Posted on October 5, 2013 by Bob Berwyn
Native bird has nearly been extirpated from the West
Yellow-billed cuckoos are only found in a few isolated locations in Colorado.
By Summit Voice
FRISCO — The yellow-billed cuckoo, once common along streams throughout the West, may finally get some protection under the Endangered Species Act.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has proposed Endangered Species Act protection for the brids, following a 2011 agreement with the Center for Biological Diversity to speed protection decisions for 757 imperiled species nationwide.
The flashy bird, with a long tail and white markings on it wings, has long been listed as a species of concern by Colorado wildlife biologists, as their numbers have dropped drastically since the early 20th century. Click here to read a Rocky Mountain Bird Observatory report on yellow-billed cuckoos in Colorado. (more…)
Filed under: biodiversity, endangered species, Environment | Tagged: biodiversity, Birds, Colorado River, endangered species, riparian habitat, yellow-billed cuckoo | 2 Comments »
Posted on October 4, 2013 by Bob Berwyn
A sea turtle comes up for a breather. Photo courtesy NOAA.
Long-lining a huge threat to sea turtles and sharks
By Summit Voice
FRISCO — Despite its reputation as an eco-haven, some research suggests that Costa Rica’s longline fisheries pose a significant threat to sea turtles and sharks.
Ecologists studying the impacts suggest that more regulation is needed. Well-timed and targeted closures in critical areas could go a long way toward protecting sensitive species — and to ensuring a sustainable fishing industry.
The findings from a recent round of studies were published recently in the Journal of Experimental Marine Biology and Ecology, based on research conducted by a team including scientists from Drexel University, the Costa Rican non-profit conservation organization Pretoma andThe Leatherback Trust, a U.S. non-profit working in Costa Rica. (more…)
Filed under: biodiversity, endangered species, Environment, Marine biology, ocean conservation | Tagged: Costa Rica, Environment, longlining, ocean conservation, sea turtles | Leave a Comment »
Posted on September 30, 2013 by Bob Berwyn
When it comes to forest habitat, bigger is better.
Population isolation, invasive species decimate native species in forest islands
By Summit Voice
FRISCO — Small islands of forest don’t offer much in the way of protection for wildlife, according to a new study showing rapid extinction of species in habitat fragmented by development of a large reservoir in Thailand.
The findings suggest that species living in rainforest fragments could be far more likely to disappear than was previously thought. In the 20 year study, researchers witnessed the near-complete extinction of native small mammals.
“It was like ecological Armageddon,” said Luke Gibson from the National University of Singapore, who led the study, published in the journal Science. “Nobody imagined we’d see such catastrophic local extinctions.” (more…)
Filed under: biodiversity, endangered species, Environment, invasive species | Tagged: biodiversity, Environment, forests, habitat fragmentation | Leave a Comment »
Posted on September 28, 2013 by Bob Berwyn
A boreal toad survey team member holds one of two adult toads found in Cucumber Gulch, in Breckenridge, Colorado, during the summer of 2005. Since then, no more boreal toads have been documented in the wetlands preserve. bberwyn photo.
Decline of once-common Colorado high-elevation toad a symptom of global amphibian decline
By Bob Berwyn
FRISCO — While remnant populations of boreal toads in Colorado appear to be relatively stable for now, federal biologists are still considering whether the amphibians need protection under the Endangered Species Act.
In the latest twist, conservation groups said they’ve reached an agreement with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service on a timeline to make a listing decision, giving the agency four years to decide whether boreal toads in the southern Rocky Mountains, Utah, southern Idaho and northeastern Nevada should be formally classified as endangered or threatened. (more…)
Filed under: Colorado, endangered species, Environment | Tagged: amphibian decline, boreal toads, endangered species, endangered species act | Leave a Comment »
Posted on September 26, 2013 by Bob Berwyn
Proposed critical habitat for lynx in the northern Rockies, as mapped by the USFWS.
Colorado once again left out
By Bob Berwyn
FRISCO — Working under a court order, federal biologists have finished a revision of a critical habitat designation for threatened lynx — but once again, Colorado was left out of the equation.
The latest critical habitat designation, subject to a 90-day comment period, would cover about 41,547 square miles within the boundaries of five critical habitat units in the states of Maine, Minnesota, Montana, Idaho, Washington and Wyoming.
Colorado wasn’t included because the agency doesn’t believe that the state’s population is essential to the long-term conservation of the species, said U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service biologist Jim Zelenak.
“We looked at the historical record and the biological history of lynx in Colorado and it’s just not clear that Colorado ever supported a persistent population over time … We recognize the potential for lynx in the southern Rockies … but our approach has been to look at those places with persistent populations over time. We want to feel fairly certain that an area has the physical attributes needed to support lynx,” Zelenak said. (more…)
Filed under: biodiversity, endangered species, Environment, public lands, wildlife | Tagged: biodiversity, Canada lynx, Colorado, wildlife conservation | Leave a Comment »
Posted on September 15, 2013 by Bob Berwyn
Elkhorn corals in the Caribbean are feeling the heat of global warming. Photo courtesy NOAA.
Fisheries Service gets deadline for recovery plan under court settlement
By Summit Voice
FRISCO — Two key coral species around Florida need even more TLC than previously thought, according to the National Marine Fisheries Service, which wants to reclassify elkhorn and staghorn corals from “threatened” to the even more serious category of “endangered” because of their rapid decline.
