Friday, January 27, 2012
Thursday, January 26, 2012
Hawai'i Builds First Predator Proof Fence in U.S.
Hawai'i has erected the first predator-proof fence in the U.S., which is successfully keeping mice, rats, dogs, cats and mongooses from eating seabird eggs and chicks on the northwestern shore of the island of Oahu. Hawai'i's Department of Land and Natural Resources, the Hawai'i Chapter of the Wildlife Society, and other community groups collaborated on the project, which marks a significant milestone in a continuing battle to recover endangered bird species threatened by predation by invasive species.
The 2,040 foot long, 6.5 foot high fence consists of a high-tech metal mesh which can keep terrestrial predators from ground–nesting seabird nest sites. The FWS funded the $270,000 fence, which was installed last March around 59 acres of the Ka'ena Point Natural Area Reserve. Following installation, biologists conducted an extensive effort to trap and remove predators from within the enclosure. The initial results are encouraging, with chick survival at its highest for some species since the 1990s. The overhanging fence keeps animals from climbing over, and an underground mesh skirt keeps predators from tunneling underneath. Two more fences are being installed in the state, including one which is designed to keep out carnivorous snails. Eventually biologists hope to reintroduce the endangered Hawai'ian petrel (Pterodroma sandwichensis) and Newell's Shearwater (Puffinus newelli) to the reserve. The fence will also benefit native plants as well by keeping rats from eating native plant seeds.
Sources: E&E Publishing (Landletter, December 15, 2011), Hawai'i Division of Forestry and Wildlife
Horse Slaughter Ban Lifted
On November 18, 2011 President Obama signed into law the Consolidated and Further Continuing Appropriations Act, 2012 (H.R. 2112). The legislation, in part, eliminated the "backdoor ban" on horse slaughter by removing language that prohibited funding for inspections, required for the horse slaughter industry to operate. While the bill does not prohibit the expenditure of funds on inspections of horse slaughter facilities for human consumption, it also does not allocate money for it. The U.S. Department of Agriculture would have to allocate funding out from its own budget in order to provide inspections, which the agency says it will do if slaughterhouses open.
A recent report from the Government Accountability Office, which prompted the reversal, found that the ban was backfiring since it only shifted slaughter from the U.S. to Canada and Mexico where U.S. humane slaughter laws could not be enforced. People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals and the Humane Society of the United States support the reversal because the consequences of the ban have proven detrimental to horse welfare. However, some animal rights groups want bans implemented on horse slaughter in the U.S. as well as on the live export of horses for slaughter. The American Horse Slaughter Prevention Act of 2011 has been introduced in support of this aim in both the House (H.R. 2966), and the Senate (S. 1176).
The Wildlife Society (TWS) recognizes the ecological damage caused by wild horses and burros (WHB) and supports euthanasia as a humane method for removal of unadoptable horses, as detailed in its Position Statement on Feral Horses and Burros in North America. Agencies charged with managing WHB populations, such as the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), rarely employ euthanasia. However, with nearly 40,000 WHBs now roaming BLM-managed lands and virtually no natural predators to control populations, herds can double every four years, creating a pressing need for realistic management options. With horse slaughter no longer banned in the U.S., federal agencies have the option of employing euthanasia in the form of humane slaughter of WHBs for human consumption. The BLM currently has a policy against selling horses for slaughter, though that policy is shaped by public opinion.