Support Harsher Sentences for Wildlife Poachers

Target: Najib Balala, Minister for Tourism and Wildlife, Kenya

Goal: Support the decision to enact more stringent laws to protect Kenya’s wildlife by making poaching a capital offense.

Following the tragic death of Sudan, the last male white rhino left on earth, Kenya has announced its intention to strengthen laws against wildlife poaching and ensure that criminals who break these laws face the most severe consequences. Kenya’s Minister for Tourism and Wildlife, Najib Balala, made the announcement at an event to launch a commemorative stamp in honor of Sudan and raise awareness of the plight of animals like the white rhino. The new laws will face offenders of wildlife poaching with capital punishment.

Balala stated, “We have in place the Wildlife Conservation Act that was enacted in 2013 and which fetches offenders a life sentence or a fine of $200,000 U.S. dollars. However, this has not been deterrence enough to curb poaching, hence the proposed stiffer sentence.” He says that under the new laws, “offenders of wildlife crimes will face the death penalty in accordance with the laws of the land.” This is a momentous stand for humanity, compassion, and the preservation of wildlife. Sign below to support Kenya’s dedication to treating poaching as the serious offense it is, and ensuring that it is not condoned or tolerated.

PETITION LETTER:

Dear Minister Balala,

Your statement of Kenya’s intent to strengthen the consequences of and laws against poaching are an important victory for wildlife preservation and for humanity. Poaching is an inhumane and unacceptable crime. Thank you for recognizing that and taking action to discourage and punish poachers for breaking the laws of the land.

As you stated, the laws Kenya currently has in place are evidently insufficient in curbing poaching. Additionally, the move to make wildlife poaching a capital offense sets a positive example for other countries where poaching is a widespread problem. I support these new laws, and I thank you for taking a stand to protect wildlife.

Sincerely,

[Your Name Here]

Photo Credit: Bernard Spragg

Require Solar Panels on New Houses

Target: Scott Pruitt, Administrator of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency

Goal: Follow in California’s footsteps and require that new homes be built with solar panels to protect our environment nationwide.

Greenhouse gas emissions are a major and dangerous contributor to global warming, but California has approved a proposal to great reduce greenhouse gases by requiring that all new houses constructed beginning in 2020 be built with solar panels. According to an EPA report on the consequences of climate change in California, global warming is tied to critical issues including the death of trees, retreating glaciers and warming waters, and catastrophic droughts and wildfires. However, the report also noted that the state’s “pioneering policies” have cut greenhouse gas emissions in spite of a growing population, which provides hope.

California will be the first state with this type of requirement, which has been passed by the California Energy Commission and now awaits approval from the Building Standards Commission. Although construction costs will be higher, this will be offset by lower utility costs and the significant benefits to the environment. A report commissioned by the state found that this measure will ultimately be cost effective, and is the only effective way of ensuring that homes produce as much energy as they use. Sign below to demand that our federal government do its duty to protect the environment and enact the same requirements for solar energy in newly built homes.

PETITION LETTER:

Dear Administrator Pruitt,

The EPA has released reports that show the ties between global warming and environmental catastrophes, and has pointed out that California’s “pioneering policies” and reduction in greenhouse gas emissions despite a growing population provide hope for the future. One such policy is California’s recently approved proposal to require solar panels on all new houses built starting in 2020. As the leader of the EPA, it is your responsibility to protect and preserve our environment for future generations. Following California’s lead in these measures are the best way to do that.

Although solar panels will increase the price of building, those costs are projected to be balanced out by lower utility costs. Reports have determined that these measures are cost effective, and provide the only practical long-term solution to ensuring that homes produce as much energy as they deplete. These new measures do provide exceptions for structures that don’t get much sunlight, and are a huge step in the right direction when it comes to cleaner energy and hopefully combatting the devastating natural disasters that are shown to be tied to global warming. I urge you to preserve our environment and to emulate California’s example by requiring solar panels in the construction of new homes nationwide.

Sincerely,

[Your Name Here]

Photo Credit: Gray Watson

Save Our Ocean Environments: Ban Deep-Sea Trawling

Target: José Graziano da Silva, Director-General, Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations

Goal: Institute an international ban on deep-water trawling to protect sea life and habitats.

