Michelle Duggar fails on understanding population boom

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Human population growth is clearly taxing the planet. We are seeing rampant deforestation and habitat loss and a huge strain on resources in many areas of the Earth. And many species of wildlife are being wiped off the face of the Earth, a trend that can indeed be traced to human activity and greed.

But apparently Michelle Duggar of “19 Kids and Counting” fame is unaware of these obvious trends.

In a article by Us Weekly posted today at Today.com, Duggar is asked about overpopulation, something she said she doesn’t believe in. Let’s make sure we get this quote right. She told Celebrity Baby Scoop –

“We have studied it and I believe that there is a misconception about overpopulation. I think that the whole mindset of overpopulation is really overrated.”

She doesn’t believe in overpopulation. It’s like stating you don’t believe there’s a sun in our solar system. It’s like saying you don’t believe in sunburn. It’s like saying the crime rate in Chicago is no big deal or having a job is overrated.

It’s like not understanding the phrase – exponential growth.

Look – I don’t want to pick on Michelle. She seems like a really nice person. But she said she studied overpopulation and yet she came to this conclusion. I couldn’t let that pass.

Again, overpopulation is putting a huge strain on wildlife populations, habitat and the planet’s resources. If anything, the problem is underrated and receives too little attention from the media or governments.

 

PACK MENTALITY BLOG: Compassion - teamed with Science and Logic

New USFWS protections for loggerhead nesting sites was a response to lawsuit filed by conservation groups

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I received an email today through Oceana, in response to my earlier post concerning the US Fish and Wildlife’s move to protect loggerhead sea turtle nesting site along the Atlantic and Gulf coast regions.

The attached release reports the USFWS move comes after a lawsuit was filed earlier this year – by the Center for Biological Diversity, Oceana and the Turtle Island Restoration Network. It seems federal agencies had failed to act on petitions filed by the organizations, pushing for protections for the important nesting regions.

The full press release:

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U.S. Government Finally Acts in Response to Conservation Lawsuits

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla.— After five years of delay, the federal government today finally proposed to protect more than 739 miles of critical habitat for threatened loggerhead sea turtles on their nesting beaches along the U.S. Atlantic and Gulf coasts. These sea turtles face serious threats to their long-term survival from drowning in fishing nets, loss of nesting beaches due to coastal development and sea-level rise. The proposal spans from North Carolina to Mississippi and encompasses 84 percent of all known nesting areas.

Today’s action by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service comes as a result of a lawsuit filed earlier this year by conservation groups Center for Biological Diversity, Oceana, and Turtle Island Restoration Network, after federal agencies failed to respond to separate petitions filed by the groups to strengthen protections for all loggerhead populations in the U.S. dating back to 2007.

“The Southeast’s nesting loggerheads swim thousands of miles through an obstacle course of human-made hazards,” said Jaclyn Lopez, a Florida attorney with the Center for Biological Diversity. “Protected beach habitat will help ensure that when they reach our beaches, exhausted and ready to nest, they’re met with true southern hospitality: plenty of food, good conditions for nesting, and safe beaches for hatchlings to leave their nests so they may someday return to continue the cycle of life.”

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PACK MENTALITY BLOG: Compassion - teamed with Science and Logic

US Fish and Wildlife Service set to ID vital nesting areas for loggerhead sea turtles

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The US Fish and Wildlife Service is in the process of identifying vital nesting sites for loggerhead sea turtles.

The full press release:

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Service Identifies Coastal Beach Habitat Important for Recovery of Northwest Atlantic Population of Loggerhead Sea Turtles

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) has begun the process of identifying coastal beach habitat important for the recovery of the threatened Northwest Atlantic Ocean population of loggerhead sea turtles, as directed by the Endangered Species Act (ESA). The agency has preliminarily identified portions of island and mainland coastal beaches in six states to propose as critical habitat, and is seeking public comment on the proposed rule.

The proposed critical habitat areas include 90 nesting beaches in coastal counties located in North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Florida, Alabama and Mississippi. The proposed areas incorporate about 740 beach shoreline miles and account for approximately 84 percent of the documented nesting (numbers of nests) within these six states.

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PACK MENTALITY BLOG: Compassion - teamed with Science and Logic

Too many reptile species are in danger of becoming extinct

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Nearly 20 percent of all reptile species are in danger of becoming extinct. Habitat loss and people killing them are two of the key areas of concern.

A recent study uncovered these findings. The Union for Conservation of Nature’s Red List of Threatened Species reports 12 percent of reptiles are classified as critically endangered, 41 percent as endangered and 47 percent are listed as vulnerable.

As habitat continues to be destroyed, we will continue to see the decline of more species. Do enough people care about this to stop this tragedy?

Find more information on this story in the Science section of NBCNews.com.

