Something Old, something New

From Rewilding Europe

“At the rate that the BLM is decimating our last remaining free roaming herds of wild horses and burros we may find ourselves taking notes on how the Europeans are bring wild equines back to their rightful ranges.” ~ R.T.


Looking to boost the benefical impact of free-roaming wild horses in the Coa Valley, Associação Transumância e Natureza (ATN) starts the Zebro Project.

Raising the grazing

Free living Sorraia horses in Faia Brava nature reserve, Western Iberia rewilding area, Portugal. Juan Carlos Múñoz / Rewilding Europe

Rewilding Europe wants Europe’s native herbivores to return in significant, naturally balanced numbers to the lands where they once belonged. With domesticated livestock numbers on the decline in many European countries due to land abandonment, such herbivores can play a vital grazing role, opening up landscapes and enhancing biodiversity.

To this effect, Rewilding Europe now supports natural grazing in 16 different pilot areas across nine countries. In Faia Brava, one of our largest natural grazing pilots located in northern Portugal’s Middle Côa Valley, wild Garrano horses are the herbivores now reshaping the landscape in a way that benefits a wide range of local flora and fauna.

Thanks to the efforts of Associação Transumância e Natureza (ATN), our partner in the Western Iberia rewilding area, another site in the Middle Côa Valley will soon benefit from wild equine grazing too. The Portuguese NGO has this year started the so-called Zebro Project, carefully selecting and cross-breeding Sorraia horses to maximise their wild characteristics. These animals will eventually be released as a herd at a site close to (but separate from) Faia Brava.

“Our eventual aim is to recreate wild, free-roaming horses that will replace those that have been lost from the Iberian ecosystem,” explains Pedro Prata, the Western Iberia rewilding area team leader and ATN’s executive coordinator.

“We want rustic equine and cattle breeds to take back their ancestral grazing role in the Middle Côa Valley in a natural and sustained way,” continues the Portuguese. “These herbivores can reduce weed density, create clearings, promote seed dispersal and favour populations of wild scavengers and predators.”

An equine experiment

The rewilding of horses began back in 2005, when ATN introduced five Garrano horses into Faia Brava. Further introductions since then have seen the number of free-roaming horses in the reserve rise to an estimated 60 to 70 animals. These are now part of Rewilding Europe’s European Wildlife Bank.

Like the Garrano, the Sorraia is an ancient horse breed that was once found wild across the Iberian Peninsula, but whose populations decreased dramatically under pressure from hunting and the rise of domestic livestock and mechanised agriculture. The Sorraia has a particularly interesting history, having once been called the “zebro” or “zebra” in Portuguese, due to its striped markings.

Hardy native animals that lived off uncultivated lands and salt marshes in Iberian river valleys, zebros were occasionally captured by farmers for agricultural work. A small population of Sorraia horses, thought to be direct descendants of the zebro, was discovered in the 1920s. It is from this stock that the lineage has been preserved, although the breed remains rare.

In its attempt to recreate the zebro, or a genetic approximation of this ancient wild equine, the challenge is to identify the right horses for breeding.

“It is difficult to find modern-day horses with the genotype, phenotype and behaviour of ancient breeds,” explains Pedro Prata. “We are looking  for animals with more rusticity, which are strong enough to survive in adverse conditions, resist pathogens and diseases, and generally adapt to wild conditions. These are now quite scarce.”

Since the beginning of 2017, ATN has acquired several stallions and mares displaying the Sorraia phenotype. The plan is to acquire further animals this year, using part of the ATN membership fee for acquisition, transport and habitat management, and to launch a new line of merchandising to celebrate the project.

While the European wild horse is officially extinct, its genome is not lost and still exists across several types of old horse – from Exmoor ponies in the United Kingdom to the Hucul ponies of Eastern Europe’s Carpathian Mountains. These primitive animals still boast many of the characteristics and genetics of their ancestors, making them particularly suitable for rewilding and the grazing of wild habitats.

