Snakes in India, dingoes in Australia, elephants in South Africa: HSI works globally to resolve human-wildlife conflicts

By on October 15, 2019 with 0 Comments

A 12-year-old student, on his way home from school in India, is bitten by a snake. He doesn’t realize what’s happened but collapses soon after and dies later that day at a hospital. Meanwhile, in Romania, conflicts with brown bears are increasing due to habitat encroachment, improper waste management, and tourists attempting to feed them and getting too close in order to get a selfie.

These stories, recently in the news, have a common thread: they are both examples of the terrible things that can result when animals – even those who are naturally shy – encounter humans. The outcome is usually not a good one.

Stateside, our Humane Society of the United States wildlife team works in a variety of situations to mitigate livestock conflicts with deer, bears, bobcats, mountain lions, wolves and coyotes. Human-wildlife conflict mitigation is also a major priority for our Humane Society International teams globally. Using a mix of education, research and practical prevention methods, we work toward reducing such conflicts and teaching people how to live alongside animals in harmony.

  • In India, a deathly fear of snakes has led to hundreds of snakes being killed each day. Snakebites are a serious problem, with a reported one million bites and a staggering 50,000 human deaths annually. People often kill snakes on sight. To address the problem, our HSI/India team, in partnership with The Gerry Martin Project (TGMP), has advanced a mix of initiatives that combine prevention with education and coexistence. We conduct education and awareness programs for children so they can identify venomous snakes, and distribute solar lanterns because most snakebites occur when people step out of their homes in the dark. We also educate residents in methods for keeping snakes away from homes, proper responses when they see a snake, and first-aid for snakebite. Finally, the TGMP and HSI/India collaboration is training doctors in snakebite treatment, and carrying out a first-of-its kind radio telemetry study on the Russell’s Viper, the species responsible for the most bites and deaths, to collect data on its behavior and habitat, in the interests of developing better prevention strategies.
  • In Vietnam, where only about 100 wild elephants remain, conflicts with villagers arise when the animals raid crops and cause property damage. HSI is partnering with the Vietnam Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, local enforcement authorities, and international human-elephant conflict experts to find humane ways to mitigate conflict and to promote coexistence between humans and elephants.
  • In Romania, home to about 6,000 brown bears, we are gearing up to implement community-based human-bear conflict mitigation projects. Last fall, HSI organized a stakeholder workshop in Montana—home to the similar grizzly bear—to which we invited various Romanian stakeholders to see how nonlethal mitigation solutions, including simple steps like a well-maintained electrical fence, bear-proof waste receptacles, and other education and awareness-raising activities can be effective solutions to human-bear conflict. We hope to expand the projects on the ground in Romania to promote peaceful coexistence rather than the killing of bears.
  • In South Africa, we have worked to pioneer the use of immunocontraception for elephants – a humane solution for controlling the growth of populations, frequently necessary within the confines of fenced reserves. This innovative technology, which spares the lives of hundreds of elephants each year and keeps their numbers from rising too fast, helps to reduce breakouts from the reserves and encounters with people.
  • In Australia, many thousands of dingoes are killed indiscriminately each year over livestock conflicts, by government-sponsored poison baiting programs, bounty incentives, or the use of steel-jawed traps coated with strychnine. The team from HSI/Australia, an associated organization, has worked hard to change the perception of dingoes as “wild dogs” – a term coined by livestock industry interests — and has championed non-lethal management options to guide sheep and cattle farmers, including guardian animals, stock management, fladry and fox lights.

With more and more wildlife species under threat because of climate change, human population expansion and other man-made challenges, and with governments frequently falling short in the implementation of solutions, it falls upon us – those who love animals and speak out for them – to find answers that are constructive, effective and, above all, humane. The challenges are many, but our teams around the globe and our teams stateside are well-equipped to take on these difficult fights.

Breaking news: California leads the nation by banning fur sales, bobcat trophy hunting

By on October 12, 2019 with 7 Comments
Breaking news: California leads the nation by banning fur sales, bobcat trophy hunting

By Kitty Block and Sara Amundson Moments ago, Gov. Gavin Newsom made history by signing into law two landmark bills: one banning the sale and production of all new fur products in California, and another prohibiting the trophy hunting of bobcats in his state. California, . . . 

