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Wyoming Will Let People Kill off Possibly Its Last Grizzly Bears for $6,000

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You might remember that in June 2017, it was announced that the long-endangered grizzly bears of Wyoming would be taken off the federal list of endangered species that used to legally protect them. It was proposed at least a year prior that the US Fish and Wildlife Service take grizzly bears off their Endangered Species Act list, but now it has actually happened. In 2007 they were briefly de-listed, but outrage influenced the decision to be overturned.

Now, while government regulations are hardly ever something to be celebrated, at a point in history where defensive force does not legally extend to protecting animals if it is lawful to hunt them, the consequences of the de-regulation are coming. This is where regulation becomes a paradox.

For the first time since the 1970’s, Wyoming grizzlies will be hunted by people who will pay the Wyoming Game and Fish Department, state wildlife managers for permission to do so. They will profit from selling licenses at a rate of $600 for a local resident and $6,000 for a non-resident. It is unclear where this money goes, whether it is collected by the state government or what happens to it.

Petitions have gotten a lot of traction online to stop the grizzly hunt, with some articles even going so far as to suggest that they could accidentally eliminate the rest of the grizzly population should the hunt be allowed.

While the wildlife managers claim the hunt will be off if the population were to decline to 600 bears (back to endangered), is that really what we want? Do people want to keep the grizzly bears just on the verge of extinction, but not more populous than that? It it really something human beings should alter?

The grizzly bear’s population in North America used to extend all the way from modern day Canada to Mexico. They could be found as far east as Kansas, and as far west as the Pacific Ocean.

The European colonization of the west nearly led to the annihilation of the species, with patches of grizzly bears remaining in Canada, and what is described as a little “tear drop of habitat around Yellowstone- representing just 2 percent of its historic habitat,” according to Wired. That is the particular species of bear, the grizzly.

In the 1970’s, Wyoming’s grizzly bear population was estimated at a mere 150 bears, at which time the federal government’s Endangered Species Act banned most hunting and development in the near 34,000-square-mile Greater Yellowstone area.

Now, the population has grown to roughly 700 bears around the area of Wyoming, Montana and Idaho. So they are granting licenses to kill just about 100 bears?

An argument for the grizzly hunt may exist in the need to protect people, a flimsy one if people are going after the bears before being personally attacked, but that’s not the first thing to be said by most people praising the move to allow hunting. People certainly die from bear attacks all the time.

An ex-politician strongly supported the move. According to the Missoula Current:

“Zinke, a former Montana congressman, said the final delisting rule by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service will be published “in coming days” and go into effect 30 days later.

He hailed the move as marking “one of America’s great conservation successes.”

Population studies show grizzly bears have more than doubled their range since the mid-1970s, occupying more than 22,500 square miles (58,275 sq km) of the Yellowstone ecosystem, according to the Fish and Wildlife Service. That area is larger than the land mass of New Hampshire, Massachusetts and Rhode Island, combined, the agency said. Despite those gains, the grizzly is found in only about 2 percent of its original range in the lower 48 states.

For the Yellowstone region, the scope and quality of bear habitat, regulatory mechanisms developed over the years and the existing balance of male and female bears should allow the states to maintain a viable, long-term grizzly population number in the high-600s to low-700s, agency officials said in March when delisting was proposed.”

Before European colonization, grizzlies apparently survived okay with the Native Americans. The tradition continues today with some native people opposing the grizzly hunt.

Apparently most Native Americans consider the bear sacred, and some of them spoke out in opposition.

Piikani Nation of the Blackfoot Confederacy man Chief Stan Grier reported that the tribes were “adamantly opposed to this decision.” Tribes in both Canada and the US signed an actual treaty to oppose the removal of protections for the bears.

“The grizzly is integral to our cultures and religious lifeways, it is a sacred being that protects our sacred lands,” Chief Stan Grier declared. “Within this struggle to protect the grizzly, and thus the land the grizzly, in turn, protects, we find many of our struggles: the struggle to defend our sovereignty, our treaty rights, to preserve and enforce consultation mandates, to defend and strengthen our spiritual and religious freedoms.”

A common argument from hunters is that species such as wolves or grizzly bears are deadly predators who must meet their fate being killed by humans, and while they have a point that many wild wolves and grizzlies would instantly rip a person to shreds if they could, where is the balance human beings should strike? Do we really want to live in a world without wolves and grizzlies even if they threaten us sometimes?

The ability for both human beings and grizzlies to survive on Earth is now enabled by our ability to defend ourselves. Self defense from wild grizzlies is how people can live in balance with nature and keep them alive. But in the past, it wasn’t so practical to guard ourselves from grizzly bears of course, and many people living in the US for the past several centuries, from Native Americans to Europeans probably did not want them to be so populated (although they could also use them for food, fur, ect).