Rewilding Europe’s brochure on rewilding horses can be viewed here.

https://www.rewildingeurope.com/news/something-old-something-new/

Girl Who Couldn’t Speak Uttered First Words to Donkey: ‘I Love You’

by Leigh Scheps of Inside Edition

Feel Good Sunday

The first thing Amber Austwick ever said out loud was “I love you” to a donkey. The 6-year-old is a twin who was born prematurely at 26 weeks. She suffered from complications at birth that forced doctors to perform a tracheotomy. Amber never said a word until she met her four-legged friend at this donkey sanctuary. Her time there is therapeutic, and since her introduction to the donkey, Amber’s become a lot more confident.

CBS Mother’s Day Tribute – Wild Horses – a little Late but it’s all Good

We leave you this Mother’s Day morning at Arizona’s Music Mountains, where mares and their foals run free. Videographer: Carl Mrozek

A Mustang murder mystery in northern Nevada

Tuesday's Horse

WILD HORSES NEVADA (Warning: Graphic Image) — On May 10, 2017, Tuesday’s Horse received an email from the Professor and Chair of the Geological and Environmental Sciences Department of a California University stating he was leading a student field trip in Northumberland Canyon south of Austin, Nevada the previous weekend and they discovered the following:

We came across six horse carcasses, all missing their heads. This was very disturbing to the students and I am trying to figure out what happened. Was there planned culling of wild horses? Why would the heads be removed?

The Professor had not been able to reach the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) so reached out to us for assistance.

At long last I tracked down the right BLM office thanks to the coordinates the Professor provided.

After several email exchanges and a few phone calls with a BLM agent in that office, we made little…

View original post 481 more words

BREAKING: Dog Meat Sales Banned at China’s Yulin Festival in Milestone Victory to End Brutal Mass Slaughter of Dogs

Source: Humane Society International, Duo Duo Project

“Even if this is a temporary ban, we hope this will have a domino effect, leading to the collapse of the dog meat trade..”

Dogs on their way to slaughter. HSI

Just weeks ahead of China’s annual dog meat festival in Yulin, at which thousands of dogs and cats are brutally bludgeoned to death and sold for their meat, animal campaigners Duo Duo Project and Humane Society International have received reports from Chinese activist and confirmed by three traders at Yulin’s biggest dog meat market Dongkou, that the Yulin government is set to prohibit restaurants, street vendors and market traders from selling dog meat at the event. The ban will come into effect on 15th June one week prior to the festival that begins on the summer solstice of 21st June. It will be strictly enforced with fines of up to 100,000 yuan and risk of arrest for violations.

The news is warmly if cautiously welcomed by Duo Duo Project, HSI and their respective Chinese animal group partners on the ground, all of whom have campaigned for years for an end to the brutality of Yulin and China’s year-round dog meat trade. While campaigners recognise that the ban is temporary and does not yet signal an end to the Yulin event in advance of which dogs are still likely to be killed, it is nonetheless a milestone victory in the ongoing campaign to end mass dog and cat slaughter at Yulin, and is evidence of growing political will from inside China to clamp down on the trade.

Andrea Gung, executive director of Duo Duo Project, says: “Even if this is a temporary ban, we hope this will have a domino effect, leading to the collapse of the dog meat trade. I have visited Yulin many times in the last two years. This ban is consistent with my experience that Yulin and the rest of the country are changing for the better. I am very impressed that the younger generation in Yulin and in China is as compassionate as their counterparts in the rest of world. Duo Duo Project also wants to congratulate Mr. Mo Gong Ming, Yulin’s new Party Secretary, for his progressive and visionary leadership. I hope this will turn out to be the beginning of the end of the dog eating habit in China.”

