Climate: Genetic study shows polar bears chasing ice

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The Arctic is changing, and nobody is sure if polar bears will be able to survive the impending meltdown. Photo courtesy USGS.

Arctic predators looking for areas with reliable ice

Staff Report

FRISCO — Polar bears are heading farther north as Arctic sea ice dwindles, scientists said this week, publishing the results of a new study that took a close look at the genetics of the 19 recognized subpopulations of polar bears.

The research found that those 19 populations can be clustered into four genetically-similar groups, corresponding to ecological and oceanographic factors. These four clusters are the Eastern Polar Basin, Western Polar Basin, Canadian Archipelago, and Southern Canada.

The study showed that the gene flow in the most recent generations of polar bears is toward the Canadian Archipelago, where sea ice is expected to persist longer than in other parts of the Arctic. Continue reading

Trade court deal to help marine mammals worldwide

I've always thought of dolphins as being all curves.

A court-ordered settlement will protect marine mammals.

Seafood imports to U.S. must meet high marine mammal protection standards

Staff Report

FRISCO — In what conservation advocates are calling a landmark settlement, the U.S. government this week agreed to implement a long-ignored provision of the Marine Mammal Protection Act that will require foreign fisheries to meet the same standards required of U.S. fishermen or be denied import privileges. Continue reading

Can Borneo’s orang-utans survive global warming?

"Orang Utan, Semenggok Forest Reserve, Sarawak, Borneo, Malaysia" by Eleifert - Own work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons - http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Orang_Utan,_Semenggok_Forest_Reserve,_Sarawak,_Borneo,_Malaysia.JPG#mediaviewer/File:Orang_Utan,_Semenggok_Forest_Reserve,_Sarawak,_Borneo,_Malaysia.JPG

“Orang Utan, Semenggok Forest Reserve, Sarawak, Borneo, Malaysia” by Eleifert – Own work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons.

New study maps potential refuge areas

Staff Report

FRISCO — Borneo’s orang-utans have been teetering on the brink for a long time, and studies show that up to 74 percent of the species’ habitat could be lost to climate change and other impacts.

But biologists taking a close look at habitat say there remote areas of habitat that could become refuges for the great apes.

Satellite images helped the Centre for International Forestry Research estimate areas of forest change expected in the future. The researchers also mapped land unsuitable for oil palm agriculture, one of the major threats to orang-utans, and used this alongside information on orang-utan ecology and climate to identify environmentally stable habitats for the species this century. Continue reading

Environment: Saving monarch butterflies won’t be easy

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Can monarch butterflies be saved?

Dwindling populations spur formal review by U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

Staff Report

FRISCO — Federal biologists said last week they’ll start an in-depth one year review to determine whether monarch butterflies should be listed under the Endangered Species Act.

The formal status review comes in response to a petition from conservation groups claiming the butterfly’s dramatic decline is being driven in large part by the widespread planting of genetically engineered crops in the Midwest, where most monarchs are born. By some estimates, monarch butterfly populations have declined by 90 percent in the past two decades. Continue reading

Conservation groups to sue feds over rare plants

Legal challenge says rare wildflowers in northwestern Colorado face threat from fossil fuel development despite voluntary conservation deal

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A patchwork of conservation areas may not be enough to protect rare Colorado wildflowers from extinction as fossil fuel exploitation broadens in the Green River Basin.

The rare Graham's penstemon grows primarily in the oil and gas patches of western Colorado and Utah. Photo courtesy Susan Meyer.

The rare Graham’s penstemon grows primarily in the oil and gas patches of western Colorado and Utah. Photo courtesy Susan Meyer.

Staff Report

FRISCO — The fate of two rare plants in western Colorado and eastern Utah will likely once again rest in the hands of a federal judge, as a coalition of conservation groups said they will sue the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service over its decision to deny Endangered Species Act protection to the White River and Graham’s beardtongue.

The plants grow only across a few thousand acres, scattered across the same badlands where fossil fuel drillers are expanding their footprint. A voluntary conservation deal between the USFWS and the Bureau of Land Management, adopted last summer, doesn’t go far enough to protect the plants, conservation advocates said in their formal notice of intent to sue. Continue reading

Wildlife: Florida panther deaths reach record high

Can panthers survive the onslaught of continued development in southwest Florida?

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No slowdown in Florida panther deaths. Graph courtesy PEER.

An endangered Florida panther. PHOTO BY RODNEY CAMMAUF, COURTESY THE NATIONAL PARK SERVICE.

An endangered Florida panther. PHOTO BY RODNEY CAMMAUF, COURTESY THE NATIONAL PARK SERVICE.

Staff Report

FRISCO — Panther deaths in Florida climbed to a record level in 2014, as the wild cats continue to succumb to collisions with vehicles on highways in southwest Florida.

In all, 30 panther deaths were reported by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission this year, topping the previous record of 27 deaths tallied in 2012. More than half of this year’s deaths were the result of collisions with vehicles.

Panther mortality this year could represent as much as one-fourth of the entire population, which the Florida Fish & Wildlife Conservation Commission estimates at between 100 and 180 animals.  The reason for this wide variation is that the number of cats monitored through radio collars has steadily declined. Continue reading

Wildlife: Wandering wolf killed in Utah was probably the same one spotted near the Grand Canyon

‘Mistaken identity’ shooting fits disturbing pattern of accidental kills, wildlife advocates say

Arizona Game and Fish Department

Arizona Game and Fish Department

By Summit Voice

FRISCO — A coyote hunter shot and killed a federally protected gray wolf in southwestern Utah Sunday, probably the same wolf that had been spotted repeatedly around the North Rim of the Grand Canyon in recent weeks.

According to the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources, the wolf was radio-collared near Cody, Wyoming a year ago. The state agency said the hunter voluntarily reported the kill when he noticed the radio-collar. Continue reading

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