Environment: Seismic oil surveys threaten sea turtles

A loggerhead sea turtle off the coast of New England. Photo courtesy NOAA/Matthew Weeks.

A loggerhead sea turtle off the coast of New England. Photo courtesy NOAA/Matthew Weeks.

Scientists say pro-active mitigation could reduce risk

Staff Report

Marine biologists already know that a number of ocean species are at risk from massive seismic blasting operations used to map oil and gas reserves beneath the ocean floor. A new study by scientists with the University of Exeter warns that seismic surveys may also threaten sea turtles.

The review, published in the journal Biological Conservation, found that compared to marine mammals and fish, turtles are largely ignored in terms of research attention and are often omitted from policy guidelines designed to mitigate the environmental risks of seismic surveys. Continue reading

Watchdogs say Western Governors’ Association is trying to weaken endangered species protections


Not much love for endangered species like lynx at a recent Western Governors’ Association workshop. Photo courtesy Tanya Shenk/Colorado Division of Wildlife.

Recent workshop focused on industry gripes

Staff Report

For the apparent lack of anything productive to do, the Western Governors’s Association is apparently trying to cook up new ways to weaken the Endangered Species Act for the benefit of developers and extractive industries.

The association held a workshop last week, ostensibly to “encourage bipartisan conversations to improve the Endangered Species Act,” but that is just more Orwellian doublespeak, according to watchdog groups, who pointed out that speakers during the meeting “overwhelmingly represented industries and political interests opposed to protections for endangered species.” Continue reading

Bat-killing fungus has spread across 26 states


A bat displays signs of the deadly white-nose syndrome. Photo via USFWS.

Nebraska officials confirm presence of white-nose syndrome

Staff Report

Bat-killing white-nose syndrome has been confirmed in Nebraska, which means the deadly fungus has now spread to 26 states and five Canadian provinces, wiping out populations of hibernating bats along the way.

“While the presence of the fungus is disappointing, it is not surprising,” said Mike Fritz, a zoologist with the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission. “With the fungus being present in states around us and the migratory nature of bats, it was probably only a matter of time before it was documented in Nebraska.” Continue reading

Use of rat poison at illegal California pot plantations is pushing fishers toward extinction

A fisher kit climbs a tree. Poisons used on illegal marijuana farms continue to threaten fishers in California.

A fisher kit climbs a tree. Poisons used on illegal marijuana farms continue to threaten fishers in California. Photo courtesy U.S. Forest Service.

Findings leave little doubt that marijuana growers are key threat to rare mammals

Staff Report

A new study presents more evidence that illegal marijuana growers are speeding the demise of a rare forest critter in California. After studying hundreds of forest-dwelling fishers, researchers concluded that the annual rate of poisoning deaths rose 233 percent compared to a study in 2012.

“This study further solidifies the need for continuing to remediate and remove these threats to fishers and other species of conservation concern within our public lands,” said Dr. Mourad Gabriel, executive director of the Integral Ecology Research Center, lead author of the study published in PLOS One.

“I hope the next steps can focus on rectifying the harmful effects of this clandestine activity so that they do not stem the years of conservation efforts of stabilizing the California fisher populations.” Continue reading

Genetic study suggests Yellowstone grizzlies are headed toward recovery

An adult grizzly bear in the brush. PHOTO COURTESY THE U.S. FISH AND WILDLIFE SERVICE.

Are grizzlies in Yellowstone headed toward recovery? Photo courtesy USFWS.

USGS researchers track effective population size with DNA sampling

Staff Report

A new genetic study suggests the grizzly bear population in the Greater Yellowstone ecosystem is growing to near the size needed to maintain healthy genetic diversity.

The latest report from the Interagency Grizzly Bear Study Team is sure to add more fuel to the controversy over whether grizzlies should taken off the Endangered Species List, as proposed by federal resource managers. Many conservation biologists say grizzlies are nowhere near recovery and that the move to delist them is based on politics, not science. Continue reading

Feds eye protection for glacier-dependent bugs

asdf Joe Giersch

Can Montana’s glacier stoneflies survive global warming? Photo courtesy USFWS/Joe Giersch.

Montana stoneflies may get endangered species status

Staff Report

The meltdown of the Earth’s glaciers isn’t going to slow anytime soon, even if the world can agree on the big cuts in greenhouse gas emissions targeted as part of a global climate treaty this year.

And few alpine landscapes will feel the heat more than Montana’s Glacier National Park, where remnant glaciers from the last ice age have already dwindled to nearly nothing. Most of the remaining ice patches will probably be gone by 2050, and when they vanish, so will habitat for two species of stoneflies found nowhere else on Earth. Continue reading

U.S. puts rare macaws on endangered species list

"Ara militaris -Zoológico Los Coyotes -three-8a" by Gary Denness - originally posted to Flickr as Squawk No Evil. Licensed under CC BY 2.0 via Commons - https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Ara_militaris_-Zool%C3%B3gico_Los_Coyotes_-three-8a.jpg#/media/File:Ara_militaris_-Zool%C3%B3gico_Los_Coyotes_-three-8a.jpg

“Ara militaris -Zoológico Los Coyotes -three-8a” by Gary Denness – originally posted to Flickr as Squawk No Evil. Licensed under CC BY 2.0 via the Creative Commons.

Decades of poaching, habitat destruction take toll on birds

Staff Report

Two rare bird species in Central and South America will get protection under the Endangered Species Act, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced last week. Under the listing, military and great green macaws can’t be imported into, or exported out of, the U.S.

Permits to handle the birds will only be issued for scientific purposes that benefit the species in the wild, or to enhance the propagation or survival of the species, including habitat restoration and research. Continue reading


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