Will black-footed ferrets catch a break in Wyoming?

Feds propose ‘non-essential, experimental’ status

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Black-footed ferret, courtesy USFWS.

Staff Report

FRISCO — Black-footed ferrets could make a comeback on private lands in Wyoming under a federal proposal to designate the State of Wyoming as a special area for reintroduction, where the mammals would be managed as a “non-essential, experimental” population under a special provision of the Endangered Species Act.

The prairie-dwelling critters have been on the Endangered Species List since 1967. They were listed just a year after Congress passed the Endangered Species Act. Continue reading

Environment: Nitrogen pollution reduces plant diversity

Swiss study shows widespread effect of air pollution

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Alpine wildflowers in the San Juan Mountains of Colorado. @bobberwyn photo.

Staff Report

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FRISCO — Scientists in Switzerland say they’ve measured a startling decline in plant diversity linked with high human atmospheric nitrogen emissions. Their study, published in the journal Royal Society Open Science, shows the loss in traditionally measured plant species richness at 5 percent, while the loss in phylogenetic plant diversity due to human-induced nitrogen deposition is 19 percent. Continue reading

Bighorn sheep return to Yosemite high country

 Reintroduction part of overall bighorn sheep recovery effort

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Bighorn sheep are released into Yosemite National Park and the Cathedral Range in late March, 2015. Photo courtesy Yosemite Conservancy/Steve Bumgardner.

Staff Report

FRISCO — It took 100 years, but bighorn sheep have returned to high country of Yosemite and Sequoia National Parks, as federal and state biologists last month transplanted small herds of the mammals to their new homes.

Between March 26 and March 29, 2015, nine ewes  and three rams were moved from the Inyo National Forest and Sequoia National Park to the Cathedral Range in Yosemite National Park. In addition, seven ewes were moved to the Laurel Creek area of Sequoia National Park, with plans to relocated three rams to that area.

The Sierra Nevada bighorn sheep is the only federally endangered mammal in Yosemite, Sequoia, and Kings Canyon. The species was listed in 2000 after the population plunged to just 100 individuals. Since then, the population has since increased to more than 600. Continue reading

Environment: Green sea turtles making a comeback

Federal biologists proposal to revamp endangered species listing recognizes conservation progress and allows for more site-specific management

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A green sea turtle swims near the seafloor of the Pacific. Photo courtesy Andy Bruckner/NOAA.

Staff Report

* More Summit Voice stories about sea turtles

FRISCO — Conservation and recovery efforts under the Endangered Species Act have helped green sea turtles around Florida and Mexico’s Pacific Coast recover to the point that federal biologists have proposed downlisting the species from endangered to threatened. Continue reading

Study tracks blue whales across Southern Ocean

New data will help shape conservation efforts in the waters around Antarctica

Naval training exercises off the coast of California could pose a threat to endangered marine mammals.

Australian and New Zealand researchers have tracked blue whales across thousands of miles in the Southern Ocean to help inform conservation efforts. Photo courtesy NOAA.

Staff Report

FRISCO — As a keystone species in marine ecosystems, blue whales have a significant impact in the ocean around Antarctica, but the population dynamics of the species in the region are still a mystery as the marine mammals recover from the decimation of the whaling era.

That may change following the recent six-week Australia-New Zealand Antarctic Ecosystem Voyage voyage, as researchers tracked the world’s largest creatures across thousands of miles of ocean, detecting their songs from as far as 750 kilometers away. Continue reading

How will Arctic sea ice meltdown affect marine mammals?

‘These animals require sea ice …’

 Eric Regehr, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

A polar bear on Alaska’s North Slope. Photo via Eric Regehr, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

Staff Report

FRISCO — Enacting more endangered species regulations isn’t enough to reduce global warming threats to ice-dependent marine mammals in the Arctic, scientists say.

In a new report published in the journal Conservation Biology, a research team called for better monitoring, increased cooperation and more study of how increasing human activity in the Arctic will affect ecosystems.

The report assesses the status of all circumpolar species and sub-populations of Arctic marine mammals, including seals, whales and polar bears and underscores the precarious state of those mammals.

“These species are not only icons of climate change, but they are indicators of ecosystem health, and key resources for humans,” said lead author Kristin Laidre, a polar scientist with the University of Washington Applied Physics Laboratory. Continue reading

Scientists say dynamic, adaptive management of ocean resources would benefit fisheries, conservation

‘We know too much about the world now to keep managing the ocean in the same old way’

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Shrimp boats in Apalachicola, Florida. bberwyn photo.

Staff Report

FRISCO — Dynamic, adaptive management is needed to manage ocean resources, including protected species and commercial fisheries, according to San Diego State University researchers, who say such a shift could benefit both commercial fishing fleets and conservation-focused stakeholders.

The need for a new paradigm is illustrated by the growing threats to ocean ecosystems, including overfishing, ever-busier shipping routes, energy exploration, pollution and other consequences of ocean-based industry, according to SDSU biologist Rebecca Lewison.

There’s plenty of data available to help managers make real-time decisions, but they often can’t react quickly enough to new information, Lewison said, after outlining a framework for “dynamic ocean management” in a paper published today in the journal BioScience. Continue reading

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