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Biodiversity: Feds issue new report on greater sage-grouse

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Greater sage-grouse, courtesy USFWS.

Survey of studies provides regional context for conservation efforts

By Summit Voice

SUMMIT COUNTY — Federal scientists hope that a new report with extensive data on greater sage-grouse will help land managers develop more effective conservation strategies. The Baseline Environmental Report was released by the U.S. Geological Survey  last month.

“This report summarizes several decades of work on sage-grouse populations and sagebrush habitat. It will serve as a useful tool for land and wildlife managers and provides a needed range-wide perspective,” said Suzette Kimball, acting director of the USGS. Continue reading

Biodiversity: Wolves get short end of the stick — again

Caving to political pressure from western states, the Obama administration wants to remove endangered species protections for the ecologically vital predators

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A gray wolf follows a grizzly bear in Yellowstone National Park. Photo courtesy NPS/Doug Smith.

By Summit Voice

FRISCO — In a move that’s sure to spur another round of contentious lawsuits, the Obama administration is moving ahead with its controversial plan to take nearly all wolves across the U.S. off the endangered species list.

Federal biologists say wolves are recovered and no longer need endangered species protection, but conservation groups immediately blasted the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, saying that the agency based its conclusions on faulty science.

“This is like kicking a patient out of the hospital when they’re still attached to life-support,” said Noah Greenwald, endangered species director with the Center for Biological Diversity.  “Wolves cling to a sliver of their historic habitat in the lower 48 and now the Obama administration wants to arbitrarily declare victory and move on. They need to finish the job that Americans expect, not walk away the first chance they get. This proposal is a  national disgrace and our wildlife deserve better,” Greenwald said. Continue reading

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Biodiversity: Scientists slam feds on possible wolf de-listing

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Wolves are recovered in Yellowstone, but a possible plan to take them off the Endangered Species List is highly controversial. Photo courtesy Yellowstone NP.

Leaked plan doesn’t live up to intent of Endangered Species Act

By Summit Voice

SUMMIT COUNTY — A group of prominent scientists with expertise in wolf biology is taking issue with a draft plan to take wolves off the Endangered Species List. The document was leaked a few weeks ago, eliciting widespread criticism from wildlife advocates.

Federal wildlife agencies are under intense pressure from states to turn over wolf management. Congress has already set the stage for political interference in the wolf recovery process, and that step has put the the U.S. Fish and Wildlife service at the edge of a very slippery slope. Any proposal to de-list wolves is likely to face significant opposition and legal challenges from conservation advocates. Continue reading

Biodiversity: Draft wolverine plan gets mixed reviews

Draft listing proposal ends with mixed reviews

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The USFWS takes another step toward finalizing a wolverine recovery effort. Photo courtesy USFWS/Steve Kroschel.

By Bob Berwyn

*Click here for more Summit Voice wolverine stories

FRISCO —A draft federal proposal to list wolverines as threatened under the Endangered Species Act elicited mixed reviews as the formal comment period ended May 6. Some states  in the northern Rockies opposed the proposal, saying that wolverines don’t need federal protection, but Colorado is generally supportive of the plan. At the same time, coalition of conservation groups asked the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to ratchet up protection with an “endangered” listing.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service will now consider all the comments and finalize a listing decision during the next year.

Wolverines are the largest member of the weasel family. They were hunted, poisoned and trapped to near extinction across much of their range in the early 20th century. Since then, populations recovered in the North Cascades, as well the Northern Rocky Mountains in Idaho, Montana, Oregon (Wallowa Range), and Wyoming. Continue reading

Feds settle lawsuit, move to protect sea turtle habitat

First part of protection plan due July 1

A NOAA map showing the range of loggerhead sea turtles.

A NOAA map showing the range of loggerhead sea turtles.

By Summit Voice

FRISCO — The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service says it will protect loggerhead sea turtle feeding, breeding and migratory habitat in ocean waters by July 1, pursuant to a settlement agreement with conservation groups, including the Center for Biological Diversity, Oceana and Turtle Island Restoration Network and the U.S. government.

The agency also committed to finalizing critical habitat protection for marine habitat and nesting beaches by July 1, 2014. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service recently proposed critical habitat protection for loggerhead nesting beaches along Atlantic and Gulf coasts and will accept public comment until May 24. Continue reading

Biodiversity: Sierra Nevada frogs proposed for listing

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Recovery efforts for Sierra Nevada yellow-legged frogs may get a boost from a proposed endangered species listing. Photo courtesy U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

Endangered Species Act protection could help stem decline and boost recovery efforts

By Summit Voice

SUMMIT COUNTY — After suffering decades of decline  from habitat destruction, disease, predation by nonnative trout, pesticides and climate change, native Sierra Nevada amphibians may get some measure of protection under the Endangered Species Act.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service last week proposed listing Sierra Nevada yellow-legged frogs and Yosemite toads. The agency also proposed protection for a population of mountain yellow-legged frogs that lives in the southern Sierra Nevada. The plan also includes an initial proposal to designate more than 2 million acres of critical habitat.

The proposal are the result of a 2011 agreement between the Center for Biological Diversity and the USFWS to speed up endangered species protection decisions for 757 imperiled animals and plants around the country. So far, 56 species have been fully protected and another 96 have been proposed for protection under the settlement agreement.  Continue reading

Biodiversity: Wildlife advocates howling mad about draft federal plan to take wolves off the Endangered Species List

Wolves may not be in danger of extinction, but are they recovered?

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The current legal status of wolves in the U.S.

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A gray wolf follows a grizzly bear in Yellowstone National Park. Photo courtesy NPS/Doug Smith.

By Bob Berwyn

FRISCO —An oft-discussed proposal to remove gray wolves from the Endangered Species List has progressed to the point that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has developed a fairly detailed draft version of the plan. The draft rule proposes removing all protections for wolves in 29 eastern states but maintaining endangered status for the Mexican wolf by listing it as a subspecies.

“We propose these actions because the best available scientific and commercial information indicates that the currently listed entity is not a valid species under the Act and that the Mexican wolf (C. l. baileyi) is an endangered subspecies,” the agency wrote in the draft. Continue reading

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