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Biodiversity: Will grizzlies return to the North Cascades?

Grizzlies are roaming farther north and encroaching on Polar bear habitat, PHOTO COURTESY U.S. GEOLOGICAL SURVEY.

Will grizzlies once again roam the North Cascades? Photo courtesy U.S. Geological Survey.

National Park Service launches 3-year study on possible restoration

Staff Report

FRISCO — In a big move for grizzlies and wild ecosystems, the National Park Service this week launched a three-year environmental study to evaluate to possibility of restoring the apex predators to the North Cascades.

“This is the first stage of a multi-step process to help inform decisions about grizzly bear restoration in the North Cascades ecosystem,” said National Park Service Director Jonathan B. Jarvis. “The National Park Service and our partners in this effort haven’t made any decisions about the bear’s restoration at this time as federal law requires us to look at a range of options, including not restoring grizzlies to the area.” Continue reading

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Morning photo: Sunday set

Oh, Colorado!

wetlands sunrise Colorado

Wetlands sunrise, Frisco, Colorado.

FRISCO — Our Sunday set is a grab-bag of shots from the last 10 days or so, starting with another spectacular sunrise scene at the Meadow Creek wetlands in Frisco. And since we’ve been on the road reporting for the crowfunded Climate Rangers environmental journalism project, we’re also featuring a few images from outside Summit County. Continue reading

Study: Colorado pikas holding their own

Colorado pika

A Quandary Peak pika enjoys some sunny weather recently on his rocky ledge. bberwyn photo.

Plenty of good habitat left in the Colorado Rockies, researchers conclude

By Summit Voice

FRISCO — New surveys by Colorado wildlife biologists suggest that pikas seem to be holding their own as temperatures rise in the Rocky Mountains. The study found that pikas remain well distributed in the Colorado high country.

“In their primary habitat, mainly at and above timberline where there is lots of talus, we find pikas almost everywhere we look,” said Amy Seglund, a species conservation biologist for Parks and Wildlife based in Montrose. Continue reading

Climate: Increase in Arctic wildfires likely to have big impact on caribou herds

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Alaska caribou. Courtesy USGS.

Shifts in wildlife populations will affect Native American communities

Staff Report

FRISCO — Some big caribou herds in Alaska could lose more than 20 percent of their habitat as growing wildfires destroy critical foraging areas. Those changes will likely affect generations of Native American families whose existence is spiritually linked with the Arctic ungulates, researchers with the U.S. Geological Survey reported in a new study.

Rapidly warming Arctic temperatures are to blame — global warming increases the flammability of lichen-producing boreal forests, which are important winter habitat for caribou herds. Continue reading

Environment: Feds to ban genetically engineered crops, neonicotinoid pesticides in wildlife refuges

Resident bald eagle in Summit County, Colorado guarding the nest.

Recent studies show that neonicotinoid pesticides can persist in the environment, so the decision to ban them from federal wildlife refuges is good news for bald eagles. bberwyn photo.

New directive ends some long-running legal squabbles

By Summit Voice

FRISCO — Federal wildlife and land managers say they’ll end the use of genetically engineered crops and ban systemic neonicotonoid pesticides in the next 18 months. In a July 17 memo  chief of the National Wildlife Refuge System James Kurth wrote that it’s not essential for his agency to use the potentially harmful products to meet its wildlife management objectives. Read the FWS memorandum.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service thus becomes the first federal agency to restrict the use of GE crops and neonicotinoids in farming in the U.S.

Public land and health watchdog groups have been challenging the agency over the use GE crops since 2005, including five lawsuits, two legal petitions and multitudes of administrative challenges and appeals, resulting in numerous court rulings against the agency. In one case, a judge ordered the agency to eradicate genetically engineered plants from wildlife refuges in the Southeast. Continue reading

Colorado: Mule deer summit set for Aug. 9

Colorado mule deer.

Colorado mule deer. bberwyn photo.

State biologists to unveil plan aimed at bolstering deer herds

Staff Report

FRISCO — After studying the decline of Colorado mule deer populations for the past few years, state wildlife biologists are ready to unveil a new strategy aimed at stabilizing an bolstering deer numbers. Western Slope residents will be able to get an early look at the plan during the upcoming Aug. 9 mule deer summit in Glenwood Springs.

The event is free and open to the public. CPW and The Keystone Center invite public review and comments on the West Slope Mule Deer Strategy draft as it serves as a guide to future CPW efforts to increase mule deer populations in Western Colorado.
Continue reading

Arctic: Satellite images help track polar bears

Data will help assess global warming impacts to Arctic wildlife

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Polar bears near a U.S. Navy submarine.

Staff Report

FRISCO — The latest generation of high-resolution satellite images may help scientists gain a better understanding of Arctic polar bear populations. Dwindling Arctic sea ice is seen a huge threat to the predators, but difficult field conditions make it challenging to get a clear picture of polar bear population dynamics.

Satellite images have also been used recently to track emperor penguins in Antarctica, and researchers are starting to rely on satellite images more and more. In a new study, U.S. Geological Survey biologists matched satellite surveys with ground-truthed counts. Continue reading

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