California condors still dying of lead poisoning

A tagged California condor in flight.

A tagged California condor in flight.

New study suggests that spent lead ammunition could make it impossible to recover the species

Staff Report

FRISCO — Accidental ingestion of spent lead ammunition is killing endangered California condors at a rate that may prevent the birds from establishing self-sustaining populations.

The condors were among the first animals to be protected under the Endangered Species Act. By 1966, the population had dropped to just a handful of birds, but a massive collaborative conservation effort helped the population grow to more than 400 individuals.

But those gains may be at risk, according to San Diego Zoo conservation biologists.

“After reviewing nearly 20 years of our mortality data on the free-ranging birds, it became clear that lead poisoning is the primary problem for the birds in the wild,” said Bruce Rideout, director of the wildlife disease laboratories for San Diego Zoo Global.

“And this is not just a problem for California condors. We can view them as an indicator species, warning us about the hazards of widespread lead contamination in the environment.” said Bruce Rideout, director of the wildlife disease laboratories for San Diego Zoo Global.

The recent study of lead impacts was done with researchers from the Wildlife Health Center at the School of Veterinary Medicine, University of California at Davis. The findings are published in the  January edition of the journal EcoHealth.

 

Court rejects challenge to endangered species deal

Developers and energy companies show no love for rare species

gf

Federal biologists are deciding whether wolverines should be protected under the Endangered Species Act. Photo courtesy USFWS.

By Summit Voice

FRISCO — A federal judge last week rejected claims by developers that a 2011 agreement between environmental groups and the federal government will hurt the industry.

At issue is a groundbreaking deal covering more than 700 species that could someday be listed as threatened or endangered. Under the agreement, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service said it will make listing decisions on all the species by 2018, and so far, 138 species have been protected or formally proposed for protection. Continue reading

GOP renews attack on Endangered Species Act

fdsg

Why are so many Republicans opposed to efforts to protect and restore endangered and threatened species?

Not much substance, a lot of political smoke …

Staff Report

FRISCO — The Republican anti-environment cadre in the House is once again taking aim at the Endangered Species Act by introducing legislation that would make it even harder for federal agencies to protect animals and plants that are at risk of going extinct.

Two of the bills, H.R. 4316 and H.R. 4318, would limit the ability of citizens to challenge government decisions in court. The Republican measures are also ostensibly aimed at reducing the government’s legal costs associated with responding to endangered species lawsuits, but conservation advocates said that is an ideological red herring. Government data shows that the Department of Interior has spent far more money responding to frivolous demands for documents than on settling lawsuits.

Continue reading

Wildlife: Southwest wolf numbers up 4th year in a row

g

Wolves numbers are slowly increasing in the Southwest.

Hopeful signs for recovery effort, but challenges remain

By Bob Berwyn

FRISCO — Against a backdrop of political and legal battles over the status of wolves, Mexican gray wolf numbers have increased the fourth year in a row, with 83 wolves now living in the wilds of New Mexico and Arizona.

That’s up 10 percent from last year and almost 100 percent from four years ago, according to the annual tally from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. The number of breeding pairs also increased from three to five. Continue reading

Biodiversity: Feds finalize critical habitat for jaguars

Jaguar. Image via the Wikimedia Commons.

Jaguar. Image via the Wikimedia Commons.

Nearly 1,200 square miles of territory protected for recovery of native cats

By Summit Voice

FRISCO — Nearly 17 years after federal biologists first listed jaguars under the Endangered Species Act, the wild cats may now have a protected area to roam in the wilds of the Southwest.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service this week designated about 1,200 square miles of rugged desert, mountain and forest lands in southern Arizona and New Mexico as critical habitat for jaguars — but only after a sustained legal push by the Center for Biological Diversity.

The federal wildlife agency initially resisted mapping out protected areas, claiming that the cats are too rare for habitat protection. Wildlife advocates challenged the agency’s position and a federal court rejected the government’s argument, leading to this week’s critical habitat listing notice in the Federal Register. The USFWS is also working on a jaguar recovery plan for the area. Continue reading

Environment: Scientists warn about use of seismic airguns in never-ending quest for more fossil fuels

fghj

Seismic airgun testing poses a risk to marine mammals.