Peter Li, China Policy specialist at Humane Society International, says: “The Yulin dog meat festival is not over just yet, but if this news is true as we hope, it is a really big nail in the coffin for a gruesome event that has come to symbolise China’s crime-fuelled dog meat trade. Millions of dogs and cats are stolen each year, including pets, and driven thousands of miles across China to be bludgeoned to death in front of each other. As opposition to this trade has grown within China and across the world, much focus has been placed on the Yulin festival and so it is significant politically that the authorities are taking the outrage to curb this cruelty seriously. At last year’s Yulin festival there were roadblocks set up to deter dog trucks coming in, and now this ban signals further progress. Regrettably, many dogs and cats will still be killed for the Yulin festival in advance of the ban, so their suffering is not over yet, but this is certainly a milestone victory and we commend the Yulin authorities for taking this action.”

Duo Duo and HSI are urging Yulin authorities to make the ban permanent; make public service announcements warning against transporting dogs for the dog meat trade that highlight the new associated penalties; enforce food safety laws and regulations; and build a government facility to house dogs confiscated from the dog meat trade.

More than 10 million dogs and around four million cats are killed every year across China for their meat. Contrary to popular belief, the Yulin festival is not a traditional event but one invented in 2010 by dog meat traders to boost flagging sales. At its height an estimated 10,000 to 15,000 dogs were killed at Yulin, reduced to 2,000 to 3,000 in recent years. Most of the dogs are stolen pets and strays grabbed from the streets still wearing their collars when they reach the slaughterhouse where they are typically beaten to death. Most people in China don’t eat dogs, and pet owners and dog thieves have had numerous violent clashes. The dog meat trade also poses a threat to public health, with the World Health Organisation warning that the trade spreads rabies and increases the risk of cholera.

Last year, a petition with 11 million signatures was handed in to the Yulin government in Beijing on behalf of Humane Society International, Duo Duo Project, RaiseUrPaw, Care2 and Avaaz. The late Star Wars actress Carrie Fisher and her dog Gary gathered with the campaigners outside the Chinese Embassy in London to send the petition on its way. Speaking at the event, Fisher said “There is so much animal suffering in the world, and much of it you feel helpless to end. But stopping the Yulin dog meat festival and ending all that suffering is easy. All the Chinese authorities need to do is declare it shut down, and the killing stops. These poor dogs need us to fight for them. Every single one of them is as precious as my dear Gary, every one of them is someone’s best friend.”

Rep. Alcee Hastings, D-Fla., introduced a congressional resolution last year condemning the Yulin dog meat festival and urging China to end its dog meat trade. He reintroduced it this year, and H. Res. 30 already has the bipartisan support of 153 cosponsors.

http://www.hsi.org/news/press_releases/2017/05/yulin-dog-meat-ban-051717.html

In Memoriam: Well-Known Yellowstone White Wolf Dies Unnatural Death

by John Soltes as posted on Earth Island Journal

“Twelve-year-old alpha female deserved a wild end to her wild life, but that was not to be…”

Photo Neal Herbert/National Park Service
The wolf, pictured above, was one of three rare white wolves in the park and had 14 living pups. Park officials are offering a $5,000 reward for information on who might have shot her.

Officials at Yellowstone National Park first shared the sad news in mid-April: A well-known white wolf in the park had been found severely injured and was later euthanized. Then on May 11, after a necropsy by the US Fish and Wildlife Service forensics laboratory in Oregon, they shared the real shocking news: This wolf, the alpha female of the Canyon Pack, had “suffered from a gunshot wound.”

Details are still emerging on what happened, when and where; the investigation remains active.

It all began on April 11, when hikers discovered “a severely injured” alpha female wolf, according to a press release from Yellowstone National Park. The white wolf, well-known among wolf enthusiasts and park officials, was seen near Gardiner, Montana, the town at the north entrance to the iconic park.

Staff eventually found the wolf in “shock and dying from the injuries,” and made the difficult decision to euthanize the majestic canine. The necropsy confirmed the animal had suffered from a gunshot wound, and park officials believe the incident took place near Gardiner or the Old Yellowstone Trail, located along the park’s northern boundary. The shooting likely occurred on April 10 or 11.

