In 2020, Trump gave responsibility for managing wildlife populations back to the states. Now one might argue that this is the right thing to do, after all it is democracy, but is it?
Many of the states in the USA are horrifically gerrymandered, with some having a small minority overruling the great majority. There are many intentional ways that this is done (republicans have been very good at it over time – there are been 2 times in recent years where democrats got more votes but lost.
Ocelots are often thought of as relatively exotic animal. Looking like a small leopard or Jaguar, this is not particularly surprising. Never-the-less, like their bigger cousin, the jaguar, they are a native cat of the USA.
Road deaths are a significant problem, as with a total population not thought to number more than 60-80, 8 were lost in under a year (2015-2016). Texas has created 27 wildlife crossings, with many in Ocelot areas, but clearly more are needed, along with driver education.
Perhaps more unhelpful, as Ocelots are largely nocturnal, they are usually crossing the road when hardest to see. Once relatively common in the southern USA, just 1% of its optimal habitat remains, and this is criss-crossed by road.
While few animals have been completely exterminated from north America in the last 300 years there are a few on the brink.
One such animal is the Jaguar.
The last known Jaguar roams the Rocky lands of Southern Arizona and is called Sombra. The last known female was shot 60 years ago this year. Conservationists are calling for Jaguars to be reintroduced into the Gila national forest, a 3 million acre wilderness in New Mexico, along with protection for millions more acres which Sombra currently roams.
In the USA, much to the frustration of many politicians, it is possible to attach legislation to another bill, even when there is nothing that links the two. In this case Jo Minchin’s legislation would have deregulated and changed permitting reforms for fossil fuel projects, and were supposed to be attached to a must pass defence bill. This ability to attach irrelevant legislation must be ended.
In other words, had he been allowed to do it, the bill would have had to be passed, as the defence part was required.
There are currently no know Mexican wolves in Mexico, with the last 5 having been captured in 1980 to create a breeding program. It is possible that a few survived and have not been seen (there is a great deal of wilderness in Mexico), but from what is known they are none left in Mexico.
American Black bears are far and away the most numerous bear in the world by some margin. It is thought that at least 800,000 American black bears still roam the continental north America – though the closely related Asiatic black bear has a far smaller population of about 50,000 spread across south-eastern Asia and is therefore far more endangered (the spectacled bear is also thought to be relatively closely related).
In America, black bears are relatively common sites where they are found.
Wolves were exterminated very effectively across much of North America. When so called native Americans arrived probably as much as 15000 years ago, they quickly learnt to live alongside wolves. Sure, occasionally one would be killed, but generally they were left alone. Not so for the European settlers; as they had done before in Europe, wolves were hunted mercilessly. So when we started to worry about conservation of these species in the last 50 or so years there were few left. Even in places like Yellowstone they were eradicated.
The money will be used to expand wildlife corridors, which will allow easier gene flow, as well as benefitting all wildlife in the area – including prey which in places is severely lacking.
Currently agreed requirements for the animal to be taken off the endangered list is 3 established populations of a couple of hundred each.
The changes would also benefit key deer, Florida manatee and loggerhead sea turtles.
It is rare that conservation efforts are supported on all side. In other areas Republicans have not been good at supporting Conservation in the last few years – let us hope that this will lead to a change in the wider Republican party.
Methane emissions are 80 times more warming that carbon dioxide. They do not stay in the atmosphere for ever, but in the short term, they could still cause the human race an enormous task which could quickly become unmanageable. Methane (natural gas) is often found in the same place as oil yet, bizarrely, extractors are generally after one or the other. By making rules on methane capture, significant quantities can be stopped from escaping into the atmosphere, never mind the fact that this methane can then be sold, greatly increasing income.
According to a recent NASA study, methane is responsible for about 25% of the global warming that has occurred since the industrial revolution.
Under Obama the central American government tightened rules on methane extraction in an attempt to deal with this issue. The larger companies engaged with the new rules, but unfortunately the smaller companies which are responsible for much of the fracking that occurs complained and the EPA under Trumps oversight (Trump had installed many fossil fuel executives into its ranks) reversed these cuts.
The industry claimed that there was not much leakage and that the problem was under control. Unfortunately this was a lie. At the same time that they were claiming tiny leaks publicly, privately they were admitting to a huge problem.
So far, these lies which are going to cost the world population have not been punished at all. What is worse, we wouldn’t know about the behaviour were it not for a secret recording made of a member of the independent petroleum association. According to the recording Ron Ness president of the North Dakota Petroleum Council told the meeting “We’re just flaring a tremendous amount of gas. This pesky natural gas. The value if it is very minimal”. A few months later, the same organisation had a lawyer state that it is not in their interests to let even a molecule of gas escape.
Yet this requires us to be fools. The most long lasting view of an oil rig is with a flame blowing out, burning off excess gas.
We need to make pollution the expensive option. If venting is the cheapest way to work, lets tax it to such an extreme level that it is worth their while to catch the waste. Of course the best way to end this practice is for the producers to go out of business. While we are moving in that direction at a reasonable speed, it is perhaps too slow for the survival of the way of life that we humans have got used to over the last few millenia. If we continue as we are, the climate we will leave for out children will not be as pleasant.