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Before Rachel Carson became the mother of the modern environmental movement, she was stuck in a job that paid the bills but left her restless. A new documentary revisits Carson's days as an information specialist for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in the 1930s and '40s, where at first she filed mundane reports about the agency's conservation work. It was in that role that Carson learned about DDT — a potent pesticide that farmers sprayed indiscriminately over their crops. Carson exposed the chemical's widespread environmental damage in her groundbreaking 1962 book, Silent Spring. SEE ALSO: Hawaii's bees are now protected under U.S. Endangered Species Act Her work inspired President John F. Kennedy to launch the first U.S. investigation into the public health risks of pesticides, which later prompted policymakers to create new safeguards for protecting the environment. The PBS documentary Rachel Carson draws on the biologist's own writings, letters and recent scholarship to tell her inspiring life story. The film features the voice of actress Mary-Louise Parker as Carson, who died in 1964 after a long battle with breast cancer. Rachel Carson premieres as part of PBS' American Experience program on Jan. 24 at 8 p.m. ET. Seth Meyers masterfully skewers Trump's 'alternative facts' in his 'Closer Look' 'Rings' TV store prank left customers running in absolute terror Watch this super cute 4-year-old sing 'You've Got a Friend In Me' with her dad Swan halts traffic and doesn't give a duck
Two people were gored to death Sunday in a bull-wrestling festival in southern India, a report said, a day after a ban on the controversial sport was overturned. Several towns and villages in the southern state of Tamil Nadu celebrated the popular Jallikattu festival on Sunday after week-long protests prompted authorities to approve an executive order lifting a Supreme Court ban on it. The Supreme Court last year outlawed Jallikattu after a plea by animal rights groups, which have long accused those taking part in the event -- held annually across Tamil Nadu -- of cruelty to the animals.
"Elephant's skin can cure skin diseases like eczema," one shop owner, who requested anonymity, told AFP next to a counter brimming with porcupine quills and snake skins. Another young man touting his wares nearby promised a paste made from ground up elephant teeth would "cure pimples and remove black spots".
An Indian state lifted a Supreme Court ban on a popular bull-wrestling festival on Saturday after Prime Minister Narendra Modi ordered the event should be allowed to go ahead. Modi overturned the ban on the festival after massive protests in southern India by demonstrators who called the court's ruling an attack on their culture. India's Supreme Court outlawed the bull-wrestling Jallikattu festival last year after a plea by animal rights groups, which have long accused participants in the event -- held annually across southern Tamil Nadu state -- of cruelty to the animals.
International police body Interpol announced a new project Friday that will identify and dismantle origanised crime networks between Africa and Asia that have devastated wildlife and made ivory a sought-after luxury. Interpol, headquartered in the eastern French city of Lyon, said the initiative will focus on providing increased resources to countries linked to the illegal wildlife trade -- especially as it relates to ivory, rhino horns and Asian big cats.
A cream used to treat skin cancer and abnormal skin lesions can be lethal for pets, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) warned today. The agency said the medication, called fluorouracil, can make pets sick, and even kill them in some cases. "People using this medication should use care when applying and storing the medication if they are also in a household with pets, as even very small amounts could be dangerous to these animals," the FDA said in a statement.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi refused Thursday to overturn a Supreme Court ban on a festival featuring young men wrestling with bulls that has brought thousands onto the streets of southern India in protest. Residents of the southern state of Tamil Nadu say the Jallikattu festival is a crucial part of their culture and are demanding the ban be lifted. India's Supreme Court outlawed Jallikattu last year after a plea by animal rights groups, which have long argued that the event -- held every year in different parts of Tamil Nadu -- abuses the animals.
(Reuters) - Biologists on Tuesday were investigating the weekend deaths of dozens of dolphins in Everglades National Park in Florida's largest mass stranding of the mammal since 1989, a U.S. scientific agency said. At least 82 of the dolphins, known as false killer whales for their resemblance to killer whales, died, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) said. Thirteen dolphins remain unaccounted for since the initial sighting Saturday afternoon by a bystander in Hog Key, a remote island on the western side of the park, NOAA spokeswoman Blair Mase said.
BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) — In control of Congress and soon the White House, Republicans are readying plans to roll back the influence of the Endangered Species Act, one of the government's most powerful conservation tools, after decades of complaints that it hinders drilling, logging and other activities.
The owners of the famed Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus today pushed back against the idea that animal rights protests influenced the company's decision to end its circus performances in May of this year. The family-run Feld Entertainment company that owns the 146-year-old circus billed as "the greatest show on Earth" said at a press conference today in Florida that animal rights groups should not claim the circus' closing as a victory. "This is not a win for animal rights activists," Kenneth Feld, the company's CEO said.
Botswana has awarded a 1 billion pula ($95 million) contract to a joint venture between Italian companies Itinera and Cimolai to build a bridge in the remote Okavango Delta, a major tourist draw renowned for its wildlife. The project, which will be fully funded by the government and involves the construction of a 1.1 km long road bridge and pedestrian walkways, is expected to be complete in July 2019. It will replace a pontoon service across a section of the Delta.
Luxury good maker LVMH said its Louis Vuitton brand had ceased all trading with Vietnamese farms which animal rights activist group Peta alleged mistreated crocodiles, whose skins are used to make handbags and other accessories. "The LVMH group and its suppliers ceased all trading in 2014 with the farms named by Peta," LVMH said on Friday, adding that it sources its crocodile skins from other Asian suppliers. Peta (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) said on Thursday it had bought one share in LVMH to enable it to put pressure on the French company to stop selling products made with exotic animal skins.
Wildlife photographer Will Burrard-Lucas had long wanted to add up-close-and-personal images of iconic African animals to his portfolio. But to get those intimate shot of lions and leopards, he would need to crawl up right next to their sharp-toothed faces. So Burrard-Lucas devised a far less deadly alternative. SEE ALSO: The world's fastest land animal is even more threatened than we thought In 2009, during a trip to Tanzania and Kenya, he bolted a camera to a small remote-controlled, four-wheel buggy and steered the rig toward herds of elephants and rambunctious lions. His BeetleCam, now on its fifth edition, has since evolved to include new features like a remotely-operated camera tilt and a live video feed. "It's closer to how you experience the world with your own eyes," the U.K.-based photographer told Mashable. "It's almost like when you see the pictures, you're there." Robots small and large — from the backpack-sized BeetleCam to multimillion-dollar underwater vehicles — have given photographers and scientists an unprecedented look into the world of endangered animals, rare species and deep-sea creatures. Wildlife photographer Will Burrard-Lucas with his BeetleCam system. Image: will burrard-lucas These devices can go where humans typically can't, be it nuzzling noses with leopards, roaming the seafloor for days at a time or sidling up next to super elusive sperm whales. And they do far more than capture mesmerizing photos and breathtaking videos. Ready for their undersea close-ups With remotely operated technologies, researchers can take more accurate population counts of extremely threatened species, or better document the effects of climate change and land development on animals' habitats. Submersible robots have enabled scientists to discover hundreds of previously unknown underwater species. Elephants photographed with the BeetleCam in South Luangwa National Park, Zambia. Image: will burrard-lucas BeetleCam-eye view of a leopard. Image: will burrard-lucas Ocean Exploration Trust, a nonprofit dedicated to exploring the ocean, uses two remotely operated vehicles (ROVs) to do everything from mapping the seafloor and measuring methane bubbles to exploring radioactive shipwrecks off the California coast. The nonprofit's first vehicle, ROV Argus, can dive down to 6,000 meters, and is often used to stabilize and illuminate ROV Hercules, which sports six thrusters that allow it to "fly" in any direction underwater. Hercules' two manipulator arms let the ROV gather underwater samples and recover artifacts, while its high-definition camera streams live video to the controllers aboard the Exploration Vessel