Nature Chronicles a Diversity of Life in

The Sagebrush Sea

Wednesday, May 20, 2015 on PBS

An ecosystem tapped by energy development faces an uncertain future

It's been called The Big Empty - an immense sea of sagebrush that once stretched 500,000 square miles across North America, exasperating thousands of westward-bound travelers as an endless place through which they had to pass to reach their destinations. Yet it's far from empty, as those who look closely will discover. In this ecosystem anchored by the sage, eagles and antelope, badgers and lizards, rabbits, wrens, owls, prairie dogs, songbirds, hawks and migrating birds of all description make their homes. For one bird, however, it is a year-round home, as it has been for thousands of years. The Greater Sage-Grouse relies on the sage for everything and is found no place else. But their numbers are in decline. Two hundred years ago, there were as many as 16 million sage grouse; today, there may be fewer than 200,000.

The Sagebrush Sea tracks the Greater Sage-Grouse and other wildlife through the seasons as they struggle to survive in this rugged and changing landscape. The program airs Wednesday, May 20, 2015 at 8 p.m. (ET) on PBS (check local listings). After broadcast, the episode will be available for online streaming at

In early spring, male sage grouse move to open spaces, gathering in clearings known as leks to establish mating rights. They strut about, puffing up yellow air sacs in their breasts and making a series of popping sounds to intimidate other males. For weeks, they practice their elaborate display and square off with other arriving males, battling to establish dominance and territory. Successful males then display for discriminating females and are allowed to mate only if chosen as the most suitable. The criteria are a mystery to all but the females, nearly all of which select only one or two males on the lek each year. Once they've bred, the hens will head off into the protective sage to build their nests near food and water and raise their offspring alone. Within a month, the chicks hatch and follow the hens as they forage for food and keep a watchful eye out for predators. In the summer, the grouse head to wetlands, often populated by farms and ranches, in search of water, only to return to the sage in the fall. Shrinking wetlands that once supported thousands of grouse still manage to provide for hundreds.

Other species discussed in the program include the golden eagle and great-horned owl. Both bird species take advantage of perfect perches on the rocks and ridges sculpted by the area's constant wind to nest, hunt, and raise their families. Cavity-nesting bluebirds and the American kestrel return each year to raise their young in rock crevices. The sagebrush serves as a nursery for the sagebrush sparrow, the sage thrasher and the Brewer's sparrow, all of which breed nowhere else.

Sage survives in this arid environment through deep roots that reach to the water below. Like water, however, many key resources are locked below ground in the high desert, bringing an increasing presence of wells, pipelines and housing. As they proliferate, the sage sea is becoming more and more fragmented, impacting habitats and migratory corridors. And of the 500,000 square miles of sagebrush steppe that stretched across North America, only half now remains. For the sage and the grouse, the future is uncertain.

Nature is a production of THIRTEEN Productions LLC for WNET. For Nature, Fred Kaufman is executive producer. The Sagebrush Sea is a Cornell Lab of Ornithology Production.

Nature pioneered a television genre that is now widely emulated in the broadcast industry. Throughout its history, Nature has brought the natural world to millions of viewers. The series has been consistently among the most-watched primetime series on public television.

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H.R. 2016/S.1081would prohibit body-gripping traps on National Wildlife Refuges

Washington, DC, April 27, 2015 – Today, leading animal welfare and wildlife conservation organizations -- Born Free USA, the Animal Welfare Institute (AWI), and the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) –  announced support for the reintroduction of the Refuge from Cruel Trapping Act (H.R. 2016/S.1081) in both the U.S. House of Representatives by Congresswoman Nita Lowey (D-N.Y.) and the U.S. Senate  by Senator Cory Booker (D-N.J.). This bill would ban the use or possession of all body-gripping animal traps -- including snares, Conibear traps, and steel-jaw leghold traps -- on lands within the National Wildlife Refuge System (NWRS).

Born Free USA, AWI, and IFAW commend Congresswoman Lowey and Senator Booker for backing the bill and urge swift passage of the legislation to ensure that all National Wildlife Refuges are safe havens for wildlife.

“Indiscriminate body-gripping traps on public land affect the welfare of wild animals and humans alike,” said Congresswoman Lowey. “That’s why I reintroduced the Refuge from Cruel Trapping Act to prohibit the use of inhumane steel jaw leghold traps, Conibear kill traps, and snares within our National Wildlife Refuge System. We need to address this inherent cruelty and restore the true meaning of ‘refuge.’”

"The use of body-gripping animal traps in federal wildlife refuges is contrary to the very mission and purpose of these protected areas. These cruel traps don't distinguish between targeted animals and protected animals, endangered species or pets, and are a safety hazard to people. It's past time to remove this antiquated and inhumane practice from federal wildlife refuges," said Senator Cory Booker (D-N.J).

According to Adam M. Roberts, CEO of Born Free USA and the Born Free Foundation, “Animals and people should have the freedom to enjoy these Refuges without the threat of stepping into a body-gripping trap. The brutality of these traps is shocking; they can crush limbs and organs, and animals often remain trapped for days, in massive pain, before dying. It is inexcusable to subject any animal to such a fate on lands intended for their preservation.”

The NWRS encompasses the most comprehensive and diverse collection of fish and wildlife habitats in the world, and provides a home for more than 240 endangered species. Overall, the NWRS harbors species of more than 700 birds, 220 mammals, 250 reptiles and amphibians, and 200 fish. Despite the NWRS’ 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,” a staggering 54 percent of the refuges within the system allow trapping on refuge grounds.

"Body-gripping traps slam closed with bone-crushing force on any animal that trips the device, while strangling snares tighten around the neck or body of their victims until death finally ends the torture. This cruelty should not be permitted in any place that is called a ‘refuge,’” said Cathy Liss, president of AWI. “Passage of this legislation would be a crucial step toward reducing the suffering inflicted on our nation’s wildlife.”