When human beings decide the fate of any entire species, or any such thing so serious to the rest of the Earth, we should definitely tread lightly and consider the consequences of our actions with much thought and reprise.


Image credit: MBH, MSH, Steiner Optics

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CIA Drops ‘Black Vault’ Trove Containing ‘All’ Government Documents on UFOs

Elias Marat

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The CIA has released all publicly available U.S. government documents collected on unidentified flying objects (UFO) over the course of three decades that can now be downloaded by any curious users.

According to reports, the massive trove of data on UFOs includes over 2,700 pages of information collected and recorded by government agencies over the course of decades, with some declassified documents dating back as far as the 1980s.

The information was released thanks to numerous requests filed under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) over the past 25 years.

The downloadable archives are available on the website The Black Vault, which has collected every piece of data recording sightings of UFOs. The site’s founder, John Greenewald Jr., purchased a disc which the CIA claims contains the entirety of its archives, but Greenewald notes that “there may be no way to entirely verify that.”

“Research by The Black Vault will continue to see if there are additional documents still uncovered within the CIA’s holdings,” Greenewald added.

The U.S. government has been increasingly open in its discussions of UFOs since September 2019, when the U.S. Navy admitted that widely-circulated video footage captured by Navy pilots purportedly showing UFOs flying through the skies did depict actual “unknown” objects that flew into U.S. airspace.

While officials admitted that they have been baffled by the unknown flying objects, they also admit that past encounters with them have been frequent. They also said that rather than calling them “UFOs,” they prefer the term unidentified aerial phenomena or UAPs.

The Guardian reports that a range of bizarre incidents are recorded in the documents, some of which are hard to decipher and are extremely disorganized.

One document reports a series of inexplicable explosions in a Russian town, while another reports a first-hand account of a sighting of an unidentified aerial phenomenon near Baku, the capital of Azerbaijan.

LiveScience has also reviewed the files, and reports that the documents cover a range of other incidents such as a “1976 account of the government’s then-Assistant Deputy Director for Science and Technology being hand-delivered a mysterious piece of intelligence on a UFO.”

However, Greenewald has expressed annoyance over the manner in which the agency packaged the documents, including the fact that they were burned onto CD-ROM, a medium that he called “outdated.”

“The CIA has made it INCREDIBLY difficult to use their records in a reasonable manner,” he wrote to Vice’s Motherboard. “This outdated format makes it very difficult for people to see the documents, and use them, for any research purpose.”

The arrival of the dump comes as UFOlogists and alien aficionados eagerly anticipate hearings before Congress where Pentagon and intelligence agency officials will report all of their findings on UAPs, according to the New York Post.

A provision tucked into the roughly 5,600-page coronavirus relief bill passed in December requires that government agencies “submit a report within 180 days … to the congressional intelligence and armed services committees on unidentified aerial phenomena.”

Also last June, outgoing President Trump told his son Don Trump Jr. that he had heard some “interesting” things about supposed UFOs and the secretive Area 51 base near Roswell, New Mexico, that some theorists claim was a crash site for a UFO.

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Betty White Turns 99, and Her Tips on Living a Long and Happy Life Are More Valuable Than Ever

Elias Marat

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Betty White, the original golden girl beloved by people of all ages, celebrated her 99th birthday on Sunday.

The spry granny, born Betty Marion White on Jan. 17, 1922, has managed to live a long, healthy, happy life and this can likely be chalked up to her unconventional approach.

The Emmy award-winning veteran actress once joked that her secret to longevity consisted of three simple ingredients: vodka, hot dogs, and her love of pets.

However, her tongue-in-cheek advice is getting new attention, especially given that too many of us have been forced to stay at home over much of the past year.

In 2011, during a Late Show interview with David Letterman, White gave 10 sagely tips on how she’s managed to maintain her verb and energy for so long. With White reaching one year short of a century, the advice is worth revisiting.

Her first bit of advice was to “get at least eight hours of beauty sleep, nine if you’re ugly.” Next, she advised that one should “Exercise. Or don’t. What the hell do I care?”

Third, she opined that one should “never apologize. It shows weakness.”

Her fourth tip shouldn’t give anyone any adventurous ideas, but it’s helpful nonetheless: “The best way to earn a quick buck is a slip and fall lawsuit.”

She then gave the priceless tip that one should “avoid tweeting any photos of your private parts” while also making sure to “schedule nightly appointment with Dr. Johnnie Walker.”

Some of the healthy eaters in our audience may take exception to White’s seventh tip, which is to: “Take some wheatgrass, soy paste and carob, toss it in the garbage and cook yourself a big-*ss piece of pork.”

