In June, the Fish and Wildlife Service prematurely proposed to end federal protection for gray wolves in the lower 48 states in the belief that wolves had fully recovered from near eradication in the early 20th century. This was politics masquerading as science. The Fish and Wildlife Service would love to shed the responsibility of protecting large carnivores, like the wolf and the grizzly bear, and hunters and ranchers throughout the Rocky Mountains would love to see wolves eradicated all over again.
By law, a decision like this one — to remove an animal from the endangered species list — requires a peer review: an impartial examination of wolf numbers, population dynamics and the consequences of proposed actions. But science and politics have gotten tangled up again. The private contractor, a consulting firm called AMEC, which was hired to run the review, removed three scientists from the review panel. Each of the scientists had signed a May 21 letter to Sally Jewell, the interior secretary, criticizing the plan to turn wolf management over to the states.
For all the adorable images of cats that play the piano, flush the toilet, mew melodiously and find their way back home over hundreds of miles, scientists have identified a shocking new truth: cats are far deadlier than anyone realized.
In a report that scaled up local surveys and pilot studies to national dimensions, scientists from the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute and the Fish and Wildlife Service estimated that domestic cats in the United States — both the pet Fluffies that spend part of the day outdoors and the unnamed strays and ferals that never leave it — kill a median of 2.4 billion birds and 12.3 billion mammals a year, most of them native mammals like shrews, chipmunks and voles rather than introduced pests like the Norway rat.
The estimated kill rates are two to four times higher than mortality figures previously bandied about, and position the domestic cat as one of the single greatest human-linked threats to wildlife in the nation. More birds and mammals die at the mouths of cats, the report said, than from automobile strikes, pesticides and poisons, collisions with skyscrapers and windmills and other so-called anthropogenic causes.
Activists in Durham, North Carolina, have come together in support of Carlos Riley Jr. and against the racial policing they believe has put him behind bars.
Carlos Riley Jr. was alone, black and unarmed when he was pulled over by a Durham, North Carolina police officer on the cold morning of December 18, 2012. In the altercation that followed the stop, Riley was badly beaten, the officer was shot in the leg and his gun went missing. More than seven months later, Carlos Riley Jr. sits in jail under $1 million bond, still waiting to face federal and state charges. He has spent Christmas, the New Year and most recently his twenty-second birthday behind bars. The cop who pulled his gun during the traffic stop hasn’t spent a day off the job.
At around ten in the morning on December 18, 2012, Carlos Riley Jr. was stopped for an alleged traffic violation by officer Kelly Stewart, who was wearing civilian clothes and driving an unmarked car. Riley maintains that the officer grabbed him through his open window after demanding to see registration, putting him in a chokehold and threatening to kill him. Riley says Stewart then shot himself in the leg as he drew his gun, an event with plenty of precedent among such encounters. Fearing for his life, Riley says he pulled the gun away from the officer and fled, tossing the weapon and turning himself over to the authorities within hours.