Feds post draft recovery plan for rare Nebraska beetle

Salt Creek tiger beetles have been pushed to the brink of extinction by habitat loss associated with urbanization, bank stabilization and agricultural development

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There are only a few hundred Salt Creek tiger beetles remaining. Photo via USFWS.

Staff Report

FRISCO — A rare insect that lives only in a few pockets of saline wetlands and streams in eastern Nebraska is getting some much-needed attention. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service this week published a draft recovery plan for the endangered Salt Creek tiger beetle.

Biologists are hopeful that a collaborative conservation effort, including habitat protection, captive breeding and reintroductions, can keep the insect from going extinct. Salt Creek tiger beetles have declined due to habitat loss associated with urbanization, bank stabilization and agricultural development. Continue reading

Yosemite National Park launches effort to restore endangered yellow-legged frogs in alpine lakes

‘Today we know these frogs are a key part of healthy mountain lake ecosystems …’
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A Sierra Nevada yellow-legged frog. Photo courtesy National Park Service.

Staff Report
FRISCO — National Park Service biologists say a targeted restoration effort in Yosemite could rebuild populations of endangered yellow-legged frogs back to self-sustaining levels within 10 years.

Yellow-legged frogs were once the most common frog in mountain lakes throughout the Sierra Nevada, but in recent decades were nearly wiped out by non-native species and by disease. By 2005, biologists could only find 11 widely scattered populations, with perhaps a couple of thousand frogs total. Continue reading

Congress out of synch with voters on environmental issues

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The majority of Americans support protection for endangered species, and for clean air and clean water. Photo courtesy Colorado Parks and Wildlife.

Nearly 7 in 10 voters favor strong environmental laws, yet Congress kowtows to special interests

Staff Report

FRISCO — If Americans voted purely on environmental issues, the country would have a very “green” Congress, according to a new poll showing that most people support the Endangered Species Act, and are more likely to vote for candidates who want to uphold environmental safeguards. Continue reading

No-fishing zone boosts Robben Island penguins

Long-term outlook for African penguins still poor

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Endangered African penguins on Robben Island, Photo courtesy Davide Gaglio.

Staff Report

FRISCO — Biologists say a no-fishing zone around South Africa’s Robben Island has benefited endangered penguins, showing how even small protected marine zones can help conservation efforts.

The study from the University of Exeter says survival of endangered African penguin chicks increased by 18 percent during the three-year trial period, which is important because the African penguin population has been in a “freefall, with adult survival rates over the last decade desperately low.” Continue reading

Feds release draft polar bear recovery plan

Polar bears catch a bit of break, as sampling in one area shows a drop in levels of toxic PCBs. PHOTO COURTESY USGS.

Polar bears will have a hard time surviving unless there are big cuts in greenhouse gas emissions. Photo courtesy USGS.

‘Polar bear conservation requires a global commitment to curb the release of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere …’

Staff Report

FRISCO — The only thing that will save polar bears in the long run is a big cut in global greenhouse gas emissions, federal biologists said last week as the rolled out a draft recovery plan for the Arctic predators.

Polar bears were the first species to be listed as endangered because of the direct threat of global warming. As Arctic sea ice continues to shrink, bear populations will decline, according to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Continue reading

Lawsuit challenges federal plan for Mexican gray wolves

Wildlife advocates say arbitrary caps on population and habitat won’t allow for full recovery of the species

A Mexican gray wolf in the wilds of the Blue Range wolf recovery area. Photo courtesy of the Mexican Wolf Interagency Field Team.

A Mexican gray wolf in the wilds of the Blue Range wolf recovery area. Photo courtesy of the Mexican Wolf Interagency Field Team.

Staff Report

FRISCO — Wildlife advocates say a federal plan to cap the Mexican gray wolf population at 300 to 325 animals won’t ensure the long-term survival of the species, and they’re going to court to make sure the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service adopts policies that give endangered Mexican gray wolves a fair shot at recovery in their historic U.S. range.

At issue is a final federal rule issued early this year that would likely prevent the wolves from recolonizing suitable habitat in northern Arizona, New Mexico, Colorado, and Utah.

“Unfortunately, politics supplants wildlife biology in key parts of the USFWS Mexican gray wolf plan,” said John Mellgren, the Western Environmental Law Center attorney representing the advocacy groups in the lawsuit. “Our goal in this case is to put the science back into the management of Mexican wolves in the U.S.” Continue reading

Climate change: New polar bear prognosis not good, as feds prepare to publish recovery plan

‘Addressing sea ice loss will require global policy solutions …’

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An updated USGS study shows how global warming will affect polar bears.

Staff Report

FRISCO — Loss of Arctic sea ice caused by increasing concentrations of greenhouse gases remains as the primary threat to polar bears, U.S. Geological Survey researchers said after updating their research models.

Even if greenhouse gas emissions drastically reduced, sea ice will continue to shrink for decades, leading to a significant loss of polar bear habitat in many parts of the Arctic. The Canadian Archipelago is a notable exception. That region may serve as a climate refuge for the bears and other ice-dependent species, the federal scientists said. Continue reading

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