IFAW Campaigns Officer Carson Barylak added, “The Refuge from Cruel Trapping Act will put a stop to the use of cruel and ecologically destructive traps on wildlife refuges, allowing these public lands to serve their intended purpose--preserving wildlife and ensuring that all Americans can enjoy our shared natural heritage on refuges.” 

Born Free USA, AWI, and IFAW assert that animals and people should have freedom to enjoy National Wildlife Refuges without that danger present, and urge other members of Congress to join Congresswoman Lowey and Sen. Booker in support of H.R. 2016/S.1081.

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,, and

The Animal Welfare Institute (AWI) is a non-profit charitable organization founded in 1951 and dedicated to reducing animal suffering caused by people. AWI engages policymakers, scientists, industry, and the public to achieve better treatment of animals everywhere—in the laboratory, on the farm, in commerce, at home, and in the wild. For more information on AWI, visit

Founded in 1969, IFAW saves animals in crisis around the world. With projects in more than 40 countries, IFAW rescues individual animals, works to prevent cruelty to animals, and advocates for the protection of wildlife and habitats. For more information, visit Follow us on Facebook and Twitter.


Robert Johns, American Bird Conservancy: 202-888-7472, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Red Knot, Mike Parr

(Washington, D.C., March 25, 2015) With Spring now here, baby birds and other young wildlife will soon be arriving and later venturing from their nests in a generally defenseless state. American Bird Conservancy (ABC) is reminding cat owners that even the most well-fed domestic cats pose serious threats to vulnerable wildlife.

“Spring is an incredibly dangerous time for wildlife because newborn prey don’t have the same physical defenses as their parents and have not fully developed the danger awareness regarding predators that comes with time,” said ABC Invasive Species Program Director Grant Sizemore. “Spring is perhaps the single most important time of the year for cat owners to protect wildlife by keeping their cats indoors or under their direct control,” he said.

For example, Sizemore said a study on the effects of urbanization on wildlife that tracked the early lives of Gray Catbirds in three Washington, D.C. suburbs found that outdoor cats were the number-one source of known predation on young birds. The peer-reviewed study by Anne L. Balogh of Towson University and Drs. Peter Marra and Thomas Ryder of the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute found that almost 80 percent of the catbird mortality in the study was from predation and that cats were the source of almost half of the known predation.

Even brief appearances of cats near avian nest sites lead to an increase in nest failure according to another peer-reviewed study. Those cat appearances can cause behavioral changes in parent birds which can cause an approximately 33 percent reduction in the amount of food brought to nestlings following a predation threat.

Birds whose natural movements include time on or near the ground are most susceptible, especially those that breed or nest on the ground. Typical prey for cats includes a wide variety of birds including songbirds, game birds, and waterbirds.

People often believe that cats won’t hunt if they’ve been well fed. Research shows that cats instinctively hunt, no matter how much they’ve been fed, because the hunting instinct is independent of the urge to eat.
“People can do something to help native wildlife in their backyard, and it will likely help their pets live longer,” concluded Sizemore. “We advise cat owners to spay and neuter their pets, and protect them by keeping them indoors, on leashes, or in outdoor enclosures.”

peer-reviewed study authored by scientists from two of the world’s leading science and wildlife organizations—the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service—found that bird and mammal mortality caused year-round by outdoor cats is much higher than has been widely reported, with annual bird mortality now estimated to be 1.4 to 3.7 billion and mammal mortality likely 6.9 to 20.7 billion individuals.

For a list of the top ten things people can do to help birds out in the Spring, click here.


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.


Oakland, CA …March 18, 2015 – On Wednesday, March 18, 2015, from 6:30pm – 9:30pm, Oakland Zoo welcomes the public to attend a talk about mountain lions in our community. Leaders from the Bay Area Puma Project, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, and the Mountain Lion Foundation will gather to discuss the hot topic of mountain lion conservation and conflict. Penny Nelson, reporter at the California Report, will moderate the panel presentation. The panel presentation will include Amy Gotliffe, Oakland Zoo’s Conservation Director, Lynn Cullens, Associate Director at Mountain Lion Foundation, Zara McDonald, President of Bay Area Puma Project, and Captain Steve Riske of California Department of Fish and Wildlife.

The evening will explore a unique collaboration centered on holistic mountain lion conservation in the Bay Area. Mountain lions are facing increasing challenges each year as humans encroach further into their habitat. “We live with lions,” said Amy Gotliffe, Conservation Director at Oakland Zoo. “As an apex predator that requires a large territory, mountain lions and humans are dealing with increasing ‘Human-Wildlife Conflict’ I am tremendously proud that the Bay Area Puma Project, the Mountain Lion Foundation, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife and Oakland Zoo are working as an alliance to conserve these native animals. Communication, teamwork and imagination is what it will take to conserve all wildlife, and I am thrilled we are part of that path.” The organizations featured are partnering to create an alliance called BACAT (Bay Area Carnivore Action Team), created with the goal of protecting California's lions. Discussions will revolve around first-hand experiences with the pumas, problems they pose, and what it takes to conserve this native species.

The Conservation Speaker Series will take place in Oakland Zoo’s Zimmer Auditorium, located in the lower entrance of the Zoo. Parking is free and the admission price for the evening’s speaker presentations is $12.00 - $20.00 per person (sliding scale). All proceeds from this event will be donated to mountain lion conservation. Light refreshments will be served. For additional information about Oakland Zoo’s Conservation Speaker Series, please contact Amy Gotliffe, Conservation Director, at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..


