December 11, 2012

    Photo: Marco Zanferrari

Costa Rica Bans Hunting

Violators could face jail time

Costa Rica banned sport hunting in a unanimous vote in Congress on Friday, making the country the first in the Americas to outlaw the practice. The new law punishes violators with up to four months in prison or $3,000 in fines. "We're not just hoping to save the animals but we're hoping to save the country's economy, because if we destroy the wildlife there, tourists are not going to come anymore," said activist Diego Marin. Costa Rica is one of the world's most biodiverse countries, with a quarter of its land protected as national parks or reserves. Pre-ban, the nation was a popular destination for hunters who hoped to bag exotic cats.

Via The Guardian


    Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Florida Officals: Don't Eat Python Meat

Dangerously high in mercury

With the Florida Python Challenge on the horizon, officials are warning residents to be extra cautious when it comes to eating python meat. The novelty pie known as “Everglades Pizza,” which also contains alligator meat and frog legs, has become an attraction at a number of Florida locations, but diners should be wary of exactly where the python is coming from. Burmese pythons in the Everglades contain some of the highest levels of mercury found in a living creature.

“For some reason, the pythons that are coming out of here, they have mercury concentrations higher than mine waste, a mercury mine,” said Everglades superintendent Dan Kimball. “According to (USGS scientist Dave Krabbenhoft), they’ve never found anything that has this high of mercury levels that’s still alive. It is amazing.”

In 2009, two dozen python tails were sent to Dr. Krabbenhoft to test in the USGS Mercury Research Laboratory in Wisconsin. The tests found that the samples contained a mercury concentration of 5.5 parts per million, which, according to the USGS report, is “about three times greater than concentrations in tail tissues of the American alligator.” Florida residents are warned against eating fish with levels higher than 1.5 parts per million.

At least one pizza parlor in Naples is offering “Everglades Pizza” in relation to the upcoming Python Challenge.

Via National Parks Traveler


    Photo: JMazzolaa/Flickr

That Fish Probably Isn't What You Think

DNA tests reveal widespread mislabeling

The fish at grocery stores and restaurants in New York City is often mislabeled, according to a new study. The conservation group Oceana conducted DNA analysis of around 150 samples of fresh seafood from 81 different suppliers and found that 39 percent were mislabeled.

While there are laws protecting consumers from mislabeling, it's often difficult to detect. “There are a lot of flummoxed people out there who are trying to buy fish carefully and trying to shop their conscience,” said Oceana senior scientist Kimberly Werner, “but they can’t if this kind of fraud is happening.”

The study points out that mislabelling could prove a health risk: 94 percent of fish labeled “white tuna” was not tuna at all, but often snake mackerel, which causes diarrhea if consumed in large quantities. Fish listed as red snapper, one of the most expensive species, was found to be white bass, ocean perch, tilapia, and tilefish, the last of which the U.S. Food and Drug Administration advises against eating due to its high mercury content. Oceana's previous surveys have found 31 percent of fish mislabeled in Miami, 48 percent in Boston, and 55 percent in Los Angeles.

Via New York Times


Grand Canyon

Grand Canyon     Photo: Moyan Brenn/Flickr

Colorado Considers Missouri River Pipeline

Colorado River dwindling

In a leaked proposal, the federal government is considering several radical means to reducing stress on the overtaxed Colorado River, which supplies seven states with water. Among desalination projects and reuse engineering, the report also proposes building a pipeline from the Missouri River to the Colorado River basin, some 600 miles away. The Missouri River basin population isn't likely to be thrilled, but the fact that the pipeline made the final draft of the report shows how desperate the situation has grown. The proposal “shows you the degree to which water-short entities in the Colorado River basin are willing to go to get water,” said Burke W. Griggs, the counsel for the Kansas Agriculture Department’s division of water resources.

Via New York Times


Gray wolf

Gray wolf     Photo: Courtesy of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

Montana Ends Wolf Hunt in Some Areas Around Yellowstone

Trapping to begin Saturday

In a 4-1 vote on Monday, Montana's Fish, Wildlife and Parks Commission voted to close wolf harvesting in the northwest corner outside Yellowstone National Park. The decision came after the eighth collared Yellowstone wolf was shot and killed by a hunter last week. The commission indicated that the closures were a temporary measure to try to protect wolves that were important for research purposes. “It seems to be kind of a compromise,” Fish, Wildlife and Parks Commission chairman Bob Ream said. “Is it political? Yeah, wolves are political.” On Saturday, Montana's first wolf trapping season in decades is set to open.

Via Oregon Live