Morro Bay, CA, March 28, 2017 - There's an abundance of pure unadulterated cuteness going on from the recent increase in California Sea Otter families living in Morro Bay. Mommas and babies are everywhere eating and grooming each other as if no one is watching. But we are and we can't look away - they are so dang cute! Now is the perfect time to catch a glimpse of these sea creatures in their natural habitat since Morro Bay harbor is experiencing the highest count to date of these adorable critters. A survey taken last May of the Morro Bay harbor documented 36 adult sea otters and nine pups, a significantly higher number than the typical five or fewer otters frequenting the harbor in the early 2000s.
"Large gatherings of otters throughout the harbor have attracted tourists and locals all along the waterfront to experience them in their natural habitat," explains Jennifer Little, Executive Director of Discover Morro Bay. "You can watch along the shore or rent paddleboards and watch from a safe distance on the water as they forage for food and groom their young. They use rocks and other tools to break open crab and local food sources and are so fun to watch. We've seen up to 30 - 40 of them at a time floating around on their backs and enjoying life in Morro Bay."
Just plop down a beach chair along the Morro Bay Harbor Walk and start watching - they're everywhere and easy to find. If there isn't a family of otters hanging out already, they will soon appear. The southeast side of Morro Rock is a great landmark for sea otter viewing as is Coleman beach at the intersection of Embarcadero and Coleman Drive. There are also public viewing spots all along the Embarcadero for wildlife viewing in between the plethora of restaurants, boutique shops and wine bars. To get an even closer look, paddle out in a kayak or rent a boat at Bay Cruisers and Electric Boats. Visitors can also take a ride on the Lost Isle Tiki boat to see the otters and the ever-barking sea lions, which includes a quick detour to the Morro Bay natural sand spit. Kayaks can be rented at Kayak Horizons and the Kayak Shack.
Otter Population Growth
Over the past three years, the average count of sea otters in the California range hit 3,272. This is the first time that the index, which started in 1982, has exceeded 3,090, the threshold suggested by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to determine whether the species should be delisted under the Endangered Species Act. The threshold would need to be surpassed for at least three consecutive years before the species is considered for delisting. The index hovered in the 2,800 only one decade ago.
Experts say what's really driving the population increase is the abundance of food they find in the waters of Morro Bay. Sea otters are integral to the health of the Morro Bay harbor environment. When viewing otters be very careful as they are wild animals and may react poorly if approached. When viewing from the water, it's best to stay at least five kayak lengths away at all times and enjoy them in a responsible manner.
Find Spring Lodging Specials, Activity Rental Discounts and Amgen VIP Packages
Morro Bay currently has an abundance of spring lodging specials and up to $130 in discounts off outdoor activity rentals. Surf, Kayak and sail for less when you stay in Morro Bay through April. Also, find VIP Amgen packages and get FREE Amgen swag when you book a room for Amgen Tour of California finish on May 16 in Morro Bay. For information on all the exciting things to do and see in Morro Bay, visit www.morrobay.org.
Get out on the open road and visit Morro Bay, CA on Highway 1 in San Luis Obispo County, just minutes from Hearst Castle and teeming with California Sea Otters. A true gem, this seaside fishing village with bustling waterfront offers a picture perfect getaway for travelers who seek food, wine and outdoor adventures found in a gorgeous natural setting. Morro Bay's coastal climate is perfect for the abundance of year-round outdoor activities found in this unspoiled slice of California. Recently recognized in as her home in Finding Dory, Morro Bay was named as a Bicycle Friendly Community by the League of American Bicyclists, and outdoor activities are a way of life. From ocean-side golf, kayaking, sailing, hiking, fishing, surfing, biking, and bird watching, to kite flying, shopping, dining, wine bars, local craft brews and miles of unspoiled beaches, there is something for everyone. Located along coastal Highway 1 in midway between Los Angeles and San Francisco, Morro Bay is easily accessible from northern CA via Highway 101 South to Highway 46 West or Highway 41 West.
