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African Lions Need Your Signature Now!

The African Lion needs our help.

African Male Lion photo by Beverly Joubert

African Male Lion photo by Beverly Joubert

Hope for Lions through Protection

Some of you might remember when we talked about The African Lion Hope through Protection last year. If so, you might remember that on March 1, 2011, an alliance of wildlife protection and conservation groups petitioned the Secretary of the Interior to list the African lion as an endangered subspecies pursuant to the United States Endangered Species Act (ESA). These groups included Born Free USA and Born Free Foundation, Defenders of Wildlife, The Fund for Animals, Humane Society International and The Humane Society of the United States and the International Fund for Animal Welfare.

The USA is the world’s largest importer of sport-hunted African Lion trophies

The United States is the world’s largest importer of African lion parts, for hunting trophies and for commercial use.  From 1999 and 2008, 7090 lions from a wild source were traded internationally for recreational hunting purposes.  Most of these lions, 64% of the total, were imported to the United States. Even though there has been a continuous population and range decline for the lion, the United States lion trophy imports have increased.  Imports in 2008 were larger than any other year in the decade and twice the 1999 number.  The Endangered Species Listing would make a significant difference to crackdown the trophy trade.  A listing under the ESA would put strict controls on the import of lion “trophies” by Americans, and would ban the commercial trade of lion parts in the United States.

African Lions are the ONLY big cat not protected under the U.S. Endangered Species Act!

On November 26, 2012, the U.S. government issued a favorable finding that a listing may be warranted, but before making a final decision, they’ve allowed for a 60 day public comment period. They want to hear from you.  African lions are the only big cat not protected under the U.S. Endangered Species Act.

Take Action! Please add your signature and comment in favor of the ESA listing for the African Lion now!

CLICK HERE TO ADD YOUR NAME AND COMMENT!

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Keep Wildlife in the Wild Week June 20-24

Born Free USA’s third annual Keep Wildlife in the Wild Week, June 20-24 was started with the goal of taking care of wild animals not just around the world but in your own back yards!  Adam Roberts, executive vice president of Born Free USA, says the goal of Keep Wildlife in the Wild Week, is to get people to stop, think and take action.

Small steps can lead up to making a big difference. In my backyard, you might already know that we  try our best to take care of Bossy Backyard Blue Jay and all of the birds that gather and live around our habitat.  We provide food and water, and we have trees and shrubs for shelter. We are also super lucky to have squirrels, rabbits, opossum, white tail deer, the occasional raccoon and last winter there might even have been a bobcat track through our yard. We  live in an area surrounded by neighbors that love wildlife as much as we do.

What isn’t so lucky is the wild tiger.  There are more wild tigers in captivity in the United States than there are in the wild.  Occupying a mere 6% of their original territory, the tiger faces the possibility of following the pug marks of the ghosts of the Balinese, Caspian and Javan subspecies into extinction. The South China subspecies is already extinct in the wild. The remaining, Amur (Siberian), Bengal, Indo-Chinese (including Malayan), and Sumatran subspecies only have an estimated 1000 breeding females in total.

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Cat Obituary. Farewell Eastern Cougar

 

Eastern cougar

Cat Obituary. Farewell Eastern Cougar

The Eastern Cougar, a subspecies of one of North America’s largest cats, was declared extinct by the United States Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS)  on March 2, 2011,  after  a very  long and protracted review process. The USFWS gathered information on the elusive cat subspecies from both scientists and government authorities in the 21 states where the eastern cougar, also known as the eastern puma once lived.  The private Eastern Cougar Foundation spent a decade looking for evidence and  after finding none, changed its name to the Cougar Rewilding Foundation.

The historic distribution of the cougar was across lower Canada in the north, all the way to Patagonia, South America. The  highly adaptable big cat was the most widely distributed land mammal in the Western Hemisphere. It could be found in tidal marshes, deserts, mountainous terrain and deciduous, coniferous and tropical forests. But the expanding human population reduced their distribution and they did not adapt well to areas with conflicting land uses.

The eastern cougar once roamed from Maine to South Carolina and as far west as Michigan and Tennessee. They were agile for such a big cat.  The cougars had long slender bodies and small heads with short rounded ears.  They sported a beautiful  tawny coat, usually  brownish red or grayish brown, that would be more tan in the summer months and more gray in the winter. Their muzzle, chin, and underbelly were a beautiful creamy white.  They had a distinctive black tip on their tails and black coloring behind the ears, and at the base of their whiskers.

The eastern cougar was a solitary and territorial hunter whose  job was to thin the deer herd through direct predation. The big cat was a “natural shepherd” forcing deer to be more vigilant and stop grazing like cattle so that the forest would have a chance to regenerate. There are no other species available to take over the eastern cougar’s position as a top-level predator. This leaves behind ecological consequences, including a population explosion of white -tailed deer and the Eastern forests in declining health.

The USFWS decision to declare the eastern cougar extinct does not affect the current status of the Florida Panther, another wild cat subspecies that is endangered.  The Florida panther once roamed throughout the southeastern United States but now exists in less than 5% of its historic range. There are only an estimated 120-160 cats remaining in southwestern Florida.

Preparations are being made to remove the eastern cougar from the endangered species list, since extinct animals are not eligible for protection under the Endangered Species Act. The eastern cougar was considered a distinct subspecies, although it is now believed they had the same genetics as their western relatives.   It is highly unlikely that there will be any attempt to reintroduce cougars to the eastern states, the required habitat is just not available .

The announcement of the extinction was made quietly and  the cougar was put to rest without a ceremony. And that is fitting I suppose for a cat so elusive it was given the nickname “ghost cat”.  Researchers believe the subspecies has  been extinct since the 1930’s and was listed as an endangered species in 1973.

Even though the extinction conclusion was not  unexpected, the official declaration of extinction,  the acknowledgment that the big cat is gone forever still hurts.

 

Eatern Cougar Extinct Getty file

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