Morning photo: Critters!

Spring wildlife in Colorado

FRISCO — A couple of days ago, after dropping my son off at the High School, I noticed what looked like a handful of fluffy white clumps at the Blue River inlet to Dillon Reservoir. As I got closer, I realized that the white clumps were actually pelicans, heads tucked beneath their wings to guard against the chilly morning after an overnight dusting of snow. Seeing these birds seems a bit incongruous, especially in wintry weather, but they are actually common visitors to Colorado.

Just this week, the Boulder Daily Camera reported that white pelicans helped eliminate a pesky population of non-native goldfish in a local lake. I was able to get close enough to snap a few decent images, and decided to post a few other random critter pics I’ve taken during the past few years — a reminder that wildlife is a cherished part of our natural heritage in Colorado and that we need to be mindful of how our plans for water and development affect animals.

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Scientists say they’ve found ‘most polluted bird’

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A Cooper’s Hawk. Photo courtesy USFWS.

Cooper’s hawk in Vancouver area tainted with flame-retardant chemicals

Staff Report

FRISCO — Better living through chemistry may — or may not — be an apt motto for people. But it definitely doesn’t hold true for wild animals, who, to their detriment, ingest the toxic remnants of our industrialized society on a daily basis.

This trickle-down effect was recently illustrated once again as Canadian scientists announced that they found what they called  “the most polluted wild bird that has been found anywhere in the world.” Continue reading

Environment: Bat-killing disease spread into Iowa

Conservation advocates say more protection needed

FRISCO — Bat-killing white-nose syndrome has spread into Iowa, state wildlife officials confirmed this week, announcing that the deadly fungal disease was found on three bats near a cave entrance in Des Moines County (two little brown bats and one northern long-eared) and on four little brown bats collected in Van Buren County this winter.

Biologists first detected the fungus that causes white-nose syndrome in an Iowa cave in 2011, but did not find afflicted bats until this winter. The latest report means that the disease is now present in more than half of the 50 states, concentrated in the eastern half of the country, and once again, conservation groups are sounding the alarm, charging that wildlife agencies aren’t doing enough to protect the flying mammals. Continue reading

Government-sanctioned wildlife slaughter continues

Resident bald eagle in Summit County, Colorado guarding the nest.

Resident bald eagle in Summit County, Colorado guarding the nest. @bberwyn photo.

Federally licensed hunters and trappers killed 2.7 million animals in 2014

Staff Report

FRISCO — A lot of things have changed in the U.S. during the past 100 years, but some things have not, including the frontier-era mindset among some people that makes it OK to willfully slaughter wildlife.

Even as some branches of the government expend considerable resources to protect and conserve plants and animals, another secretive agency continues to routinely kill millions of animals, including wolves, coyotes, bears, mountain lions, beavers, foxes, eagles and other animals deemed pests by powerful agricultural, livestock and other special interests. Continue reading

Bighorn sheep return to Yosemite high country

 Reintroduction part of overall bighorn sheep recovery effort

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Bighorn sheep are released into Yosemite National Park and the Cathedral Range in late March, 2015. Photo courtesy Yosemite Conservancy/Steve Bumgardner.

Staff Report

FRISCO — It took 100 years, but bighorn sheep have returned to high country of Yosemite and Sequoia National Parks, as federal and state biologists last month transplanted small herds of the mammals to their new homes.

Between March 26 and March 29, 2015, nine ewes  and three rams were moved from the Inyo National Forest and Sequoia National Park to the Cathedral Range in Yosemite National Park. In addition, seven ewes were moved to the Laurel Creek area of Sequoia National Park, with plans to relocated three rams to that area.

The Sierra Nevada bighorn sheep is the only federally endangered mammal in Yosemite, Sequoia, and Kings Canyon. The species was listed in 2000 after the population plunged to just 100 individuals. Since then, the population has since increased to more than 600. Continue reading

Feds say Northern Rockies wolf population remains strong

Heavy snow has pushed elk out of the high country, so the Colorado Division of Wildlife will try to divert them from important livestock feeding areas in the Yampa Valley. PHOTO COURTESY THE NATIONAL PAKR SERVICE.

A pack of wolves surrounds an ungulate in Yellowstone National Park. Photo courtesy National Park Service.

Wildlife advocates unhappy with state-sanctioned hunts

Staff Report

FRISCO — Wolves in the northern Rockies are more than holding their own, even in the face of increasing hunting pressure in some states.

As of December 31, 2014, there were at least at least 1,657 wolves in 282 packs (including 85 breeding pairs) in Montana, Idaho, and Wyoming, according to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, which released its annual wolf recovery report this week. Continue reading

Huge comeback for threatened Channel Island foxes

‘It appears that this is the fastest population rebound … for any land mammal in the United States’

Two Santa Cruz Island foxes groom in a field on Santa Cruz Island. Photo courtesy of Dan Richards/National Park Service.

Two Santa Cruz Island foxes groom in a field on Santa Cruz Island. Photo courtesy of Dan Richards/National Park Service.

Staff Report

FRISCO — Releasing their final recovery plan for four subspecies of island fox, federal biologists said the Endangered Species Act has already helped the rare mammals stage a comeback.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is also launching a status review for the foxes, which live on the Channel Islands, off the coast of California, to determine if any of the subspecies warrant consideration for reclassification or removal from the endangered species list.

“Due to the remarkable success of the Endangered Species Act, recovery actions by land managers and conservation partners have led to dramatic population increases on all four islands since listing, effectively bringing the species back from the brink of extinction,” said Steve Henry, field supervisor of the USFWS  Ventura Fish and Wildlife Office. To date, it appears that this is the fastest population rebound due to recovery actions and ESA protections for any land mammal in the United States.” Continue reading

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