“Due to the serious nature of this incident, a reward of up to $5,000.00 is offered for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the individual(s) responsible for this criminal act,” Yellowstone National Park Superintendent Dan Wenk said in a press release.

When the Northern Rocky Mountain gray wolf, which can be gray, black or white in color, was taken off the endangered species list a few years ago, states were given the authority to set up their own wolf management plans. In 2015, Montana saw 210 wolves hunted or trapped. Yellowstone, which is nationally protected, is mostly in Wyoming with slivers of land in Montana and Idaho. Hunting and discharge of firearms are prohibited in the park.

There are approximately 100 wolves in Yellowstone, which is an impressive number given that the canids were once extirpated from the local wilderness. In 1995, wild wolves were released into Yellowstone National Park as part of an extensive recovery program. The population took hold, and now the park features several packs that fluctuate in numbers. The oasis that is Yellowstone is often seen as the best place in the world to view wild wolves.

Of the nearly 100 wolves in the park, only three were known to be white in color. The white wolf who was euthanized in April was 12 years old, twice the average age of a wolf in Yellowstone. She was a leader of the Canyon Pack and could be seen in many areas of the park. “For these reasons, the wolf was one of the most recognizable and sought after by visitors to view and photograph,” the press release states.

I think I saw that alpha female during a wintertime visit in January of this year. Of course, it’s difficult to 100 percent confirm that the sighting was of the Canyon Pack alpha female, but all signs point to this impressive 12-year-old animal being the one…(CONTINUED)

http://www.earthisland.org/journal/index.php/elist/eListRead/in_memoriam_well-known_yellowstone_white_wolf_dies_unnatural_death/

Update: Status on Massive Former Wild Horse and Burro SD Rescue

Source: Wild Horse and Burro Sanctuary Alliance

It has been a long and difficult journey for the 907 horses that the State Attorneys in South Dakota found to be suffering from serious neglect last  October. From freezing temperatures and soupy mud, all of the unadopted horses healthy enough to make the journey have been relocated to a safe staging area in Colorado. (or to a new adoptive home.) We’ve come so far and we couldn’t have done it without you!

But we aren’t done yet! There are still 170 horses waiting to be adopted  and transported to their new adoptive homes, the Wild Horse and Burro Sanctuary Alliance members and partners continue to work hard to raise the $8,000.00 a week still needed to complete one of the largest horse rescues in U.S. history (bolded) as soon as possible.
Alliance members have been providing support to Fleet of Angels and its ground team by doing our part to raise funds for feed and care. With your help, and the support of the citizens and ranchers from Faith, S.D., 312 horses were relocated at the end of March to a well-equipped adoption hub in Ft. Collins Colorado.
Since last October, 712 of the 907 horses have been adopted minus some 24 horses that had to be euthanized due to medical reasons (like broken bones, cancer and other irreversible conditions). The numbers are staggering. It has been a challenge to get this far and it could not have been done without everyone’s help- every contribution and ‘share’ with friends has made a lifesaving impact.
The Wild Horse and Burro Sanctuary Alliance will continue to do what we can to raise funds to help cover feed and labor until all the horses reach new homes. Weekly costs for board, feed and laborare over $8,000.00. Thanks to contributions from the ASPCA, all Coggins costs have been covered and thanks to Shirly Puga/National Equine Resource Network and The Unwanted Horse Coalition, all gelding fees have now been covered! 
This is a team effort and without the support of The Griffin-Soffel Equine Rescue Foundation, The Humane Society of The United States, the ASPCA, the Wild Horse and Burro Sanctuary Alliance, Victoria McCullough, Best Friends, and every individual or group that has contributed, more than 600 horses would have been sold at auction last December, with most winding up hauled to Mexico or Canada for slaughter.
Since October, when a ruling of neglect was made against the International Society
for the Protection of Mustangs and Burros (ISPMB), an outpouring of generosity (has) made it possible to feed the horses and reimburse costs incurred by two South Dakota counties.
That allowed the counties to call off a planned public auction of the ISPMB horses at which many would have fallen into the hands of kill buyers, and feed the horses and ground crew. At the same time, adoptive homes were found for over 270 of the estimated 907 horses originally found on the ISPMB property, and the health of most of the others began improving. Since then, all but 170 horses have been placed with safe homes- but we need help. Every dollar helps make this possible.
Now, we need your financial contribution to cover the remaining cost of housing and care for the 170 horses who are still in need of adoptive homes. We need to cover costs for hay, facilities and labor this week.
We are grateful to EVERYONE who has chosen to be part of this effort and remain committed—with your help—to leave no horse behind.
On behalf of the Wild Horse and Burro Sanctuary Alliance, please help us in this final stretch of reaching that goal.
Thank you and please help today,

