Environment: Scientists say 90 percent of all seabirds have ingested plastic debris

One study found 200 bits of plastic in a single seabird

heron

A heron patrols the splash zone of a beach on the Florida Gulf Coast. @bberwyn photo.

Staff Report

FRISCO — Plastic debris in the world’s oceans is now so widespread that about 60 percent of all seabirds have bits of plastic in their gut. Based on current trends, 99 percent of all seabirds will be affected by plastic ingestion by 2050, a team of international scientists said this week.

Based on a review of all studies published since the early 1960s, the scientists estimated that more than 90 percent of seabirds have alive today have eaten plastic of some kind. In 1960, plastic was found in the stomach of less than 5 per cent of individual seabirds, rising to 80 per cent by 2010.

“For the first time, we have a global prediction of how wide-reaching plastic impacts may be on marine species … and the results are striking,” said CSIRO researcher Dr. Chris Wilcox. “We predict, using historical observations, that 90 per cent of individual seabirds have eaten plastic. This is a huge amount and really points to the ubiquity of plastic pollution.” Continue reading

California reports first wolf pack in almost 100 years

sfd

Wolf pups at play in northern California. Photo via CDFW.

California wildlife agency documents five wolf pups and two adult wolves

By Bob Berwyn

FRISCO — OR-7, the lone wolf that enthralled wildlife lovers when he wandered through northern California a few years was the trailblazer.

Earlier this spring another lone wolf wandered into the state, and now, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife says there’s a new wolfpack forming. The agency has photographically documented five pups and several individual adults that have taken up residence in the state.

“This news is exciting for California,” said Charlton H. Bonham, CDFW Director. “We knew wolves would eventually return home to the state and it appears now is the time.” Continue reading

Wildlife: Possible Black Hills wolf sighting spurs calls for increased hunter education to avoid accidental shooting

South Dakota a hot spot for wolf deaths


FRISCO — Since the Dakotas are sandwiched between Montana and Minnesota, it’s probably not completely surprising that wolves turn up there from time to time.

But the latest sighting of what certainly looks like a wolf has spurred a call for more education and public outreach to prevent the animal from being shot, either by accident or purposefully by over-eager hunters.

Other wolves have been shot been shot and killed in South Dakota in recent years, as reported by newspapers there, and the Center for Biological Diversity has also tracked the fate or wolves that wandered out of the northern Rockies. Continue reading

Feds seek to tweak Endangered Species Act

sgd

Lynx have protected under the Endangered Species Act for 15 years, but legal wrangling and bureaucratic inertia have prevented completion of a recovery plan for the mammals, Photo courtesy Colorado Parks and Wildlife.

Modernization aimed at keeping regs in line with science, political pressure and court rulings

Staff Report

FRISCO — Federal biologists say they want to freshen up the Endangered Species Act to “reflect advances in conservation biology and genetics, as well as recent court decisions interpreting the Act’s provisions.”

According to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, many of the country’s endangered species regulations date back to the 1980s, and need an overhaul. According to U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service director Dan Ashe, the changes will address states’ concerns and boost voluntary conservation efforts, and add transparency to the listing process.

The proposal to revamp parts of the law comes against a backdrop of blistering attacks by anti-environmental Republicans in Congress who see endangered species regulations as hurdles to the exploitation of natural resources and have tried to undercut the bedrock law by preventing funding for environmental protection, and even going as far as trying to prevent federal agencies from making science-based listing decisions. Continue reading

Wildlife: Sandhill cranes migrating through Colorado

Tours and viewing opportunities abound in San Luis Valley

dfg

Sandhill cranes. Photo courtesy USFWS.

Staff Report

One of Colorado’s great wildlife migrations peaks this weekend, as vast flocks of sandhill cranes stop in the San Luis Valley on their way from New Mexico north to Montana, Idaho and Canada. By mid-march, the fields, ranches and wetlands in the valley may see as many as 25,000 cranes.

“People in Colorado should take time to see the cranes; the migration is truly one of nature’s wonders,” said Rick Basagoitia, area wildlife manager for Colorado Parks and Wildlife in the San Luis Valley.

The annual San Luis Valley Crane Festival is scheduled for this weekend, March 13-15. The cranes start arriving in late-February, stopping in the valley to rest-up and re-fuel for the rest of the trip. Continue reading

Feds put Wyoming, Great Lakes wolves back on endangered species list

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.

Wolves chase down an elk in Yellowstone National Park. Photo courtesy National Park Service.

Responding to lawsuits, USFWS acknowledges that state protections are inadequate

By Bob Berwyn

FRISCO — Wild wolves in Wyoming and the western Great Lakes once again are protected under the Endangered Species Act, as the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service published a Federal Register notice explaining that Wyoming’s management plan is not adequate to protect the predators.

Of course the agency needed a push from the federal courts to acknowledge the reality of the Wyoming’s anti-wolf policies. Similarly, a federal court also said the agency can’t delist wolves in the western Great Lakes because protections can’t be removed in part of a species’ range when it has not recovered overall. Continue reading

Climate: California pikas vanishing from lower sites

‘It looks like we’re going to lose pikas from many areas where people have been used to seeing them …’

Colorado pika

A Quandary Peak pika enjoys sunny weather on a rocky ledge. bberwyn photo.

FRISCO — Global warming is probably shrinking habitat for California’s pikas, scientists said this week in a new study that looked at 67 locations with historical data on populations of the small alpine mammals. Pikas have already vanished completely from 10 of those sites, the researchers said, explaining that local extinctions are likely where summer temperatures are high and habitat is already marginal.

“This same pattern of extinctions at sites with high summer temperatures has also been observed in the Great Basin region,”  said Joseph Stewart, a graduate student at UC Santa Cruz and first author of a paper reporting the new findings, published January 29 in the Journal of Biogeography. Continue reading

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 8,843 other followers