Puffins near Portland

Puffins, one of the oddest, most charming and hardest to see birds to see in the United States, but it’s getting easier because their numbers on Eastern Egg Rock, a southern Maine island hit a record 148 pairs in 2014. Warming water temperature threatened the efforts of Project Puffin to bring the cartoonish seabird back to its lost colonies.

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Wiki Site Maps Protected Areas Around the Globe

The wiki map site ProtectedPlanet, which shows people what’s in protected areas around the globe, is probably the most concrete thing to come out of the 10th Convention on Biological Diversity

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Feds Overlook Wildlife Watchers Again in New Conservation Panel


Sarah Palin – Caribou Hunt,courtesy  Grizzly Bay by way of Kinship Circle.

Interior Secretary Ken Salazar created a new panel for citizens to tell the federal government what to do about conservation and wildlife. But, instead of having the Wildlife Hunting and Heritage Council include the growing portion of Americans who just want to watch animals, not gun them down, he geared it to the dwindling minority of hunters.

More Americans have fun watching wildlife than shooting it (71 million wildlife watchers versus 12.5 million hunters), according to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

Hunters already have advocates in the NRA. State wildlife a encourage hunting. The Pittman Robertson Act makes sure of that. As any NRA member can tell you, there’s a 10-11% tax on guns that supports wildlife and conservation. That tax makes the agency beholden to hunters. Seven states have commissions that specifically require hunters or anglers, the HSUS says.

What NRA members won’t tell you is that the tax is on all guns, not just those used in hunting. The NRA tells members that the tax is on “sporting arms” Which weapons does the NRA consider sporting? Pretty much all of them. (I think it’s their effort to get hunters–by far the most respectable and respectful gun contingent–in on the government-fearing bandwagon.) The tax on pistols and revolvers is 10%. What percent of handguns do you suppose are used for hunting? Very few. But the portion of the gun market that buys for self protection, crime or militia purposes doesn’t have a strong lobby. Hunters

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Wildparks All Over Germany and Europe

When I was in Germany a few weeks ago I got to visit Saarbrücken Wildpark, which confused me. In the middle of a forest were huge pens for native animals. No addmission charge, just come on in, enjoy the animals or the woods. I wondered how this place could survive if the animals weren’t producing food.

“By the way, the animals are not supposed to be eaten!” says Michael Wagner, head of Saarbrucken’s forestry department. All the Germans I mentioned this to were equally appalled at my assumption.

The animals are there neither to be rescued nor eaten, but just for people to enjoy. “The Wildpark is intended as a greenbelt recreation area for the citizens of Saarbrücken, especially for families with children,” he says. They also have a geology-themed trail. Even though the center isn’t set up specifically for animal welfare, they do sometimes take in a few orphans, Wagner says. And they are part of the important project to recover the wisent. Only one herd of the European bison was left in the Polish woods after World War II, but there are now several thousand because of an elaborately managed breeding exchange program across Europe.

View Animaltourism.com Europe in a larger map

It’s fantastic that Germans and other Europeans have recognized that native animals in their natural environment (or a close enough approximation) are just fun to see. I wish we had wildparks here. The wildparks are all over the place. ZooInfos lists 144 native wildlife parks in Germany; 29 in Austria and 16 in Switzerland.

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