Nautilus. "Sending people to the bottom [of the ocean] is very dangerous and expensive, and it's very complicated. The conditions have to be exactly right," Susan Poulton, a spokesperson for Ocean Exploration Trust, told Mashable. " We've kept vehicles submerged for over three straight days on a dive site," she said. "In places that are too dangerous to navigate with a manned submersible, we can navigate with an unmanned ROV." By staying underwater for longer stretches, the Nautilus crew has a far greater chance of encountering spectacular wildlife. Poulton recalled a 2015 expedition in the Gulf of Mexico when a sperm whale approached the ROVs while scientists were tracking a methane bubble. "It checked us out for 20 minutes, and we could witness his behavior and how he explored us," she said. "We had this unbelievable experience." The Schmidt Ocean Institute, a private foundation, also works with remotely operated technologies to advance marine research. Its ROV SuBastian (named after the main character in the movie The NeverEnding Story ), which the institute recently tested off the coast of Guam, will be able to support high-resolution seafloor mapping and gather samples of rocks, animals and seawater, among other abilities. Flying high in the sky The organization also supported the early development of long-endurance "unmanned airborne systems" — aka drones — to gather atmospheric data in the Arctic, which will help oceanographers better understand how sea ice breaks up and melts in the era of human-driven climate change. In the much balmier climate of Belize, conservationists are flying different types of drones to aid their fight against illegal fishing. The Wildlife Conservation Society, working with the Belize Fisheries Department, is using quadcopters to monitor the mangrove keys and tiny inlets where fishermen and poachers often hide their illicit catches of lobsters, conchs, sharks and regulated fish species. "Sometimes from a vessel it's hard to spot those inlets, and fishers can hide," said Julio Maaz, the conservation group's technical coordinator for sustainable fisheries in Belize. "We also felt that drones could assist us in reducing the amount of fuel used to do patrols in ships," he told Mashable. Other organizations in Belize have adopted drones to help track and count manatee populations and to monitor wildfires — a task that otherwise requires researchers to traverse the jungle on foot to determine the extent of fire damage. A recreational drone. Image: bruce bennett/Getty Images Burrard-Lucas, the wildlife photographer, said he has expanded his remotely operated set-ups to include "camera traps." Equipped with infrared triggers, the traps can sit in the field for days or weeks. When a nocturnal or elusive animal crosses the infrared sensor, the DSLR camera snaps images that would otherwise be impossible for photographers to capture in the flesh. Through his company Camtraptions, Burrard-Lucas sells two versions of the trap. Researchers with groups like World Wildlife Fund tend to favor the smaller, inexpensive systems, which take grainy images but help document the movements of animals and gather head counts. The more costly version takes higher-quality shots, including Burrard-Lucas' personal favorite: A skittish rhinoceros under a clear, starry sky. A reclusive rhino in North Luangwa National Park, Zambia. Image: will burrard-lucas "It couldn't be achieved using anything other than a remote camera or trap," he said. Burrard-Lucas said he plans to take his camera trap and BeetleCam systems to Africa's rainforest regions this year to photograph lesser-known, forest dwelling species. He will also keep developing new iterations of his designs. "It's a never-ending cycle," he said of the technology. Video credits: Ocean Exploration Trust (sperm whale); Schmidt Ocean Institute (Mariana Volcanic Arc). Watch robots in VR Introducing The Possible, a new virtual reality series that explores groundbreaking technology. Click here to download the Within app and watch The Possible . BONUS: When a Robot Isn't Just a Robot...
The rusty patched bumblebee (Bombus affinis) is now the first bumblebee species to receive protections under the U.S. Endangered Species Act. The Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation first petitioned for the listing in 2013 and, in 2014, joined with the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) to sue the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service (FWS) for failing to act on the petition. The FWS subsequently issued a decision to list the bee as endangered in September 2016.