USDA’s Wildlife Services Sued Again: Enviro Orgs Ask Court to Halt Wildlife-Killing Program in Idaho

Story by Dan Zukowsk as published on EnviroNews.TV

“Conservationists contend that Wildlife Services operates primarily for the benefit of ‘ Welfare’ Ranchers…”

(EnviroNews Nature) — Four conservation groups filed a lawsuit on May 11, 2017, aimed at stopping the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) from killing Idaho’s wild animals. The USDA’s Wildlife Services (WS) program killed more than 280,000 mammals and birds in Idaho during 2016. The animals axed include 3,860 coyotes and 72 gray wolves, along with cougars, black bears, feral dogs and more than 273,000 European starlings.

Plaintiffs in the suit include the Western Watersheds Project, WildEarth Guardians, the Center for Biological Diversity (the Center) and Predator Defense. The suit alleges that the USDA has never prepared a full Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) as is required by the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA).

“Most people in Idaho would be shocked to learn how many animals Wildlife Services already kills in our state,” said Andrea Santarsiere, a Senior Attorney at the Center. “Now this reckless agency wants to slaughter even more of our black bears, mountain lions, coyotes, ravens, and other wildlife using nightmarish methods like poisons and aerial gunning, without even studying the environmental consequences. Such a lackadaisical approach to wildlife management is not permitted by the law.”

Wildlife Services, an arm of the USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS), is described on the agency’s website as a program to “help people resolve wildlife damage to a wide variety of resources and to reduce threats to human health and safety.” APHIS received $1.1 billion in federal funding for fiscal year 2017.

Conservationists contend that Wildlife Services operates primarily for the benefit of ranchers. The program was the subject of a 2016 exposé in Harper’s Magazine. In a related interview with National Geographic, the author, Christopher Ketcham said, “Since its founding in 1885, Wildlife Services has served one purpose—to clean up the American West for the ranching industry, so they wouldn’t have to deal with predators or other animals they deemed pests.”

EnviroNews has previously reported that, nationwide, WS slaughtered 2.7 million wild animals in 2016. “Wildlife Services is stuck in the barbarism of the 19th century, before the full value of predators in ecosystems was understood,” said Erik Molvar, executive director of Western Watersheds Project.

The USDA’s obscure, century-old wildlife-killing program traps and poisons these great many animals. It swoops in to shoot them from the air using both fixed-wing aircraft and helicopters. Both neck and foot snares are used — methods considered inhumane by many prominent animal rights advocates. It kills coyotes with controversial M-44 cyanide bombs.

In what might be called “collateral damage,” reports of pets being killed are not uncommon. In March, 2017, a cyanide bomb left by Wildlife Services in Pocatello, Idaho killed a dog and poisoned its owner, a 14-year old boy. Between 1985 and 1993, 21 people in Arizona were injured by M-44s. A Utah man was left permanently injured and unable to work after being poisoned by one of the dangerous devices.