America's lion goes by a multitude of names: puma, cougar, mountain lion and catamount. The mountain lion in its natural element is an awe-inspiring animal, combining incredible physical capabilities, intelligence, stealth and beauty. The big cat’s territory extends from Canada to the tip of South America and these cats have the greatest geographical range of any land mammal. The local home range of a female mountain lion is 40 to 80 square miles, and a male's range is 100 to 200 square miles. Mountain lions live solitary lives except when mating, and when females are raising their young. They prefer to avoid humans, as well as each other.

Pumas have long and powerful hind legs. They can jump vertically up to 18 feet and 20 to 30 feet horizontally. Mountain lions cannot roar, as they lack the special apparatus in the larynx needed to produce that sound. They make similar sounds to a house cat, with a vocal repertoire that includes chirps, whistles, growls, hisses and screams.

Mountain lions are a generalist predator, which means they are opportunistic and will eat almost any animal, from mouse to moose. Deer make up 60-80% of their diet in North America. An adult male needs 6,000 calories per day, which is about one deer per week. As keystone predators, mountain lions are essential to a healthy ecosystem. They help keep deer populations in check, preventing them from overrunning the landscape and destroying the ground cover that so many other species depend on. Animals taken down by mountain lions help feed hundreds of other species, and by removing the weakest animals from the system; the mountain lion helps keep disease to a minimum, including some diseases that may affect humans. Because mountain lions require such large home ranges, they also serve as a bellwether for the habitat needs of other species. Any habitat or corridor protection measure that is effective for mountain lions will benefit many other species as well.

Their Conservation Challenge: The greatest threats to mountain lions are habitat loss and fragmentation, and conflict with humans, including road kill and depredation. According to state law, if a puma attacks a pet or livestock in California, the owner can acquire a depredation permit to have the puma killed. In recent years the number of permits issued has increased to about 100 per year. This number is higher than the sport hunting quotas in some states that allow puma hunting.


Bay Area Puma Project: The Bay Area Puma Project (BAPP) was launched in 2008 by Felidae Conservation Fund to research and safeguard healthy puma populations and their key habitat patches in and around the greater SF Bay Area. With its unique combination of pioneering puma research, multi-faceted community engagement, hands-on education and effective conservation action, the intent is to raise ecological awareness, reduce human-wildlife conflict and cultivate healthy co-existence between humans and the region's top apex predator.

Mountain Lion Foundation: The Mountain Lion Foundation is dedicated to protecting mountain lions and their habitat for present and future generations. The Foundation works closely with legislative, governmental and conservation groups to heighten public awareness and educate policy makers on conservation issues such as predator friendly livestock management practices, workable wildlife corridors, harmonious human/mountain lion interactions, and the vital role of the mountain lion in a healthy ecosystem.

California Department of Fish and Wildlife: The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW, or Cal Fish) is a department within the government of California, falling under its parent California Natural Resources Agency. The Department of Fish and Wildlife manages and protects the state's diverse fish, wildlife, plant resources, and native habitats. The department is also responsible for the diversified use of fish and wildlife including recreational, commercial, scientific and educational uses. The department also utilizes its law enforcement division to prevent and stop illegal poaching.

Oakland Zoo: Oakland Zoo is committed to taking action for wildlife, and conservation is at the center of our mission. We are deeply involved with conservation efforts globally, locally and right on our own zoo grounds. We are dedicated to using our resources and expertise to work in partnership with local organizations to conserve and protect mountain lions.


The Bay Area’s award-winning Oakland Zoo is home to more than 660 native and exotic animals. The Zoo offers many educational programs and kid’s activities perfect for science field trips, family day trips and exciting birthday parties. Oakland Zoo is dedicated to wildlife conservation onsite and worldwide. Nestled in the Oakland Hills, in 500-acre Knowland Park, the Zoo is located at 9777 Golf Links Road, off Highway 580. The East Bay Zoological Society (Oakland Zoo) is a nonprofit 501(c)3 organization supported in part by members, contributions, the City of Oakland and the East Bay Regional Parks. For more information please visit our website at



Wildlife Rehabilitator

Kristin Allen is a volunteer wildlife rehabilitator with the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife. She rescues orphaned, sick, displaced, or injured wild animals. Kristin houses them and arranges for veterinary medical care with the goal of releasing them back to their natural habitat. She has cared for hundreds of animals over the years.

For Kristin, rehabbing is a family affair. Her children, Adrienne, Grant, Madeline, and Sophia, are all animal lovers and help with everything from feedings to vaccinations to cage cleaning. Her husband John is a pro at bottle washing.

Kristin has completed coursework with the International Wildlife Rehabilitation Council and has held her wildlife rehabilitation permit for the last three years. In 2014 she was added under a federal raptor permit with the Western Kentucky Raptor Center. When she isn't tied up with animals, Kristin can be found in her studio, where she has run a successful photography business for over a decade. 

Kristin has a degree in elementary education from the University of Southern Indiana.

Bandit Patrol Description

Bandit Patrol Premieres Saturday, January 17 10/9 C on Nat Geo WILD

Meet the everyday heroes who rescue, rehabilitate, and release injured and orphaned wild animals in Western Kentucky. These state-licensed volunteers answer emergency calls day and night to provide the best care for each species. For these dedicated individuals, the animals come first, despite the constant sacrifice of time, money, and sleep. The ultimate goal is to return the animals back to the wild, where they belong. Along the way, they must strike a delicate balance between up-close care and doing everything in their power to ensure the animal remains wild. From abandoned owls, to aggressive raccoons, to ailing raptors, these are the rescuers who make sure our wild animals remain safe.

For these dedicated individuals, the animals come first— despite the constant sacrifice of time, money, and sleep—with the ultimate goal of one day returning them back into the wild, where they belong. Along the way, we will see the delicate balance these women and men must strike with each animal, providing up-close care, but doing everything in their power to keep it wild.