US officials for the first time have placed a bee found in the continental United States on the endangered species list. Authorities said Wednesday the move was taken after a precipitous decline in the rusty patched bumblebee population, due to pesticides, disease and climate change. The final rule listing the rusty patched bumble bee as endangered appeared in the January 11 edition of the Federal Register and takes effect on February 10.
The rusty patched bumblebee has ventured into new territory: the endangered species list. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) added the bee to the list Tuesday, earning it the sad honor as the first-ever bumblebee in the U.S. with the endangered designation, according to the federal agency. The bee has seen a dramatic population decline in the past 20 years. This is a rusty patched bumblebee in Minnesota. Image: Sarah Foltz Jordan/The Xerces Society via AP "Listing the bee as endangered will help us mobilize partners and focus resources on finding ways right now to stop the decline," said Fish and Wildlife Service Midwest Regional Director Tom Melius in a press release. SEE ALSO: If you want to see bees flash frozen, look no further The bee, with its namesake rust-colored marking on its back, used to be found all over the East Coast and throughout the Midwest. Today they remain in 13 states and one Canadian province (Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Virginia and Wisconsin — and the province of Ontario). The population has plummeted 87 percent since the 1990s, according to the FWS. Part of the blame for the bee's decline can be attributed to a combination of destroyed habitat, disease, climate change and pesticides. But don't despair entirely, says Melius from the FWS. People can plant native flowers to help the pollinators gather pollen and nectar before it goes into hibernation in the fall. Another way to help: limit or stop using pesticides in gardens. The nonprofit American Farm Bureau Federation saw the listing as a risky move, according to the Associated Press. The group is worried the designation could lead to expensive regulation for land or chemical use. The FWS estimated that insects' pollination services (mostly by bees) are valued around $3 billion in the United States. Once common bumble bee receives endangered species status from @USFWS https://t.co/ZNnBjv0b8p pic.twitter.com/2NJPHL1Kmu — The Xerces Society (@xercessociety) January 11, 2017 In a blog post Wednesday, the Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation applauded the listing, but noted more work is needed to save the bees, especially when it comes to cutting back on insecticides. "Whether you grow food or just eat it, value vibrant wildlands or just relax in your garden, recovery of this species is in everyone’s best interest — and we Xerces will roll up our sleeves to join you for the work ahead," wrote Sarina Jepsen, the group's director of endangered species and aquatic conservation. Now's the time. The Associated Press contributed reporting. BONUS: New smart ball is a learning tool specially designed for autistic children
The rusty patched bumble bee, a prized but vanishing pollinator once familiar to much of North America, was listed on Tuesday as an endangered species, becoming the first wild bee in the continental United States to gain such federal protection. One of several species facing sharp declines, the bumble bee known to scientists as Bombus affinis has plunged nearly 90 percent in abundance and distribution since the late 1990s, according to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. The agency listed the insect after determining it to be in danger of extinction across all or portions of its range, attributing its decline to a mix of factors, including disease, pesticides, climate change and habitat loss.