Marine mammals at risk off the East Coast

By Summit Voice

FRISCO — The fossil fuel industry’s use of seismic airgun testing to search for as-yet untapped offshore oil deposits could prove damaging to ocean species — especially marine mammals that depend on acoustic information.

Unless federal agencies use the best available science to design effective avoidance and mitigation strategies, thousands of dolphins and whales could be affected, including critically endangered North Atlantic right whales, with a dwindling population of only 500 individuals. Continue reading

Environment:: Some good news for endangered Colorado River fish

Recovery stakeholders find permanent sources of water to sustain needed late summer and autumn flows

jh

Endangered Colorado River Fish will benefit from permanent sources of water earmarked for a collaborative recovery effort. Click on the image to visit the recovery project website.

By Summit Voice

FRISCO — Four endangered native fish species in the Upper Colorado River may have a little better chance a long-term survival, as stakeholders in a collaborative recovery program found permanent sources of water needed to protect aquatic habitat for the the fish.

Water previously provided from Williams Fork and Wolford reservoirs to benefit endangered fish recovery has been replaced with permanent sources at a cost of about $25 million. The water will come from Ruedi Reservoir (5,412.5 acre-feet) and  from Granby Reservoir (5,412.5 acre-feet). The releases from Granby Reservoir will also benefit flow conditions and water quality upstream of endangered fish habitat. Continue reading

Biodiversity: Review panel says feds didn’t use best available science for wolf delisting proposal

sdfg

Scientists find flaws in federal plan to take wolves off the Endangered Species List. Photo courtesy USFWS.

USFWS reopens comment period on controversial proposal

By Bob Berwyn

FRISCO — A federal plan to take gray wolves off the endangered species list hit a snag last week, as an independent review panel raised questions about the scientific rationale for the plan.

Specifically, the reviewers questioned whether U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service biologists used the best available science when they developed the delisting proposal. Part of the criticism hinged on the fact that the agency relied heavily on one single report that may have omitted some key information, and included fundamental flaws about the taxonomy and genetic differentiation of wolves. Continue reading

Can polar bears adapt to global warming?

A polar bear roams a coastal strand. PHOTO BY SUSANNE MILLER, USFWS.

A polar bear roams a coastal strand. Photo courtesy Susanne Miller, USFWS.

Studies show changing foraging behavior

By Summit Voice

FRISCO — A shared genetic heritage with brown bears may enable some polar bears to adapt as their icy Arctic hunting grounds shrink in the face of global warming.

As Arctic sea ice dwindles, polar bears have a limited amount of time to hunt their historically preferred prey — ringed seal pups — and must spend more time on land.

But polar bears in the western Hudson Bay region are using flexible foraging strategies while on land, such as prey-switching and eating a mixed diet of plants and animals, as they survive in their rapidly changing environment.

“There is little doubt that polar bears are very susceptible as global climate change continues to drastically alter the landscape of the northern polar regions,” said Robert Rockwell, a research associate  at the American Museum of Natural History’s department of ornithology. “But we’re finding that they might be more resilient than is commonly thought.” Continue reading

Oceans: Study identifies risk hotspots for leatherback sea turtles

New data could help reduce bycatch of endangered turtles

asdfasdfasdfa

kh

A leatherback sea turtle at sea. Photo courtesy NOAA.

A leatherback sea turtle at sea. Photo courtesy NOAA.FRISCO — A new mapping effort may help prevent accidental deaths of leatherback sea turtles, one of the most endangered animals in the world — if resource managers use the information to establish timed seasonal fishing restrictions.

By Summit Voice

The research shows use-intensity distributions for 135 satellite-tracked adult turtles and distributions of longline fishing areas in the Pacific Ocean. The overlap of these distributions in space and time allows prediction of bycatch risk.

Leatherback populations have declined by more than 90 percent since 1980. One of the greatest sources of mortality is industrial longlines that set thousands of hooks in the ocean to catch fish, but sometimes catch sea turtles as well. Using modern GPS technology, researchers are now able to predict where fisheries and turtles will interact and to reduce the unwanted capture of turtles by fishermen. Continue reading

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 6,972 other followers