congress requested it—but promptly punted on any in-depth analysis.
Over 200 wildlife experts from around the world met in Tel Aviv in late August/early September at the 28th meeting of the Animals Committee of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES).
Colorado rancher and livestock hauler Tom Davis spent close to $18,000 to purchase approximately 1,800 horses from the Bureau of Land Management’s (BLM) Wild Horse and Burro Program from 2008 to 2012, telling the BLM that the horses would be sold to families as pets. Instead, he sent nearly all of them to Mexico to be slaughtered, making a hefty profit of over $150,000.
The Christine Stevens Wildlife Award is a grant program named in honor of AWI’s late founder and president for over 50 years. Each year, the program provides grants of up to $10,000 to support innovative and creative research on humane, nonlethal tools and techniques for wildlife conflict management and improved methods of wildlife study.
There has been a significant reduction in gunshot mortality of red wolves over the last year, ever since coyote hunting was restricted in the wolves’ North Carolina habitat as a result of legal action taken by AWI and allies. Nevertheless, the red wolf remains in dire need of the protections guaranteed to listed species under the Endangered Species Act (ESA).
On September 18, AWI joined other animal protection organizations in co-hosting a briefing by the Congressional Animal Protection Caucus for staff of members of the US House of Representatives on the Pet and Women Safety (PAWS) Act (HR 1258/S 1559).
On October 7, the House Natural Resources Committee voted to advance HR 2406, the Sportsmen’s Heritage and Recreational Enhancement (SHARE) Act, which presents a clear assault on wildlife both at home and abroad. The current House version of this recurring bill is even more extreme than its Senate counterpart (S 405, the Bipartisan Sportsmen’s Act), and is little more than a grab bag of troubling measures that jeopardize already fragile ecosystems and animal welfare.
On November 6, 2015, Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA) announced that he would introduce the Orca Responsibility and Care Advancement (ORCA) Act. With eight original cosponsors, the ORCA Act (HR 4019) takes a long-overdue step: it would prohibit the breeding, wild capture, import, and export of orcas for the purpose of public display.
Congress has taken an important step toward cracking down on wildlife trafficking. On November 2, the House of Representatives passed HR 2494, the Global Anti-Poaching Act, introduced by Reps. Ed Royce (R-CA) and Eliot Engle (D-NY).