Polar bears will disappear from the Arctic if the U.S. and other nations don't drastically reduce their greenhouse gas emissions soon, U.S. wildlife officials warned this week. The bears' sea-ice habitat is steadily shrinking due to human-driven global warming. That makes curbing emissions the "single most important action" to protect the species, the Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) said in a new report. SEE ALSO: Portland's polar bear plays in the first snow of the season "Make no mistake; without decisive action to address Arctic warming, the long-term fate of this species is uncertain," Greg Siekaniec, the FWS's Alaska regional director, said Monday in a news release. The federal report is the latest piece of bad news for polar bears. A separate study last week found that toxic pollutants moving into the Arctic from outside the region are accumulating in mother bears' breast milk and getting passed on to their cubs. Two months, too cute. Image: Tierpark Berlin/picture-alliance/dpa/AP Images The report also arrives at a particularly uncertain time for U.S. climate and energy policy. President-elect Donald Trump and many of his cabinet nominees reject the mainstream scientific consensus that humans are driving climate change. For example, Trump's pick for the Environmental Protection Agency — the department responsible for regulating carbon emissions — has vowed to gut many of the EPA's climate policies. Meanwhile, Arctic sea ice is plummeting, hitting record lows. Most recently, in October and November 2016, the area of the Arctic covered by sea ice was the lowest on record for those months since record-keeping began in 1979, according to the National Snow & Ice Data Center. Again, no, #Arctic sea ice not recovering. Extent/thickness/volume of ice are all the lowest on record for the date as we start 2017... pic.twitter.com/AGKC2Q8T1V — Zack Labe (@ZLabe) January 10, 2017 A polar bear at Russia's Royev Ruchei Zoo in Krasnoayrsk casts its vote for Donald Trump. Image: Sputnik via AP Polar bears were listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act in 2008 due to the continued loss of their sea-ice habitat. The species depends on the floating ice as platforms for hunting seals, their primary source of food. The FWS is required under the act to produce a report — called a conservation management plan — that describes what actions are needed for the species to recover and avoid extinction. Around 26,000 polar bears currently make up 19 subpopulations in parts of five countries: the United States, Canada, Russia, Norway and Greenland. The FWS report mainly focuses on two subpopulations off the coast of Alaska, in the southern Beaufort and Chukchi Seas. While the global polar bear population hasn't yet shown a precipitous decline, certain subpopulations have started to drop, including in the southern Beaufort Sea. The number of bears there has dropped about 40 percent in the last decade, from 1,500 bears in 2006 to about 900 today, according to the report. "If greenhouse gas emissions continue to rise at the current rates throughout the 21st century, polar bears will likely disappear from much of their present-day range," the agency warned. A polar bear dries off after taking a swim in the Chukchi Sea in Alaska. Image: Brian Battaile/U.S. Geological Survey via AP Along with curbing emissions, the FWS's conservation plan also calls for reducing human-bear conflicts, protecting the dens of pregnant polar bears and minimizing the risk of contamination from oil spills. For some environmental groups, however, the report doesn't go far enough. The Center for Biological Diversity said the recovery plan was "weak" and should have required the U.S. to make the large-scale emissions reductions needed to save the species. "This recovery plan is just too risky for the polar bear,” Shaye Wolf, the center's climate science director, said in a statement. "Recovery plans work, but only if they truly address the threats to species. Sadly that simply isn't the case with this polar bear plan."
The puppy is moved from a rusty cage on a dog-meat farm in South Korea to a plastic crate, given the name Demi, and placed in a truck where she begins the long journey to a shelter in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, to be put up for adoption. "As soon as they're ready for adoption, we find that there are line-ups of people - literally people would line up at shelters - in the U.S. to adopt these dogs because people are so engaged by their sad and compelling stories," said Andrew Plumbly, another campaign manager for the HSI. Demi was one of 10 dogs rescued on Tuesday from a farm in Wonju, 90 km (55 miles) from the South Korean capital, Seoul, where 200 dogs were being raised for human consumption, to start new lives as pets under the HSI's campaign.
A new study finds that feral cats inhabit 99.8 percent of the continent's landmass, including 80 percent of the land that makes up its islands. Feral cats have long been recognized as a grave and widespread threat to vulnerable native wildlife — particularly in Australia, where species found nowhere else in the world are ill-equipped to deal with these invasive and deadly predators. European explorers first introduced cats to Australia in the 18th century.
An unusual alliance of volunteer researchers and tequila makers have helped rescue a crucial American Southwest pollinator known as the lesser long-nosed bat from the brink of extinction, according to U.S. wildlife managers who want the bat removed from the endangered and threatened species list. The bat, known for feeding on nectar and playing a key role in the pollination of such plants as agaves in Mexico, was protected under the U.S. Endangered Species Act in 1988, when its population had dwindled to just 1,000 at 14 known roosts, government biologists said. Habitat destruction threatened the bat with extinction, U.S. wildlife managers said.
