Feds eye more critical habitat for Pacific Northwest orcas

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Public input wanted: final decision due in 2017

Staff Report

FRISCO — Federal biologists will study whether more critical habitat could benefit an endangered group of killer whales that roams the ocean off the Pacific Northwest, from Puget Sound down to northern California.

Wildlife conservation advocates last year petitioned NOAA’s Marine Fisheries Service, seeking critical habitat designation for the whales’ winter foraging range off the coasts of Washington, Oregon and California. Documents related to the process are compiled here. Continue reading

Rocky Mountain National Park hosts science summit

Two-day Estes Park event highlights Rocky Mountain NP park research

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Rocky Mountain National Park. bberwyn photo

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Elk tussling along Trail Ridge Road, bberwyn photo

@bberwyn

FRISCO — Along with drawing more than 3 million visitors per year, Rocky Mountain National Park is a hotbed of scientific discovery, Each year the park issues more than 100 research permits, with scientists coming from all over the world to study plants, animals, geology and water. Last year, citizen scientists volunteered thousands of hours to research projects. In addition, hundreds of students participate in field data collections and lab analysis.

Many of the researchers will be in Estes Park next week to share the findings from their studies during the two-day (March 4, 5) biennial research conference, which is free and open to all interested members of the community. No registration is required. The conference begins on Wednesday, March 4, at 8:00 a.m. See the full schedule at: http://www.nps.gov/rlc/continentaldivide/research-conference.htm. Continue reading

Global warming: Where have all the sardines gone?

Trying to hack the climate by introducing fertilizers to induce alge bloom could have serious consequences.

Sardines and other commercially important fish are moving north in response to global warming.

Study tracks temperature-driven shift in Atlantic Ocean fish populations

Staff Report

FRISCO — For centuries, sardines, anchovies and mackerels have been critically important species for coastal communities, but global warming is chasing the fish northward. Some fishing towns may be facing make big economic adjustments in coming decades, according to researchers who carefully crunched the numbers for 40 years worth of fishing records.

The new study warned that the changes in such an important ecological group “will have an effect on the structure and functioning of the whole ecosystem.” Continue reading

Feds put Wyoming, Great Lakes wolves back on endangered species list

Heavy snow has pushed elk out of the high country, so the Colorado Division of Wildlife will try to divert them from important livestock feeding areas in the Yampa Valley. PHOTO COURTESY THE NATIONAL PAKR SERVICE.

Wolves chase down an elk in Yellowstone National Park. Photo courtesy National Park Service.

Responding to lawsuits, USFWS acknowledges that state protections are inadequate

By Bob Berwyn

FRISCO — Wild wolves in Wyoming and the western Great Lakes once again are protected under the Endangered Species Act, as the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service published a Federal Register notice explaining that Wyoming’s management plan is not adequate to protect the predators.

Of course the agency needed a push from the federal courts to acknowledge the reality of the Wyoming’s anti-wolf policies. Similarly, a federal court also said the agency can’t delist wolves in the western Great Lakes because protections can’t be removed in part of a species’ range when it has not recovered overall. Continue reading

Environment: Plastic debris takes toll on endangered species

A red-shafted flicker, which is a forest bird, died after getting entangled in abandoned fishing line in Summit County, Colorado.

A red-shafted flicker, which is a forest bird, died after getting entangled in abandoned fishing line in Summit County, Colorado.

Whales and sea turtles hit especially hard 

Staff Report

FRISCO — Not long after researchers managed to quantify the unbelievable amounts of plastic waste going into the world’s oceans, another team of scientists at Plymouth University said they’ve traced how many species are affected by the debris.

In all, nearly 700 species of marine animals have been recorded as having encountered man-made debris such as plastic and glass, the scientists said after looking at records of 44,000 animals and organisms that became entangled in, or swallowed debris. Continue reading

Tiny fish makes big recovery, as feds delist Oregon chub

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Oregon chub, courtesy USFWS.

First-ever endangered species de-listing for a fish species

Staff Report

FRISCO — There has been no shortage of Endangered Species Act success stories (think bald eagles) over the years, and this week a new one was added to the list. For the first time, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service will declare a fish species as recovered.

The Oregon chub, a silvery, speckled minnow found only in Oregon’s Willamette Valley, was listed in 1993 after development and water diversions destroyed wetlands habitat and introduced sports fish gobbled up the tiny minnows. Continue reading

Feds to expand critical habitat for rare Atlantic whales

Proposal comes in response to legal pressure from activists

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North Atlantic right whales, courtesy Georgia Department of Natural Resources.

Staff Report

FRISCO — One of the world’s most endangered marine mammals will get a little more room to roam, as the National Marine Fisheries Service proposed an expansion of critical habitat for endangered North Atlantic right whales.

The expansion covers areas in the northwestern Atlantic Ocean that support calving and nursing. The habitat rule comes in response to continued pressure from conservation advocates pushing for adequate protection for a species that numbers only about 450 individuals. Continue reading

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