New research shows that millions of tons of fish have been caught in deep-water trawl nets in the past 50 years and not been reported, even though the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (UN FAO) keeps tabs on the practice because of potential damage to the environment and to future populations of fish. Bottom trawling is the practice of dragging nets along the ocean floor, and it often pulls a variety of species out of the sea that are not the desired catch, as well as very young fish, threatening the replenishment of the population and the balance of the ecosystem.

According to estimates, the true number of fish removed from the ocean this way is nearly double the reported amount. Of that unreported catch, about half may have been sold or eaten while the other half were simply thrown away. However, the long-term implications of the fact that such a vast number of fish have gone unaccounted for are even more concerning. Inaccurate data about population counts could prevent the entire fishing industry from remaining sustainable.

In certain areas and at certain depths, deep-sea trawling is already banned. But there are many more areas where the practice continues, where fish populations are extremely sensitive. Species such as Chilean sea bass and orange roughy live long lives and grow at a slower rate, meaning that they do not reproduce until they are much older and therefore have a much more difficult time recovering from overfishing. Trawling also devastates the entire habitat, ripping up anything in its path, including corals and anemones. As researcher Maria Palomares says, “The whole bottom becomes a wasteland.” Additionally, deep-sea trawling contributes an extremely small amount of overall fishing catches, so banning it would not be a detriment to the fishing industry as a whole. It is clear that the ecological costs of bottom trawling greatly outweigh its benefits. Sign below to protect our oceans and demand that deep-sea trawling be internationally banned.

PETITION LETTER:

Dear Director-General da Silva,

Deep-sea trawling is a dangerous practice that threatens ocean habitats and fish populations, and, it follows, the fishing industry as a whole. Reports from the University of British Columbia show that the total amount of sea life dragged from the ocean by deep-ocean trawls, including bycatch, is nearly double the number of fish reported to the UN.

The ecological drawbacks of this practice hugely outweigh any benefits. Entire habitats can be destroyed by bottom trawling, and fish populations suffer and may not be able to recover if things go on as they are, which could make fish stock unsustainable. Also, estimates indicate that even including all of the unreported catch, deep-sea bottom trawling has contributed less than 0.5 percent of the fish caught in the last 65 years. As Frédéric Le Manach, the scientific director at BLOOM, states, “It’s nothing in terms of volume or in terms of value. So it would be very easy to stop [deep-sea] bottom trawling.” I urge you to protect our oceans and institute an international ban on deep-sea bottom trawling.

Sincerely,

[Your Name Here]

Photo Credit: christijamin

Do Not Resume Hunting Endangered Fin Whale

Target: Kristján Loftsson, CEO of Hvalur hf. (roughly translated to Whale Inc.), Iceland

Goal: Do not resume the barbaric hunt of endangered fin whales after two years hunt-free.

The endangered fin whale will once again be threatened by gruesome killings from commercial hunting in Iceland, as the company that conducts the hunt, Hvalur hf, announced plans to resume the hunt after two years hunt-free. The whales are tied with rope to the side of a harpoon ship, dragged to shore, and butchered so that their meat can be sent to Japan.

The head of the company, Kristján Loftsson, said that the hunt was stopped two years ago for bureaucratic reasons, but public opinion has also been increasingly against hunting these whales, whose numbers are considered critically low outside of the Central North Atlantic region around Iceland. The aim of bringing the hunt back is reportedly to use the bones to make gelatin, the meat to develop iron supplements for the anemic, and the blubber for medical purposes that remain unspecified. This is allegedly a marketing strategy created to justify commercially hunting whales again, despite the cruelty of the practice and the risk to the conservation of these endangered animals. Sign below to demand that the fin whale be protected, not hunted.

PETITION LETTER:

Dear CEO Loftsson,

Please do not resume commercially hunting the endangered fin whale. The previous two years without the hunt were an important step for conservation, and to undo that for the sake of corporate profit is inhumane and irresponsible.

The public is opposed to hunting these endangered creatures, and the nature of the hunt—slaughtering whales for their meat and stringing them up to harpoon ships—is cruel and unnecessary, regardless of your company’s use of the carcasses. I urge you not to resume this brutal practice, and to instead work to protect these endangered creatures.

