Wildlife: Florida panther deaths reach record high

Can panthers survive the onslaught of continued development in southwest Florida?

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No slowdown in Florida panther deaths. Graph courtesy PEER.

An endangered Florida panther. PHOTO BY RODNEY CAMMAUF, COURTESY THE NATIONAL PARK SERVICE.

An endangered Florida panther. PHOTO BY RODNEY CAMMAUF, COURTESY THE NATIONAL PARK SERVICE.

Staff Report

FRISCO — Panther deaths in Florida climbed to a record level in 2014, as the wild cats continue to succumb to collisions with vehicles on highways in southwest Florida.

In all, 30 panther deaths were reported by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission this year, topping the previous record of 27 deaths tallied in 2012. More than half of this year’s deaths were the result of collisions with vehicles.

Panther mortality this year could represent as much as one-fourth of the entire population, which the Florida Fish & Wildlife Conservation Commission estimates at between 100 and 180 animals.  The reason for this wide variation is that the number of cats monitored through radio collars has steadily declined. Continue reading

Wildlife: Wandering wolf killed in Utah was probably the same one spotted near the Grand Canyon

‘Mistaken identity’ shooting fits disturbing pattern of accidental kills, wildlife advocates say

Arizona Game and Fish Department

Arizona Game and Fish Department

By Summit Voice

FRISCO — A coyote hunter shot and killed a federally protected gray wolf in southwestern Utah Sunday, probably the same wolf that had been spotted repeatedly around the North Rim of the Grand Canyon in recent weeks.

According to the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources, the wolf was radio-collared near Cody, Wyoming a year ago. The state agency said the hunter voluntarily reported the kill when he noticed the radio-collar. Continue reading

Wildlife advocates seek expansion of grizzly bear range

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Wildlife advocates want federal biologists to bring back grizzlies in Selway-Bitterroot ecosystem in central Idaho and western Montana. Photo courtesy Chris Servheen/USFWS.

Without connectivity to other populations, grizzly bears are vulnerable to inbreeding and genetic depression

Staff Report

FRISCO — The task of recovering grizzly bears is far from done, according to wildlife advocates, who last week asked the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service try and establish new populations of the apex predators in the Selway-Bitterroot ecosystem in central Idaho and western Montana.

As many as 50,000 grizzly bears roamed widely from the Pacific Ocean to the Great Plains in the pre-settlement era, but as pioneers moved in, bears were persecuted and their numbers and range drastically declined. Today, with the western United States inhabited by millions of Americans, there are only a few pockets of grizzly populations totaling about 1,400-1,700 wild grizzly bears. Of the 37 separate grizzly populations present in 1922, 31 were extirpated by 1975. Continue reading

Biodiversity: ‘Safe harbor’ for endangered Owens pupfish?

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Owens pupfish may find safe harbor on Native American lands in California’s Owens Valley. Photo courtesy California Department of Fish and Wildlife.

Agreement with Native Americans could bolster populations of listed fish

Staff Report

FRISCO — Federal biologists are teaming up with Native Americans in eastern California to try and recover the endangered Owens pupfish under a safe harbor agreement that may include translocation of wild Owens pupfish to tribal lands, maintaining habitat, providing a source population for future reintroductions, and public education and outreach. Continue reading

Biodiversity: More California condor chicks take flight

An endangered California condor in flight over Zion National Park. PHOTO FROM THE WIKIMEDIA COMMONS.

An endangered California condor in flight over Zion National Park. Photo courtesy National Park Service.

73 condors now living in the wild in Utah and Arizona

Staff Report

FRISCO — In another small, encouraging sign that California condors may avoid extinction, biologists said last week that two-wild-fledged chicks have left their nests and taken flight in northern Arizona. A third condor chick — the first wild-fledged in Utah — did not survive.

California condors once soared widely from California to Florida and Western Canada to Northern Mexico but were nearly wiped out by the middle of the 20th century and listed as endangered in 1967. In 1982, only 23 condors survived world-wide, and in 1987, all remaining wild condors were placed into a captive breeding program. Continue reading

Environment: Cows versus greater sage-grouse?

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Greater sage-grouse need tall grass for nesting. Photo courtesy U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

Study shows livestock grazing a key factor in greater sage-grouse decline

Staff Report

FRISCO — A new study by sage grouse scientists confirms that the height of grass cover in nesting habitat is a key factor in determining greater sage grouse nest success.

The findings suggest that better grazing management is needed to protect the threatened birds. Cattle eat native vegetation that sage grouse require for hiding their nests from predators. Continue reading

Feds taking input on new Florida manatee plan

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Manatees at Crystal Springs, Florida. bberwyn photo.

Refuge managers seek to balance protection of marine mammals with demand for public access at Three Sisters Springs

Staff Report

FRISCO — The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service says a careful management plan at a freshwater spring in Florida can help protect manatees and ensure public access to the popular Three Sisters Springs recreation area.

The agency this week started taking input on a draft environmental assessment for management actions to protect manatees and still allow public access at Three Sisters Springs during the winter season. Continue reading

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