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Happy Thanksgiving!

Greetings and gratitude from the Rocky Mountains

Sunrise over Dillon Reservoir, Thanksgiving morning.

Sunrise over Dillon Reservoir, Thanksgiving morning.

FRISCO — I’m so very grateful for all the loyal longtime Summit Voice readers and supporters — too many to name — and for new readers. Enjoy the environmental news feed again starting tomorrow and help spread the word about independent environmental journalism.

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Global warming: Many polar bear populations likely to be in serious trouble by the end of the century

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Can polar bears survive the century?

Ongoing loss of sea ice threatens huge areas of habitat in Canada’s Arctic

Staff Report

FRISCO — Global warming is reshaping the Arctic so fast that a quarter of the world’s polar bear population is likely to be in serious trouble by the end of the century.

Vanishing sea ice and longer ice-free periods will put many of the predators at risk of starvation and reproductive failure, according to a new study led by the University of Alberta’s Stephen Hamilton.

The findings, published this week in the open-access journal PLOS ONE, used sea ice projections for the Canadian Arctic Archipelago from 2006-2100 and metrics developed from polar bear energetics modeling to gain insight into the conservation challenges for polar bears facing habitat loss. Continue reading

Idaho’s sockeye salmon escape the ‘extinction vortex’

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Sockeye salmon in a spawning stream in the Pacific Northwest. Photo via Wikimedia and the Creative Commons.

20-year recovery effort showing strong results

Staff Report

FRISCO — After nearly disappearing in swirl of an “extinction vortex,” Snake River sockeye salmon are back and regaining the fitness of their wild ancestors.

“This is a real American endangered species success story,” said Will Stelle, administrator of NOAA Fisheries’ West Coast Region. “With only a handful of remaining fish, biologists brought the best genetic science to bear and the region lent its lasting support. Now there is real potential that this species will be self-sustaining again. The sockeye didn’t give up hope and neither did we.” Continue reading

Oceans: Tracking study to help shape hammerhead shark conservation plans

Hammerhead sharks received much-needed protection from unsustainable trade. Photo courtesy Florida Museum of Natural History.

Hammerhead sharks may need more protection in the Sea of Cortes. Photo courtesy Florida Museum of Natural History.

FRISCO — A young hammerhead shark tagged by scientists in the Gulf of California swam more than 3,300 kilometers, diving as deep as 270 meters in offshore waters — well away from areas set aside to protect ocean life, according to a new tracking study.

The 10-month research project led by biologists with the Centro Interdisciplinario de Ciencias Marinas, Mexico and the University of California, Davis shows how additional conservation measures in nursery areas and offshore feeding areas could help protect sharks and other species. Continue reading

Colorado: Senators Udall and Bennet ask President Obama to use Antiquities Act to designate Browns Canyon as a national monument

Gridlock in Congress prompts request for designation

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There’s a new push to create a national monument along the Arkansas River.

Staff Report

FRISCO — Citing gridlock in Congress, Colorado’s U.S. Senators Mark Udall and Michael Bennet have asked President Obama to consider designating Browns Canyon, in Chaffee County, as a national monument under the Antiquities Act.

The request comes as Congress has all but ignored a huge backlog of public lands bills primarily based on ideological opposition to land protection measures by House Republican committee chairs.

According to Udall and Bennet’s Nov. 25 letter to President Obama, community leaders in the Browns Canyon area suggested the Antiquities Act path, recognizing the significant economic benefits of the designation for regional tourism-based businesses. Continue reading

Mexican gray wolves may get more room to roam

gUSFWS seeks to expand recovery area

Staff Report

FRISCO — Federal biologists say they want to gradually expand the recovery area for Mexican gray wolves, ultimately covering enough habitat for more than 300 wolves in the rugged deserts and mountains of southern Arizona and New Mexico.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service this week released a final environmental impact statement that aims to address some of the most vexing wolf management issues, including ways to mitigate impacts to ranchers and to address the need for more genetic diversity in the wolf population. Continue reading

Global warming could speed up honeybee decline

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New research suggests that honeybee parasites spread faster as the Earth heats up. bberwyn photo.

Study tracks spread of invasive parasite

Staff Report

FRISCO —Global warming is very likely speeding up the spread of an invasive parasite that threatens honeybees in the UK, according to scientists with Queen’s University Belfast.

After studying the gut parasite Nosema ceranae, the scientists said its numbers could increase with climate change because its better able to adapt to warmer temperatures.

The parasite is native to Asia but has spread worldwide and is likely to cause increasing damage to bees as the Earth heats up. The findings were published this week in the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B.

“This emerging parasite is more susceptible to cold than its original close relative, possibly reflecting its presumed origin in east Asia,” said Queen’s School of Biological Sciences Professor Robert Paxton. “In the face of rising global temperatures, our findings suggest that it will increase in prevalence and potentially lead to increased honey bee colony losses in Britain.” Continue reading

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