Third bill this month involving animal traps
Washington, D.C., March 28, 2017 -- Today, Born Free USA announced its support for the introduction yesterday of the Limiting Inhumane Federal Trapping (LIFT) Act (H.R. 1727) in the U.S. House of Representatives by Congressman Earl Blumenauer (D-OR). This bill would not only prohibit all officials and contractors of the U.S. Department of the Interior (DOI) and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) from using leghold traps, Conibear traps, and snares in the line of duty, but would also ban the use or possession of such traps on all land managed by the DOI or USDA. The bill includes limited exceptions, including for endangered species protection and invasive species control, but requires non-lethal management methods to be used and documented first.
The reintroduction of this bill comes within the same month as the reintroduction of the Refuge from Cruel Trapping Act (H.R. 1438, introduced March 8) and the Public Safety and Wildlife Protection Act (H.R. 1629, introduced March 20).
According to Jennifer Place, Program Associate for Born Free USA, “Steel-jaw leghold traps, snares, and Conibear traps are exceedingly cruel and dangerously indiscriminate. They have no place on land set aside to preserve our wildlife and vast expanses of wilderness. They also have no place in the wildlife management toolbox. These devices are archaic, brutal, and ineffective. While they kill tens of thousands of animals, they do not solve the underlying human/wildlife conflict, and instead frequently exacerbate that conflict. It is time to eliminate the use of these traps on federal lands and by federal employees.”
“In Oregon and across the country, pets and wild animals fall victim to the indiscriminate cruelty of inhumane body-gripping traps,” said Congressman Blumenauer. “I am reintroducing the LIFT Act to require federal agencies to prioritize use of humane methods, and to stop the use of cruel traps on public lands, including by USDA’s Wildlife Services.”
The LIFT Act would prevent USDA Wildlife Services from using any injurious or lethal trap in the line of duty. Wildlife Services routinely kills two million to five million animals annually in the name of “wildlife management.” In 2016, the agency reported killing approximately 2.7 million animals, more than 50,000 of whom first suffered in a crushing or suffocating trap.
This vital bill would also ban the use of these traps on the nearly 700 million acres of federal public land managed by the DOI and USDA. Overseeing the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the U.S. Park Service, and the U.S. Bureau of Land Management, the U.S. Department of the Interior manages more than 500 million acres, or approximately one-fifth of all U.S. land, and 75% of all federal public land. The other 25% of federal public land is managed by the U.S. Forest Service, under the U.S. Department of Agriculture, and equates to approximately 193 million acres.
“We thank Congressman Blumenauer for his leadership and urge the swift passage of H.R. 1727 to ensure that federal tax dollars are not being used to inhumanely trap wild animals, and that all of our public spaces are safe for people, their pets, and wildlife,” Place adds.
Born Free USA is a global leader in animal welfare and wildlife conservation. Through litigation, legislation, and public education, Born Free USA leads vital campaigns against animals in entertainment, exotic "pets," trapping and fur, and the destructive international wildlife trade. Born Free USA brings to America the message of "compassionate conservation": the vision of the U.K.-based Born Free Foundation, established in 1984 by Bill Travers and Virginia McKenna, stars of the iconic film Born Free, along with their son, Will Travers. Born Free's mission is to end suffering of wild animals in captivity, conserve threatened and endangered species, and encourage compassionate conservation globally. More at www.bornfreeusa.org, www.twitter.com/bornfreeusa, and www.facebook.com/bornfreeusa.
First evidence of breeding tigers and cubs in eastern Thailand in over 15 years
March 28, 2017
Bangkok, Thailand– In a welcome sign of hope for the endangered tiger, a new scientific survey has confirmed the presence of the world’s second breeding population of Indochinese tigers and provided the first photographic evidence of tiger cubs in eastern Thailand.
Announced at a press conference today, Thailand’s Department of National Parks, Wildlife and Plant Conservation (DNP), Freeland, a frontline counter-trafficking organization, and Panthera, the global wild cat conservation organization, hailed the finding as a critically-timed victory for the future of the Indochinese tiger, confirming the first evidence of a breeding population in Eastern Thailand in over 15 years.
Conducted in partnership by Freeland and Panthera with support from the government of Thailand, the camera trap survey carried out in the forest complex in Eastern Thailand indicated a density of 0.63 tigers per 100km2.