 

Major paper company agrees to halt destruction of natural forests in Indonesia

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Asia Pulp & Paper Group, called one of the largest paper producers in the world, has agreed to stop its suppliers from cutting down natural forests in Indonesia, as reported by the Associated Press.

This is being hailed as an important step in protecting vital habitat for endangered animals such as orangutans and Sumatran tigers. The company worked with Greenpeace and the Forest Trust.

Deforestation is a huge, but too-often under-reported problem. The Earth is losing massage amounts of forests, including extremely important rainforests, every day. Greed – again – is the major player. I hope Asia Pulp & Paper is serious about this move.

 

Salazar to step down as Secretary of Interior

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I just received a press release from the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, concerning the resignation of Ken Salazar, as the Secretary of the US Interior Department.

I was not a supporter of Salazar for this position and over his term, I felt he leaned far too much on the side of industry and development. He was not supportive enough on protections for wildlife and habitat.

We have seen the continued complete destruction of beautiful mountain ranges in the Appalachians by the coal industry and ongoing fracking, without complete studies on its impacts. People still try to defend fracking. But no one can on any level defend blowing up mountains, while filling in beautiful mountain streams. It’s all in the name of lining the pockets of a few CEOs. Where has Salazar been on this?

This video shows how Salazar completely rejected a question about moving away from the destructive way coal is mined in Kentucky.

The Guardian reported in 2011 on Salazar’s announcement on the expansion of coal mining. This has happened while some politicians claim the administration is blocking coal and natural gas development. The facts tell a much different story.

So now, let’s hope the President appoints someone who swings the needle back to wildlife and our forests, mountains and wetlands. The lack of real protections for the environment and wildlife has gone on far too long.

Be that as it is, I have posted below the full release from FWS. It does list a number of accomplishments for the department under Salazar.

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A good decision and a horrible one

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Let’s start with a horrible decision by a judge, one based solely on politics and in no way based on logic or laws. And it certainly was not based on compassion or looking to the future.

The Associated Press reports a federal judge in Alaska has shut down a plan to designate 187,000 square miles in the state as habitat for polar bears, a species very much threatened by habitat loss and climate change. The AP article reports – “” U.S. District Judge Ralph Beistline, in a written order dated Thursday, said the designation was too extensive and presented “a disconnect between the twin goals of protecting a cherished resource and allowing for growth and much needed economic development.” “”

Oil and gas companies and a coalition of Alaska Native groups joined the state of Alaska in a lawsuit challenging the plan.

Alaska Governor Sean Parnell called the region “… massive sections of resource-rich North Slope lands …” So if we translate all of the information above, we can squeeze it all down to this: ‘The greedy can make a lot of money off this land. Our children’s future and the existence of endangered wildlife have no value.’

The judge sided with the greedy. Are we shocked? And finally, get this: U.S. Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) called the polar bear populations “abundant and healthy.” How uneducated can one individual be?

In much better news, it seems the US Army is looking to finally ban the use of goats in trauma training. The Fayetteville Observer out of North Carolina reports Fort Bragg slaughters 300 goats each month in studying wounds.

Here’s the key paragraph from the article: “” The 2013 National Defense Authorization Act, signed into law this month, requires the Department of Defense to provide Congress with a strategy and detailed timeline by March for the replacement of animals for medical training. “”

The use of animals for this research and training is stuck in the past. As the article notes, simulators, such as”cut suits” are far better. It’s an important news story and one those who support the use of animals need to read. It’s 2013 and we should no longer opt for animal cruelty, especially in cases such as this where technology has risen above it.

World Wildlife Fund introduces new website

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Earlier today, the World Wildlife Fund announced it has revamped its website, which features new page for 90 species and subspecies.

You can also look through a list of endangered species.

This is an important organization that fights for wildlife and wildlife habitat, at a time when greed – worldwide – is a huge problem. Greed is eating away at habitat and the environment and the climate.

Pack Topic: Saving tortoises; South Korea to resume whaling

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South Korea fibs about its reasons to resume whaling: Under the false cover of so-called scientific research, South Korea has announced plans to resume whaling. And oh by the way, representatives are talking about how much some people in the country love whale meat.

The Wall Street Journal story notes the “South Korean government cited the country’s long-standing culinary culture of eating whale meat…” So is it research on chewing whale meat? And the country claims whales are eating too many fish. So I wonder about the South Korean government’s  position on humans over-fishing the seas. Fishermen might want to look over their shoulders in that region.

Let’s call it what it is – a lie. For Japan and South Korea or any other nation to claim scientific research as a reason for whaling is supremely dishonest. It is also a slap in the face to real scientists, who actually study whales without killing them under the cover of whaling.

