Posted on June 30, 2014 by Bob Berwyn
New lynx conservation studies posted for public comment
New federal documents spell out how a critical habitat designation for lynx could affect activities on federally managed lands.
Lynx kitten in Colorado. Photo courtesy Tanya Shenk/Colorado Division of Wildlife.
By Bob Berwyn
FRISCO —Designating 41,000 square miles of critical habitat for lynx in the northern Rocky Mountains won’t have a huge economic impact, federal biologists said last week as they took another step toward finalizing conservation measures for the threatened wild cat. Most costs associated with lynx conservation will be on the administrative side, as the critical habitat designation would result in the need for more coordination among federal agencies. Visit this Federal Register page to view all the documents and comment.
Two draft studies examining the effects of the proposed critical habitat designation in Maine, Minnesota, Montana, Idaho, Washington, and Wyoming were posted July 21 in the Federal Register for public comment. The latest version of the long-contested proposal includes revised critical habitat maps “based on where the best science indicates the habitat could support lynx populations over time,” but includes only areas where lynx populations already exist” — with the exception of Colorado. Continue reading
Filed under: biodiversity, endangered species, Environment | Tagged: Colorado, critical habitat, endangered species, lynx, wildlife | Leave a comment »
Posted on June 25, 2014 by Bob Berwyn
Room to roam for grizzlies the West.
Petition calls for widespread restoration effort for apex predators
By Summit Voice
FRISCO — Grizzly bears, once ranging 100,000 strong, once ranged widely through western North America, from the Arctic down to Mexico and from the Pacific Coast to the Great Plains. The mighty predators have disappeared from most of their historic territory, but there’s no reason they couldn’t make a comeback, according to wildlife advocates with the Center for Biological Diversity.
The group, best known for working ceaselessly to protected endangered species, has filed a petition with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to greatly expand its plans for recovering grizzly bears. Preliminary studies suggest there are at least 11o,ooo square miles of potentia habitat in places like the Gila/Mogollon complex in Arizona and New Mexico, Utah’s Uinta Mountains, California’s Sierra Nevada and the Grand Canyon in Arizona.
Outside the Yellowstone and Northern Continental Divide populations, very little progress has been made recovering grizzlies. Remaining populations cover an area that is a mere 4 percent of the bears’ historic range and only 22 percent of potentially suitable habitat identified by researchers. Continue reading
Filed under: biodiversity, endangered species, Environment | Tagged: biodiversity, endangered species, grizzly bears, The West | Leave a comment »
Posted on June 9, 2014 by Bob Berwyn
State decides on endangered species status for wolves even as feds proceed with national de-listing push
Wolf pups near the Oregon-California border may be the offspring of a wolf that has lived part-time in California the past few years. Photo courtesy USFWS.
FRISCO — When wolves start to reclaim their historic territories in the wilds of California, they’ll be protected under state law. The California Fish and Game Commission voted last week to protect gray wolves under the state’s Endangered Species Act after being petitioned by the Center for Biological Diversity.
The decision came just a few days after biologists documented the presence of two wolf pups in the Oregon portion of the Rogue River-Siskiyou National Forest that straddles the California-Oregon border. The pups, which are likely to be part of a litter of four to six pups, are the offspring of the wolf known as OR-7, which has made California part of his range for the past four years. Continue reading
Filed under: endangered species, Environment | Tagged: California, endangered species, wildlife conservation, wolves | Leave a comment »
Posted on June 2, 2014 by Bob Berwyn
Bay Area marsh bird at nexus of endangered and invasive species
A clapper rain along the shore of San Francisco Bay. Photo via USFWS.
FRISCO — Conservation biologists in the San Francisco bay area say they’re facing a conundrum, as they try to remove an invasive salt marsh grass while recovering an endangered bird that has come to rely on the non-native plant.
In a study published last month in the journal Science, researchers at the University of California, Davis said that an all-out push to eradicate the marsh cordgrass could hamper efforts to recover the clapper rail, a bird on the brink because of urban development and loss of wetlands.
Their results showed that, rather than moving as fast as possible with eradication and restoration, the best approach is to slow down the eradication of the invasive species until restoration or natural recovery of the system provides appropriate habitat for the endangered species.
Scientists in the southwestern U.S. have faced similar issues as they try to remove invasive tamarisk, which has come to provide habitat for rare southwestern willow flycatchers. Continue reading
Filed under: biodiversity, endangered species, Environment, invasive species | Tagged: biodiversity, clapper rail, endangered species, San Francisco Bay, wetlands | Leave a comment »
Posted on May 23, 2014 by Bob Berwyn
While Republican lawmakers play election-year politics, sage grouse are going extinct
Western Republicans looking to strip protections for dwindling species
By Bob Berwyn
FRISCO — A group of right wing western lawmakers want to kill federal protections for dwindling sage grouse for at least 10 years with a proposed law that would specifically prevent the iconic birds from being listed as threatened or endangered under federal law.