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Born Free USA roundup of federal and state bills

Washington, D.C., December 30, 2014 -- Born Free USA, a global leader in animal welfare and wildlife conservation, works with federal, state, and local legislators to strengthen existing animal protection laws and establish new ones that tackle crucial wildlife issues including exotic animals kept as “pets,” the barbaric trapping industry, and the trade in wildlife parts. This year was significant in legislatures around the country, with animal bills seeing both big wins and frustrating defeats.

According to Adam M. Roberts, CEO of Born Free USA and the Born Free Foundation, “We fight with unsurpassed determination to protect animals and preserve wildlife. We are grateful to those who support our efforts to reduce animal suffering, increase public safety, and help ensure compassionate conservation everywhere. All American citizens can help influence their state and federal leadership and impact the way we treat wildlife. Every voice can be heard, and we are asking people to step up for the sake of wildlife protection and the future of our planet.”

Born Free relies on its dedicated constituents to help persuade legislators to act for animals throughout the year, and encourages everyone to join its eAlert team for regular updates on ways to assist (

Born Free USA’s hit and miss list for 2014 bills:

Exotic animals and other primates:

From the slaughter of wild animals in Zanesville, Ohio in 2011 after a man released them from his property, to the Connecticut woman who was mutilated by her neighbor’s pet chimpanzee in 2009, to the nearly 100 other incidents detailed in the Born Free USA Exotic Animal Incidents Database throughout 2014, the stories of private ownership of exotic pets are gruesome and preventable. To protect wildlife and the public, Born Free USA worked on the following bills:

1) Federal Bill: Captive Primate Safety Act (H.R. 2856/S. 1463)

Purpose: To prohibit the interstate commerce in nonhuman primates for the exotic pet trade.

History: In 2003, the Captive Wildlife Safety Act was signed into law to prohibit interstate commerce in lions, tigers, and other big cats as pets. Because primates face similar inhumane treatment and pose similar threats to public health and safety, advocates seek to add them to the list of species prohibited in commercial trade.

Progress in 2014: Born Free USA, along with partners, worked to attract more attention to this bill. The list of cosponsors soared to more than 150, and members of Congress spoke out in passionate support of the bill at a press conference highlighting Charla Nash: a woman who was severely injured in an attack by her neighbor’s pet chimpanzee, and who lent her voice to highlight the importance of this measure.

Outcome: While the bill had strong bipartisan support and passed the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works, it was ultimately overlooked due to other Congressional priorities. Born Free USA will capitalize on the favor it accrued to start strong in the next Congress.

2) Federal Bill: Humane Care for Primates Act (H.R. 3556)

Purpose: To change CDC regulations to allow sanctuaries to import primates into the country for the purpose of providing humane lifetime care.

History: Current CDC regulations allow the importation of primates for “bona fide scientific, educational, or exhibition purposes,” which excludes sanctuaries and prevents needy primates overseas from being rescued by U.S. organizations, such as the Born Free USA Primate Sanctuary.

Progress in 2014: After securing introduction of the bill in 2013 with Rep. Ellmers (R-NC) as a sponsor, Born Free USA worked to raise awareness and build support for the bill in Congress. With more than 40 cosponsors, this bill was well-received.

Outcome: While it did not pass, the awareness raised ensures that the bill is well-poised to be reintroduced in the House in 2015, and to find a Senate champion.

3) West Virginia Bill (S.B. 428/H.B. 4393)

Purpose: To prohibit private ownership of exotic species, with that list to be defined by the Department of Natural Resources.

History: West Virginia was one of only six states left lacking restriction or oversight for the private possession of exotic animals. This historic bill was initiated by Born Free USA in 2012, though it failed to pass that year.

2014 SUCCESS: This bill passed the legislature and was signed into law by the governor.


Born Free USA is addressing this cruel, unregulated industry. Tens of thousands of targeted and non-targeted animals are caught in traps that leave them injured, maimed, or dead. To prevent further harm, Born Free USA worked on the following bills:

1) Federal Bill: Refuge from Cruel Trapping Act (H.R. 3513)

Purpose: To ban trapping in the National Wildlife Refuge System. The bill aims to restore the original intent of the National Wildlife Refuge System to create havens for wildlife that are safe and free from unnatural intrusion. The bill would also protect people and companion animals incidentally caught by brutal traps.

History: Born Free USA played a key role in drafting the bill when it was originally introduced in the 2009/2010 Congress.

Progress in 2014: Born Free USA lobbied to gain support for this bill in the House, and engaged our Members in a grassroots effort to emphasize the need for this ban.

Outcome: This bill failed to gain traction in the 2013-2014 Congress. However, Born Free USA will continue its efforts to educate members of Congress about trapping.

2) Illinois Bill (S.B. 3049)

Purpose: To add the gray wolf, American black bear, and cougar to the list of protected species under the Illinois Wildlife Act.

History: Under Illinois law, it is unlawful for any person at any time to take, possess, sell, offer for sale, propagate, or release into the wild any “protected species,” with exemptions for scientific, educational, or zoological institutions. The gray wolf, American black bear, and cougar populations are in need of these protections afforded to the other threatened species protected under the Illinois Wildlife Act.

2014 SUCCESS: Born Free USA lobbied in support of this bill through grassroots outreach and by submitting testimony to the legislature. The legislature recognized the importance of these wildlife protections, passed the bill, and the governor signed it into law.

3) Virginia Bill (S.B. 42)

Purpose: To prohibit the construction of new fox penning enclosures, although current fox pens may continue to operate until 2054.

