Can the Endangered Species Act withstand the GOP assault?

Lynx kittens

Rare species like lynx would face increased threats under GOP proposals to weaken the Endangered Species Act. Photo courtesy Colorado Parks and Wildlife.

Lawmakers rally to block attacks on key environmental law

Staff Report

Conservation-minded lawmakers are rallying to counter the GOP’s seemingly endless attacks on the Endangered Species Act. In a letter to President Barack Obama, 91 members of Congress warned that Republicans are “doubling down” on their efforts to undermine protections for threatened plants and animals.

Led by Arizona Rep. Raúl M. Grijalva, the lawmakers asked the administration to reject the many proposals that undermine the Endangered Species Act, including those weakening or blocking protections for specific imperiled species. Continue reading

Feds say greater sage-grouse not endangered


Greater sage-grouse doing fine, feds say.

No listing needed …

Staff Report

Making a decision for which the political handwriting was on the wall a long time ago, the U.S. Department of Interior this week said that greater sage-grouse are doing just fine, and don’t need protection of the Endangered Species Act.

The non-listing may very well be challenged in court by some conservation groups who question whether a patchwork of voluntary conservation measures will be enough to save one of the West’s landmark species, but federal officials — tired of fighting with governors in western states like Colorado and Nevada, said the birds “remain relatively abundant and well-distributed: across their 173-million acre range. Continue reading

Court ruling may help California sea otter recovery


Southern California sea otters get some love from a federal court. Photo courtesy USFWS.

Federal judge backs USFWS decision to end a ‘no otter’ zone in Southern California

Staff Report

California sea otters may have a better chance of expanding south along the coast after a federal judge last week backed a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service decision to end a program that removed otters from areas south of Point Conception.

The “no-otter zone” was established by Congress in 1986 during the early days of political meddling with the Endangered Species Act, in response to complaints from fishermen that moving otters to a new location could interfere with their fishing activities. Continue reading

Climate: Too hot for lizards?


Global warming may bake lizard embryos before they have a chance to escape the heat. Photo via USGS.

New study shows lizard habitat could shrink by 48 percent

Staff Report

Climate change is likely to have a big impact on lizards across the United States, researchers warned in a recent paper after studying how warmer temperatures will affect them at all stages of their development.

The scientists found that lizard embryos die when subjected to a temperature of 110 degrees Fahrenheit even for a few minutes. Previous studies may have underestimated the impacts because they didn’t look closely at early life stages, when lizards are immobile and cannot seek shade or cool off when their surrounding soil becomes hot.

Continue reading

Endangered Species Act changes would send many plants and animals towards oblivion

A lynx in the wilds of Colorado. Photo courtesy Tanya Shenk, Colorado Division of Wildlife.

A lynx in the wilds of Colorado. Photo courtesy Tanya Shenk, Colorado Division of Wildlife.

Huge coalition sends letter to President Obama criticizing proposed new petitioning rules

Staff Report

A federal plan to tweak the Endangered Species Act isn’t getting much love from conservation advocates, who say the changes would make it much harder to start the listing process.

To reinforce their concerns, 175 environmental and social justice organizations sent a letter to the Obama administration, detailing what they call “massive roadblocks” to needed protection for many species. Continue reading

Appeals court upholds Colorado poaching conviction

Former Meeker outfitter who was convicted of baiting deer and elk with salt claimed his confession was coerced

Bull elk in morning sun, Rocky Mountain National Park.

A grazing bull elk in northern Colorado. @bberwyn photo.

Staff Report

FRISCO — A convicted northern Colorado poacher will remain in prison after the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals last week affirming the 41-month prison sentence and fines the former outfitter received in early 2013 for illegally baiting deer and elk with salt.

Dennis Eugene Rodebaugh, 73, of Meeker, Colorado, had appealed his conviction based on a series of legal technicalities, claiming that his confession was involuntary. The appeals court denied those claims after reviewing records of the investigation and questioning by investigators.

According to Colorado Parks and Wildlife and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service investigators, between 2002 and 2007, Rodebaugh and an associate used large quantities of salt to attract elk and mule deer to an area in the White River National Forest where he had installed tree stands, enabling their clients to easily kill the animals. Continue reading

Popular Waterton Canyon recreation area near Denver closed after bear chases cyclist

American black bears are notorious scavengers, and their habit of seeking out human food nearly always ends badly. Photo courtesy U.S. Forest Service.

American black bears are notorious scavengers, and their habit of seeking out human food nearly always ends badly. Photo courtesy U.S. Forest Service.

Wildlife managers have closed several areas this summer due to bear activity and to avoid unwanted encounters

Staff Report

FRISCO — After earlier summer closures of popular national forest areas due to close encounters with bears, Denver Water and Colorado Parks and Wildlife have decided to close Waterton Canyon to public recreation until further notice — for the same reason.

According to a release from Denver Water, there are two sows, each with twin cubs, and other bears actively foraging in the canyon. Friday afternoon, a biker was chased by a bear in the canyon. No one was injured. Continue reading


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