Environment: Wild bees are critical to pollination

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Wild bees need love, too. @bberwyn photo.

‘protecting a wide variety of our wild bees is crucial …’

Staff Report

FRISCO — A new bee tracking study shows that protecting wild bees may be just as important as tackling the decline of domesticated honeybee colonies.

After tracking bees around the world, researchers concluded that only two percent of wild bee species pollinate 80 percent of bee-pollinated crops worldwide.

That means there’s a powerful economic rationale for conserving wild bees. It calculates the value of wild bee pollination to the global food system at $3,000 per hectare of insect-pollinated agricultural land, amounting to billions of dollars globally. Continue reading

Environment: House GOP continues anti-wolf crusade

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

GOP continues wolf persecution.  Photo via USFWS.

Latest budget amendment would overturn federal court rulings that reinstated protection for wolves

Staff Report

FRISCO — For the second time in five years, anti-environmental Republicans in Congress are trying to make an end run around the Endangered Species Act by stripping federal protection for gray wolves in Wyoming and the western Great Lakes states.

The amendment to a spending bill for the Interior Department is similar to a measure passed in 2011, when Congress removed protections for wolves in Idaho and Montana — the first time that Congress legislatively removed protections for a species. Since the 2011 rider passed, more than 1,900 wolves have been killed in the two states. Continue reading

With help, European bison are making a comeback

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This is an American bison in the Black Hills of South Dakota, but wildlife advocates in Europe are in the midst of an ambitious program to restore native European bison.

European rewilding movement gaining ground

Staff Report

FRISCO — It’s hard enough to maintain native species in places like the wide-open spaces of the American West.

Imagine the challenges on a crowded continent like Europe with a much greater population density. Nevertheless, conservation biologists are making progress, finding nooks and crannies across Europe to restore native wildlife, including bison.

In late May, the nonprofit group Rewilding Europe, in partnership with WWF-Romania, said it will release a small herd of bison into the southern Carpathian Mountains of Romania — the first of the species to roam the region freely in more than 200 years. Continue reading

Biodiversity: Study says captive breeding not always the best option for endangered species

‘Captive breeding can reduce motivation and resources for conservation in the wild, with disastrous consequences …’

"Great Indian bustard" by Prajwalkm - Own work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons - http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Great_Indian_bustard.jpg#/media/File:Great_Indian_bustard.jpg

Great Indian bustards, one of the heaviest flying birds, would benefit more from habitat conservation than by a captive breeding program, according to a new study. Phot by Prajwalkm – Own work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons.

Staff Report

FRISCO — Captive breeding has helped recover wild populations of California condors and Mexican gray wolves in the Southwest. But in some cases, it’s better to leave near-extinct species to breed in the wild, according to UK scientists with the University of East Anglia. Their study, published in the Journal of Applied Ecology shows more should be done to prevent extinction in the wild.

“Our research challenges the assumption that when a species is perilously close to extinction in the wild, it is always a good idea to set up a captive breeding population,” said researcher Dr Paul Dolman, with UEA’s School of Environmental Sciences. Continue reading

Predator recovery brings new conservation challenges

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Recovering sea lion populations are putting pressure on other endangered species. Photo courtesy NOAA.

‘in protecting one species you have to be thinking ahead to account for cascading effects that may impact other species too’

Staff Report

FRISCO — The recovery of major predators in ocean and land ecosystems is leading to new challenges for wildlife managers, as animals like seals and sea lions take a toll on other species — some of them also endangered. In some cases, the recovery also affects human activities.

This conservation paradox requires new management approaches, researchers concluded in a new paper after they studied patterns of predation in the ocean off the Pacific Northwest Coast in the Greater Yellowstone ecosystem. Continue reading

Biodiversity: Forest Service says better bat tracking needed to combat threats

Standardized monitoring to help assess population trends

Thousand of bats fly out of a roost near Saguache, Colorado. PHOTO BY COLORADO PARKS AND WILDLIFE.

Thousand of bats fly out of a roost near Saguache, Colorado, an event that draws wildlife watchers each year. Photo courtesy Colorado Parks and Wildlife.

Staff Report

FRISCO — U.S. Forest Service scientists hope a new report will help scientists across the country track bats more effectively in an era when the flying mammals are facing unprecedented threats, including habitat loss and fragmentation, white-nose syndrome , wind energy development, and climate change.

Better tracking can help resource managers get the information they need to manage bat populations effectively, by detecting early warning signs of population declines, and estimating extinction risks.

White-nose syndrome has killed millions of bats since it was first detected in 2006, and more than 1 million have been killed at wind energy facilities since 2000. Combined with intensified pressure from land-use changes, scientists say there’s a real need for a continent-wide standardized monitoring system. Continue reading

Feds confirm illegal wolf kill in Colorado

Federal scientists are trying to determine whether this animal, shot April 29 near Kremmling, is a grray wolf. Photo via the Colorado Mule Deer Association Facebook page.

Federal scientists are trying to determine whether this animal, shot April 29 near Kremmling, is a grray wolf. Photo via the Colorado Mule Deer Association Facebook page.

Without continued federal protection, wolves may never return to the southern Rockies

By Bob Berwyn

FRISCO — Federal biologists have confirmed by DNA analysis that the animal killed by a coyote hunter near Kremmling last month was an endangered gray wolf.

The hunter notified state wildlife managers immediately, claiming that he though the animal was a coyote. The incident is being investigated by Colorado Parks and Wildlife and the USFWS.

Check out the discussion thread on this the Colorado Mule Deer Association’s Facebook page to get a sense of peoples’ attitudes about wolves in Colorado. Continue reading

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