While these data suggest the region supports an exceptionally modest tiger density, on par with some of the most threatened tiger habitats in the world, the results conversely demonstrate the species’ remarkable resilience given wildlife poaching and illegal rosewood logging present in the complex – a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Breeding of tigers represents a key milestone for this UNESCO World Heritage Site. These and other results have inspired optimism that efforts to train and equip protected area rangers are paying off. The Director of the National Parks Division of the DNP, Dr. Songtam Suksawang, said, “The stepping up of anti-poaching patrols and law enforcement efforts in this area have played a pivotal role in conserving the tiger population by ensuring a safe environment for them to breed. However, we must remain vigilant and continue these efforts, because well-armed poachers still pose a major threat.”
Subject to such extreme levels of poaching, tigers are only believed to have survived in the area due to an early recognition of the significance of this Eastern Thailand forest complex for the species’ future in Thailand, and a strict, long-term investment in well-implemented, counter-poaching law enforcement efforts from the national government. These efforts have been supported by conservation organizations like Freeland and Panthera.
For more than a decade, the DNP and Freeland have surveyed tigers in Eastern Thailand and trained rangers tasked with their protection after others gave up on the idea that the area had any tigers. Freeland’s Chairman of the Board, Kraisak Choonhavan, said, “The existence of tigers here was often doubted, but these recent surveys are proving its importance not only nationally but regionally and internationally as well. It’s crucial to continue the great progress made by the Thai government to bolster protection for tigers at the frontlines.”
He added, “As long as the illegal trade in tigers continues, they will need protection. Counter-wildlife trafficking starts at the source. Here is a modern project that has helped to bring rangers and police together that should be replicated across all other tiger range countries, so these populations can recover.”
Panthera Senior Tiger Program Director, Dr. John Goodrich, explained, “The extraordinary rebound of eastern Thailand’s tigers is nothing short of miraculous, and a true testament to the DNP’s commitment to saving its most precious natural resource.”
Goodrich continued, “Even more invigorating, Thailand’s World Heritage Forest Complex is home to prime forested habitat that, with significant conservation resources, could support eight times as many tigers as it does now. With continued infiltration of rigorous anti-poaching protection, there is no doubt that this population can be fully recovered, burgeoning into a tiger stronghold and serving as a source of life and diversity for depleted tiger populations in Cambodia, Lao PDR and throughout the species’ range.”
Today, just 221 Indochinese tigers are estimated to remain in two Asian countries: Thailand and Myanmar. Thailand’s Huai Kha Khaeng Wildlife Sanctuary, the site where Panthera’s CEO Dr. Alan Rabinowitz worked on the big cats in the 1980’s, is home to the largest (35-38 individuals) and only other known breeding population of Indochinese tigers.
Once ranging across much of Asia, scientists now fear that tigers are all but extinct in southern China, Cambodia, Lao PDR, Vietnam and much of Myanmar. Poaching for the illegal wildlife trade stands as the gravest threat to the survival of the tiger, whose numbers in the wild have dwindled from 100,000 a century ago to 3,900 today.
Freeland’s tiger conservation efforts in Thailand have been supported by Panthera’s Tigers Forever Program, David Shepherd Wildlife Foundation, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and Born Free Foundation.
The Department of National Parks, Wildlife and Plant Conservation (DNP) was established in 2002, assuming management of the country’s national parks once managed by the Royal Forest Department. As an agency of the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment, DNP also helps to protect the kingdom’s wildlife and rich ecology.
Freeland is a frontline counter-trafficking organization working for a world that is free of wildlife trafficking and human slavery. Our team of law enforcement, development and communications specialists work alongside partners in Asia, Africa and the Americas to build capacity, raise awareness, strengthen networks and promote good governance to protect critical ecosystems and vulnerable people. For more info, visit www.freeland.org or follow Freeland on Twitter @FREELANDpeople or www.facebook.com/freelandfoundation.
|Panthera, founded in 2006, is devoted exclusively to preserving wild cats and their critical role in the world’s ecosystems. Panthera’s team of leading biologists, law enforcement experts and wild cat advocates develop innovative strategies based on the best available science to protect cheetahs, jaguars, leopards, lions, pumas, snow leopards and tigers and their vast landscapes. In 50 countries around the world, Panthera works with a wide variety of stakeholders to reduce or eliminate the most pressing threats to wild cats—securing their future, and ours.|
President Trump’s proposed 2018 federal budget would gut major programs and protections for birds and America’s public lands, putting decades of conservation achievements at risk. With so much on the line, it’s imperative that we send Congress a loud, unmistakable message that such extreme cuts will not stand.