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Breaking news: European court upholds strong protections for wolves

By on October 11, 2019 with 1 Comment
Breaking news: European court upholds strong protections for wolves

Europe’s highest court has ruled that wolves in the European Union cannot be hunted, except in the rarest cases where member countries can prove there is no other option to end human-wolf conflict. The European Court of Justice ruling followed a challenge to a decision . . . 

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South Dakota will allow trophy hunters to kill 30 percent of its mountain lions

By on October 9, 2019 with 29 Comments
South Dakota will allow trophy hunters to kill 30 percent of its mountain lions

South Dakota has a notorious history of mismanaging its mountain lion population and playing into the hands of trophy hunters. In past years, the Mount Rushmore state has repeatedly increased its hunting quota for the animals, despite evidence that its lion population is on the . . . 

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Breaking news: Department of Justice defends federal cockfighting ban in Puerto Rico, Guam

By on October 8, 2019 with 1 Comment
Breaking news: Department of Justice defends federal cockfighting ban in Puerto Rico, Guam

By Kitty Block and Sara Amundson The federal government has filed a brief strongly defending a law that would expand the ban on cockfighting in the United States to Puerto Rico, Guam and other U.S. territories. Cockfighters seeking to overturn the ban have challenged it . . . 

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HSVMA links veterinary professionals to animal welfare needs and programs

By on October 7, 2019 with 1 Comment
HSVMA links veterinary professionals to animal welfare needs and programs

The Humane Society Veterinary Medical Association, an affiliate of the Humane Society of the United States, is the nation’s only organization for veterinary professionals that focuses solely on animal welfare. The HSVMA contributes to the work we do every day, by bringing the important veterinary . . . 

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Gov. Inslee says killing wolves over livestock conflicts is not working for Washington

By on October 4, 2019 with 4 Comments
Gov. Inslee says killing wolves over livestock conflicts is not working for Washington

Wolves in northeastern Washington, under the gun because of reported conflicts with cattle ranchers, have found a powerful ally. This week, Gov. Jay Inslee weighed in on his state’s controversial killings of more than two dozen wolves in this region in recent years. In a . . . 

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Airbnb, TripAdvisor announcements herald progress for wild animals trapped in tourism industry

By on October 3, 2019 with 5 Comments
Airbnb, TripAdvisor announcements herald progress for wild animals trapped in tourism industry

Today, the New York Times reported on Airbnb’s new featured offering of “animal experiences,” which will have an ethical focus and will ban any direct contact with wild animals. The announcement comes on the heels of a decision by TripAdvisor, reported just yesterday, to stop . . . 

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Senator introduces bills to restrict private possession of big cats, primates

By on October 2, 2019 with 4 Comments
Senator introduces bills to restrict private possession of big cats, primates

By Kitty Block and Sara Amundson Ten years ago, Americans were stunned by a pet chimpanzee’s vicious attack on a Connecticut woman, Charla Nash. The animal bit off Nash’s fingers and toes, tore off most of her face, and left her fighting for her life. . . . 

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HSUS videos cross 150 million views on YouTube

By on September 30, 2019 with 4 Comments
HSUS videos cross 150 million views on YouTube

One of the most effective ways we communicate with the public about the animals we help is through the power of visual storytelling. The use of video makes it possible for the public to see the plight of animals while also learning how they can . . . 

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A week of successes for wildlife as key Senate committees vote up funding, protections for wild horses and burros, whales and elephants

By on September 27, 2019 with 3 Comments
A week of successes for wildlife as key Senate committees vote up funding, protections for wild horses and burros, whales and elephants

By Kitty Block and Sara Amundson A number of important bills are now making their way through Congress, and this week has been a particularly successful one for wildlife and especially for elephants, rhinos, wolves, wild horses, burros and right whales. Yesterday, the Senate Appropriations . . . 

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New York proposes to crack down on private ownership of capuchin monkeys, arctic foxes, raccoons, skunks and other wildlife

By on September 26, 2019 with 0 Comments
New York proposes to crack down on private ownership of capuchin monkeys, arctic foxes, raccoons, skunks and other wildlife

In recent years, our nation has witnessed an epidemic of people acquiring exotic wildlife as pets. Wild animals, including lions, tigers, bears, chimpanzees, monkeys, venomous snakes, alligators and other dangerous species are readily available from breeders and even over the Internet. In private hands, these . . . 

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