Bush’s License to slaughter endangered wolves

“In Yellowstone, wolf pups are dying of disease, and the entire wolf population may be headed for a crash. Yet the Bush Administration is determined to ram through a new wolf-killing plan before it he leaves office.

This 11th hour attack would strip wolves of their Endangered Species protection and leave them vulnerable to mass slaughter by Northern Rockies states. Those states have plans that could kill nearly 1,000 wolves in the first year alone.Send your Official Citizen Comment now and help stop this cold-blooded scheme in its tracks.

We need to fire back 100,000 Official Citizen Comments and fend off this life-threatening attack.

We don’t have a moment to lose, because the Bush Administration is racing to put a new wolf-killing plan into effect before it leaves office.

Your Official Citizen Comment could be the last, best hope for the wolves, so please submit it right now. The Administration is taking public comments only until November 28, 2008.

We’ve protected Yellowstone’s wolves before. And with your help, we will do it again.

It was just two months ago that our partner organization, NRDC, won a huge legal victory in federal court when it forced the Bush Administration to withdraw its original wolf-killing plan.

I warned you at the time that the Administration could still return with yet another assault on wolves.

Now they’re back and they’re going for broke — with a plan created to slaughter wolves en masse — at the bidding of powerful ranching and hunting interests.

Their new “License to Kill” plan, if put into effect, would lead to a state-sponsored massacre of wolves in Greater Yellowstone and Central Idaho.

They couldn’t have picked a worse time. Scientists are predicting a crash in Yellowstone’s wolf population this year — and wolf pups are dying from an outbreak of a yet-to-be-determined disease.

With the population below the 2,000-3,000 wolves that experts believe are needed for long-term health, the Bush Administration’s scheme could push the gray wolf back to the brink of extinction.

That’s why we must fight back with the force of at least 100,000 Official Citizen Comments in favor of wolf protection. But we have less than three weeks to mobilize before the November 28 deadline.

Right now, the states of Idaho and Montana are awaiting “Open Fire” orders to unleash a deadly public hunt as soon as this winter, if the latest Bush proposal goes through as planned. And Wyoming could also start a hunt this winter if it succeeds in rushing through its latest plan.

That’s why I urge you to click to send your Official Citizen Comment right now — before the Bush Administration has a chance to pull the trigger on this deadly scheme and slaughter the greatest wildlife icon of the American West. http://www.nrdconline.org/campaign/save_yellowstone_wolves_112008

Frances Beinecke President
NRDC Action Fund

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The NRDC Action Fund is the 501(c)(4) affiliate of the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC).


Sticklebacks fast genetic response to pollution-hope for us

You might think some people can change their minds quickly, but the stickleback fish may be the first organism we have fund to change genes to improve its survival changes in a new environment, There may be hope for us all. Sticklebacks also seem to choose the head fish in their school by color and shape. Does this make them fickle fish?faroe_stamp_248_stickleback_gasterosteus_aculeatus

Seems that color and robustness of the males is critical during breeding season. During late March and early August the male stickleback’s throat and belly become a bright orange-red, his eyes turn bright blue and silvery scales appear on his back. These colors act as a warning to other males to stay out of my turf and it attractive to females.

There are two forms of the stickleback: the oceanic and the freshwater type. The oceanic form lives in the ocean and comes into shallow estuarine or freshwater rivers and streams to breed. Oceanic stickleback is protected by a complete set of bony lateral plates along the sides and dorsal and pelvic spines on the top and bottom of the fish. While freshwater stickleback usually lose the lateral plates, and sometimes the spines. The fresh water species has repeatedly developed from its ocean cousins but lives its entire in freshwater habitats

This evolutionary change occurs rapidly, sometimes it only takes a few decades verses 100s to 1000s of years for other animal’s evolutionary trait changes. “The stickleback has managed to evolve in full-speed reverse to cope with the cleanup of Lake Washington, according to a study led by researchers at Seattle’s Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center.gasterosteus-aculeatus1

The findings published in the journal Current Biology documents a rare example of an animal reverting to an earlier evolutionary version to survive a rapid change in its environment, according to the senior author of the paper, Catherine Peichel, a Hutchinson Center researcher.

“Just five decades ago, Lake Washington was notoriously polluted, full of murky water festering with blue-green algae that thrived on the millions of gallons of raw sewage cities pumped into it. Pollution cut visibility in the water to only about 30 inches. And that was great for the stickleback, a rugged-looking customer with three sharp spines along its back, because it easily could hide in the murk from its primary predator, cutthroat trout.

After $140 million cleanup of the lake launched in the 1960s, Lake Washington is swimmable again, and visibility reaches 25 feet.