History: There has been an ongoing battle to ban fox penning, a cruel “sport” in which organizers force dozens of dogs to compete in a fenced-in area to chase—and sometimes rip apart—foxes and coyotes. The wild animals are caught in leghold traps that cause anguish through broken bones or other wounds, and are transported in cages to the pen. With dogs tearing apart the captive animals, there is a constant demand for fresh wildlife for the fox pens.

2014 SUCCESS: Born Free USA worked closely with a coalition of groups to usher this bill through the legislature, where it ultimately passed and was then signed by the governor. While it is not an outright ban, it is a positive step in a state in which the practice is so entrenched.

Wildlife trade:

Illegal wildlife trade is ranked among the top five global crimes in terms of profitability. The trade in bear gallbladders, sport-hunted wildlife trophies, and other animals—including threatened and endangered species—could drive some populations or species to the brink of extinction. In particular, Born Free USA’s two groundbreaking reports, Ivory’s Curse and Out of Africa, revealed the insidious links between terrorist networks and the ivory trade. To address this crisis, Born Free USA worked on the following bills:

1) Federal Bill: Targeted Use of Sanctions for Killing Elephants in their Range (TUSKER) Act (H.R. 5454)

Purpose: To require certain nations to work with the U.S. on anti-poaching efforts, or face sanctions if they fail to cooperate.

History: As Born Free USA’s Ivory’s Curse report revealed, African nations must play a significant role in cracking down on corruption within governments and poaching within their boundaries. This bill is designed to incentivize African nations to make the poaching crisis a priority.

Progress in 2014: Born Free USA assisted sponsor Rep. DeFazio (D-OR) with crafting the language of the bill. It contributed to the ongoing discussion in Congress about how to best tackle the poaching crisis, and demonstrated that the U.S. is serious about finding a solution.

Outcome: This bill did not make any progress in 2014, but Born Free USA will continue to promote it, as well as other Congressional efforts to end the ivory trade, in 2015.

2) Federal Bill: Rare Cats and Canids Act (H.R. 5836)

Purpose: To provide a source of funding for projects to enhance conservation of international felids and canids.

History: This bill was previously introduced in 2007 and 2009, and it passed the House of Representatives both times. Wild cats and dogs desperately need these conservation efforts. Of the 37 wild felid species worldwide, all but three are currently recognized as species in need of protection. Of the 36 wild canid species worldwide, 20 are recognized as being in need of protection.

Progress in 2014: Born Free USA worked with sponsor Rep. Grijalva (D-AZ) to update the language, find original cosponsors, and recruit the support of other groups before it was introduced.

Outcome: This bill was introduced too late in the session to make progress, but will be reintroduced in 2015.

3) Massachusetts Bill: Shark Fin Ban (H.B. 4088)

Purpose: To prohibit the possession and sale of shark fins, with exemptions for certain species and purposes.

History: Shark finning is a cruel practice in which people cut the fins off of live sharks and return their bodies to the water, where the sharks inevitably die. Similar laws exist in California, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Maryland, New York, Oregon, Washington, Samoa, Guam, and the Northern Mariana Islands.

2014 SUCCESS: Born Free USA worked closely with a coalition to usher this bill through the legislature, where it ultimately passed and was signed by the governor. While it is not an outright ban, it is a positive step in a state with a large fishing industry. 

4) New York Bill: Restrict the Sale of Ivory and Rhino Horn (A. 10143/S. 7890)

Purpose: To prohibit the sale, purchase, trade, barter, and distribution of ivory and rhino horn articles, but with certain exemptions.

History: New York had a much weaker law regulating the sale of ivory, but it was not sufficient to ensure that no illegal ivory was sold in the state. As the elephant and rhino poaching crisis grows, New York was one of the first states to recognize the need to crack down on the trafficking of these products.

2014 SUCCESS: Born Free USA worked with partners to provide grassroots support of the bill. The legislature recognized the urgency of this matter and passed the bill, allowing the governor to sign it into law.

5) New Jersey Bill: Ban the Sale of Ivory and Rhino Horn (S. 2012/A. 3128)

Purpose: To prohibit the sale, purchase, or barter of ivory or rhino horn.

History: This bill passed the first year it was introduced, establishing New Jersey as the state with the strongest prohibition on ivory and rhino horn.

2014 SUCCESS: Born Free USA worked closely with partners to secure this bill’s passage, including testifying before a committee, engaging with media, and providing grassroots support. The bill passed the legislature and was signed into law by the governor.

To find out more about these bills, and how to take action, visit

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 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’s mission is to end suffering of wild animals in captivity, conserve threatened and endangered species, and encourage compassionate conservation globally.;; and


Oakland, CA November 10, 2014 – After multiple months of waiting for final permits, Oakland Zoo has acquired the required state and federal permits to help save the Mountain Yellow-Legged frog, a highly endangered amphibian. This frog species, which once hopped throughout California’s upper elevations, has dropped significantly in numbers, more than ninety percent in the past decade, due in part to chytrid, a skin fungus that thickens the frog’s skin so they cannot breathe.

