March 2, 2007 "In The Crosshairs"

In The Crosshairs Newsletter

March 2, 2007

SCI Lion
Sen. Dorgan Introduces Elk Hunting Legislation

“Congress now has the opportunity to decide whether hunters should be allowed to hunt elk in North Dakota's Theodore Roosevelt National Park. Sen. Byron Dorgan (D-N.D) introduced legislation...that would allow the National Park Service to use volunteer hunters to thin the overpopulated elk herd in the park. The National Park Service has been considering options to reduce elk numbers in the south unit of the park, where the animals were reintroduced in 1985. The unit can sustain about 360 elk, but officials estimate between 750 and 900 elk are there now. Elk have multiplied rapidly in the park because there are few natural predators, hunting is not allowed inside the park, and the animals' winter survival and reproduction rates have been good. The practice of shipping them elsewhere stopped in 2003 because of fears of chronic wasting disease.  Rep. Mark Udall (D-CO) has introduced a similar bill in the U.S. House that would allow hunters to thin the elk population at Rocky Mountain National Park .”  SCI is involved in this issue and will keep you posted. (Source: AP)

SCI Lion
RSA to Cull Elephants

Officials in South Africa unveiled a plan this week to thin elephant herds using numerous methods, including contraception, aerial sharpshooting and, as a last resort, culling.  RSA authorities say that the herds have swelled to over 20,000 animals with over 14,000 in the famed Kruger National Park alone.  The report details how elephants “wreak havoc on fragile landscapes” and affect the lives of villagers and farmers throughout Southern Africa .  “The government is allowing about two months for public commentary before finalizing its decision on how to manage the herds.  An estimated 250,000 to 300,000 elephants now live in southern Africa .”  SCI has an office in RSA and will monitor the situation.  One of the many stories on this issue can be found at (Source: L.A. Times)

SCI Lion
Endangered Species Reform Introduced

Five members of the Congressional Sportsmen's Caucus announced the introduction of "The Endangered Species Recovery Act of 2007" or S. 4087.  “The legislation would provide tax incentives for landowners who help endangered species. By focusing on four major voluntary tax incentive components, instead of attempting to reform the current ESA laws, the bill would remain in the hands of the Senate Finance Committee. Those incentive components are habitat easement credits, habitat restoration credits, deductions and market mechanisms. CSF President Jeff Crane addressed the press conference, pointing out that, ‘ America 's 40 million-plus hunters and fishermen founded the conservation model in North America and still are the backbone of wildlife conservation.’  Crane thanked the Caucus members present for their leadership on this bill and in general on issues of concern to sportsmen in the U.S. Senate, and pledged that the sportsmen's community will continue to work with them on passage of this legislation.”  (Source: CSF)

SCI Lion
Western Governors Unite to Slow Down Energy Surge

“The Western Governors' Association...called on Congress to repeal part of the 2005 Energy Policy Act that allows agencies to issue categorical exclusions for National Environmental Policy Act studies of oil and gas drilling permits in sensitive wildlife habitats.  The resolution approved by WGA members meeting in Washington asks for Congress to revise Section 390 of the E.P. Act removing the categorical exclusions for ‘wildlife corridors and crucial wildlife habitat on federal lands.’  Eliminating the categorical exclusions would require the Interior and Agriculture departments to conduct a full site-specific environmental analysis or environmental impact statement.  Industry groups and the Bush administration like categorical exclusions because they technically fulfill NEPA statutory requirements for environmental analysis but can dramatically cut the approval time for projects or permit requests.  The Bureau of Land Management issued 1,361 permits to drill under categorical exclusions from January to September 2006.  Nearly 600 were in Wyoming and 538 in New Mexico .”  (Source: E&E Daily)

SCI Lion
New Source of Endangered Species Funding

“The Oregon Zoo is receiving money from criminals -- criminals who violate wildlife statutes, that is. Community service payments ordered by Oregon 's federal court as part of wildlife -- crime sentences will now go into an Endangered Species Justice Fund, created by the zoo and the U.S. Attorney's Office in cooperation with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Money in the fund will be used to help endangered and threatened species.  The start-up money from the fund comes from the prosecution of a nationwide conspiracy to sell ocelots illegally. In recent years, wildlife investigators have prosecuted criminals for a broad range of crimes, from trafficking in endangered species and furs to illegally killing hundreds of migratory birds.  The goal of the Endangered Species Justice Fund is to decrease the environmental harm caused by wildlife crimes prosecuted in Oregon . Grants will fund programs that protect and support endangered and threatened species, as well as programs that work to combat illegal trafficking and sale of endangered and threatened species.  Since crimes prosecuted by the U.S. Attorney's Office involve animals from all over the world, the fund will support programs that help Northwest species as well as efforts abroad.”    (Source: FWS)

SCI Lion
Comments Sought on Eastern Cougar

“The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is beginning a review of scientific and commercial information to determine the status of the endangered eastern cougar, the first review the Service has done since publishing a recovery plan in 1982.  The Service placed the eastern cougar on the List of Endangered and Threatened Wildlife in 1973.  As part of the review, the Service is seeking information on the status of the eastern cougar in the 21 states -- from Maine to South Carolina and westward from Michigan to Tennessee -- where the Endangered Species Act protects it.  Lacking definitive evidence of the species’ existence, the Service has presumed the eastern cougar to be extinct.  It is improbable that a small cougar population persisted in the eastern states for over a century.  Most of the confirmed cougar records since 1950 (animals killed, good quality photos/videos, genetic evidence) are known to be escapes of captive origin.  There may be thousands of captive cougars in the eastern United States .  Anyone wishing to submit information regarding the eastern cougar may do so by writing to:

       Eastern Cougar
      Northeast Regional Office
      U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
      300 Westgate Center Drive
      Hadley , MA 01035 

Information must be received by March 30, 2007.  For additional information on the eastern cougar, see Information on the Service’s endangered species program may be found at” (Source: FWS)