Bluebirds ‘shout’ to be heard above noise pollution

Western bluebird

A mountain bluebird in Dillon, Colorado. @bberwyn photo.

Biologists say noise impacts should be part of wildlife conservation planning

Staff Report

FRISCO — Outside a few remote wilderness areas, human-caused noise pollution is so common that birds have started to “shout” in order to communicate with each other.

Biologists with the University of Exeter took a close look at how bluebirds alter their songs in response to increases in nearby background noise caused, in many cases, by human activities such as traffic. Continue reading

Stronger winds, driven by climate change, could affect seabird populations


New research suggests that winds strengthened by global warming present a potential threat to seabirds. @bberwyn photo.

UK study tracks impacts to coastal birds in Scotland

Staff Report

FRISCO — Biologists in the UK say stronger winds projected my many climate change models could have a big impact on some coastal bird populations. When winds are strong, females take much longer to find food compared with their male counterparts.

In many seabird species, females are smaller and lighter than males, and so must work harder to dive through turbulent water. They may not hold their breath for as long, fly so efficiently nor dive as deeply as males. The study suggests that climate change will exacerbate the differences and could ultimately affect population sizes.

To reach their findings, scientists with the Centre for Ecology & Hydrology at the University of Edinburgh and the British Antarctic Survey tracked shags — cormorant-like birds — on the Isle of May National Nature Reserve in south-east Scotland. Small tracking devices attached to the legs of birds helped measured how long they foraged for fish in the sea.

Scientists found that when coastal winds were strong or blowing towards the shore, females took much longer to find food compared with males. The difference in time spent foraging became more marked between the sexes when conditions worsened, suggesting that female birds are more likely to continue foraging even in the poorest conditions. Continue reading

Public lands: Feds finalizing management plan for wildlife refuges in Colorado’s San Luis Valley


Wetlands in Colorado’s San Luis Valley form the heart of a 106,000-acre complex of wildlife refuges. Photo via USFWS.

Restoration and public use among the key focus areas

Staff Report

FRISCO — After years of planning and public input, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service officials this week said they’ve completed all the environmental studies and a conservation plan for the San Luis Valley National Wildlife Refuge Complex, in south-central Colorado.

The plan covers about 106,000 acres across three national wildlife refuges: Alamosa, Monte Vista, and Baca National Wildlife Refuges, home to the hundreds of year round resident birds-and an important stop-over location for migratory birds during their long journey between their breeding grounds to north and their wintering grounds to the south. Continue reading

National Park Service releases name of man killed by grizzly bear in Yellowstone

Grizzlies are roaming farther north and encroaching on Polar bear habitat, PHOTO COURTESY U.S. GEOLOGICAL SURVEY.

National Park Service officials have trapped a grizzly bear that may have been involved in a fatal attack in Yellowstone National Park. Photo courtesy USGS.

Lance Crosby was a 5-year seasonal resident of Yellowstone; park rangers say they will euthanize the bears responsible for the death

Staff Report

FRISCO — Yellowstone National Park officials have identified the 63-year-old man who was killed Aug. 7 by a grizzly bear. The victim was Lance Crosby, a long-time employee of Medcor, the company that operates three urgent care clinics in the park.

According to a park service press release, Crosby had worked and lived in Yellowstone for five seasons and was an experienced hiker. Park officials continue to investigate the death, with preliminary results showing that Crosby was attacked by at least one grizzly bear. His body was found partially consumed and cached, or covered, and partial tracks at the scene indicate that an adult female grizzly and at least one cub-of-the-year were present and likely involved in the attack. Continue reading

Another gray wolf wanders into northeastern California

Gray Wolf

More wolves may roam from Oregon into adjacent states, including California, where the state is developing a wolf management plan.

Conservation activists say sighting confirms need for endangered species protection

Staff Report

FRISCO — Wildlife biologists in California say another gray wolf has likely wandered into the far northeastern corner of the state. Based on an evaluation of photos and paw print measurements, the animal may be a lone dispersing male looking for new territory to occupy.

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife has deployed motion-sensor cameras and biologists will try to collect scat for a DNA sample to conclusively establish whether the observed canid is indeed a wolf. The sighting was in Siskiyou County, in an area comprised of both U.S. Forest Service holdings and private timberland. Continue reading

Wolves in Idaho wilderness area get reprieve


Idaho wolves catch a break. Photo via USFWS.

State-based wolf plan would have allowed trapping wolves to inflate elk populations

Staff Report

FRISCO — Wildlife advocates in Idaho have slowed the frantic state-sanctioned wolf slaughter that has ensued since the federal government turned management of the species over to the state.

In response to a lawsuit filed by conservationist and wilderness advocate Ralph Maughan, along with four conservation groups, Idaho Fish and Game and the U.S. Forest Service have halted wolf killing in the federally-protected Franck Church-River of No Return Wilderness during the winter of 2015-16.  Continue reading

Sea Shepherd activists face court charges for disrupting bloody whale slaughter in the Faroe Islands

Conservation advocates say annual hunt violates international treaties


Faroe Islanders defend their annual whale slaughter as important cultural tradition, but face a growing tide of public opposition, Photo courtesy Sea Shepherd.

Staff Report

FRISCO — Five international Sea Shepherd crew members who tried to disrupt a bloody whale slaughter in the Faroe Islands are in court this week, facing charges of violating  Faroe Island’s Pilot Whaling Act. The penalties include fines of up to about $3,000 or up to two years in prison.

Several other Sea Shepherd crew members were found guilty of disrupting the hunt in 2012, and a captain of a small Sea Shepherd boat was charged with not reporting a sighting of dolphins.

The law authorizes the slaughter as part of Faroe Island’s cultural tradition, but conservation advocates say the annual hunt may violate a European wildlife treaty. In the hunt, entire pods of whales and dolphins are driven to shore when they approach the coast and then killed, turning the seawater bloody red. Continue reading


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