Zookeepers helped to acquire and transport a group of twenty-six adult Sierra Nevada yellow-legged frogs, which are separated into specific populations – Dusy Basin, Ebbetts Pass, and Marmot Lake, with each group occupying its own aquatic habitat in the zoo’s Biodiversity Center. The frogs are housed in a quarantine area that is a climate controlled environment, carefully planned and constructed to provide a suitable habitat and space for these rare amphibians and their different life stages. “The conservation work Oakland Zoo is embarking on with the Sierra Nevada yellow-legged frog is a race against time,” said Zoological Manager, Victor Alm. “The Sierra Nevada yellow-legged frogs along with the Southern yellow-legged frogs are some of the most endangered amphibian species in North America. Oakland Zoo is one of a handful of zoos supporting and working with the state and Federal Government agencies along with the scientific community to find ways to save this species before it is too late.” Eighteen tadpoles from Big Pines Lake area were also recently acquired. The tadpoles, which were wild caught, are part of a head-starting effort with a host of players and agencies from the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, the United States Fish and Wildlife Service to Dr. Roland Knapp of Sierra Nevada Aquatics Research Lab and Dr. Lance Vredenburg of San Francisco State University as well as several other zoos. In the near future, Oakland Zoo will be playing a role in head starting and releasing tadpoles back into their natal habitat. “This is a big step for the Zoo and it adds one more piece to the vison of the Biodiversity Center and our onsite conservation programs,” said Victor Alm, Zoological Manager at Oakland Zoo. Zookeepers will be working hands-on with these creatures and will have a direct role in their recovery back into the wild.

Oakland Zoo will feature the Sierra Nevada yellow-legged frog project at a Conservation Speaker Series focused on taking action for frogs. On Thursday, November 13, 2014, from 6:30pm – 9:30pm, the Zoo is honored to host guest speaker Dr. Kerry Kriger, founder of SAVE THE FROGS!. Dr. Kriger is an ecologist for the world’s leading amphibian conservation organization. He conceived and coordinates Save The Frogs Day, the world's largest day of amphibian education and conservation action, and has given presentations on amphibian conservation in Australia, Belize, Brazil, Canada, Colombia, Ghana, Mexico, New Zealand, Panama, South Korea, and the USA. His research has made him become a recognized expert on the amphibian disease chytridiomycosis, a topic on which he has published fifteen articles in peer-reviewed international scientific journals. Dr. Kriger's research into amphibian declines has been supported by the National Geographic Society and various philanthropic organizations throughout the world.

During Dr. Kriger’s presentation, he will introduce the audience to amphibian conservation in the 21st century. Discussion topics will include the lifespan of a frog, the thousands of frog species that live throughout the world, the difference between frogs and toads, and why frogs are disappearing worldwide. This eye-opening evening will feature photos Dr. Kriger has taken while traveling around the world. “Amphibians are indicators of the health of an eco-system,” said Amy Gotliffe, Conservation Director at Oakland Zoo. “As it is Oakland Zoo’s conservation mission to protect biodiversity of ecosystem, frogs are an important focus for our efforts. Our work with the Puerto Rican crested toad and groundbreaking research with the Sierra Nevada yellow-legged frog is critical to the health of habitats across the planet and in our own backyards. It is with great respect that we welcome Save the Frogs! to our speaker series and know Dr. Kriger will inspire our audience to care and act for the good of frogs everywhere.” The Conservation Speaker Series is open to the public and will take place in Oakland Zoo’s Zimmer Auditorium, located in the lower entrance of the Zoo. Parking is free and the admission price for the evening’s speaker presentations is $12.00 - $20.00 per person (sliding scale). All proceeds from this event will be donated to SAVE THE FROGS!.


The tadpoles of the Mountain yellow-legged frog species are some of the largest of any frog species found in North America. These tadpoles spend two to three years in this life stage before metamorphosing into adults. This is due to the cold temperatures in their native habitat and the overwintering they go through in their high alpine lakes and streams. Adult Mountain yellow-legged frogs range from two to three inches in length. Depending on what life stage they are at depends on what role they occupy in their ecosystem. They are herbivores as tadpoles and carnivores as adults and their life stage also reflect their vulnerability to chytrid fungus. Mountain yellow-legged frogs used to be one of the most numerous vertebrates in their high alpine habitat; however, due to introduced sport fish and the emergence of chytrid fungus, they are now one of the rarest. Zookeepers at Oakland Zoo feed the adult frogs a variety of invertebrates such as mealworms, crickets, earthworm, beetles, etc. Tadpoles are fed an algae based flake diet, which is prepared in-house.


SAVE THE FROGS! creates educational materials and provides inspiration and training to volunteers around the world to empower them to go into their communities and conduct activities that benefit amphibians. To ensure the growth of the amphibian conservation movement, SAVE THE FROGS! has awarded over $24,000 in grants to conservationists in 11 countries. SAVE THE FROGS! passed successful legislation designating the California Red-Legged Frog as California's official state amphibian and regularly meets with politicians to educate them about a variety of issues that impact frog populations. SAVE THE FROGS! began constructing wetlands at schools in October, 2014 and we welcomes assistance from the public. For more information about SAVE THE FROGS!, go to


In August of 2013, Oakland Zoo opened its new Biodiversity Center, a breeding, research, and education facility devoted to the conservation of endangered and threatened animals, plants and habitats. The Center directly supports critically endangered species both through captive breeding and by head starting. Animals bred in the Center are introduced to wild habitats. Juveniles vulnerable in the wild are brought to the center during their developmental period and returned to the wild once they are past their most vulnerable period. The California Biodiversity Classroom educates visitors on the crucial interdependence of plants, animals, people, and the environment as well as the importance of becoming responsible stewards of California’s rich natural heritage through hands-on, interactive scientific research activities including “citizen science” projects, habitat restoration, and field biology workshops.

The Biodiversity Center was made possible by an initial grant from the California Cultural and Historical Endowment (CCHE) and matching funding from an anonymous donor through the San Francisco Foundation. Chevron Corporation also participated by providing funding for interpretive materials and equipment for the California Biodiversity Classroom.


