Wildlife advocates question federal sage grouse maps

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Proposed federal conservation plans for greater sage-grouse have sliced and diced important habitat, conservation advocates say. Photo courtesy USFWS.

Report says fragmented habitat isn’t adequate for protection of species

Staff Report

FRISCO — After a detailed mapping analysis maps, wildlife conservation advocates say the federal government downsized important habitat for sage grouse.

The findings are outlined in a new report released by WildEarth Guardians. It compares protected areas to remaining key population hotspots. Almost 20 million acres designated as Priority Areas for Conservation disappeared from the Priority Habitat areas proposed in U.S. Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management sage grouse plans. Continue reading

Report: Australia’s humpback whales are thriving

A humpback whale near Hawaii. Photo courtesy NOAA.

A humpback whale near Hawaii. Photo courtesy NOAA.

FRISCO — While many Australian animal species are being pushed toward extinction, humpback whales off both the country’s east and west coasts are making a strong comeback from the whaling era.

Recent research suggests humpback populations are growing at about 10 percent annually, and that populations have recovered to between 60 and 90 percent of pre-whaling numbers, according to a new study published in the journal Marine Policy. Continue reading

Environment: Feds extend comment period on controversial Endangered Species Act changes

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Can the Endangered Species Act be improved?

Proposed changes would make it harder for citizen groups to petition for protection

Staff Report

FRISCO — The feds will give the public an extra two months to weigh in on proposed changes to the Endangered Species Act, with a new comment deadline set for mid-September.

In May, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the National Marine Fisheries Service published draft regulations, saying that the changes are aimed at improving transparency and inclusiveness. The move to freshen up the Endangered Species Act reflects “advances in conservation biology and genetics, as well as recent court decisions interpreting the Act’s provisions.” Continue reading

Feds seek near-total ban on ivory trade to protect elephants

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Greed is pushing elephants toward extinction.

Booming Asian economies fuel huge poaching and wildlife trafficking issues

Staff Report

FRISCO —Federal wildlife managers hope that a near-total ban on the U.S. ivory trade will help slow the slaughter of elephants poached for their tusks.

By some estimates, as many as 100,000 elephants were killed for their ivory between 2010 and 2012 — about one every 15 minutes. Elephants are threatened in formerly safe areas, and some of Africa’s most famous wildlife parks are littered with carcasses. Continue reading

Observers say Mexico is not enforcing a gillnet ban meant to save vaquitas from extinction

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Despite a ban that started April 10, some Mexican fishermen are still using gillnets in the northern Gulf of Mexico to the detriment of critically endangered endemic porpoises. Photo via Greenpeace.

Illegal international wildlife trade presents a related threat

By Bob Berwyn

FRISCO — Conservation advocates say some Mexican fishermen are ignoring a ban on gillnets in the northern Gulf of California, driving a porpoise species even closer to extinction.

Biologists say there are less than 100 vaquitas left in the area, and perhaps as few as 50, and despite Mexico’s stated intention to enforce the gillnet ban, Greenpeace observers reported this week that the now-illegal nets are still being widely used. Continue reading

Climate: Warmer temps, more rain will up disease threat to endangered Hawaiian birds

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After more than 30 years of careful management, the Hawaiian stilt is thriving at Pearl Harbor and James Campbell National Wildlife Refuges on Oahu. Credit: Mike Silbernagle/USFWS.

Mosquito-free havens will start to disappear by mid-century, study warns

Staff Report

FRISCO — Island birds, including endangered species in the Hawai‘i archipelago, are facing a serious threat, as diseases carried by mosquitoes are due to expand into higher elevation safe zones.

With warming temperatures, mosquitoes will move farther upslope and increase in number, and mosquito-friendly temperatures are expected by mid-century, according to a new study by researchers with the U.S. Geological Survey and the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Future increases in rainfall will likely benefit the mosquitoes as well.

“We knew that temperature had significant effects on mosquitoes and malaria, but we were surprised that rainfall also played an important role,” said USGS Wisconsin scientist Michael Samuel. “Additional rainfall will favor mosquitoes as much as the temperature change.” Continue reading

Climate: Not a lot of options for polar bears

 Eric Regehr, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

Polar bear photo courtesy Eric Regehr, USFWS.

New study shows food shortages will catch up to the Arctic predators

Staff Report

FRISCO — When it comes to finding food as Arctic sea ice melts, polar bears don’t exactly have a lot of options.

That’s one of the main reasons the Arctic predators are under the global warming gun, and a new study of how the bears respond metabolically during lean times underscores the existing science. Continue reading

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