Nov 29, 2017

Trophy hunting hurts a species' chances of survival

Hunters view antlers of deer bucks during a trophy inspection in Hungary. Photo: Zsolt Czegledi / AP

Species of elephants, lions and other animals targeted by trophy hunters and poachers looking for the biggest, most impressive horns and antlers, have less of an ability to adapt to climate change, according to a new study by researchers at Queen Mary University.

The reason: Impressive antlers, manes and other characteristics can indicate how well an animal is doing overall, which can also mean they are better genetically equipped for their environment. "They also father a high proportion of the offspring. But if they're killed before they can spread their 'good genes' around, this reduces the overall fitness and resilience of that population," the study's lead author Robert Knell told National Geographic.

Yes, but: Knell said properly managed trophy hunting can be an asset to conservation, which is why the group is not calling for a ban. One suggestion may be to restrict the age at which a trophy animal can be hunted in order to give them time to pass on their genes to the next generation and the population more broadly.

In other studies: David Coltman, a biological science professor at University of Alberta, said that the results from Knell's study using a computer simulation model matched those of his own on big horn sheep in the Rocky Mountains, where they've seen a 20% decline in the size of the sheep's horns due to decades of trophy hunting.

Big picture: The Fish and Wildlife Service recently lifted a ban on importing hunted elephant trophies from Zimbabwe and Zambia when it can be proved it aided in conservation efforts. The announcement sparked outrage, which led to Trump tweeting and Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke releasing a statement saying permits would be put on hold while the decision about the ban was reviewed.

Go deeper

Joe Biden places second in Nevada caucuses, ahead of Pete Buttigieg

Democratic presidential candidate and former Vice President Joe Biden a Nevada Caucus watch party in Las Vegas on Saturday. Photo: Ronda Churchill/AFP via Getty Images

Former Vice President Joe Biden secured second place in the Nevada Democratic caucuses with former Southbend Mayor Pete Buttigieg third, according to NBC News projections Sunday.

By the numbers: With almost 88% of precincts reporting, Biden has 20.9% of the Nevada votes and Buttigieg has 13.6%.

Flashback: Bernie Sanders wins Nevada caucuses

Editor's note: This is a developing news story. Please check back for updates.

Sanders reveals free childcare plan for preschoolers

Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders speaks during a campaign rally on Saturday in El Paso, Texas. Photo: Cengiz Yar/Getty Images

Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders announced on CBS' "60 Minutes" Sunday a new plan to guarantee free child care and pre-kindergarten to all American children from infancy to age four.

Details: In the wide-ranging interview, Sanders told Anderson Cooper he planned to pay for universal childcare with a wealth tax. "It's taxes on billionaires," he said.

Exclusive: Trump's "Deep State" hit list

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios. Photos: WPA Pool/Getty Pool, Drew Angerer/Getty Staff

The Trump White House and its allies, over the past 18 months, assembled detailed lists of disloyal government officials to oust — and trusted pro-Trump people to replace them — according to more than a dozen sources familiar with the effort who spoke to Axios.

Driving the news: By the time President Trump instructed his 29-year-old former body man and new head of presidential personnel to rid his government of anti-Trump officials, he'd gathered reams of material to support his suspicions.