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Mexican gray wolves may get more room to roam

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USFWS 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

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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

Environment: More than 100 scientists call on President Obama to protect bees from pesticide threats

A widely used class of pesticides is probably responsible for a massive honeybee die-off.

Scientists call on President Obama to directly address neonicotinoids pesticide impacts to bees. bberwyn photo.

‘Body of science’ shows harmful impacts

Staff Report

FRISCO — Environmental activists and scientists are convinced that neonicotinoid and other systemic pesticides are the main cause of rapidly declining bee populations across the U.S. and this week, they directly asked President Obama to address the pesticide threat.

More than 100 scientists from different fields signed on to a new letter calling on leaders of President Barack Obama’s Pollinator Health Task Force to take action on pesticides to protect and promote healthy populations of bees and other pollinators.   Continue reading

Greater sage-grouse need more buffer zones

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Greater sage-grouse need buffer zones to reduce impacts from human activities. Photo via USGS.

New USGS report details conservation needs of dwindling western birds

Staff Report

FRISCO — It may seem like there are a lot of wide open spaces remaining in the interior West, but when you add up impacts from roads, highways and pipelines; oil, gas, wind and solar energy development; tall structures such as electrical, communication and meteorological towers, it’s just too much for sage grouse.

The birds — at the heart of a classic endangered species political battle, need quiet areas to breed and fledge their chicks. In most cases, they seem to need at least a three-mile buffer from the most impactful activities, the U.S. Geological Survey concluded in a new report. Continue reading

Wildlife: Feds say genetic testing confirms that wolf near Grand Canyon is from the Northern Rockies

Trapping efforts suspended for now

Grand Canyon wolf

A gray wolf that wandered at least 450 miles from the northern Rockies is now living near the Grand Canyon in Arizona. Photo courtesy Arizona Game and Fish Department.

By Bob Berwyn

FRISCO — Federal biologists say that, based on a genetic analysis of scat, they’re now 100 percent sure that the wolf-like animal spotted near the North Rim of the Grand Canyon is in fact a wild Rocky Mountain gray wolf.

The confirmation clarifies that this gray wolf is fully protected under the Endangered Species Act, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced. Biologists have been tracking the canid since early October and were able to collect scat samples in early November. Continue reading

Environment: 15 years after endangered species listing, lynx are still spurring lawsuits

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A lynx in Colorado watches on the snow-covered forest floor. Photo courtesy Tanya Shenk/Colorado Division of Wildlife.

New lawsuit challenges inadequate critical habitat designation

Staff Report

FRISCO — It’s been 15 years since Canada lynx were listed as a threatened species, and wildlife conservation groups are still battling the U.S. government in court over critical habitat designation for the rare, snow-loving cats.

In the latest legal move, the Sierra Club, Rocky Mountain Wild, and Alliance for the Wild Rockies went back to court this week, claiming that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service still hasn’t got it right. According to the lawsuit, the agency neglected to include numerous large areas of prime lynx habitat, corridors and occupied areas throughout five national forests in Montana and Idaho, as well as millions of acres in the Southern Rockies. Continue reading

Study show drop in Beaufort Sea polar bear numbers

A polar bear in the Arctic. PHOTO COURTESY USGS/SUSANNE MILLER.

A polar bear in the Arctic. PHOTO COURTESY USGS/SUSANNE MILLER.

Is dwindling sea ice a factor?

Staff report

FRISCO — Polar bear populations in the southern Beaufort Sea  dropped 40 percent between 2000 and 2010, biologists say in a new study. The research suggests that survival of adult bears and cubs was especially low from 2004 to 2006, when most of the decline occurred.

“Of the 80 cubs observed in Alaska from 2004 to 2007, only 2 are known to have survived,” said Jeff Bromaghin, a U.S. Geological Survey research statistician and lead author of the study. Continue reading

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