Biologists map key habitat for Mediterranean sea turtles

Green sea turtle conservation

Green sea turtle. Photo courtesy Andy Bruckner/NOAA.

New marine protected area needed to protect the threatened species

Staff Report

FRISCO — UK scientists say that, based on mapping of critical foraging grounds for green sea turtles in the Mediterranean they recommend creation of a new marine protected areas to help protect the species, identified as “endangered” on the IUCN Red List.

The study involved tracking turtles from breeding grounds in Cyprus, Turkey, Israel and Syria and pinpointing ten foraging grounds. Two major hotspots in Libya account for more than half of the turtles which were tracked to conclusive endpoints.

Recent green sea turtle studies by U.S. scientists show how protected areas can help protect the species. The U.S. Geological Survey researchers confirmed the turtles’ use of the protected areas by tracking nesting turtles with satellite tags and analyzing their movement patterns after they left beaches in the Florida Keys. Continue reading

Feds confirm identity of illegally killed Utah wolf

Grand Canyon wolf

A gray wolf that wandered at least 450 miles from the northern Rockies is now living near the Grand Canyon in Arizona. Photo courtesy Arizona Game and Fish Department.

DNA test shows the wolf was the same one seen wandering around the Grand Canyon

By Bob Berwyn

FRISCO — Federal biologists say they’re now 100 percent sure that a wolf killed in late December in Utah was the same one that had previously been spotted wandering around the North Rim of the Grand Canyon.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service said University of Idaho geneticists matched DNA samples of the dead Utah wolf with samples taken from the wolf near the Grand Canyon. Continue reading

Not much love for endangered species in Obama’s budget

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It’s tough to save endangered species without any money.

Funding for entire endangered species program is less than the cost of a single F-35 fighter jet

Staff Report

FRISCO — The Obama administration talks a good green game, but when it comes to putting money toward endangered species protection, it’s business as usual. In fact, according to environmental watchdogs, the total amount of money allocated to endangered species is less than in 2016 when measured on a per-species basis.

That’s partly because 140 plants and animals have been added to the endangered species list in the past four years without an increase in spending, which means many conservation programs will underfunded once again this year. Continue reading

Climate: Growing stream-flow variability threatens Chinook salmon spawning in Pacific Northwest

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Can Chinook salmon survive global warming?

Research documents more fall and winter flooding

Staff Report

FRISCO — Threatened Chinook salmon have been able to adapt to many changes over millennia, but climate change presents a big new threat, as many rivers around Puget Sound have seen bigger fluctuations in stream flows during the past 60 years.

“There’s more flooding in late fall and winter,” said Eric Ward, an ecologist at NOAA Fisheries’ Northwest Fisheries Science Center. “This is happening when the eggs are in the gravel or when the juveniles are most susceptible.”

More pronounced fluctuations in flow can scour away salmon eggs and exhaust young fish, especially when lower flows force adult fish to lay eggs in more exposed areas in the center of the channel. Continue reading

Environment: Lawsuit highlights herbicide ‘death spiral’

A ladybug enjoys a leisurely stroll in an organic Austrian corn field.

A ladybug enjoys a leisurely stroll in an organic corn field.

Court challenge aimed at protecting whooping cranes, endangered bats

Staff Report

FRISCO — Hoping to forestall a DDT-type disaster, environmental groups and farmers last week moved to block the EPA’s approval of a new herbicide that could threaten endangered species.

In a federal court, the groups said the approval violates the Endangered Species Act because the EPA failed to consult with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service regarding the impact of Enlist Duo on two endangered species in those states, the whooping crane and the Indiana bat.  Continue reading

Oceans: Biologists report progress on abalone restoration

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A world without abalone?

Improved hatchery spawning and rearing may help rebuild populations

Staff Report

FRISCO — West Coast fisheries biologists say they’re making progress toward restoring abalone populations with improved laboratory spawning and rearing. If the shellfish can withstand the effects of ocean acidification, resource managers may be able to rebuild populations off the coast of California. Continue reading

Wildlife: Are lynx holding their own?

Feds conducting five-year status review

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Federal biologists are compiling new information about lynx in the United States as part of a five-year review. Photo courtesy USFWS.

Staff Report

FRISCO — Almost 15 years after listing lynx as a threatened species, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service still hasn’t developed a recovery plan for the snow-loving cats, but a required five-year status review currently under way may help the process.

The review is aimed at clarifying the extent, magnitude, and nature of the threats to lynx so that recovery planning can target those specific threats. When lynx were originally listed in 2000, federal biologists said the lack of adequate regulations on public lands was the main threat to the predators. Continue reading

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