The agency also agree to speed up finalization of a recovery plan under a court settlement that sets a 2014 deadline. These corals were protected under the Endangered Species Act in 2006 because of threats from global warming and ocean acidification but, before today’s settlement agreement, had still not received the legally required recovery plan needed to save them from extinction. (more…)
Filed under: Environment, global warming, biodiversity, endangered species, climate and weather, coral reefs | Tagged: Environment, global warming, endangered species act, ocean acidification, Caribbean, coral reefs, oceans, national marine fisheries service | Leave a Comment »
Posted on September 8, 2013 by Bob Berwyn
Predation by killer whales seen as main threat
A dramatic decline in sea otter numbers in southwest Alaska has prompted an all-out recovery effort by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
Nothern sea otter. Photo via USFWS.
By Summit Voice
FRISCO — Federal officials have finally completed a recovery plan for northern sea otters living along the coast of southwest Alaska, but fully recovering the species may prove to be a big challenge. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service says predation by killer whales may be the single biggest factor in significant population declines documented since the 1950s.
“There may be few actions that can be taken to mitigate predation as a threat, but the sea otter recovery program should search for solutions and be open to novel ideas,” the scientists wrote in the recovery plan. Above all, more research is needed to pinpoint population trends and reasons for the decline, they wrote.
The 50 to 60 percent drop in otter numbers has had a dramatic effect on coastal ecosystems in the region. Otters are a keystone species in their ecosystem niche. They control sea urchin populations, which prevents over-grazing of underwater kelp forests, which are important habitat for a slew of other species. Read the recovery plan here. (more…)
Filed under: biodiversity, endangered species, Environment | Tagged: Alaska, Aleutian Islands, biodiversity, Center for Biological Diversity, endangered species, northern sea otters, United States Fish and Wildlife Service | Leave a Comment »
Posted on September 5, 2013 by Bob Berwyn
Does this look like any congressman you know?
Lots of ruffled feathers and foot-stomping …
By Bob Berwyn
FRISCO — Watching the House Committee on Natural Resources field hearings on greater sage-grouse and the Endangered Species Act was a bit like watching the birds themselves during their magnificent mating ritual — a lot of puffed up rhetoric, ruffled feathers and foot-stomping, but very little substance.
The main take-home message appeared to be that there’s a vast conspiracy of liberal judges, conservation groups and Obama administration officials colluding to destroy the American way of life in the rural West (specifically Montana and Wyoming, where the hearings were held).
That’s probably not surprising, considering the list of witnesses was hand-picked by the committee’s ultra-conservative and anti-environmental GOP leadership, but the inflammatory words used by some of the more extreme committee members still comes as a shock. (more…)
Filed under: biodiversity, endangered species, Environment | Tagged: biodiversity, Congress, conservation, Doc Hastings, endangered species act, House Natural Resources Committee, sage grouse, wildlife | Leave a Comment »
Posted on September 2, 2013 by Bob Berwyn
Climate, cannabis and apex predators …
Whither the weather?
By Summit Voice
FRISCO — One of the top news stories in Colorado last week was the dramatic change in the federal government’s position on legal use of marijuana in Colorado. After decades of intolerance, U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder indicated that the feds won’t seek to challenge Colorado’s new pot regime — at least for now. That leaves the state free to administer recreational sales of cannabis, as long as there is a robust state-based regulatory structure. Read the Summit Voice story, which includes the full text of the new guidance from the feds: Feds ease stance on marijuana.
In a couple of email interviews, Summit Voice explored the seasonal weather outlook. Making forecasts three months in advance is dicey at best, an in the absence of a clear El Niño or La Niña signal, meteorologists are struggling even more than usual to pin down upcoming patterns: Climate: With no Niño — what’s a forecaster to do?
For Mexican gray wolves living in the southwestern United States, the news was good. Rather than fighting conservation groups, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service backed down in the face of several lawsuits to give the predators a little more room to roam in the deserts of Arizona and New Mexico: Mexican gray wolves will get more room to roam.
A forest study in the eastern U.S. has implications for forest management here in the West, as well, showing that, when it comes to biodiversity, forest species need a mix of towering old growth and cleared areas, which are seen as important for birds just before they migrate: Study: Forest clearings crucial for some birds. (more…)
Filed under: biodiversity, climate and weather, endangered species, Environment, global warming | Tagged: biodiversity, Colorado marijuana laws, El Nino, Environment, La Niña | Leave a Comment »
Posted on August 31, 2013 by Bob Berwyn
Federal agencies want to dial back their requirements to track impacts to endangered species. Photo courtesy Colorado Parks and Wildlife.
Cutting back on take limits could put more plants and animals at risk of extinction
By Summit Voice
FRISCO —Watchdog groups are warning that a proposal to weaken endangered species standards could put some plants and animals at greater risk of extinction.
The new rule would scale back the requirement that federal agencies fully track impacts to endangered species under broad programmatic environmental studies. Cumulative impacts on rare species from actions like oil and gas drilling would be discounted in the decision-making process, according to the Center for Biological Diversity.
The change is being proposed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and National Marine Fisheries Service. According to the Center for Biological Diversity, both agencies have repeatedly failed to track how the projects they approve are affecting rare and vanishing species. (more…)
Filed under: biodiversity, endangered species, Environment | Tagged: biodiversity, Center for Biological Diversity, endangered species, endangered species act, NEPA, United States Fish and Wildlife Service | Leave a Comment »