AWI Quarterly » 2014 Spring

Virginia passed a law in April banning new coyote/fox penning operations in the state. The law makes it a Class 1 misdemeanor (punishable by up to one year in jail and a fine of up to $2,500) for any person “to erect, maintain, or operate an enclosure for the purpose of pursuing, hunting, or killing or attempting to pursue, hunt, or kill any fox or coyote with a dog.”
In December 2013, the New York Department of Environmental Conservation (NYDEC) released a Draft Management Plan for Mute Swans that called for complete eradication of all 2,200 birds from the state of New York by 2025. Lethal control of the swans would be conducted by hunters, private property owners, USDA Wildlife Services, and several local agencies.
Endangered California condors in Arizona and Utah are showing a substantial decrease in toxic blood-lead levels—possibly the result of a drop in lead-based ammunition by hunters.
Just days before an annual killing contest in which some 40 coyotes were gunned down around the town of Adin, the California Fish and Game Commission voted unanimously to consider a statewide ban on wildlife killing contests.
An independent scientific peer review panel has unanimously concluded that the US Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) did not use the best available science to support its proposal to remove Endangered Species Act protections for gray wolves across the contiguous United States (see Winter 2014 AWI Quarterly).
The film “Noah” is a Hollywood epic that recounts the biblical story of Noah’s struggle to save his family and a menagerie of animals from a flood that threatens to wipe out all other life on the planet. Beyond the bounds of sacred text and cinematic story-telling, there’s a modern-day flood occurring—one that is also devastating wildlife species, irreparably altering ecosystems, and stealing from future generations.
It may be hard for modern suburbanites to believe, but deer became so scarce in the early 1900s due to intense hunting that the species would have been considered endangered. That, of course, is no longer true. A mix of hunting restrictions, predator eradication, and suburbanization—creating deer-friendly open spaces—has produced a dramatic comeback. The white-tailed deer is now the most widely-distributed large mammal in North America.
A full 17 years after being listed as endangered across its entire range, critical habitat was finally designated for the jaguar (Panthera onca) this spring. A total of 764,207 acres in the three southernmost counties in Arizona (Pima, Santa Cruz, and Cochise) and neighboring Hidalgo County in New Mexico fall within the boundaries of the final designation that was released by the US Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) last month.
This story and others related to the impacts of military sonar on marine mammals are recounted in engaging detail by Joshua Horwitz in his upcoming book, War of the Whales, to be published by Simon and Schuster in July 2014. Josh focuses on two “characters” in the book: Ken Balcomb, a killer whale biologist in Washington state, and Joel. Ken has also studied beaked whales in the Bahamas and, through an astonishing set of coincidences, ended up embroiled in the struggle to protect whales from the growing cacophony of sonar, pile driving, shipping, and seismic exploration for oil and gas that is cluttering up their acoustic space below the waves.
Life seems to fly past, ever more fast-paced and electronic-obsessed, with parents and their kids increasingly sitting indoors communicating via electronic tools. We all but ignore the natural world that is just outside our doors. In The Beavers of Popple’s Pond: Sketches from the Life of an Honorary Rodent, author, naturalist, artist, and wildlife rehabilitator Patti Smith shows us what we are missing.