GOP once again attacking Endangered Species Act

Slew of bills aimed at undermining protection for plants and animals threatened with extinction

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A rare lynx kitten in Colorado protected by the Endangered Species Act. Photo courtesy Colorado Parks and Wildlife.

Staff Report

FRISCO — GOP lawmakers in the U.S. Senate are apparently intent on undoing the Endangered Species Act without directly attacking the widely supported law that helps protect plants and animals from extinction.

This week, the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee is holding hearings on eight GOP bills, including one that would end federal protection for more than 800 endangered animals and plants around the country, according to the Center for Biological Diversity. Continue reading

Rare California condor spotted in New Mexico

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California condor in flight. USFWS photo.

Population of rare birds holding steady in the wild

Staff Report

FRISCO — The wild California condor population may not be growing by leaps and bounds, but biologists say they’re encouraged by a recent 600-mile exploratory trip taken by one of the rare birds.

The juvenile make wandered from his home roost near the Grand Canyon and is now spending some time on national forest lands near Santa Fe, New Mexico. The same bird also spent some time on southern Colorado during the trek.

According to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, it’s the first recorded condor sighting in New Mexico in modern history, although scientists have found fossilized condor ones in the state. Continue reading

Greater sage-grouse the latest target in GOP’s war on the environment

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Greater sage-grouse face new political threat. Photo via USGS.

Senate measure would let miners, ranchers and drillers devastate sagebrush ecosystems

By Bob Berwyn

FRISCO — The battle lines over the fate of greater sage-grouse are being clearly drawn in the U.S. Senate this week, where freshman Republican Senator Cory Gardner is proudly touting the support of extractive industries for his misnamed Sage Grouse Protection and Conservation Act (S 1036).

Gardner’s measure is the latest in a series of political maneuverings to subvert and circumvent the Endangered Species Act. In the past few years, lawmakers have flouted science to try and remove protection for other species, including northern gray wolves. Continue reading

Piece-mealing greater sage-grouse toward extinction

Greater sage-grouse. Photo courtesy USFWS.

Greater sage-grouse. Photo courtesy USFWS.

Feds won’t protect Mono Basin sage-grouse under Endangered Species Act

By Bob Berwyn

FRISCO — Efforts to preserve biologically important remnants of the vast western sagebrush sea were dealt another blow today, as as the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced it won’t protect greater sage-grouse in California and Nevada under the Endangered Species Act.

The decision is another step in piece-mealing greater sage-grouse toward extinction, according to conservation advocates and biologists. The voluntary conservation measures touted by the federal agency won’t do much to protect the so-called bi-state greater sage-grouse population from threats like hardrock mining, exurban development and livestock grazing. Continue reading

Feds propose taking some humpback whale populations off the endangered species list

Conservation efforts seen as successful

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Some humpback whale populations are no longer endangered. Map courtesy NOAA.

A humpback whale in the Stellwagen National Marine Sanctuary. PHOTO COURTESY NOAA.

A humpback whale in the Stellwagen National Marine Sanctuary. Photo courtesy NOAA.

Staff Report

FRISCO — With humpback whales rebounding after 40 years of conservation efforts, federal biologists this week said they want to revise the marine mammals’ endangered species status, taking some of the geographically separate populations off the endangered species list.

Reclassifying humpbacks into 14 distinct population segments would enable tailored conservation approach for U.S. fisheries managers. Currently, humpback whales are listed as endangered throughout their range, but 10 of the 14 populations don’t need the highest level of protection anymore, according to NOAA’s National Marine Fisheries Service. Continue reading

Environment: Expanding rubber-tree plantations seen as huge threat to biodiversity on Southeast Asia

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Expanding rubber-tree plantations threatens biodiversity in Southeast Asia. Photo courtesy Eleanor Warren-Thomas, University of East Anglia.

Major sustainability push needed to protect habitat for endangered species

Staff Report

FRISCO — The growing global demand for rubber is threatening biodiversity in Southeast Asia, where expanding plantations are encroaching on protected areas, according to a new study from the University of East Anglia.

Meeting the demand will require up to  8.5 million hectares of additional rubber plantations, but expansion on this scale will have “catastrophic” biodiversity impacts, with globally threatened unique species and ecosystems all at risk the researchers said, comparing the extent of the problem to palm oil production. Continue reading

Government-sanctioned wildlife slaughter continues

Resident bald eagle in Summit County, Colorado guarding the nest.

Resident bald eagle in Summit County, Colorado guarding the nest. @bberwyn photo.

Federally licensed hunters and trappers killed 2.7 million animals in 2014

Staff Report

FRISCO — A lot of things have changed in the U.S. during the past 100 years, but some things have not, including the frontier-era mindset among some people that makes it OK to willfully slaughter wildlife.

Even as some branches of the government expend considerable resources to protect and conserve plants and animals, another secretive agency continues to routinely kill millions of animals, including wolves, coyotes, bears, mountain lions, beavers, foxes, eagles and other animals deemed pests by powerful agricultural, livestock and other special interests. Continue reading

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