Study: Northern Rockies wolf hunting ‘not sustainable’

The leader of the new Summit County wolf pack, dubbed "John Denver" by federal biologists. PHOTO COURTESY USFWS.

How sustainable are current wolf management policies in the northern Rocky Mountains? Photo courtesy USFWS.

Management based mostly on politics, not science

Staff Report

As conservation advocates have long argued, policies governing the hunting of large carnivores are largely based on politics and not on science, according to a new study that examined how hunting affects populations of animals like wolves and lions.

The international research team said those politically driven policies  do not always align with basic scientific data, which can undermine conservation efforts.

For example, theresearchers concluded that the current harvest levels for the recently de-listed population of gray wolves in the Northern Rocky Mountains of the United States have led to decreased survival and reproduction, smaller packs, social disruption and a reversal from population growth to decline. Continue reading

Biodiversity: Spotted owl populations in steep decline

Spotted owl.

Spotted owl. Photo courtesy USFWS.

Climate change may bolster spotted owl survival in the future

Staff Report

Northern spotted owl populations continue to decline across the Pacific Northwest, researchers said in a new study showing that competition from barred owls, along with habitat destruction and climate change are all factors in population trends.

According to the research, published in The Condor, spotted owls are in decline across all of their range. The findings are based on data from 11 study areas Washington, Oregon and northern California, with a rangewide decline of nearly 4 percent per year between 1985 to 2013. Continue reading

California releases draft wolf management plan

State to take public input through Feb. 15

A wolf in Yellowstone National Park. (Photo courtesy of Yellowstone National Park)

How will California manage a growing population of wolves? Photo courtesy Yellowstone National Park.

Staff Report

A new draft wolf management plan for California aims to conserve biologically sustainable populations of the predators in areas where there is adequate habitat, while minimizing conflicts with livestock.

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife developed the plan in the past few years after wolves recolonized the far northeastern corner of the state. Wildlife managers say they will communicate to the public that natural dispersal of wolves into and through California is reasonably foreseeable given the expanding populations in the Pacific Northwest. Continue reading

Twitter chat to explore global warming wildlife impacts

Colorado moose

A moose cow and calves grazing near Berthoud Pass, Colorado. @bberwyn photo.

Biologists take to social media for a Q&A

Staff Report

All over the world, global warming is affecting different types of animals, as well as entire ecosystems.

Scientists don’t yet understand exactly what will happen to all plants and animals, but after decades of warming temperatures, they have a pretty good idea of how some species will be affected.

Moose, for example, appear to be moving northward in response to warming temperatures as they seek to avoid infestations of bothersome and disease-carrying ticks. And salmon, which need cold and clear water, have also been affected by parasites in the Yukon River. Continue reading

Watchdogs say Western Governors’ Association is trying to weaken endangered species protections

sgd

Not much love for endangered species like lynx at a recent Western Governors’ Association workshop. Photo courtesy Tanya Shenk/Colorado Division of Wildlife.

Recent workshop focused on industry gripes

Staff Report

For the apparent lack of anything productive to do, the Western Governors’s Association is apparently trying to cook up new ways to weaken the Endangered Species Act for the benefit of developers and extractive industries.

The association held a workshop last week, ostensibly to “encourage bipartisan conversations to improve the Endangered Species Act,” but that is just more Orwellian doublespeak, according to watchdog groups, who pointed out that speakers during the meeting “overwhelmingly represented industries and political interests opposed to protections for endangered species.” Continue reading

Use of rat poison at illegal California pot plantations is pushing fishers toward extinction

A fisher kit climbs a tree. Poisons used on illegal marijuana farms continue to threaten fishers in California.

A fisher kit climbs a tree. Poisons used on illegal marijuana farms continue to threaten fishers in California. Photo courtesy U.S. Forest Service.

Findings leave little doubt that marijuana growers are key threat to rare mammals

Staff Report

A new study presents more evidence that illegal marijuana growers are speeding the demise of a rare forest critter in California. After studying hundreds of forest-dwelling fishers, researchers concluded that the annual rate of poisoning deaths rose 233 percent compared to a study in 2012.

“This study further solidifies the need for continuing to remediate and remove these threats to fishers and other species of conservation concern within our public lands,” said Dr. Mourad Gabriel, executive director of the Integral Ecology Research Center, lead author of the study published in PLOS One.

“I hope the next steps can focus on rectifying the harmful effects of this clandestine activity so that they do not stem the years of conservation efforts of stabilizing the California fisher populations.” Continue reading

President Obama highlights ‘moral obligation’ to future generations in sustainability memorandum

This was one of the Snake River shots that never made into a daily post.

A presidential memorandum could mean more institutional love for America’s natural resources. @berwyn photo.

Federal agencies must target ‘no net loss’ in new projects

By Bob Berwyn

Federal agencies will be expected to make natural resource sustainability a key focus under a new presidential memorandum released this week.

Outlining a moral obligation to future generations, President Barack Obama said Americans have the ingenuity and tools needed to “avoid damage to the most special places in our nation and to find new ways to restore areas that have been degraded. ” Continue reading

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