Using the twisted Orwellian doublespeak that’s become common in anti-environmental GOP circles, the proposed bill is called the Sage Grouse Protection and Conservation Act — which would strip federal biologists of their authority to make an accurate, science-based determination about the status of the birds. Continue reading
Filed under: biodiversity, endangered species, Environment | Tagged: biodiversity, Colorado, Cory Gardner, endangered species, Environment, Greater sage-grouse, Gunnison Sage Grouse | 1 Comment »
Posted on April 19, 2014 by Bob Berwyn
A green sea turtle cruises the sea bottom in this NOAA image.
Relentless fishing pressure pinches population
FRISCO — Endangered green sea turtles aren’t getting much of a break in Central America, where a 20-year assessment shows steeply declining catch rates in Nicaragua — as much as 56 percent in the past two decades, according to conservation scientists with the Wildlife Conservation Society and the University of Florida.
The researchers estimate that more than 170,000 green turtles were killed between 1991 and 2011, with catch rates peaking in 1997 and 2002 and declining steeply after 2008, likely resulting from over-fishing. The trend in catch rates shows a clear need for limits on this legal fishery, according to the report’s authors.
“The significant decrease in the catch rates of green turtles represents a concern for both conservationists and local, coastal communities who depend on this resource,” said Dr. Cynthia Lagueux, lead author of the study. “We hope this study serves as a foundation for implementing scientifically based limits on future green turtle take.” Continue reading
Filed under: biodiversity, endangered species, Environment | Tagged: Environment, green sea turtles, Nicaragua, ocean conservation | Leave a comment »
Posted on April 15, 2014 by Bob Berwyn
The BLM will analyze the environmental impacts of contested oil and gas drilling leases south of I-70, between Carbondale and DeBeque. Click for a full-size version.
BLM taking input during scoping phase of environmental study
By Bob Berwyn
FRISCO — Lynx, elk, owls and other high country forest critters in western Colorado will get at least a temporary reprieve from potential oil and gas drilling, as the federal Bureau of Land Management announced last week that it will do an in-depth environmental study for 65 existing oil and gas leases on 80,000 acres of public lands managed by the White River National Forest.
The leases are spread roughly west to east along biologically important mid-elevation lands between Carbondale and DeBeque and overlap designated roadless areas. Conservation advocates have long argued that the sale of the leases was inconsistent with efforts to protect wildlife, water quality and other high-value natural resources. Continue reading
Filed under: BLM, endangered species, energy, Environment, forests, fracking, gas drilling, public lands | 1 Comment »
Posted on April 10, 2014 by Bob Berwyn
A tagged California condor in flight.
New study suggests that spent lead ammunition could make it impossible to recover the species
FRISCO — Accidental ingestion of spent lead ammunition is killing endangered California condors at a rate that may prevent the birds from establishing self-sustaining populations.
The condors were among the first animals to be protected under the Endangered Species Act. By 1966, the population had dropped to just a handful of birds, but a massive collaborative conservation effort helped the population grow to more than 400 individuals.
But those gains may be at risk, according to San Diego Zoo conservation biologists.
“After reviewing nearly 20 years of our mortality data on the free-ranging birds, it became clear that lead poisoning is the primary problem for the birds in the wild,” said Bruce Rideout, director of the wildlife disease laboratories for San Diego Zoo Global.
“And this is not just a problem for California condors. We can view them as an indicator species, warning us about the hazards of widespread lead contamination in the environment.” said Bruce Rideout, director of the wildlife disease laboratories for San Diego Zoo Global.
The recent study of lead impacts was done with researchers from the Wildlife Health Center at the School of Veterinary Medicine, University of California at Davis. The findings are published in the January edition of the journal EcoHealth.
Filed under: biodiversity, endangered species, Environment | Tagged: biodiversity, California condors, endangered species, Environment | 2 Comments »
Posted on April 9, 2014 by Bob Berwyn
Developers and energy companies show no love for rare species
Federal biologists are deciding whether wolverines should be protected under the Endangered Species Act. Photo courtesy USFWS.
By Summit Voice
FRISCO — A federal judge last week rejected claims by developers that a 2011 agreement between environmental groups and the federal government will hurt the industry.
At issue is a groundbreaking deal covering more than 700 species that could someday be listed as threatened or endangered. Under the agreement, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service said it will make listing decisions on all the species by 2018, and so far, 138 species have been protected or formally proposed for protection. Continue reading
Filed under: biodiversity, endangered species, Environment | Tagged: conservation, endangered species, wildlife | 1 Comment »
Posted on March 31, 2014 by Bob Berwyn
Why are so many Republicans opposed to efforts to protect and restore endangered and threatened species?
Not much substance, a lot of political smoke …
FRISCO — The Republican anti-environment cadre in the House is once again taking aim at the Endangered Species Act by introducing legislation that would make it even harder for federal agencies to protect animals and plants that are at risk of going extinct.
Two of the bills, H.R. 4316 and H.R. 4318, would limit the ability of citizens to challenge government decisions in court. The Republican measures are also ostensibly aimed at reducing the government’s legal costs associated with responding to endangered species lawsuits, but conservation advocates said that is an ideological red herring. Government data shows that the Department of Interior has spent far more money responding to frivolous demands for documents than on settling lawsuits.
Filed under: biodiversity, endangered species, Environment | Tagged: biodiversity, endangered species, Environment, politics | 1 Comment »