Drastic reductions in the proposed federal budget would scale down on-the-ground conservation at a time when one-third of migratory bird species, including the Kentucky Warbler (shown), are already in decline. Birds are sensitive indicators of environmental health as a whole, and the loss of migratory birds signals a potential crisis that Congress must act now to reverse.
But that’s not all: Three federal agencies critical to bird conservation—the Department of Interior, the Department of Agriculture, and the Environmental Protection Agency—are facing drastic budget cuts that will significantly reduce federal bird protections.
If we want migratory birds to bounce back, it’s critical that Congress prioritize and fund the following:
- The Neotropical Migratory Bird Conservation Act, critical to the restoration of habitat for migratory birds throughout the Western Hemisphere.
- Migratory Bird Joint Ventures, North American regional partnerships that work across political boundaries and levels of government to achieve conservation success for birds and their habitats.
- Endangered Species Act, in order to fully recover endangered and threatened bird species.
- Farm Bill conservation programs, like Conservation Reserve Program, which preserve habitat for birds by providing conservation incentives to private landowners.
- EPA’s Pesticides Program, critical to protecting birds from deadly pesticides like neonicotinoids used in agriculture.
Please act now! Tell your Senators and Representative: Make protecting migratory birds and the conservation programs they depend on a priority. Thank you.
Partnership Aims to Turn the Tide for Migratory Birds
(Washington, D.C., March 13, 2017) Two leading bird conservation groups, American Bird Conservancy (ABC) and the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, have launched “Science to Action,” a partnership aimed at reversing decades of population declines for migratory birds in the Americas. Bringing together the Cornell Lab’s cutting-edge science and ABC’s on-the-ground approach to bird conservation, this joint effort represents new hope for hundreds of declining species that journey each spring and fall between their breeding grounds in North America and wintering grounds in Latin America and the Caribbean.
ABC and the Cornell Lab are combining their strengths at a critical moment for migratory birds. Landmark conservation measures such as the Endangered Species Act are being targeted for elimination even as environmental threats mount. As the most recent State of North America's Birds report makes starkly clear, fully one-third of our continent's bird species will require concerted conservation efforts to ensure their future.
The ABC-Cornell Lab partnership will focus on how new data and conservation tools can be harnessed to enhance conservation of migratory birds across their breeding and wintering grounds, as well as stopover sites in between.
“The Cornell Lab’s dedicated science team and its depth of citizen-science data make it a perfect fit for informing better conservation decision-making by ABC,” said George Fenwick, President of ABC.
“The Cornell Lab of Ornithology and American Bird Conservancy share common values and complementary expertise for protecting wild bird populations across the Western Hemisphere,” said John W. Fitzpatrick, Executive Director of Cornell Lab. “With so many bird species showing alarming declines, it is more important than ever that the Lab work closely with ABC, combining our scientific focus and citizen-science data with ABC’s effective conservation actions.”
Kenneth V. Rosenberg, Applied Conservation Scientist at the Cornell Lab, is leading the new partnership. “Our two organizations will provide a unified voice for bird conservation, applying the best science on the ground at important natural areas and informing policies that affect the future of bird populations,” he said.
Together the partners will:
- Leverage data and resources from the Cornell Lab to refine and prioritize ABC’s conservation strategies, including ABC BirdScapes—landscape-scale areas critically important to targeted bird species. Such data are key to answering the “Where and when?” questions that drive ABC’s conservation planning.
- Identify and develop conservation strategies for key migratory stopovers. Researchers are learning that the success of migration may hinge on just two or three stopovers located strategically along the migration route for each species. One chief goal of the partnership is determining how we can best conserve these stopover sites.
- Use citizen-science data from eBird to help monitor and evaluate the success of ABC reserves and projects—the “Did it work?” piece of ABC’s conservation efforts.
- Provide science support for Migratory Bird Joint Ventures, and leadership for conservation alliances such as Partners in Flight and the North American Bird Conservation Initiative’s State of the Birds reports.
(Photo: ABC and the Cornell Lab will work together to identify and protect habitats that sustain migration for some of North America's most-loved species, including Blackburnian Warbler.)