The Bay Area’s award-winning Oakland Zoo is home to more than 660 native and exotic animals. The Zoo offers many educational programs and kid’s activities perfect for science field trips, family day trips and exciting birthday parties. Oakland Zoo is dedicated to wildlife conservation onsite and worldwide. Nestled in the Oakland Hills, in 500-acre Knowland Park, the Zoo is located at 9777 Golf Links Road, off Highway 580. The East Bay Zoological Society (Oakland Zoo) is a nonprofit 501(c)3 organization supported in part by members, contributions, the City of Oakland and the East Bay Regional Parks. For more information please visit our website at


Global leader in wildlife conservation says certain populations may face extinction in our lifetime  

Washington D.C., October 28, 2014 – According to Born Free USA, a global leader in animal welfare and wildlife conservation, the world has become a scary place for many wild animals. In advance of Halloween, the organization highlights 13 of the scariest facts concerning wildlife today.

Adam M. Roberts, CEO of Born Free USA, says, “These are some of the blackest times we have ever seen for tigers, lions, rhinos, and elephants. Some of these species may face extinction not in my daughter’s lifetime, but in my own. Furthermore, we have a horrific epidemic still going on with exotic animals being kept as pets and for entertainment purposes, which is not only inhumane, but also a severe public safety issue. We have more to be afraid of from private ownership of big cats than black cats this Halloween.”    

Thirteen seriously scary facts about animals:

  1. With as few as 3,500 wild tigers left in the world, and numbers rapidly decreasing, the future for this iconic species in its natural habitat is precarious. There are more tigers kept in captivity in the U.S. than there are in the wild.
  2. The elephant poaching crisis has reached historic levels, and some elephant populations may face extinction in our lifetime. An estimated 35,000 to 50,000 elephants are poached each year for their ivory. Elephants are now being killed faster than they are being born.
  3. Approximately 35,000 African lions remain in the wild, declining more than 50% since 1980.
  4. Only six northern white rhinos are left on the planet, and rhinos in South Africa are being poached in greater numbers every year to supply horns to Asia.
  5. Since 1990, more than 200 people — including children — have been injured by captive primates in the U.S.
  6. Over half (54%) of National Wildlife Refuges allow cruel trapping. These lands are not safe havens for humans, wildlife, or pets.
  7. Cheetahs may be the fastest land animals, but they are no match for criminals who capture them from the wild as cubs, take them away from their mothers, and smuggle them to the Middle East, where they are highly prized as pets and live with a chain around their necks. Cheetahs can fetch $10,000 each on the market and only 10,000 remain in the wild.
  8. Born Free USA has recorded 225 captive exotic animal incidents in America alone since 2013. Each case shines a horrific spotlight on the dangers of human/exotic animal interaction.
  9. Six states do not require a license or permit to own exotic animals.
  10. Consumption of bushmeat has been linked to anthrax, Ebola, monkeypox, SARS, and foot and mouth disease. Experts estimate that the bushmeat trade could eliminate all viable populations of African apes within the next five to 15 years.
  11. Nearly 100,000 native carnivores are killed by the federal government on public and private lands each year in the U.S., including by poisons, steel-jaw leghold traps, strangulation neck snares, denning (killing coyote pups in their dens), hounding, and shooting.
  12. Ninety percent of foxes raised on farms are killed for the fur trim market. The number of animal pelts used for trim may soon outnumber those used for full-length fur coats.
  13. Bear gallbladders and bile have been used in traditional Chinese medicine for thousands of years. There are approximately 10,000 bears in barbaric Asian bear farms in China, Korea, and Vietnam, caged and “milked” cruelly for their bile. American black bears are poached in our forests to slice out their gallbladders and feed the same bear parts markets globally.

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,, and


(Washington, D.C. – April 29, 2014) – An open letter to President Obama published today in the Washington Post expresses support for the Administration’s proposed new rules to halt domestic ivory sales.  Signatories on the letter include high-profile individuals, including Leonardo DiCaprio, Jane Goodall and Dave Matthews, alongside a coalition of businesses and conservation organizations representing millions of Americans. 

Representatives of the coalition issued the following statements:


Jane Goodall PhD, DBE, Founder, the Jane Goodall Institute & UN Messenger Peace, said: “The mass poaching of elephants in Africa should be of great global concern.  I applaud the US ban on ivory in its intent to counter the devastating toll on dwindling elephant populations in the wildand address the physical and emotional suffering of these intelligent and highly social animals. It is my hope that this strong move by President Obama will encourage other countries to do whatever it takes to endthe demand for ivory products – from wild elephants – within their own borders.”

Iain Douglas-Hamilton, DPhil, OBE, and Founder of Save the Elephants, said: “At the heart of the elephant poaching crisis is the seemingly insatiable demand for their tusks.  Closing the door to the illegal ivory trade in the U.S. is an important step towards saving elephants, and signals to the world that the continued existence of elephants must be valued above mere ivory trinkets."

Dr. Patrick Bergin, CEO – African Wildlife Foundation said: “If we want all countries to make a commitment to living elephants by getting tough on the ivory trade, then the United States, as one of the largest ivory markets in the world, must lead by example. We commend the Administration for setting the tone on this issue—that the U.S. values living elephants above the profit from dead ones. We can live without ivory; elephants can’t.”


Azzedine Downes, President and CEO, the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) said: “The Administration appreciates the difference between a carved statue and a living, breathing elephant, and the proposed US ivory rules would help ensure that this planet doesn’t lose its most iconic animal for the sake of souvenirs. If implemented, these new rules would significantly reduce the amount of illegal ivory smuggled into and sold in this country, and would set an example for the rest of the world.   

“Americans across the political spectrum agree with this effort, and now is the time to implement the strongest possible protections for elephants and other endangered wildlife.”

Charles Knowles, Executive Director, Wildlife Conservation Network said:  “With over 30,000 elephants killed last year for their ivory, it is time for the world to do something to stop the slaughter of one of the world’s most intelligent, sensitive and self aware animals. Their future depends on a global coalition to develop and deploy well-funded, strategic and efficient actions to address the growing demand for ivory,  its trafficking and ultimately poaching of elephants. We support the US government’s leadership in these efforts.”

