Sen. Bennet leads charge for sage-grouse conservation funding

The health of sage grouse populations is directly linked to that of the sagebrush landscape. More than 350 species rely on the sagebrush ecosystem including elk, mule deer and pronghorn’

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Can greater sage-grouse get some love from Congress?

Staff Report

FRISCO — In a bid to avoid an endangered species listing for greater sage-grouse, Colorado Sen. Michael Bennett led a group of fellow Democrats urging the Senate Appropriations Committee to fully fund an array of conservation measures by multiple federal land management agencies. Continue reading

Biodiversity: Louisiana black bear recovery hailed as endangered species success story

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Louisiana black bears have recovered and will be taken off the endangered species list. Photo courtesy Brad Young, Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks.

Recovery goals met, USFWS proposes delisting

Staff Report

FRISCO — In a textbook case of endangered species conservation,  U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service biologists last week said they’ve met their recovery goals for the Louisiana black bear and moved to take the species off the endangered species list.

The subspecies of black bear lives only in Louisiana, East Texas and western Mississippi. It was listed in 1992 because of pressures from hunting and habitat destruction and fragmentation. Now, the agency estimates about 500 and 750 Louisiana black bears roam the region, about double the population size at the time of listing. Continue reading

Biodiversity: Mixed messages on manatee threats

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Manatees gather at a warm-water spring in western Florida. @bberwyn photo.

Loss of seagrass habitat, red tide events still seen as key threats

Staff Report

FRISCO — A new report on threats to manatees is full of mixed signals, on the one hand downgrading the extinction threat, but on the other, warning that loss of habitat and cold-water mortality events are still huge threats.

The study, led by the  U.S. Geological Survey, is part of a five-year status review for the endangered marine mammal.  The scientists concluded that  the long-term probability of the species surviving has increased compared to a 2007 analysis, mainly because of higher aerial survey estimates of population size, improved methods of tracking survival rates, and better estimates of the availability of warm-water refuges. Continue reading

Feds seek to tweak Endangered Species Act

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Lynx have protected under the Endangered Species Act for 15 years, but legal wrangling and bureaucratic inertia have prevented completion of a recovery plan for the mammals, Photo courtesy Colorado Parks and Wildlife.

Modernization aimed at keeping regs in line with science, political pressure and court rulings

Staff Report

FRISCO — Federal biologists say they want to freshen up the Endangered Species Act to “reflect advances in conservation biology and genetics, as well as recent court decisions interpreting the Act’s provisions.”

According to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, many of the country’s endangered species regulations date back to the 1980s, and need an overhaul. According to U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service director Dan Ashe, the changes will address states’ concerns and boost voluntary conservation efforts, and add transparency to the listing process.

The proposal to revamp parts of the law comes against a backdrop of blistering attacks by anti-environmental Republicans in Congress who see endangered species regulations as hurdles to the exploitation of natural resources and have tried to undercut the bedrock law by preventing funding for environmental protection, and even going as far as trying to prevent federal agencies from making science-based listing decisions. Continue reading

Bat-killing fungus spreads west to Oklahoma

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Bat-killing white-nose syndrome has spread west in Oklahoma. Photo via USFWS.

Are western bats at risk?

Staff Report

FRISCO — A bat-killing fungal disease that has wiped out millions of the winged mammals has spread west into Oklahoma, reinforcing concerns that bats across the country are at risk from white-nose syndrome.

Three tricolored bats in a cave in Delaware County tested positive for the fungus, according to Oklahoma wildife biologists. This early detection is likely a precursor to the appearance of the full-blown disease in two to three years, according to conservation biologists with the Center for Biological Diversity. Continue reading

Feds investigate possible wolf killing near Kremmling

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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.

Three other dispersing wolves have died in Colorado

Staff Report

FRISCO — Without DNA testing, state and federal wildlife officials can’t say for sure, but it appears that yet another wandering wolf from the northern Rockies may have been shot and killed, this near Kremmling, Colorado.

The April 29 shooting was immediately reported to the CPW office in Hot Sulphur Springs by the coyote hunter, who said he mistook the 90-pound animal for a coyote. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is testing the remains to positively identify the animal. Continue reading

USGS study says global warming threatens genetic diversity in Columbia River Basin bull trout

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Bull trout in the Columbia River Basin. USGS photo.

Warming water, more winter flooding not a good combination for fish

Staff Report

FRISCO — A native western trout species that’s been listed as endangered since 1998 will likely be further threatened by global warming, according to biologists, who found that genetic diversity in bull trout is lowest where stream temperatures are warmest and winter flooding is highest.

With these trends predicted to continue, a new U.S. Geological Survey-led study suggests that the species is more susceptible to climate change than previously thought. Continue reading

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