American Bird Conservancy is the Western Hemisphere's bird conservation specialist—the only organization with a single and steadfast commitment to achieving conservation results for native birds and their habitats throughout the Americas. With a focus on efficiency and working in partnership, we take on the toughest problems facing birds today, innovating and building on sound science to halt extinctions, protect habitats, eliminate threats, and build capacity for bird conservation.
The Cornell Lab of Ornithology is a world leader in the study, appreciation, and conservation of birds. Its hallmarks are scientific excellence and technological innovation to advance the understanding of nature and to engage people of all ages in learning bout birds and protecting the planet. The Cornell Lab is a nonprofit organization whose mission is supported by friends, members, and more than 400,000 citizen-science participants.
Talkin' Pets News
March 11, 2017
Host - Jon Patch
Co-Host - Jeremy Miller
Producer - Zach Budin
Network Producer - Quin McCarthy
Executive Producer - Bob Page
Special Guests - Deirdre Franklin, co-author of The Pit Bull Life will join Jon and Talkin' Pets 3/11/17 at 5pm EST to discuss and give away her new book
Melinda Miller, Earth Animal VP of Product Management & Finance, will join Jon and Talkin' Pets 3/11/17 at 630pm EST to discuss and give away their Organic Oven-Baked Cookies for dogs
Washington, D.C., March 9, 2017 -- Today, Born Free USA, a global leader in animal welfare and wildlife conservation, announced support for the reintroduction of the Refuge from Cruel Trapping Act (H.R. 1438) in the U.S. House of Representatives by Congresswoman Nita Lowey (D-NY). This bill would ban the use or possession of body-gripping animal traps including snares, Conibear traps, and steel-jaw leghold traps within the National Wildlife Refuge System.
According to Adam M. Roberts, CEO of Born Free USA, “The mission of the National Wildlife Refuge System is clear: to be an inviolate sanctuary for our native wildlife. Dangerous, indiscriminate body-gripping traps simply have no place on these federal protected lands. The brutality of these traps cannot be overstated. Steel-jaw leghold traps and Conibear traps slam shut with bone-crushing force, causing massive injury and trauma. Animals trapped in strangulation neck snares—designed to tighten around an animal’s neck as he or she struggles—also suffer in extreme agony for an unconscionable amount of time. Born Free USA commends Congresswoman Lowey for leading the effort to end this cruelty and urges swift passage of the legislation to ensure that national wildlife refuges are safe havens for wildlife.”
“We must restore the true meaning of ‘refuge’ to the National Wildlife Refuge System,” said Congresswoman Lowey. “This critical legislation will ban indiscriminate body-gripping traps on public land, which not only endanger wild animals but also the millions of visitors who enjoy our nation’s 566 refuges each year. These violent devices are simply not worth the devastation of even one accident. It is past time we ensure the entire National Wildlife Refuge System remains safe for animals and families alike.”
The National Wildlife Refuge System encompasses the most comprehensive and diverse collection of fish and wildlife habitats in the world, and provides a home for more than 380 endangered species. Overall, the National Wildlife Refuge System harbors species of more than 700 birds, 220 mammals, 250 reptiles and amphibians, and 1,000 fish. Despite its mission “to administer a national network of lands and waters for the conservation, management, and where appropriate, restoration of the fish, wildlife, and plant resources and their habitats within the United States for the benefit of present and future generations of Americans,” more than half of all national wildlife refuges allow trapping on refuge grounds.
“More than 100 other countries have either severely restricted or outright banned the use of steel-jaw leghold traps. It is inexcusable to allow these and other cruel traps on land specifically set aside to be safe havens for wildlife. Additionally, the millions of people who visit national wildlife refuges every year with their families and companion animals should be able to enjoy American refuges without the fear of stepping into a cruel, hidden trap and getting injured or killed.” Roberts added.
Born Free USA urges other members of Congress to join Congresswoman Lowey in support of H.R. 1438.
