Comeback spurs plan to downlist manatees


Manatees gathering at a freshwater spring in Florida. @bberwyn photo.

Protection efforts pay off for the marine mammals

Staff Report

Federal biologists say manatees are on the road to recovery and they’re proposed to downlist the species from endangered to threatened under the Endangered Species Act.

When scientists started tracking the gentle marine mammals, the Florida population was estimated at about 1,200. In the last 25 years that population has grown to about 6,300, with 13,000 across the species’ range, including Puerto Rico, Mexico, Central America, South America, and Greater and Lesser Antilles. Continue reading

Sharks at risk in key Atlantic fishing zones

A whitetip reef shark. Photo courtesy NOAA.

A whitetip reef shark. Photo courtesy NOAA.

New research can guide conservation efforts

Staff Report

A four-year study that followed about 100 tagged sharks shows that commercial fishing operations overlap with shark hotspots in the ocean. The findings suggest that sharks are at risk of being overfished in some areas.

“Our research clearly demonstrates the importance of satellite tagging data for conservation,” said Neil Hammerschlag, director of the shark research program University of Miami (UM) Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science. “The findings both identify the problem as well as provide a path for protecting oceanic sharks,” Hammerschlag said. Continue reading

Snowshoe hares face climate change challenge


Can snowshoe hares survive global warming? Photo courtesy Kim Fenske.

‘That mismatch does indeed kill’

Staff Report

For millennia, snowshoe hares have camouflaged themselves from predators by blending in with their surroundings, turning pure white in the winter to blend in with the snow, then brown in the summer.

But climate change is shifting the timing of the snow season, and the hares may not be able to adapt in time, according to a North Carolina State University study published in the journal Ecology Letters.

Based on field research with radio-collared snowshoe hares in Montana, mismatched snowshoe hares suffer a 7 percent drop in their weekly survival rate when snow comes late or leaves early and white hares stand out to predators like “light bulbs” against their snowless backgrounds. Continue reading

Biodiversity: Can a federal rule change slow the tidal wave of species extinctions?

USFWS proposes to revamp endangered species listing process


Endangered manatees at a Florida wildlife refuge @bberwyn photo.

By Bob Berwyn

In the age of climate change, rampant consumption and development, plants and animals are going extinct faster than ever before in the history of the planet — so fast that the Endangered Species listing process in the U.S. has been overwhelmed. Continue reading

Wildlife: Another Oregon wolf moves to California

Room to roam?

OR25, a yearling male in the Imnaha Pack, after being radio-collared on May 20, 2014.  Photo courtesy of ODFW. Download high resolution image.

OR25, a yearling male in the Imnaha Pack, after being radio-collared on May 20, 2014. Photo courtesy Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife.

Staff Report

The wild mountains, plateaus and forests of northeastern California are becoming a stronghold for wolves dispersing from Oregon.

This week, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife reported that yet another wolf — a three-year old male — appears to be “exhibiting dispersal behavior” in Modoc County. Continue reading

Study: Northern Rockies wolf hunting ‘not sustainable’

The leader of the new Summit County wolf pack, dubbed "John Denver" by federal biologists. PHOTO COURTESY USFWS.

How sustainable are current wolf management policies in the northern Rocky Mountains? Photo courtesy USFWS.

Management based mostly on politics, not science

Staff Report

As conservation advocates have long argued, policies governing the hunting of large carnivores are largely based on politics and not on science, according to a new study that examined how hunting affects populations of animals like wolves and lions.

The international research team said those politically driven policies  do not always align with basic scientific data, which can undermine conservation efforts.

For example, theresearchers concluded that the current harvest levels for the recently de-listed population of gray wolves in the Northern Rocky Mountains of the United States have led to decreased survival and reproduction, smaller packs, social disruption and a reversal from population growth to decline. Continue reading

Environment: Is climate change to blame for giant petrel decline in South Orkney Islands?


The Southern Ocean’s pelagic birds may be vulnerable to global warming changes like melting sea ice. @bberwyn photo.

Study tracks sudden drop in numbers at important breeding site in Southern Ocean

Staff Report

Scientists with the British Antarctic Survey reported a big drop in the population of giant petrels at an important breeding site in the South Orkney Islands, northeast of the Antarctic Peninsula.

The long-term study found cyclical fluctuations in breeding success, showing that the birds defer breeding in less than optimal conditions. But the drop in numbers the past 10 to 15 years is alarming, according to the findings published in the journal Polar Biology online. Continue reading


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