Endangered gopher tortoises rescued from construction site: The Vero Beach Humane Society gets a Pack of Compassion Award for relocating 31 endangered gopher tortoises from a construction site in Florida.

Volunteer Laura Guttridge of the VBHS wrote about the effort for Care2.com. The state of Florida allows developers to pay to plow over the tortoises and their habitat. But prior to this case, the Florida Fish and Wildlife conservation commission did not allow citizens to relocate the tortoises.

It is important to protect animals from being taken by just anybody. But in cases like this, the state would be allowing a developer to smother them to death, while denying people the right to save their lives. There is no logic in that stand, so thankfully more reasonable heads prevailed and the rules were changed to allow the VBHS to relocate them.

Well done.

Pack Topics: Egg bill amendment rejected; cougars making a comeback

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The US Senate rejected this week a contentious Farm Bill amendment that would have doubled the space in cages for egg-laying hens on factory farms.

The Humane Farming Association (HFA) and another animal-welfare organizations have been speaking out against the amendment, suggesting it would have overturned California’s Prop. 2, while ensuring hens remained caged – as opposed to turning to truly cage-free hens. The HFA was calling it the “Rotten Egg Bill.”

MarketWatch.com also reports the United Egg Producers (UEP) organization is involved in a scandal and along with several egg companies “” has been sued repeatedly for alleged illegal price fixing, paying $25 million to settle allegations that they illegally manipulated the price and supply of eggs under the guise of instituting standards for animal welfare. “”

Priscilla Feral, the president of Friends of Animals, is quoted in the article as saying, “There is no such thing as an ‘enriched’ battery cage.”

I stated before that this might have been a step in the direction, but in light of the scandal information and the possibility that it might very well throw up a roadblock to truly cage-free hens, I’ll have to say it is best that the amendment was defeated. We cannot allow the momentum to slow down for more humane regulations on factory farming.

I hope this next section leads to a more positive outcome for an animal species:

I received a press release this week with the following headline – “Cougars Are Re-Populating Their Historical Range, New Study Confirms”

The release in its entirety –

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New Evidence Shows How American Big Cats are Reversing 100 Years of Decline

American mountain lions, or cougars, are re-emerging in areas of the United States, reversing 100 years of decline. The evidence, published in The Journal of Wildlife Management, raises new conservation questions, such as how humans can live alongside the returning predators.

“The cougar population declined dramatically from 1900, due to both hunting, and a lack of prey, leaving the remaining population isolated to the American west,” said Michelle LaRue from the University of Minnesota. “Here we present the hard evidence that the western population has spread, with cougar populations re-establishing across the Midwest.”

Three main cougar populations exist in the Midwest centered around The Black Hills in South Dakota, however, cougars are venturing far outside of this range. One male cougar from the Black Hills was found to have traveled 2,900 kilometers through Minnesota, Wisconsin and New York, before ending up in Connecticut.

“While the distance the Connecticut cougar traveled was rare, we found that cougars are roaming long distances and are moving back into portions of their historical range across the Midwest ”, said LaRue. “Our study took in over 3,200,000 Km² of territory, confirming the presence of Cougars from Texas, Arkansas and Nebraska, to the Canadian provinces of Ontario and Manitoba.”

Working alongside scientists from Southern Illinois University Carbondale and The Cougar Network, LaRue and Principal Investigator Dr. Clay Nielsen analyzed cougar sightings which have been reported since the 1990’s to characterize confirmed sightings over time, assess habitat suitability and confirm where cougar populations are being re-established.

Aside from confirmed sightings, the team’s evidence included carcasses, tracks, photos, video, DNA evidence and cases of attacks on livestock across 14 states and provinces of North America. Only sightings which were verified by wildlife professionals were included, while sightings of animals known to be released from captivity were excluded to ensure only natural repopulation was analyzed.

The results reveal 178 cougar confirmations in the Midwest with the number of confirmations steadily increasing between 1990 and 2008. Approximately 62% of confirmed sightings took place within 20km of habitat that would be considered suitable for cougar populations.

When cougar carcasses were recovered 76% were found to be male. As the Connecticut example shows, males are capable of traveling long distances and this finding suggests males are leading a stepping-stone dispersal of the cougar population.

“This evidence helps to confirm that cougars are re-colonizing their historical range and reveals that sightings have increased over the past two decades,” concluded LaRue. “The question now is how the public will respond after living without large carnivores for a century. We believe public awareness campaigns and conservation strategies are required across these states, such as the Mountain Lion response plans already in place in Nebraska and Missouri.”

This research was conducted in partnership with Southern Illinois University Carbondale (http://www.wildlife.siuc.edu ) and The Cougar Network: http://www.cougarnet.org/

This study is published in The Journal of Wildlife Management.

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With a bit of intelligent educational practices, we can indeed welcome the return of cougars.