With the constant attacks on people and businesses working with animals humanely in entertainment, biomedical research, animal agriculture, and with companion animals, it is encouraging to learn of at least one conservation effort where protecting wildlife does not involve condemning farmers or ranchers. Too often, farmers and ranchers are viewed with disdain by conservationists who favor wildlife over domestic livestock.
But happily, this is not always the case.
For example, as reported on NPR’s “living on earth®,” conservationist Andrew Jakes, a postdoctoral Fellow at the University of Montana who has studied pronghorn antelope and their migrations for years, along with the Alberta Conservation Association and the Nature Conservancy of Montana, has undertaken a project to help pronghorns navigate more easily across private ranches surrounded by barbed-wire fencing during their annual migration. According to the National Wildlife Foundation
pronghorns have the longest land migration in the continental United States . . . migrat[ing] 150 miles each way between Wyoming’s Upper Green River Basin and Grand Teton National Park.
As reported by Clay Scott from “living on earth®” the pronghorns must navigate around fenced in property making the journey longer, requiring them to expend more energy while decreasing the time they have to forage and build up resources that would allow them to survive.
Since pronghorns don’t jump, they must find sections of fencing where the bottom strand is high enough for them to go under it in order to continue on their migration path.
According to Science Director Brian Martin from The Nature Conservancy the pronghorns are:
burning a lot of calories, which may not directly kill them but makes their chances for mortality much higher. For years, The Nature Conservancy has been modifying fences to make wildlife movement easier, but with thousands of miles of fence strung across the state, knowing where and how to change fences is critical. One of the tools helping us figure that out is the remote camera.
After studying videotape of the migration, scientists and conservationists have been swapping out the lowest strand of barbed-wire with smooth wire and raising the wire to allow for easier passage of the animals. By partnering with (and not vilifying) ranchers and scientists, conservationists should be able to continue to provide for safer migration of these uniquely North American mammals.
The same cannot be said of long-standing efforts to protect threatened or endangered species exhibited in zoos, parks and circuses.
Despite the considerable scientific contributions of facilities like SeaWorld and Ringling Bros. Center for Elephant Conservation to the body of knowledge used worldwide to protect marine mammals and elephants, attacks on these types of institutions continue to amass.
The latest challenge for SeaWorld comes in the form of a congressional bill that would “ultimately phase out captive orcas from locations like SeaWorld in the United States within 50 years,” as reported by CNBC.
The Orca Responsibility and Care Advancement Act (ORCA) is supported by the Animal Welfare Institute, the Humane Society of the United States, the Humane Society Legislative Fund and People for the Ethical Treatment of Animal.
While efforts to phase out whales in human care may strike an emotional chord, SeaWorld and other science-based organizations are part of the solution, not the problem. Here are the 4 things you need to remember:
Killer whales at SeaWorld are healthy and thriving. Through conservation work, rescue efforts and significant contributions towards advancing scientific understanding of orcas and other marine mammals, SeaWorld is a leader in protecting and preserving these species.
We have not captured a whale in the wild in 35 years – and we will not do so.
Through our work with scientists, conservation leaders, and the government SeaWorld is ensuring that all animals in human care are treated with the dignity and respect they require and deserve.
SeaWorld has always supported science-based regulation and we look forward to continued collaboration with the government so that together we meet our shared goals of protecting the welfare of our animals, as well as saving animals in the wild.
Bans like this one have been proposed across the country affecting all animal enterprises and animal owners across the country. Instead of benefiting the animals they are intended to protect, they will only harm them, other animals and the people whose lives are so enriched by their exposure to creatures great and small.
It is time, instead, to embrace an approach that will benefit everyone and preserve our long history of working with and for animals.
“Working together works.”
 Pronghorns are not actually antelope.