Sincerely,

[Your Name Here]

Photo Credit: Chris Buelow

President Trump: Do Not End Protections for Hundreds of Threatened Species

Target: Donald Trump, President of the United States

Goal: Do not eliminate rule granting protections to nearly 300 threatened species, who will otherwise face the risk of extinction.

Almost 300 species classified as threatened under the Endangered Species Act may lose their protections entirely if a proposed rule submitted by the U.S. Department of the Interior passes. Targeted species include southern sea otters, northern spotted owls, piping plovers, red knots, Yosemite toads, delta smelt, Santa Catalina Island foxes, and gopher tortoises. This proposed rule would affect mammals, birds, fish, and plants throughout the entire country, and would therefore be sure to have dire consequences.

The rule seeks to undo vital regulations that have been in place for 40 years, which grant these severely threatened species with the same level of protection as those on the Endangered Species List. Protections can only be loosened for any of these species if the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service deems it warranted. However, Endangered Species Director of the Center for Biological Diversity Noah Greenwald says if this new rule is enacted, it “could be the end for iconic wildlife like the northern spotted owl and southern sea otter. Trump is erasing America’s natural heritage to make his friends richer and allow polluters to ravage our environment.” He says, “The Trump administration just issued a death sentence to nearly 300 threatened species.” Sign below to demand that this wildlife be saved.

PETITION LETTER:

Dear President Trump,

The almost 300 threatened species of wildlife across the country that are currently afforded the same level as protections as those listed as endangered must remain protected. Iconic animals like the southern sea otter and northern spotted owl are two of many that will face extinction if the new rule proposed by the Department of the Interior is enacted and their protections are lost. The consequences of this proposed rule are dire and must not be allowed to occur.

As Noah Greenwald, the endangered species director at the Center for Biological Diversity, states, “If these critical protections for threatened species are eliminated, Trump will go down in history as the extinction president. This administration’s assault on critical safeguards for our air, water, and wildlife is not supported by the American public. It threatens to undo decades of progress towards improving the health of the environment for people and wildlife alike.” I urge you not to allow this to happen. Please preserve the crucial decades-old regulations protecting these threatened species.

Sincerely,

[Your Name Here]

Photo Credit: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service – Pacific Region

Tell FEMA to Stop Ignoring Climate Change

Target: William B. “Brock” Long, Administrator, Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA)

Goal: Acknowledge the reality of climate change and include it in FEMA’s strategic plan for the next four years.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) is the U.S. government’s first responder to natural disasters, and it has dropped all references to climate change from its latest strategic planning document, which will guide its actions for the next four years. Administrator Brock Long, the head of FEMA and the person who signed off on this Strategic Plan, was appointed to this office by President Trump. He has been publicly evasive about humanity’s role in climate change, and even about its very existence, stating, “The term climate change has become such a political hot button that, I think, it keeps us from having a real dialogue.”

FEMA’s Strategic Plan refers to “rising natural hazard risk,” and “pre-disaster mitigation,” but does not address any conditions causing those risks, and completely avoids using the terms “climate change” or “global warming.” In the Emerging Threats section of the document, terrorism and cybersecurity are mentioned, while weather events, rising sea levels, and anything related to the possible impact of the earth’s escalating temperatures are all conspicuously and thoroughly absent. Climate change poses threats to life around the globe, and it is therefore extremely dangerous to the world at large for America’s emergency management system to ignore it completely. Sign below to demand that FEMA include climate change and fully address its risks in the strategic planning document.

PETITION LETTER:

Dear Administrator Long,

As leader of FEMA, it is your responsibility to ensure that our country is prepared to deal with emergencies it may face as effectively and efficiently as possible. There is absolutely no way to do this if one of the largest threats to our country and to the planet—climate change and the risks associated with it—is not even mentioned in FEMA’s strategic planning document.

Natural disasters, rising sea levels, and increases in the surface temperature of the earth are extreme dangers to our planet, its wildlife, and the whole of humanity. Yet FEMA’s Strategic Plan mentions none of these things in its Emerging Threats section, and skirts around the conditions behind the “rising natural hazard risk” we face. This is irresponsible and unacceptable, and must be remedied. I urge you to ensure that climate change and all its associated threats are thoroughly addressed in FEMA’s Strategic Plan for the next four years.

