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Grey Wolf Hunts In Northern Rockies To Continue, Rules Federal Appeals Court

15 Mar

BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) — A federal appeals court on Wednesday rejected a lawsuit from conservation groups that want to block wolf hunts that have killed more than 500 of the predators across the Northern Rockies in recent months.

The ruling from a three-judge panel of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals said Congress had the right to intervene when it stripped protections from wolves last spring.

Lawmakers stepped in after court rulings kept wolves on the endangered list for years after they reached recovery goals. Wildlife advocates claimed in their lawsuit that Congress violated the separation of powers by interfering with the courts.

But in an opinion authored by Judge Mary Schroeder, the court said Congress was within its rights, and that lawmakers had appropriately amended the Endangered Species Act to deal with Northern Rockies wolves.

That amendment marked the first time Congress has forcibly removed a species’ endangered status. It was tacked onto a federal budget bill by Idaho Republican Rep. Mike Simpson and Montana Democratic Sen. Jon Tester.

“This case has made it clear that those who persist in trying to manage wildlife through the courts, in spite of all scientific evidence that this species has recovered, no longer have a defensible position,” Simpson said Wednesday.

Michael Robinson with the Center for Biological Diversity, one of the groups that sued to restore protections, said a Supreme Court appeal was possible but no decision had been made.

“We’re very disappointed and very saddened,” Robinson said. “Hundreds of wolves have been hunted and trapped and snared, and they are essential to their ecosystem.”

He called the congressional budget bill rider that lifted protections “undemocratic” and said that it set a precedent for future political meddling with imperiled wildlife.

Reposted from Huffington Press 

Peru Mining Protest Turns Deadly in Puerto Maldonado

15 Mar

Andean people protest against Newmont Mining's Conga gold project during a march near the Cortada lagoon at Peru's region of Cajamarca, November 24, 2011.

[EF! Newswire note: the politics behind this story are tricky. We suggest reading more background on recent mining struggles to get a clearer picture of the context in which these protests have occurred.]

Peruvian protests against government plans to regulate small-scale mining left at least three dead and 50 wounded in the southern Amazon jungle today, the government said.

The miners are protesting against tougher penalties for illegal mining.

Local officials said police were far outnumbered by the protesters, who are trying to take control of the airport at the city of Puerto Maldonado.

The miners say the new rules will put them out of work, but the government says the sanctions will encourage miners to get the necessary permits.

An estimated 50,000 miners do not have a licence to operate.

Poisoned rivers

The government says large areas of jungle have been destroyed by illegal mining and large portions of the area’s waterways show high levels of mercury, used in the mining operations.

Officials say they want the miners to obtain the correct permits and to abide by environmental rules, but the protesters accuse the government of wanting to hand over mining concessions only to large multinational companies.

The latest protests erupted after talks between the government and the miners broke down on Tuesday.

Regional officials said more than 10,000 miners tried to seize government buildings, markets and the airport in Puerto Maldonado.

Regional President Luis Aguirre described the situation as “untenable”. “You can hear gunshots throughout the entire city,” he said.

Police have asked for reinforcements as 700 officers were outnumbered by more than 10,000 protesters.

Informal miners also held protests in two other regions, in Piura in Peru’s northwest and in Puno in the southern highlands bordering Bolivia.

Peru is one of the world’s major gold producers and high prices have sparked a boom in recent years.

The government has urged the miners to return to the negotiating table for more talks scheduled for Friday, but it is not clear so far if the miners will attend.

Reposted from BBC News