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Why do bats fly into wind turbines?

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Close observation of bat behavior around wind turbines may help reduce bat deaths.

Study results may aid bat conservation

Staff Report

FRISCO — Scientists say they may be a step closer to being able to reduce widespread bat mortality associated with the development of wind energy.

Based on months of nighttime video surveillance, U.S. Geological Society researchers say some species of the flying mammals may be mistaking the wind turbines for trees. The tree-roosting bats may be confusing the turbines for trees, according to USGS scientist Paul Cryan.

“If we can understand why bats approach wind turbines, we may be able to turn them away,” Cryan said. “Advances in technology helped us overcome the difficulties of watching small bats flying in the dark around the 40-story heights of wind turbines. The new behaviors we saw are useful clues in the quest to know how bats perceive wind turbines and why they approach them.”  Continue reading

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Can good planning ease global warming impacts to wildlife?

An adult lynx in Colorado warily surveys its surroundings. The wild cats were recently named to a top-10 list of species most at risk from climate change impacts to habitat. PHOTO BY TANYA SHENK, Colorado Division of Wildlife.

An adult lynx in Colorado warily surveys its surroundings. The wild cats were recently named to a top-10 list of species most at risk from climate change impacts to habitat. Photo by Tanya Shenk, Colorado Division of Wildlife.

New report highlights actions aimed at buffering ecosystems from climate change

Staff Report

FRISCO — Congress may still be dithering over global warming, but some federal agencies are on a fast-forward path to addressing climate-change impacts to natural resources.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service last month unveiled a new report describing 50 projects launched to strengthen climate resiliency, including wildlife movement areas that help buffer animals from global warming and reforestation projects focusing on climate-resilient native trees.

“Across the nation, a broad coalition of natural resource agencies is working with partners and stakeholders to collectively address the current impacts and future threats of climate change,” said USFWS deputy director Rowan Gould. “The concrete actions documented in this report represent real progress, but helping native species  cope with the effects of climate disruption requires us to build on these successes,” Gould said. Continue reading

Environment: Shifting a small amount of global military spending to conservation would go a long way

Elk Rocky Mountain National Park

Well-protected elk browse in Rocky Mountain National Park.

New paper outlines need for renewed conservation emphasis

Staff Report

FRISCO — Shifting just a small fraction of the world’s military spending to conservation could help ensure protection and sustainable management for important wildlife habitat, experts say in a new report released ahead of the upcoming IUCN World Parks Congress in Sydney.

The paper, published in Nature, was compiled by experts with Wildlife Conservation Society, the University of Queensland, and the IUCN World Commission on Protected Areas. The authors concluded that allocating US $45 – $76 billion —  just 2.5 percent of  global annual military spending — would go a long way toward meeting the need for better management of protected areas. Continue reading

Study finds big decline in common European birds

Sapphire Point is also a great spot to get up close and personal with some local wildlife.

A common jay in Colorado. bberwyn photo.

‘It is clear that the way we are managing the environment is unsustainable for many of our most familiar species’

Staff Report

Bird populations across Europe have experienced sharp declines over the past 30 years, with the majority of losses from the most common species, according to a new study from the University of Exeter (UK).

The study documented a decrease of 421 million individual birds over 30 years. About 90 percent of these losses were from the 36 most common and widespread species, including house sparrows, skylarks, grey partridges and starlings. Continue reading

Endangered species listing proposed for African lions

The USFWS says African lions are in danger of extinction. Photo via Wikipedia and the Creative Commons.

It is up to all of us’

Staff Report

FRISCO — Habitat loss, loss of prey base, and increased human-lion conflict are threatening African lions to the point that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has proposed listing the species under the Endangered Species Act.

“It is up to all of us, not just the people of Africa, to ensure that healthy, wild populations continue to roam the savannah for generations to come,” said USFWS director Dan Ashe, explaining that his agency found that lions are in danger of extinction in the foreseeable future. In a news release, Ashe described lions as a symbol of  majesty, courage and strength. Continue reading

Biologists investigate wolf sighting near Grand Canyon

Gray wolf in the winter woods. Photo courtesy USFWS.

Gray wolf in the winter woods. Photo courtesy USFWS.

Agencies scramble to make positive ID of large canid

By Bob Berwyn

*More recent stories about wolves at this link.

FRISCO — An endangered gray wolf may have wandered into northern Arizona, perhaps from as far away as Wyoming or Montana, and has been spotted on national forest lands north of the Grand Canyon for about the past three weeks.

Federal and state biologists, as well as wildlife conservation advocates, are trying to figure out if the animal is in fact a wolf by collecting scat and doing a genetic analysis. Continue reading

Predator decline spawns thorny biodiversity dilemma

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Yet another study describes cascading ecological impacts of declining predator populations.

Plant communities change as herbivoves spread

Staff Report

FRISCO — The global decline of large predators is leading to a loss of plant and tree diversity, scientists said after studying ecosystem changes in Africa. Recent research shows more than 75 percent of the world’s large carnivore species are in decline, with 17 of those species occupying less than half of their historical distributions.

The research by University of British Columbia zoologist Adam Ford and his colleagues involved tracking Africal impalas with GPS units to see how they respond to the presence (and absence) of predators, specifically whether the predators scare impala so much that impala will avoid areas where they are likely to be killed. They combined the tracking data with a high-resolution satellite image of tree cover and located carcasses to determine where impala are being killed. Continue reading

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