Sincerely,

[Your Name Here]

Photo Credit: Tumisu

Success: Washington State Protects Wild Salmon and Orcas from Extinction

Target: Jay Inslee, Governor of the state of Washington

Goal: Support the protection of the Puget Sound’s endangered orcas and wild salmon via a government executive order.

Two endangered species found in Washington’s Puget Sound no longer face possible extinction. Thanks to an executive order signed by the governor of the state of Washington, Puget Sound orcas—whose population is currently the lowest it’s been in thirty years—and their main food source the Chinook salmon have a better chance at survival. Petitions like this one illustrate threats the salmon face, and as their population declines, so too does the population of the orcas. And, as the governor stated at a news conference, “The destiny of salmon and orca and we humans are intertwined. As the orca go, so go we.”

The executive order signed by the governor requires state agencies to take immediate action, outlining a strategy for the long-term survival of both the salmon and the orca. Plans include a decrease in pollution and noise from vessel traffic, and the creation of a task force that has until November to put forward a final report. The task force will include state agencies, tribal leaders, members of local and federal government, and others to ensure that action will be taken at all levels. Sign below to aupport this humane and responsible action that will benefit Puget Sound wildlife as well as humanity.

PETITION LETTER:

Dear Governor Inslee,

Thank you for taking a stand in order to protect invaluable Puget Sound wildlife—particularly the endangered Chinook salmon and Puget Sound orca. As you stated, our destinies are intertwined with these creatures, and they must be protected and preserved.

The population of the Puget Sound orca is the lowest it has been in 3 decades. This is tied inextricably with the threats to Chinook salmon, their main source of food. Your executive order—requiring action aimed at the long-term survival of both species on local, regional, and federal levels—is an inclusive and responsible fulfillment of your duties. I support this executive order and thank you for your commitment to protecting the future of salmon, orca, and humans.

Sincerely,

[Your Name Here]

Photo Credit: Mike Charest

Don’t Let Hunters Slaughter Grizzly Bears

Target: Keith Culver, President of the Game and Fish Commission, Wyoming

Goal: Do not allow the hunting of grizzly bears in Wyoming following the Trump administration’s removal of their endangered species protections.

Wyoming is pushing for grizzly bear hunts to begin this fall after Yellowstone grizzly bears were stripped of their endangered species protections. Although the bears are still protected within Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks, they will be at risk of being killed when they roam outside those borders. As a senior attorney at the Center for Biological Diversity stated, “Wyoming’s reckless hunt ignores the fact that grizzly bears remain endangered in Yellowstone and across the West. It’s tragic that these imperiled animals will be shot and killed so trophy hunters can stick heads on their walls.”

Unlike Wyoming, Montana—which also contains land in these national parks—has recommended that grizzly hunting not be allowed. The bears are still at risk as a species because of isolation from other grizzly populations, the loss of vital food sources, and deaths caused by humans via hunting and other activities. Yellowstone’s bears in particular are so isolated that the government must truck bears into the area regularly. They also face the collapse of food sources in their ecosystem, like white bark pine and cutthroat trout. These threats will only increase with droughts and climate change. Currently, grizzly bears occupy under 4% of the land that they once did in the United States. Sign below to protect the iconic grizzly bear and demand that Wyoming put a stop to grizzly hunts.

PETITION LETTER:

Dear President Culver,

Allowing grizzly bear hunts in Wyoming is dangerous and irresponsible. Despite their removal from the endangered species list, Yellowstone grizzlies still face serious threats. Isolation, the loss of their food sources, and human-caused deaths from hunting are major risks that could threaten the species with extinction once again. To allow these animals to be hunted when they roam off the lands of the national parks is unacceptable.

Montana has made moves against grizzly hunting this year, for good reason. Apart from conservation alone, Yellowstone grizzlies are famous—they provide a major tourist attraction for your state. As Andrea Santarsiere of the Center for Biological Diversity says, “Yellowstone’s amazing grizzly bears are loved by people around the world and they deserve a real shot at survival. It’s horrific that Wyoming doesn’t see the intrinsic value that these bears bring to the state’s landscape.” I urge you to follow Montana’s lead in protecting these iconic and innocent animals. Please do not allow the hunting of grizzly bears.

