Posted on November 24, 2014 by Bob Berwyn
Greater sage-grouse need buffer zones to reduce impacts from human activities. Photo via USGS.
New USGS report details conservation needs of dwindling western birds
FRISCO — It may seem like there are a lot of wide open spaces remaining in the interior West, but when you add up impacts from roads, highways and pipelines; oil, gas, wind and solar energy development; tall structures such as electrical, communication and meteorological towers, it’s just too much for sage grouse.
The birds — at the heart of a classic endangered species political battle, need quiet areas to breed and fledge their chicks. In most cases, they seem to need at least a three-mile buffer from the most impactful activities, the U.S. Geological Survey concluded in a new report. Continue reading
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Posted on November 17, 2014 by Bob Berwyn
A lynx in Colorado watches on the snow-covered forest floor. Photo courtesy Tanya Shenk/Colorado Division of Wildlife.
New lawsuit challenges inadequate critical habitat designation
FRISCO — It’s been 15 years since Canada lynx were listed as a threatened species, and wildlife conservation groups are still battling the U.S. government in court over critical habitat designation for the rare, snow-loving cats.
In the latest legal move, the Sierra Club, Rocky Mountain Wild, and Alliance for the Wild Rockies went back to court this week, claiming that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service still hasn’t got it right. According to the lawsuit, the agency neglected to include numerous large areas of prime lynx habitat, corridors and occupied areas throughout five national forests in Montana and Idaho, as well as millions of acres in the Southern Rockies. Continue reading
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Posted on November 17, 2014 by Bob Berwyn
A polar bear in the Arctic. PHOTO COURTESY USGS/SUSANNE MILLER.
Is dwindling sea ice a factor?
FRISCO — Polar bear populations in the southern Beaufort Sea dropped 40 percent between 2000 and 2010, biologists say in a new study. The research suggests that survival of adult bears and cubs was especially low from 2004 to 2006, when most of the decline occurred.
“Of the 80 cubs observed in Alaska from 2004 to 2007, only 2 are known to have survived,” said Jeff Bromaghin, a U.S. Geological Survey research statistician and lead author of the study. Continue reading
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Posted on November 15, 2014 by Bob Berwyn
A Mt. Graham red squirrel, via USFWS.
Less than 300 Mt. Graham red squirrels left in the wild
FRISCO — A rare squirrel that lives only in fire-prone southern Arizona forests may get a new lease on life, as federal and state biologists team up for a captive breeding effort to try and bolster populations.
There are fewer than 300 Mount Graham red squirrels living in the wild. In recent years, their habitat has been devastated by large wildfires. Any new fires could wipe out the population, according to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Extended drought (especially in the higher-elevation forest types) and outbreaks of forest insects and other tree diseases have also taken a toll. Continue reading
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Posted on November 11, 2014 by Bob Berwyn
Can walruses survive global warming and Arctic oil drilling? Photo courtesy NOAA.
Conservation groups challenge federal rules on ‘incidental take’
FRISCO — Conservation groups this week opened another front in their ongoing battle to block irresponsible fossil fuel exploitation in the Arctic. Represented by Earthjustice, wildlife advocates and Native Americans went to court to block a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service rule that would allow oil companies to harm Pacific walruses.
According to the lawsuit, the rule puts the at-risk mammals under more environmental pressure by allowing drilling in key walrus foraging areas in the Chukchi Sea, where walruses depend on the ice for resting, raising their young, feeding, and avoiding predators. Continue reading
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Posted on November 3, 2014 by Bob Berwyn
‘It is clear that the way we are managing the environment is unsustainable for many of our most familiar species’
Bird populations across Europe have experienced sharp declines over the past 30 years, with the majority of losses from the most common species, according to a new study from the University of Exeter (UK).
The study documented a decrease of 421 million individual birds over 30 years. About 90 percent of these losses were from the 36 most common and widespread species, including house sparrows, skylarks, grey partridges and starlings. Continue reading
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Posted on November 2, 2014 by Bob Berwyn
‘It is up to all of us’
FRISCO — Habitat loss, loss of prey base, and increased human-lion conflict are threatening African lions to the point that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has proposed listing the species under the Endangered Species Act.
“It is up to all of us, not just the people of Africa, to ensure that healthy, wild populations continue to roam the savannah for generations to come,” said USFWS director Dan Ashe, explaining that his agency found that lions are in danger of extinction in the foreseeable future. In a news release, Ashe described lions as a symbol of majesty, courage and strength. Continue reading
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