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Who Really Needs Ivory? The Elephant!

Poaching and wildlife trafficking are decimating wild populations of elephants in Africa and other species around the world, and in the last few years the losses have been staggering as the pace and deadly proficiency of poachers have accelerated – as many as 35,000 elephants killed in 2013. At its current rate, poaching could cost us a fifth of Africa’s elephants over the next decade.


"Classic" is one of the oldest and most dominant bulls in the western Kruger ecosystem, South Africa. Michelle Gadd/USFWS

We know the United States can’t save these species alone. Conservation of species depends on international community coming together to stop poaching, derail trafficking and cut demand.

The United States raised global awareness of this crisis when we crushed our seized ivory – an action since replicated by France and China ­– and we are continuing to lead by example.

President Obama just signed the National Strategy for Combating Wildlife Trafficking, which will result in a near-total ban on commercial trade in elephant ivory and rhino horn.


Partners Essential to Recovery, and Other Lessons from the Oregon Chub

On Tuesday, a 3-½ inch minnow found only in Oregon’s Willamette Valley made a big splash.  No longer threatened with extinction, the Oregon chub became the first fish proposed for removal from the Endangered Species list.  

Oregon chub

Oregon chubs swim at Finley National Wildlife Refuge in Corvallis, Oregon. Photo by Rick Swart, Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife.

We listed the Oregon chub as endangered in 1993 for several reasons. Mainly, its native floodplain habitat was disappearing, and the fish was losing out to such nonnative fish as the bass and bluegill. In 1993, just eight known populations with fewer than 1,000 fish were known to exist. Thanks to lots of hard work, the population now stands at more than 150,000 fish at 80 locations. Just stunning! 

The chub’s recovery is something we’re proud of. But what’s even better is how it recovered.


Hunting Brings You Face-to-Face with Nature’s Thrills, But Not the Way you May Think

I was lucky enough to spend some time this month week at SHOT Show, a trade show on hunting, shooting and the outdoors, where I got a chance to talk with hunters and shooting enthusiasts about conservation.


A hunter walks through at Selawik National Wildlife Refuge in Alaska. Credit: Steve Hillebrand/USFWS

Just like fishing (it’s called fishing, not catching), getting into the outdoors is often the best part of hunting. Many of the stories we shared reflected the hours we’ve spent waiting for waterfowl or elk or deer without even touching the trigger. That’s more than just OK. Being outside, away from the day-to-day, we are free to embrace an important part of our national heritage as well as, in my case, a big part of a family one.

Maybe we’ll see something we have never seen before – nature is always surprising and always a thrill.


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Last updated: August 31, 2011