Born Free USA is a global leader in animal welfare and wildlife conservation. Through litigation, legislation, and public education, the organization leads vital campaigns against animals in entertainment, exotic “pets,” trapping and fur, and the destructive international wildlife trade. Born Free USA brings to North America the message of “compassionate conservation”—the vision of the United Kingdom-based Born Free Foundation, established in 1984 by Bill Travers and Virginia McKenna, stars of the iconic film Born Free, along with their son, Will Travers. Born Free USA’s mission is to end suffering of wild animals in captivity, conserve threatened and endangered species, and encourage compassionate conservation globally. More at www.bornfreeusa.org, www.twitter.com/bornfreeusa, and www.facebook.com/bornfreeusa.
March 1, 2017
New York, NY – In a highly controversial move, South Africa’s Department of Environmental Affairs (DEA) recently announced plans to formalize the country’s legal trade in captive-bred lion skeletons, proposing to institute a quota of 800 skeletons per year eligible for export permits. The number of captive-bred lion carcasses legally exported from South Africa—primarily feeding a growing market among upwardly mobile Asians for luxury products such as lion bone wine—has grown exponentially since 2007, as lion bones have begun to fill demand for increasingly scarce tiger bones.
Panthera, the global wild cat conservation organization, condemned the quota as arbitrary and potentially devastating for wild lion and critically endangered tiger populations. Panthera is calling on the DEA to institute a moratorium on lion bone exports, effective immediately.
“The government’s proposed quota of 800 lion skeletons for legal export has absolutely no grounding in science,” said Dr. Paul Funston, Senior Director of Panthera’s Lion Program. “It is irresponsible to establish policy that could further imperil wild lions—already in precipitous decline throughout much of Africa—when the facts are clear; South Africa’s lion breeding industry makes absolutely no positive contribution to conserving lions and, indeed, further imperils them.”
Dr. Funston continued, “It is confounding that a country whose iconic wild lions are such a source of national pride—not to mention tourist revenue—would take such risks to sustain a marginal captive breeding industry that is condemned globally for its shameful practices. The legal farming of lions for tourists to bottle-feed, pet, and ultimately hunt in tiny enclosures is a stain on South Africa’s reputation as stewards of Africa’s wildlife.”
Proponents of the captive lion trade argue the industry reduces demand for wild lion parts, thereby benefitting wild lion conservation. However, there is significant evidence that South Africa’s legal trade in captive-bred lion trophies is accelerating the slaughter of wild lions for their parts in neighboring countries and is in fact increasing demand for wild lion parts in Asia—a market that did not exist before South Africa started exporting lion bones in 2007.
Recent anecdotal data and press reports from neighboring countries show an increase in lion killings for their bones and parts:
- In 2016, 90% of lion carcasses from Limpopo National Park, Mozambique had skull, teeth, and claws removed
- Rates of poisoning of lions specifically for body parts have increased dramatically in Niassa National Reserve, Mozambique
- A 6kg consignment of lion claws and teeth was found in an illegal rhino horn apprehension in Maputo in 2016
- In northern Namibia in 2016, 42% of lions killed in the Zambezi Region of Namibia (n=17), had their heads, feet, tails, skins and claws removed. In a previous spate of lion killing in the region in 2014 no body parts were removed from 20 lions that were killed
Panthera President and Chief Conservation Officer, Dr. Luke Hunter, added, “There is not one shred of scientific evidence showing that canned hunting and legal lion bone exports take the poaching pressure off wild lion populations. In fact, it is increasingly clear that these practices stimulate demand for wild lion, leopard and tiger parts throughout the world. The CITES mandate to limit captive-bred lion skeleton exports from South Africa was a step in the right direction; with global pressure mounting on the government to ban canned hunting, we may soon see the end of this reprehensible industry.”
Wild lion populations are on a steep decline, with only 20,000 remaining today, down from 30,000 just two decades ago. The species faces a deadly matrix of threats in the wild, ranging from conflict with people and bushmeat poaching to habitat loss, unsustainable trophy hunting and the emerging threat of poaching for the illegal wildlife trade.
Panthera’s Project Leonardo leads or supports initiatives in 15 African nations to bring lion populations back to a minimum of 30,000 individuals within 15 years. Learn more.
Read Beyond Cecil: Africa’s Lions in Crisis for more information about the plight of the African lion, and take the pledge to #LetLionsLive at letlionslive.org
A couple of long-disused buildings in the Florida Keys that once sheltered servicemen from missile launches have been sheltering something else – pythons.