“It isn’t just wildlife that is directly harmed by the killing programs,” said Brooks Fahy, Executive Director of Predator Defense, in the press release. “These lethal weapons pose a risk to recreational users of public lands, their pets and the ‘nontarget’ species that die by the hundreds every year.”..”CONTINUED

http://www.environews.tv/051217-usdas-wildlife-services-sued-enviro-orgs-ask-court-halt-wildlife-killing-idaho/

To ALL Mothers Great or Small: We Love and Honor You This Day!

“It is my most sincere hope that no Mother visits this blog, today, but instead is with her family celebrating this day of life and hope.  But should some stray, animal loving mom stray a bit and visit us we would like to dedicate the blog to you and all mothers regardless off number of legs, wings or fins.

Today is yours, we love you all!!!” ~ R.T.


Special Report: KPVI Investigates Cyanide traps and the USDA

story by as broadcast/published on KPVI.com

“This is not the first time the USDA had a run in with the Gate City…”

It’s almost been two months since a Pocatello family lost their dog and almost their son to a cyanide trap set 300 yards behind their house. Since then the USDA says they’ve taken all the traps out of the Gem state. But that hasn’t changed anything to investigators who say they were never notified of the deadly chemical, meant to kill predators, planted around Bannock County.

The incident began in the Buckskin area back in March. Canyon Mansfield says, “I panicked and sprinted down to get my mom.” The 14-year-old and his dog Kasey were 300 yards away from their house. He describes, “Suddenly there’s like a pop and then orange gas spews out.” The Mansfield family dog died and they almost lost their son as well. Theresa Mansfield, Canyon’s mother says, “We didn’t want to believe it was from Cyanide poisoning, but deep down it scared the crap out of us.”

The Cyanide trap was placed on BLM land with no warnings in sight. Investigators found a second trap not far from the first. Bannock County Sheriff Lorin Nielsen says, “We’re not Alaska. There are wilderness places where people go. I don’t care what the purpose is. If it’s endangering public it shouldn’t be there.”

Since the death of Kasey there’s been a worldwide outcry. The Bannock County’s Sheriff’s office has launched their investigation. The city has also stepped in. In March Pocatello’s Mayor Brian Blad wrote a letter to the USDA asking them to stop manufacturing Cyanide Traps, or M-44’s, in the city. Since then the agency reached out to the mayor. He says he toured the facility, learned about their safety precautions and products “They’re going to continue to do their practice until congress acts,” said Blad.

This is not the first time the USDA had a run in with the Gate City. Seven years ago the agency was responsible for illegally setting “Quick Kill” traps, meant for Rock chucks within city limits. Obtained by KPVI in an incident report by Pocatello’s animal control, an elderly woman called them after finding a cat trapped alive in a “quick kill” trap or Conibear trap in her backyard. She admitted to the city she requested the traps from the USDA. She says at least three cats had been killed before and they were removed by the local USDA representative Todd Sullivan. Sullivan is the same man involved in the Mansfield investigation. In 2010 the charges against Sullivan were dismissed by a federal judge.

The city and USDA came to an agreement that they would not place Conibear traps in Pocatello without notifying the city first. The USDA declined to speak to KPVI on camera, but gave us a written statement answering our questions. They told us, the incident involving the Mansfield Dog is still under investigation and can’t comment. But claimed they had “107 M-44’s set on 16 properties in the state and all have been removed.” Our request to tour the Pocatello manufacturing facility was denied, they say because of security concerns.

The agency tells us the Pocatello location has been manufacturing M-44 deceives since 1969. And also handles, “Gas cartridges for fumigating rodent burrows, rodent grain baits…, predator lures, and repackages other products such as order control products and animal immobilization drugs.”

The sheriff’s investigation is now left in the hands of county prosecutors to find if any state laws were violated. In the meantime, the sheriff says this to residents, “We now have to be aware of our surroundings. If there is something that is out there that is not part of… leave it alone, leave it alone,” Nielsen said.