For the third year in a row, Nebraska wants to open a small and declining population of mountain lio
Since January 2019, 15 mountain lions have already died in Nebraska, including 12 from trophy hunting. Photo by Moodboard/Alamy Stock Photo
Nebraska’s mountain lions have suffered enough. They were wiped out of existence in the state during the 1900s because of trophy hunting, and it was only in 2007 that biologists documented a new mountain lion kitten in the state’s Pine Ridge region. Unfortunately, the small population of lions now living in that area is once again in decline, and today, there are only about 34 mountain lions left in Pine Ridge, about half as many as there were two years ago.
Given this alarming drop, you would think wildlife officials in Nebraska would be pulling out all the stops to ensure these native carnivores survive and thrive. Instead, after allowing trophy hunters to put this tiny population of mountain lions in their crosshairs last year and again this year, Nebraska Park and Game Commission officials have proposed allowing more lions to be trophy hunted in 2021.
The harebrained proposal, which could result in the localized extinction of this species, needs to be stopped in its tracks. Only 22 of the 34 lions in the Pine Ridge region are likely old enough to be legally hunted. The proposal would allow trophy hunters to kill up to four mountain lions, generating less than $5,000 for the agency during the 2021 hunting season. But the actual death toll could be much higher: trophy hunters often end up killing mother lions, who leave their cubs in the den and venture out to find food. Orphaned cubs would be left to die of starvation, dehydration or predation by other animals.
Nebraska wildlife officials argue that hunting the animals is necessary to manage the species, but science and research have shown, time and again, that this is not true. Mountain lions regulate their own numbers just fine, without human interference.
Besides decimating fragile populations, we know that trophy hunting lions can cause many other problems for this species. In California and Florida, low numbers due to trophy hunting have led to inbreeding among lions. This has resulted in genetic deformities in the population and sterility among some male mountain lions, which in turn could lead to an even smaller population that can no longer sustain itself.
Nebraska, with its wild spaces, is well situated to harbor and support hundreds of healthy, flourishing mountain lions. If managed well, mountain lions in neighboring states could potentially come into the state and help prevent inbreeding. But this won’t happen if Nebraska continues to sanction a killing spree. Since January 2019, 15 mountain lions have already died in the state, including 12 from trophy hunting. This could also mean that the current population of mature mountain lions in Pine Ridge is likely much smaller than the estimated 22 lions reported by Nebraska Game and Parks.
Last year, the commission posted a video of a newborn mountain lion kitten left alone in a forested den by the mother lion who, it turned out, was moving his siblings to another den and came back for him at the end of the day. Nebraskans were smitten and the video was viewed thousands of times, showing that the state’s residents would no doubt prefer their native wildlife alive in the wild, not as a stuffed mount or a rug in someone’s living room.
The Nebraska Game and Parks Commission will review the 2021 mountain lion trophy hunting proposal during their meeting on June 19th. If you live in Nebraska, please read the proposal and leave a comment here by June 17th. Tell the commission not to approve this proposal and, instead, end all trophy hunting of mountain lions in the state.
Published at Fri, 05 Jun 2020 15:42:55 +0000
Most people in China do not eat dog and cat meat, and animals who end up in this trade are often stolen pets who meet a gruesome end. Photo by Peter Li/HSI
In recent months, China has made rapid progress toward quashing its infamous wildlife and dog meat trades. Last week, we got more good news on this front: China officially confirmed that dogs are pets and are not livestock for eating; and Wuhan, where the novel coronavirus is believed to have originated, prohibited residents from consuming all wildlife.
The declaration that dogs are companions and not livestock, first proposed in April, comes just weeks ahead of the Yulin dog meat festival, which begins June 21st, and where thousands of dogs and cats are killed for their meat each year. We hope this new development will lead to authorities in Yulin reining in—and even putting a complete stop to—this terrible event.
We also hope the declaration will lead China to act swiftly to end the dog and cat meat trade wherever it exists in the nation. Most people in China do not eat dog and cat meat, and animals who end up in this trade are often stolen pets who meet a gruesome end.
Unfortunately, the final livestock list issued by China’s Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs does include some wild animals, including foxes, raccoon dogs and mink, who suffer immensely in the fur trade. Keeping these animals in close, confined conditions has been known to increase the risk of zoonotic disease spread. We call on China to reconsider this decision and ensure that all wild animals are kept off the livestock list, and to ban the fur trade as well, if it truly wants to rebrand itself as a nation that cares about global human health and animal welfare.
Wuhan’s ban on eating wild animals now brings up to four the total number of Chinese cities that have announced similar bans. In April, the city of Shenzhen first banned the eating of wildlife and included dogs and cats in its ban. Last week, the city announced a free program for microchipping all of the city’s 220,000 dogs to encourage responsible pet ownership and stop the stealing of dogs for the meat trade. Also last month, the city of Zhuhai adopted a ban on wildlife and dog and meat consumption and the nation’s capital city, Beijing, banned the eating of wildlife.
But while the bans in these other cities are permanent, the ban in Wuhan will only be in place for five years. We are calling on Wuhan to make its ban permanent, because science and history have shown that these markets present great health risk to humans and they need to be closed down in China and elsewhere around the globe where they exist.
We also urge China, which announced a temporary nationwide ban on wildlife consumption in February, to make that ban permanent.
Last month we reported that several provinces in mainland China, including Hunan and Jiangxi, are offering wildlife farmers a buy-out to move away from breeding wild animals for food and transition to alternative livelihoods such as growing fruit, vegetables, tea plants or herbs for traditional Chinese medicine. This plan is similar to the one we have implemented in South Korea, where we have been successfully transitioning farmers out of the dog meat trade and into more humane livelihoods for six years now.
The developments in China are being accelerated by the coronavirus crisis, but they are truly heartening for our Humane Society International team which, along with local partners on the ground, has been sowing the seeds for this transformation in attitudes and practice for years now. We have contributed to public education, met with government officials, assisted with the rescue of dogs and cats bound for slaughter, and brought global attention to China’s dog meat trade by focusing media attention on events like Yulin where companion animals suffer so terribly each year. We have also shone the spotlight on the wildlife trade, which has led to some species of wild animals, including pangolins and tigers, being pushed to the brink of extinction.
The coronavirus pandemic has shown us that treating animals cruelly can result in disaster for humans, and there hasn’t been a better time to recognize the harm these practices cause and to root them out. The momentum in China shows signs of growing even stronger: at the just concluded annual session of the National People’s Congress, delegates to the national legislature submitted several proposals to outlaw animal cruelty, shut down the wildlife trade, outlaw dog meat trade, ban the online transmission of animal cruelty images and videos and end animal performances. All of this is very promising, and we applaud the nation for moving forward on this important path that will benefit both its people and its animals for generations to come.
Published at Thu, 04 Jun 2020 15:35:46 +0000