Four large crawlers – one, a female, was nearly 16 feet long – turned up within the last month at an old missile base at Crocodile Lake National Wildlife Refuge (NWR), the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) reported.
Scientists think the snakes migrated from the Everglades, a fertile breeding ground for the unwanted predators. Now, officials say, the snakes may be poised to head south, where several Keys species are defenseless against the large, invasive reptiles.
Compounding their concerns: Officials this past summer also discovered some hatchling pythons near Key Largo – a strong indication that the snakes have found a welcome habitat and are multiplying.
The latest unwanted snakes turned up in a couple of old bunkers where the U.S. military once had a Nike Hercules missile firing range. The site, closed 30 years ago, is now part of the 6,500-acre Crocodile Lake refuge. Searchers using trackers and specially trained dogs sniffed out the snakes, said Jeremy Dixon, who manages Crocodile Lake.
“Snakes like deep, dark places,” he said.
They also like black rats, which likely attracted them to the site, Dixon said. The area also is home to hundreds of feral cats, another potential food source.
The easy availability of food, said Dixon, means the pythons could thrive on the Keys just as easily as they have multiplied in the Everglades. For more than two decades, an array of big snakes have spread and bred in the Everglades. Their presence has had a devastating effect on native birds, deer and other species in the park. Some snakes have even managed to devour alligators.
The Florida Wildlife Fish and Wildlife Commission is working with the University of Florida to detect and remove the snakes in the Keys. They are partnering with the Irulas, members of a tribal community from India that’s renowned for its ability to catch snakes. Learn more about those programs.
If you need to report a python, dial the Exotic Species Reporting Hotline: 888-Ive-Got1 (888-483-4681).
National Report Names Best and Worst States for Animal Protection Laws
For the ninth year in a row, Illinois takes first place—followed by Oregon (2), Maine (3) and California (4). Rhode Island (5) broke into the top tier this year. Kentucky holds steady at fiftieth place for the 10th year in a row, followed by Iowa (49), Wyoming (48), Utah (47), and North Dakota (46) rounding out states with the weakest animal protection laws.
Wisconsin was the most-improved state in 2016, jumping fourteen places in rank, in part, by passing a comprehensive cost-of-care law, mandating reimbursement of the costs of caring for a cruelly treated animal to the caregiving agency prior to the disposition of the case. While 25 states require reimbursement of costs of care after the offender is convicted, only 16 states require reimbursement prior to, or regardless of, a criminal conviction.
Other notable changes this year included Michigan’s and Wisconsin’s new provisions to allow pets to be included in protective orders in domestic violence situations, Tennessee’s enactment of the first-ever statewide animal abuser registry, Idaho’s new felony provision for torturing a companion animal, and Maryland’s and Pennsylvania’s new prohibitions on possessing animal fighting paraphernalia. Kentucky showed some progress by strengthening animal fighting statutes, but it was not enough to shake its reputation as the “Worst State” for animal protection laws ten years in a row.
The past five years of the Rankings Report reveal that more than three quarters of all states have significantly improved their animal protection laws. “The Animal Legal Defense Fund works year round to strengthen laws, and we are gratified to see that reflected in the Report,” says Animal Legal Defense Fund Executive Director Stephen Wells. “Despite this, there’s still a long way to go in animal protection, and Americans should use the Rankings Report as an indicator of where their home state can improve.”
The Rankings are based on a comprehensive review of each jurisdiction’s animal protection laws including over 4,000 pages of statutes. This is the longest-running and most authoritative report of its kind, and tracks which states are taking animal protection seriously.
The full report, including details about each state, is The Animal Legal Defense Fund’s complete “Animal Protection Laws of the U.S.A. and Canada” compendium, on which the report is based, is available at.
For more information visit, aldf.org.
About The Animal Legal Defense Fund
The Animal Legal Defense Fund was founded in 1979 to protect the lives and advance the interests of animals through the legal system. To accomplish this mission, the Animal Legal Defense Fund files high-impact lawsuits to protect animals from harm; provides free legal assistance and training to prosecutors to assure that animal abusers are punished for their crimes; supports tough animal protection legislation and fights harmful legislation; and provides resources and opportunities to law students and professionals to advance the emerging field of animal law. For more information, please visit.