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

Tiny fish makes big recovery, as feds delist Oregon chub

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Oregon chub, courtesy USFWS.

First-ever endangered species de-listing for a fish species

Staff Report

FRISCO — There has been no shortage of Endangered Species Act success stories (think bald eagles) over the years, and this week a new one was added to the list. For the first time, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service will declare a fish species as recovered.

The Oregon chub, a silvery, speckled minnow found only in Oregon’s Willamette Valley, was listed in 1993 after development and water diversions destroyed wetlands habitat and introduced sports fish gobbled up the tiny minnows. Continue reading

Feds to expand critical habitat for rare Atlantic whales

Proposal comes in response to legal pressure from activists

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North Atlantic right whales, courtesy Georgia Department of Natural Resources.

Staff Report

FRISCO — One of the world’s most endangered marine mammals will get a little more room to roam, as the National Marine Fisheries Service proposed an expansion of critical habitat for endangered North Atlantic right whales.

The expansion covers areas in the northwestern Atlantic Ocean that support calving and nursing. The habitat rule comes in response to continued pressure from conservation advocates pushing for adequate protection for a species that numbers only about 450 individuals. Continue reading

Republican lawmakers declare war on wolves

Proposed legislation undermines Endangered Species Act

Gray wolves a. Photo courtesy USFWS.

Gray wolves. Photo courtesy USFWS.

Staff Report

FRISCO — Politicians are once again meddling with wolf conservation in a process that never ends well for the animals. Last week, Republican lawmakers from Wisconsin, Wyoming and Minnesota introduced House legislation that would remove federal protection from gray wolves in Wyoming and the western Great Lakes states.

Already under political pressure, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service ended protections for gray wolves in Minnesota, Wisconsin and Michigan in 2011 and in Wyoming in 2012. Federal judges overturned both decisions for failing to follow the best science and for prematurely turning management over to state fish and game agencies hostile to wolves. Continue reading

Biologists map key habitat for Mediterranean sea turtles

Green sea turtle conservation

Green sea turtle. Photo courtesy Andy Bruckner/NOAA.

New marine protected area needed to protect the threatened species

Staff Report

FRISCO — UK scientists say that, based on mapping of critical foraging grounds for green sea turtles in the Mediterranean they recommend creation of a new marine protected areas to help protect the species, identified as “endangered” on the IUCN Red List.

The study involved tracking turtles from breeding grounds in Cyprus, Turkey, Israel and Syria and pinpointing ten foraging grounds. Two major hotspots in Libya account for more than half of the turtles which were tracked to conclusive endpoints.

Recent green sea turtle studies by U.S. scientists show how protected areas can help protect the species. The U.S. Geological Survey researchers confirmed the turtles’ use of the protected areas by tracking nesting turtles with satellite tags and analyzing their movement patterns after they left beaches in the Florida Keys. Continue reading

Not much love for endangered species in Obama’s budget

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It’s tough to save endangered species without any money.

Funding for entire endangered species program is less than the cost of a single F-35 fighter jet

Staff Report

FRISCO — The Obama administration talks a good green game, but when it comes to putting money toward endangered species protection, it’s business as usual. In fact, according to environmental watchdogs, the total amount of money allocated to endangered species is less than in 2016 when measured on a per-species basis.

That’s partly because 140 plants and animals have been added to the endangered species list in the past four years without an increase in spending, which means many conservation programs will underfunded once again this year. Continue reading

Sonar study finds blue whale ‘hotspots’ in Southern Ocean

Whale populations around Antarctica still rebounding from industrial whaling era

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New sonar techniques could help pinpoint blue whale numbers in the Southern Ocean and identify important habitat. Photo courtesy NOAA.

Staff Report

FRISCO — After a century of relentless industrial whaling, blue whales were nearly extirpated from the Southern Ocean around Antarctica, The giant marine mammal is now making a comeback, and resurgent whale numbers could affect other parts of the ecosystem.

Other recent research has shown blue whale numbers rebounding off the coast of California, and biologists with the British Antarctic Survey recently reported that satellite technology could also help count whales.

But for the Southern Ocean, scientists don’t have a good grasp of population numbers. Between 1978 and 2010 blue whale surveys recorded only 216 visual encounters, so new research by Australian scientists may help identify important habitat areas and pinpoint numbers, which helps inform conservation strategies, with several large marine protected areas in the works for Antarctica. Continue reading

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