A $600,000-price tag may seem mighty high for just one giant bluefin tuna. But if every torpedo-shaped tuna cost that much, perhaps the species wouldn't be teetering on the edge of extinction. A Japanese sushi chain boss paid just such a price on Thursday at Tokyo's 80-year-old Tsukiji fish market. SEE ALSO: Russian deep-sea fisherman's Twitter feed is filled with nightmares Kiyoshi Kimura, who owns Kiyomura Corp., bid a winning 74.2 million yen ($632,000) for a bluefin tuna that weighed as much as two or three people, at 212 kilograms (466 pounds). Kiyoshi Kimura, right, cuts a 212-kilogram bluefin tuna at his main sushi restaurant in Tokyo on Jan. 5, 2017. Image: Kyodo via ap images This year's winning bid is the second-highest in the auction's history. In 2013, the same sushi chain paid a record 155.4 million yen ($1.76 million) for a 222-kilogram tuna. The Tsukiji auction is among the biggest of Japan's New Year holiday traditions. But the star of the show is increasingly threatened by overfishing, which is driven by surging sushi consumption in Japan and around the world. The Pacific bluefin tuna's population has plunged by more than 97 percent from its historic levels, the International Scientific Committee for Tuna and Tuna-like Species in the North Pacific Ocean said in a 2016 assessment. Bluefin tuna are line during the New Year first auction at the Tsukiji fish market in Chuo Ward, Tokyo, Jan. 5, 2017. Image: The Yomiuri Shimbun via AP Images Stocks of Southern and Atlantic bluefin tuna have also dropped over the past 15 years amid rising demand for the pink-to-red fleshed fish. In response, global fishing regulators tightened international limits in 2015, halving the amount of bluefin tuna under 30 kilograms that were caught, compared to the average caught between 2002 and 2004. But overfishing, illegal fishing and lax regulations have continued in some areas and threaten to undermine efforts to protect the species, experts say. In the United States, conservation groups are pushing to grant the Pacific bluefin tuna protection under the U.S. Endangered Species Act. The National Marine Fisheries Service last fall said such protection may be warranted in the face of the species' staggering declines. Associated Press contributed reporting. BONUS: See this terrifying swarm of sardines take over the San Diego shoreline
A three-week-old baby orangutan charmed crowds at a Czech zoo on one of its first public outings, clinging tight to its mother and attempting a few clumsy climbs. Nuninka's first baby died but three other males have since been transferred to other zoos in Germany and Holland. Orangutans live up to the age of 40 in the wild but can live into their 50s in captivity.
Crunching huge amounts of data, they unveiled a global "threat map" detailing the impact on endangered species of exports to the United States, China, Japan and the European Union. To procure beans for that coffee or tofu, for example, forests have been cleared in Sumatra, Indonesia and in Brazil's Mato Grosso, adding incrementally to the habitat loss driving dozens of animals and plants towards extinction. Focusing on nearly 7,000 land and marine species classified as threatened by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN), the researchers traced "hotspots" of biodiversity loss to hundreds of commodities and their distant markets.
The hidden danger to wildlife posed by imported consumer goods -- an espresso coffee in Beijing, a tofu salad in Chicago -- can now be pinpointed and measured, researchers said Wednesday. Crunching huge amounts of data, they unveiled a global "threat map" detailing the impact on endangered species of exports to the United States, China, Japan and the European Union. To procure beans for that coffee or tofu, for example, forests have been cleared in Sumatra, Indonesia and in Brazil's Mato Grosso, adding incrementally to the habitat loss driving dozens of animals and plants towards extinction.
A three-week-old baby orangutan charmed crowds at a Czech zoo on one of its first public outings, clinging tight to its mother and attempting a few clumsy climbs. Baby Cantik, whose sex has yet to be determined but keepers believe is female, was born at the Usti nad Labem zoo last month, the fifth child of mother Nuninka, with whom she was seen playing on Tuesday. Nuninka's first baby died but three other males have since been transferred to other zoos in Germany and Holland.