Researchers discovered that in the space of four decades, the stickleback evolved backward, to an earlier version of the species that had full-body plating. Those ancestors were marine stickleback, a spiny, armor-plated species that invaded freshwater around Puget Sound as the glaciers retreated some 10,000 years ago.

Over time they evolved to shed the bony plating covering their bodies from snout to tail. By the 1960s, only about 6 percent of sticklebacks in Lake Washington were fully plated.

Fast-forward to today, though, and about 49 percent of the stickleback sampled for the study were fully plated, the researchers found. And 35 percent were partially armored.

Researchers surmise that is because marine versions of the fish, with armored plates, invaded the lake anew when the fish ladder was put in, mixing their genes with the unplated fish.

So, when the water was cleaned up, the fish were able to tap those genes to zoom backward to their earlier, plated version, and armor themselves against the cutthroat trout that suddenly could see — and eat — them.

How did the fish adapt so quickly and easily? The researchers say it’s because of their rich genetic variation.

That enabled them to cope with a range of environments and the changing conditions of the lake. In fact, they said, it looks like much of the change has happened in less than a decade.

It’s hoped the findings will help scientists learn more about the workings of human genetics and adaptation, Peichel said.”

Stickleback Fish May Teach Us Lessons In Adaptation – Lynda V. Mapes Seattle Times

May 16, 2008 http://www.flmnh.ufl.edu/fish/InNews/stickleback2008.html
Fitness In A Changing World: Genetics And Adaptations Of Alaskan Stickleback Fish

Science Daily October 22, 2008

Endangered Cheetahs returned to S. African Park

For 70 years, zebras at South Africa’s Mountain Zebra National Park have had few predators. But now, conservationists are reintroducing cheetahs to the landscape.3
Batman and Robin GPS wired collars cheetahs on a mission have been transported to the national park. After a few months in their holding pen they were released into the park.

Their movements are being monitored and when they began dining at local farmers houses too often the conservationists relocated them to the park.
The cheetah (Acinonyx jubatus) is a unique endagered big cat for its speed, while lacking climbing abilities. It is the fastest land animal, reaching speeds between 112 and 120 km/h (70 and 75 mph)[3] in short bursts covering distances up to 460 m (1,500 ft), and has the ability to accelerate from 0 to 110 km/h (68 mph) in three seconds, greater than most supercars.

Cheetahs Return to Zebra Park National Geographic November 8, 2008


Image courtesy of


$15,000 pipedream – very expensive nap

The restoration of a church’s 130-year-old organ has been delayed because four delicate pipes were first-churches-exteriordamaged when a visitor napped on them. The 18-foot pipes were among about 50 stored in the basement at First Churches in Northampton during the sanctuary’s renovation. The congregation traces its history to the 17th century, and was home to 18th century preacher Jonathan Edwards.

Never would anyone dream that taking a nap might cost someone $15,000 ! But Rev. Peter Ives estimates the damage to some pipes from a 130 year old pipe organ repairs may cost the church that much. But he says the organ can be played without the pipes.
He is a homeless man who was in the church for a job counseling meeting mistook the pipes for rolled-up rugs and slept on them. The church will not press charges.

Man’s untimely nap damages church’s organ pipes November 12, 2008


Image courtesy of


Bush continues to lifts off shore drilling bans

The U.S. Minerals Management Service said today it is considering selling leases to drill for oil and natural gas off the coast of Virginia. This has been banned since 1983. The 2.9-million-acre study area off the Virginia coast is within 55 miles of the N.C. coast.

The MMS will entertain public comments and evaluate the possible environmental impacts of drilling offshore Virginia. The study area is 50 miles off the Virginia coast and “50 miles off the mouth of the Chesapeake Bay,” pointed out Michael Gravitz of Environment America.  A catastrophic oil spill might wash into the bay, fouling wetlands and wildlife in the already struggling estuary.  He also warned that ocean currents could carry any contaminants northward to Ocean City and the Delaware beaches.  At risk, he said, would be the bay’s beleagured crabs, Assateague Island’s picturesque wild ponies and the mid-Atlantic’s popular vacation resorts.

…All that risk” for just enough oil to supply the nation’s needs for one week or two at the most.

Details on how the public can comment on the proposed lease will be published Thursday in the Federal Register.

Although it has started gathering information, the agency said no official decision has been made to actually hold a lease sale. If the agency decides to allow drilling, the first lease sale for the area is proposed for 2011.

Excerpts from Drill, Virginia, drill? -Tim Wheeler  Baltimore Sun  Nov. 12, 2008

image courtesy The federal Minerals Management Service says it will do an environmental study of a potential drilling area off the Virginia coast, 55 miles from the N.C. coast. This graphic shows the proposed drilling area of the North Carolina coast. Source: U.S. Dept. of the Interior/Minerals Management Service