Her next bit of adice was to “try not to die” and “never dwell on past mistakes,” which may both be easier said than done. Lastly, she recommended that you “don’t waste your time watching this crap.”

Sound advice that we can all relate to, Mrs. White!

White is reportedly spending her 99th birthday simply relaxing, she told Entertainment Tonight.

“You probably didn’t ask, but I’ll tell you anyway. … What am I doing for my birthday? Running a mile each morning has been curtailed by [coronavirus], so I am working on getting ‘The Pet Set’ re-released, and feeding the two ducks who come to visit me every day,” she explained, referencing a 1971 show she starred in that featured celebrities appearing alongside their pets.

Her birthday was also marked by various celebrities, who tweeted out birthday greetings to the TV icon.

“Happy birthday, @BettyMWhite! You’re a miracle in every way,”  wrote Ellen DeGeneres.

“I still get warm when I see this look. Happy 99 baby. You are a testament to living life on your own terms. Sending you a great big socially distanced kiss. I love you @BettyMWhite,” Ed Asner tweeted.

“Betty White bloopers are the best bloopers #HappyBirthdayBettyWhite,” Valerie Bertinelli tweeted alongside a video of hilarious mistakes made on the set of their former show, Hot in Cleveland.

“Wishing the incomparable Betty White a very happy 99th birthday! What’s your favorite Betty White role, friends?” wrote Star Trek star George Takei.

White, who is best known for her role as Rose Nylund in the classic sitcom The Golden Girls (1985-92), has over 75 years in show business under her belt. The comedian became a staple of U.S. television in such shows as The Mary Tyler Moore Show and Hot in Cleveland along with memorable appearances in shows like Mama’s Family and That ‘70s Show.

She catapulted to fame with her first sitcom, Life with Elizabeth, where White played the titular role and became the first woman to have creative control of a program as both a producer and the star.

White earned no less than 24 Emmy nominations and won eight in the span of her career.

When she reached the age of 90 it didn’t slow her down one bit. Not only did White become the oldest host in the history of Saturday Night Live but she also made dozens of cameos. White also starred in a memorable 2010 Super Bowl commercial for Snickers where she got tackled to the ground, football-style.

In an email to the Associated Press, White shared an especially enjoyable perk of old age: “Since I am turning 99, I can stay up as late as I want without asking permission!”

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Animals

Surfing Sea Lions Have a Blast as They Ride and Flip Through Gnarly California Waves in Video

Elias Marat

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Surfers know that in terms of the best places to catch the best breaks and surf zones, few regions can compete with California’s central coast. From Malibu through Ventura to Santa Barbara County, up through SLO to the Monterey Bay and Santa Cruz, the Gold Coast arguably has no rivals in the U.S. in terms of its natural beauty and spectacular waves.

But while California’s beaches have long been synonymous with the surfing world, it would appear that actual sea lions from the regional are also enjoying the gnarly wakesurfs and sick swells on offer throughout the central coast.

In brilliant video captured last week off Santa Barbara Island, within the Channel Islands National Park just west of Los Angeles, sea lions can be seen surfing the massive waves with the sort of natural skill that only evolutionary forces can mold.

In the footage, the nimble pinnipeds can be seen riding and flipping about while taking huge leaps through the giant swells. The video was captured via high-speed photography, far too fast for sound to be recorded.

So Ryan Lawler, who runs Pacific Offshore Expeditions, paired the footage to the iconic hit from the Surfaris, “Wipeout.”

The energetic footage was captured by a documentary crew that included a National Geographic cameraman during a Jan. 7 outing with Pacific Offshore Expeditions.

 “Our trip to Santa Barbara Island was bumpy and dive conditions questionable,” the company wrote on its Instagram post of the video. “But what we found in light of this was a wonderful surprise: surfing sea lions! None of us had ever seen such sustained and enthusiastic wave riding from pinnipeds before. It was a joy to watch!”

The scene was so remarkable that the crew eagerly returned to Santa Barbara Island for more footage after checking out the footage that they shot.

“On the exposed side of the island the swell was huge but we found some sun,” Lawler told For The Win Outdoors. “As we rounded the southern portion of the island, which has an islet called Sutil Island, we noticed sea lions flying out of the back of the waves. It was an awesome moment.”

Like most priceless moments in the majestic Channel Islands, however, the session was all too brief – and was totally skunked by the thick, foggy marine layer of an unseasonably hot January.

“I had never seen that before at this island, which is well known for its sea lions,” Lawler continued. “So we stayed there for 20 minutes, observing and waiting for the sun to break up the fog. Then we dove for about 90 minutes and came back, but all the sea lions had disappeared.”

Sea lions have long been known to be powerful and agile swimmers who are even known to body surf on occasion, but scenes such as these are very difficult to capture.

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