Court rejects challenge to endangered species deal

Developers and energy companies show no love for rare species

gf

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

Grand Canyon National Park eyes bison plan

Roaming buffalo create management challenges

sadf

The buffalo are roaming in Grand Canyon National Park. bberwyn photo.

By Summit Voice

FRISCO — A herd of bison brought to northern Arizona in the early 1900s has moved from a state-run wildlife area into Grand Canyon National Park, and now park rangers want to develop a plan to manage the animals.

Initially, the bison were managed in the House Rock Wildlife Area for big game hunters, but in the late 1990s, the animals have pioneered their way to the top of the Kaibab Plateau and into Grand Canyon National Park.

Resource managers say  combination of public hunt pressure, drought and fire, and reduced forage quality in House Rock Valley during the 1990s may have contributed to the bison moving through Saddle Mountain Wilderness and onto the higher elevations of the Kaibab Plateau. Over the past several years, very few bison have returned to wildlife area. Most now spend a majority of their time inside the park. Continue reading

Environment: Post-fire rehab treatments in Great Basin not doing much good for sage-grouse

Greater sage-grouse. Photo courtesy USFWS.

Greater sage-grouse. Photo courtesy USFWS.

More targeted treatments could benefit threatened birds

By Summit Voice

FRISCO — Post-fire rehabilitation work in the Great Basin’s sagebrush ocean isn’t doing much to help greater sage-grouse, USGS and U.S. Forest Service scientists found in a new study.

The research team took a close look at areas eight to 20 years after seeding efforts, pointing out that such restoration projects could, in theory, be used to improve sage grouse habitat — but only if the right types of seeds are planted.

Sage-grouse tend to use areas with a mixture of dwarf sagebrush and Wyoming big sagebrush, native grasses, minimal human development, and minimal non-native plants. Most post-fire restoration projects are were designed to mitigate the effects of fire on soil and vegetation — but they provide an opportunity to reverse habitat degradation for sage-grouse, a species being considered for protection under the Endangered Species Act.

Continue reading

New Idaho wolf law draws howls of outrage

State lawmakers aim to cut wolf numbers drastically

A wolf in Yellowstone National Park. (Photo courtesy of Yellowstone National Park)

A wolf in Yellowstone National Park. Photo courtesy of Yellowstone National Park.

Staff Report

FRISCO — Just a few years after Congress removed endangered species protection for wolves in Idaho, state lawmakers seem hellbent on driving the predators back to brink of extirpation.

The Idaho Legislature this week created a wolf depredation control board controlled by anti-wildlife interests. The board will administer a $400,000 fund set up explicitly to kill wolves. Conservation advocates say the new law could result in the slaughter of 500 wolves, leaving just 150 in the state. Continue reading

Biodiversity: Montana Supreme Court ends bison battle

Ruling gives herds more room to roam

h

Bison grazing in the South Dakota badlands. bberwyn photo.

Staff Report

FRISCO — Native bison will get more room to roam outside Yellowstone National Park, as the Montana Supreme Court affirmed a lower court decision that will end the slaughter of bison leaving the park. The court decision also gives the wild animals seasonal access to important winter and early spring habitat outside the north boundary of the park in the Gardiner Basin area until May 1 of each year.

The ruling ends a bitter and long-running battle between wildlife advocates and ranchers, who just can’t seem to let go of their innate hostility toward most native species, including predators. The courts have now twice rebuffed demands by some livestock producers and their allies to require aggressive hazing and slaughtering of bison that enter the Gardiner Basin area from Yellowstone National Park in the winter and early spring in search of the forage they need to survive. Continue reading

Study says invasive Everglades pythons are not much of a threat to humans

A Burmese python caught in the Florida Everglades. PHOTO COURTESY USFWS.

A Burmese python caught in the Everglades. Photo by USFWS.

Most attacks on humans may be cases of mistaken identity

Staff Report

FRISCO — There’s good news and bad news from the Everglades. Invasive Burmese pythons now number in the tens of thousands and they’re not going anywhere anytime soon.

The good news is, those pythons apparently don’t pose much of a threat to humans, according to an assessment by the U.S. Geological Survey and National Park Service scientists.

The human risk assessment looked at five incidents that involved humans and Burmese pythons over a 10-year period in Everglades National Park. All five incidents involved pythons striking at biologists who were conducting research in flooded wetlands. Continue reading

Biodiversity: Feds finalize critical habitat for jaguars

Jaguar. Image via the Wikimedia Commons.

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

GOP attack on endangered species fueled by “Tea Party fantasies’

House report fails to cite any peer-reviewed science

sgd

A lynx kitten in Colorado. Photo courtesy CPW.

By Summit Voice

FRISCO — Anti-environmental Republicans in the House are once again twisting the facts and distorting science in their efforts to dismantle the Endangered Species Act on behalf of various extractive and environmentally harmful industries.

An analysis released last week by the Center for Biological Diversity found a series of significant factual errors in a report that formed the basis of a recent proposal by 13 House Republicans to weaken a bedrock environmental law that has prevented the extinction of scores of plants and animals across the country.

The analysis, which highlights 12 key errors in the GOP report, was sent in a letter to Rep. Doc Hastings (R-Wash.), chair of a key House resources committee. According to wildlife conservation advocates, the proposal would cripple key parts of the Act by limiting the ability of citizens to hold government accountable by challenging endangered species decisions and policies. Continue reading

Biodiversity: Review panel says feds didn’t use best available science for wolf delisting proposal

sdfg

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

Global warming: More coastal habitat for geese in Alaska due to rising temperatures, melting sea ice

sdfg

A family of black brant geese in Alaska, Photo courtesy USGS.

Some species may benefit from climate change

By Summit Voice

FRISCO — Dwindling sea ice spells trouble for polar bears and walrus colonies, but some other animals are benefiting from global warming — at least for now.

Warming temperatures have resulted in more high quality habitat for geese along the Arctic coast of Alaska, according to a U.S. Geological Survey study.

The research focused on  black brant geese that migrate by the thousands each summer to the Arctic Coastal Plain of Alaska to undergo their wing molt, during which time the birds are flightless for three weeks. This molting period requires high quality food to give the birds the energy necessary to replace worn feathers and also extensive open water areas where birds can escape from predators. Continue reading

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 6,975 other followers