Posted on April 10, 2014 by Bob Berwyn
A tagged California condor in flight.
New study suggests that spent lead ammunition could make it impossible to recover the species
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.
Filed under: biodiversity, endangered species, Environment | Tagged: biodiversity, California condors, endangered species, Environment | Leave a comment »
Posted on April 9, 2014 by Bob Berwyn
Developers and energy companies show no love for rare species
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
Filed under: Environment, biodiversity, endangered species | Tagged: wildlife, conservation, endangered species | Leave a comment »
Posted on March 31, 2014 by Bob Berwyn
Why are so many Republicans opposed to efforts to protect and restore endangered and threatened species?
Not much substance, a lot of political smoke …
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.
Filed under: biodiversity, endangered species, Environment | Tagged: biodiversity, endangered species, Environment, politics | 1 Comment »
Posted on March 6, 2014 by Bob Berwyn
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
Filed under: endangered species, Environment | Tagged: biodiversity, endangered species, Mexican gray wolves, wolf recovery | Leave a comment »
Posted on March 5, 2014 by Bob Berwyn
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
Filed under: biodiversity, endangered species, Environment, wildlife | Tagged: biodiversity, critical habitat, endangered species, jaguars, Southwest, wildlife | Leave a comment »
Posted on February 22, 2014 by Bob Berwyn
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
Filed under: biodiversity, endangered species, Environment, Marine biology, ocean conservation | Tagged: endangered species, marine mammals, Oceana, seismic airgun testing | 1 Comment »
Posted on February 9, 2014 by Bob Berwyn
Recovery stakeholders find permanent sources of water to sustain needed late summer and autumn flows
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
Filed under: biodiversity, Colorado, endangered species, Environment, rivers, water | Tagged: biodiversity, Bonytail chub, Colorado Pikeminnow, Colorado River, Colorado River native fish, endangered species, humpback chub, razorback sucker | 1 Comment »
Posted on February 8, 2014 by Bob Berwyn
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
Filed under: biodiversity, endangered species, Environment | Tagged: biodiversity, endangered species, Environment, gray wolves, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, wildlife | 1 Comment »
Posted on January 24, 2014 by Bob Berwyn
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
Filed under: Arctic, biodiversity, climate and weather, endangered species, Environment, global warming | Tagged: Arctic sea ice, climate change, endangered species, global warming, polar bears | 2 Comments »
Posted on January 11, 2014 by Bob Berwyn
New data could help reduce bycatch of endangered turtles
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
Filed under: biodiversity, Environment, Marine biology, ocean conservation | Tagged: biodiversity, endangered species, Environment, leatherback sea turtles, oceans | 1 Comment »