Sincerely,

[Your Name Here]

Photo Credit: I-Ting Chiang

Protect the Pacific Walrus Under the Endangered Species Act

Target: Donald Trump, President of the United States

Goal: Do not deny the Pacific walrus endangered species protections.

The Pacific walrus is in increasing danger of losing its habitat, but is being denied protections under the law. Arctic sea ice coverage is at a record low, and the walrus relies on this ice to survive. In spite of this, the Trump Administration reversed the 2011 decision to protect the Pacific walrus under the Endangered Species Act, and is now being sued by the Center for Biological Diversity.

As an attorney for the Center for Biological Diversity states, “The Trump Administration’s outrageous reversal is a deathblow for the Pacific walrus.” The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service found the walrus worthy of protection in 2011. Center officials concluded, based on evidence of climate change causing the dramatic disappearance of sea ice and a subsequent decline in the Pacific walrus population, that the species could face extinction in the foreseeable future. Listing these walruses as endangered would help protect their habitat, which is especially vital as the Trump Administration is also proposing to allow offshore drilling for oil and gas in the seas where the Pacific walrus lives. Sign below to demand that plans to put the Pacific walrus on the Endangered Species list be reinstated.

PETITION LETTER:

Dear President Trump,

Over six years ago it was determined that the Pacific walrus was worthy of being included on the Endangered Species list due to the rapid disappearance of its habitat. Since then, threats have only worsened for the Pacific walrus. The sea ice that it relies on to survive is at a record low. Yet, under your administration, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has completely reversed its position and denied protection to these animals.

Currently, your administration faces a lawsuit from the Center for Biological Diversity, which seeks to protect and preserve these innocent creatures. As an attorney with the Center said in a statement, “The Trump Administration’s outrageous reversal is a deathblow for the Pacific walrus. Arctic ice is disappearing at a record rate, and walruses are suffering catastrophic habitat loss. Rather than ignoring the science, the administration needs to give these magnificent creatures the protection they desperately need to survive which they legally deserve.” I urge you to heed her words, and to ensure that the Pacific walrus is granted protections under the Endangered Species Act.

Sincerely,

[Your Name Here]

Photo Credit: Joel Garlich Miller, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

Trump Tricked Us – Oppose His Quiet Plan to Allow Trophy Hunting

Target: Donald Trump, President of the United States

Goal: Do not make the U.S. complicit in the brutal killing of elephants for profit by allowing elephant trophies to be imported.

Without publicizing it, the Trump administration has decided to lift a ban on importing elephant trophies, permitting these cruelly sport-hunted items from certain African countries into the U.S. “on a case-by-case basis.” This move comes mere months after — amidst widespread uproar — Trump announced that he would pause the rollback of this important ban, tweeting that he “will be very hard pressed to change [his] mind that this horror show in any way helps conservation of elephants or any other animal.”

In the past Trump stated, “I didn’t want elephants killed and stuffed and have the tusks brought back into this [country].” He also expressed skepticism about the idea that hunting promotes conservation efforts — a skepticism shared by activists and conservationists, who say that it is unlikely that fees paid by big game hunters truly make it to the wildlife agencies they are meant to support. The quiet decision to lift this ban will be hugely damaging to elephant conservation efforts. Sign below to demand that the ban on importing elephant trophies remains in place.

PETITION LETTER:

Dear President Trump,

The rollback of the ban on importing elephant trophies is unacceptable and dangerous. It not only encourages the brutal killing of innocent and endangered elephants for profit, it also makes the U.S. complicit in that brutality. Additionally, conservation activists are doubtful that big game hunting fees actually benefit conservation and make it to the organizations they are intended to.

You expressed similar skepticism yourself, and have publicly stated your opposition to lifting the ban. You said that you “didn’t want elephants killed and stuffed and have the tusks brought back,” and that you would be “very hard pressed to change [your] mind that this horror show in any way helps conservation of elephants or any other animal.” I urge you to stand by those statements. Please help save innocent and endangered elephants, and do not allow the ban on the importation of elephant trophies to be lifted.

Sincerely,

[Your Name Here]