March 16, 2012

Sea Lions in San Francisco     Photo: Wildcat Dunny/Flickr

NOAA Authorizes Sea Lion Kills

Agency worried about fish populations

Oregon and Washington will be able to kill sea lions that are feeding on salmon and steelhead trout, under a new policy announced on Thursday by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. The decision allows the states to cull a total of 92 sea lions per year, but only after the animals have been hazed with rubber buckshot and firecrackers and offered to zoos. Sea lions are shielded by the Marine Mammal Protection Act. In 2011, NOAA withdrew a similar authorization permitting the states to kill problem sea lions near the Bonneville Dam in Oregon.

Read more at Reuters

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African elephants in Zimbabwe     Photo: kevinzim/Flickr

Massive Wildlife Reserve Established

170,000-sq mile park links 5 African nations

Five governments in south Africa on Thursday announced the creation of the world's biggest intra-country wildlife reserve. The park will protect several populations of animals that are threatened by poaching or require large tracts of unmolested land for migration. Angola, Botswana, Namibia, Zambia and Zimbabwe have donated land totaling more than 170,000 square miles that will link 36 individual reserves. The park will be called the Kavango Zambezi Transfrontier Conservation Area. The territory holds nearly half of the country's elephants and a large population of rhinoceros. "It is good news for conservation in southern Africa," said Chris Weaver, an official at the World Wildlife Fund.

Read more at The Washington Post

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Smokey Bear     Photo: USFS Region 5/Flickr

Guilty Plea in Ranger Impersonation Scam

Man got free cabin rentals

On Tuesday, a man from Gatlinburg, Tennessee pleaded guilty in federal court to impersonating a National Park Service employee in order to get free cabin rentals. James T. Bell admitted that in August, 2011 he approached cabin owners in Great Smoky Mountains National Park and asked to use their cabins for "donors" to the park. Driving a white pickup truck with a magnetic sticker on the side that read, "for official use only, U.S. Government Department of the Interior — National Park Service," Bell was able to convince three owners to lend him their cabins. He assured them the Park Service would pick up the tab. When one of the cabin owners contacted the Park Service for payment, Bell was caught. The sentencing is scheduled for June 25.

Read more at the Knoxville News Sentinel

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Costa Concordia, 2009     Photo: Cyr0z/flickr

Bell Stolen from Costa Concordia

Underwater thieves bypassed laser security

Thieves in diving gear stole the bell from the Costa Concordia shipwreck more than two weeks ago, Italian officials said Thursday. The bell was submerged in 26 feet of water, and the thieves had to avoid both a 24-hour police surveillance team and a laser system meant to measure shifts in the shipwreck to avoid detection. The mayor of Giglio, Italy—the small island where the ship crashed in January—said he believes the thieves chose the bell as a "morbid memento." The incident is under investigation.

Read more at Reuters

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