Rewilding in the Media #15

Howling coyotes © Dave Parsons. Relating to #9 in this list below.

Editors’ note:  Fortunately, rewilding projects and ideas are in the news more and more frequently.  Unfortunately, this is largely because the extinction and climate crises have worsened to the point that truly bold and visionary conservation and restoration work are essential to saving life on Earth.  In this periodic summary, we list some of the notable stories in the media pertaining to protecting and restoring wild Nature that the TRI board and staff discover and discuss.  These are some highlights from Sept.-Oct. 2022. We urge sharing links to the ones you find most inspiring.

1. The Wildlife News, People Hate National Parks and Monuments–Until they Don’t by George Wuerthner [Sept. 2, 2022]

“On August 24th the state of Utah filed a court challenge to the Biden Administration’s restoration and expansion of the Bears Ears and Grand Staircase Escalante National Monuments. It’s important to recognize that this is typical of nearly every instance of new land protection proposals. I am copying an article I wrote in Sierra Magazine which provides a brief look at local reaction and opposition to many parks that are now part of each state’s identity.”

2. The Intercept, In Reviewing Wolves’ Endangered Status, Martha Williams Confronts her Montana Past [Sept. 29, 2022]

“As head of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Williams is reviewing whether the hunting rules she helped foster adequately protect wolves.”

TRI’s Carnivore Conservation Biologist Dave Parsons is quoted in the article.

3. A new study: Prioritizing livestock grazing right buyouts to safeguard Asiatic cheetahs from extinction [Sept. 29, 2022]

“Abstract: Livestock husbandry exerts major pressures on wildlife across the world. Large carnivores are particularly at risk because they are often killed by pastoralists as a preventive or precautionary response to livestock depredation. Minimizing the overlap between pastures and carnivore habitat can thus be a conservation strategy, but it remains often unclear which pastures should be targeted to maximize conservation benefits given a limited budget. We addressed this question for the last viable population of the Asiatic cheetah (Acinonyx jubatus venaticus) in northeastern Iran. By combining species distribution modeling with a spatial prioritization framework, we aimed to identify where grazing right buyouts should take place to reduce cheetah killing by herders and their dogs. We assessed the Asiatic cheetah habitat using species distribution models, highlighting large, contiguous areas that overlap with livestock pastures (5792 km2, equaling 72% of the total predicted suitable habitat). Subsequently, we used data on the number and distribution of livestock (47,000 animals in 80 pastures) and applied a spatial prioritization method to identify pastures for grazing right buyouts for a range of budget scenarios (US $100,000–600,000). Pastures selected had a high level of irreplaceability and were generally stable across budget scenarios. Our results provide a novel approach to minimize encounter rates between cheetah and livestock, and thus the mortality risk, for one of the world’s most endangered felids and highlight the potential of spatial prioritization as a tool to devise urgent conservation actions.”

4. NPR, Wolves and beavers may be the key to restoring ecosystems in the American West [Oct. 3, 2022]

“Scientists have a plan to help restore wildlife habitat in the American West by moving grazing livestock off public lands and reintroducing two controversial species: wolves and beavers.”

See the referenced study here: “Rewilding the American West.”

5. Grand Junction Sentinel, Don’t leave wolf hunting up to experts [Oct 9, 2022]

This op-ed explains why wolf hunting is not a question for science but for ethics, by acknowledging who wolves are and by questioning our self-assumed right to decide over their lives. Written by The Rewilding Institute and Project Coyote staff members Francisco Santiago-Avila and Renee Seacor, and Project Coyote’s Michelle Lute.

6. A new study: Potential cougar habitats and dispersal corridors in Eastern North America [Oct. 12, 2022]

“Cougars (Puma concolor) have been recolonizing Midwestern North America during the past 3 decades with>950 cougar confirmations east of established populations. Due to an increase in confirmations east of current breeding populations, evaluation of cougar habitat suitability and connectivity is needed. However, few studies have assessed the habitat potential for cougar recolonization in the eastern portion of their former range. This study, published by Landscape Ecology, uses various habitat quality thresholds to model potential cougar habitats and dispersal corridors throughout eastern North America.” Read the report

7. The Guardian, The end of a way of life? Ranchers struggle to survive the south-west’s megadrought [Oct. 2, 2022]

“This is a good piece about all the subsidies and the lengths we will go in this country to maintain an archaic industry that is incredibly destructive. Living in denial about climate warming and change—supporting ranching until the “end” of the drought?  But as the article concludes “ranching is a way of life” which the rest of us must support through numerous subsidies and destruction of our public lands.” —George Wuerthner

8. Animal Lives Matter, New WWF Report Fails to Emphasize Major Contributor of Destruction of Earth’s Natural Systems – Too Many People [Oct. 21, 2022]

“Large numbers of people tune out as soon as they hear the words ‘climate change,’ so if powerful organizations want to convince everyone of the need to preserve biodiversity, using climate change as the cudgel is not a winning strategy. ‘Climate change’ or “climate” is used more than 90 times in the 115-page report, while ‘population’ in the context of too many people is barely mentioned – called only an ‘indirect driver’ of biodiversity loss – and ‘overpopulation’ isn’t mentioned.

Overpopulation is not an indirect driver of biodiversity loss; it is a prime driver. The dramatic increase in human population parallels the loss of biodiversity. That WWF ignores the fact of an Earth overpopulated with humans – 8 billion potentially headed to 11 or 12 billion – is a stunning omission. Any serious effort to create a sustainable planet and reverse the tremendous loss of biodiversity must address human population growth.”—Maria Kay Fotopoulos

9. Mid Rio Grande Times, Coexisting with Our Urban Coyotes by Dave Parsons, TRI’s Carnivore Conservation Biologist [Oct. 28, 2022]

“I’m a Wildlife Biologist. It makes my day to see coyotes on my morning walks and bike rides in the North Valley. And it’s always a special treat to hear their chorus howls in the evening from our back porch on Decker Avenue near the Candelaria Nature Preserve. Not everyone views our urban coyotes in the same way I do, though. This is often due to the myths and assumptions humans make about coyotes, their behaviors, and intentions.”

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