Jim Maddy, President and CEO of the Association of Zoos & Aquariums

“AZA-accredited zoos connect people with elephants and help raise awareness about the conservation issues these incredible creatures face in their natural ranges,” said Jim Maddy, President and CEO of the Association of Zoos & Aquariums. “The ivory rules proposed by the Obama Administration are an important step. Now we need to do what we can to educate people on what they can do to help end the illegal ivory trade.”

Carter Roberts, President and CEO of World Wildlife Fund said: “There are just too many loopholes in the current system for Americans to feel secure that the ivory they buy or sell is not connected to the ongoing slaughter of elephants in Africa.

“If we hope to influence this issue globally, we have to get it right here in the United States. The illegal ivory trade is fueled by organized crime. By placing restrictions on ivory sales, the Administration is making a commitment to not tolerate the senseless slaughter of wildlife and the global criminal syndicates profiting from it.”

Cristián Samper, President and CEO of the Wildlife Conservation Society and a member of the U.S. Advisory Council on Wildlife Trafficking, said: “WCS thanks the Obama Administration for its strong action to eliminate ivory sales and to save elephants.  We thank the thousands of U.S. citizens who are making a difference by backing an ivory ban and joining the 96 Campaign, and we encourage all to make their voices heard. Just in New York State, we know that more than 80 percent want an ivory ban based on a recent poll. This ban is important in the United States and we need clear, decisive action to save these magnificent animals. Along with our partners, we are committed to stopping the killing, stopping the trafficking, and stopping the demand.”

It is estimated that between 25,000 and 50,000 elephants are killed for their ivory each year, resulting in fewer than half a million elephants remaining in Africa’s savannas and

jungles — a drastic plunge over the last 50 years.


About African Wildlife Foundation

Founded in 1961, the African Wildlife Foundation (AWF) is a leading conservation organization focused solely on the African continent. AWF’s programs and conservation strategies are based on sound science and designed to protect both the wild lands and wildlife of Africa and ensure a more sustainable future for Africa’s people. Since its inception, AWF has protected endangered species and land, promoted conservation enterprises that benefit local African communities, and trained hundreds of African nationals in conservation—all to ensure the survival of Africa’s unparalleled wildlife heritage. AWF is a nonprofit organization headquartered in Kenya and registered as a 501(c)(3) in the United States. For more information, visit www.awf.organd follow us on Twitter @AWF_Official and Facebook at

About IFAW (the International Fund for Animal Welfare)

Founded in 1969, IFAW saves animals in crisis around the world. With projects in more than 40 countries, IFAW rescues individual animals, works to prevent cruelty to animals, and advocates for the protection of wildlife and habitats. For more information, visit Follow us on Facebook and Twitter.


Wildlife Conservation Network (WCN)

WCN’s mission is to protect endangered species and preserve their natural habitats by supporting entrepreneurial conservationists who pursue innovative strategies for people and wildlife to co-exist and thrive.


About AZA

Founded in 1924, the Association of Zoos and Aquariums is a nonprofit organization dedicated to the advancement of zoos and aquariums in the areas of conservation, animal welfare, education, science, and recreation. AZA is the accrediting body for the top zoos and aquariums in the United States and six other countries. Look for the AZA accreditation logo whenever you visit a zoo or aquarium as your assurance that you are supporting a facility dedicated to providing excellent care for animals, a great experience for you, and a better future for all living things. The AZA is a leader in saving species and your link to helping animals all over the world. To learn more, visit



About World Wildlife Fund                                                                                                           

WWF is one of the world’s leading conservation organizations, working in 100 countries for over half a century. With the support of almost 5 million members worldwide, WWF is dedicated to delivering science-based solutions to preserve the diversity and abundance of life on Earth, halt the degradation of the environment and combat climate change. Visit to learn more and follow our news conversations on Twitter @WWFnews.


Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) MISSION:WCS saves wildlife and wild places worldwide through science, conservation action, education, and inspiring people to value nature.VISION:WCS envisions a world where wildlife thrives in healthy lands and seas, valued by societies that embrace and benefit from the diversity and integrity of life on earth.To achieve our mission,WCS, based at the Bronx Zoo, harnesses the power of its Global Conservation Program in more than 60 nations and in all the world’s oceans and its five wildlife parks in New York City, visited by 4 million people annually. WCS combines its expertise in the field, zoos, and aquarium to achieve its conservation mission.;;; follow:@theWCS.

A-Team For Wildlife hosts the International A-Team of conservation prodigies from around the world.  This group consists of amazing young people doing record-breaking things to help endangered animals.  Our International A-Team of young champions provide inspiration and set examples for all children to emulate. We facilitate the formation of Local A-Teams and introduce kids to youth leadership and change-making.  School Assembly Programs on Endangered Species is another one of our services, which also introduces students to forming Local A-Teams.  Our amazing "Wild Life Website", soon to be released, provides education and support to Local A-Team members and their fund-raising campaigns. To those who demonstrate exceptional activity and leadership we offer "Exciting Educational Wildlife Experiences" - free trips to zoos, preserves, and even overseas safaris.  In short, we are developing the next generation of professional conservationists and their supporters.

While the entire A-TeamForWildlife approach is unique and of interest to any child who loves animals - and that means nearly all kids - I think our International A-Team of conservation prodigies is especially newsworthy.  Never before have outstanding youth achievers come together in one organization to deliver an animal-friendly message to all children.  Never before has an organization of adult professionals pledged to support these youth champions and facilitate the development of their young careers in conservation.  And each of our 15  young people (from ages 9 to 18) has an absolutely amazing and inspiring story of success to share.
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