Feds seek to tweak Endangered Species Act

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Lynx have protected under the Endangered Species Act for 15 years, but legal wrangling and bureaucratic inertia have prevented completion of a recovery plan for the mammals, Photo courtesy Colorado Parks and Wildlife.

Modernization aimed at keeping regs in line with science, political pressure and court rulings

Staff Report

FRISCO — Federal biologists say they want to freshen up the Endangered Species Act to “reflect advances in conservation biology and genetics, as well as recent court decisions interpreting the Act’s provisions.”

According to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, many of the country’s endangered species regulations date back to the 1980s, and need an overhaul. According to U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service director Dan Ashe, the changes will address states’ concerns and boost voluntary conservation efforts, and add transparency to the listing process.

The proposal to revamp parts of the law comes against a backdrop of blistering attacks by anti-environmental Republicans in Congress who see endangered species regulations as hurdles to the exploitation of natural resources and have tried to undercut the bedrock law by preventing funding for environmental protection, and even going as far as trying to prevent federal agencies from making science-based listing decisions. Continue reading

Bat-killing fungus spreads west to Oklahoma

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Bat-killing white-nose syndrome has spread west in Oklahoma. Photo via USFWS.

Are western bats at risk?

Staff Report

FRISCO — A bat-killing fungal disease that has wiped out millions of the winged mammals has spread west into Oklahoma, reinforcing concerns that bats across the country are at risk from white-nose syndrome.

Three tricolored bats in a cave in Delaware County tested positive for the fungus, according to Oklahoma wildife biologists. This early detection is likely a precursor to the appearance of the full-blown disease in two to three years, according to conservation biologists with the Center for Biological Diversity. Continue reading

Feds investigate possible wolf killing near Kremmling

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Federal scientists are trying to determine whether this animal, shot April 29 near Kremmling, is a grray wolf. Photo via the Colorado Mule Deer Association Facebook page.

Three other dispersing wolves have died in Colorado

Staff Report

FRISCO — Without DNA testing, state and federal wildlife officials can’t say for sure, but it appears that yet another wandering wolf from the northern Rockies may have been shot and killed, this near Kremmling, Colorado.

The April 29 shooting was immediately reported to the CPW office in Hot Sulphur Springs by the coyote hunter, who said he mistook the 90-pound animal for a coyote. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is testing the remains to positively identify the animal. Continue reading

Colorado steps up sage grouse conservation

Habitat exchange scheme eyed as key component in efforts to protect dwindling western birds

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Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper is ordering state agencies to boost greater sage-grouse conservation efforts. Photo courtesy USFWS.

By Bob Berwyn

FRISCO — Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper is calling for an all-out state effort to protect greater sage-grouse by stepping up coordination among state agencies, improving habitat on state-controlled lands, and boosting the role of the state’s oil and gas commission.

The new conservation push, announced in a May 15 executive order, also outlines a market-based habitat exchange program that would let ranchers and other landowners buy and sell conservation credits to developers, including the oil and gas industry with the goal of mitigating “residual impacts” to sage-grouse habitat. Continue reading

NOAA pushes recovery of 8 endangered ocean species

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The southern resident population of killer whales is one of eight species targeted for a new federal conservation push. Photo via NOAA.

‘People can help turn around the slide to extinction’

Staff Report

FRISCO — From rare white abalones along the California coast to playful monk seals in Hawaii, federal marine biologists want to make an all-out push to try and protect some of the oceans most endangered species. Continue reading

Conservation groups seek international help to save the Gulf of California’s vaquita

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Less than 100 vaquitas remain in the northern Gulf of California.

Petition requests ‘in danger’ status for Baja World Heritage area

Staff Report

U.S. conservation groups working to save the world’s most endangered dolphin from going extinct are hoping to get some help from the rest of the world.

At issue is the vaquita dolphin, which lives only at the northern end of the Gulf of California, an area designated as a World Heritage site in 2005. Less than 100 of the marine mammals remain, and conservation advocates fear that they’ll soon be wiped out.

This week, several groups petitioned the World Heritage Committee to declare the World Heritage area as being “in danger,” a status that recognizes threats to the values that earned the designation in the first place. The World Heritage Committee may consider the petition at its annual meeting in Bonn, Germany, this June. Continue reading

Environment: Feds tackle sage-steppe restoration

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The BLM is eying sagebrush restoration work.

Great Basin projects to bolster sage-grouse habitat

Staff Report

FRISCO — Federal land managers want to stem the loss of sagebrush habitat with a $4 million series of projects across the Great Basin.

Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell said the Bureau of Land Management projects will  reduce the threat of  more frequent and intense wildfires that are damaging sagebrush landscapes and productive rangelands. Continue reading

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