Alaska’s coastal wolves facing multiple threats

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Alexander Archipelago wolf, Photo courtesy Alaska Department of Fish and Game.

Wildlife advocates say proposed hunt on Prince of Wales Island is unsustainable

Staff Report

FRISCO — A rare breed of wolves living on coastal islands in southeast Alaska is under the gun more than ever before, according to wildlife advocates who are protesting a state plan to allow hunting and trapping of an Alexander Archipelago wolf population on Prince of Wales Island.

The hunt is being permitted even though scientific data shows a 60 percent decline in the population in just one year. Based on the report, wolf advocates say there may only be about 50 wolves remaining on the island. Continue reading

DNA study pinpoints elephant poaching hotspots

‘When you’re losing a tenth of the population a year, you have to do something more urgent …’

 IMAGE: A group of elephants socializing. view more Credit: Courtesy of Michael Nichols

New DNA evidence could help slow the slaughter of elephants. Photo courtesy Michael Nichols.

FRISCO — A high-tech DNA analysis of ivory from illegally killed elephants could help track and capture poachers. After sampling tons of ivory associated with large-scale trafficking, University of Washington biologist Sam Wasser says the ivory comes largely from just two areas, one each for the forest and savanna elephants. The findings are published June 18 in the journal Science.

“Africa is a huge continent, and poaching is occurring everywhere. When you look at it that way it seems like a daunting task to tackle this problem,” Wasser said. “But when you look at large ivory seizures, which represent 70 percent of illegal ivory by weight, you get a different picture.” Continue reading

Biodiversity: Montana eyes bison restoration

Draft study open for public comment

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A bison in the grasslands of Badlands National Park.

Staff Report

FRISCO — Wildlife managers in Montana are exploring options for restoring bison to parts of the state where they haven’t roamed in more than 100 years.

Bison were nearly eliminated from their historic range more than a century ago. By the late 1890s, only 1,000 bison remained in North America, and most of these animals were held on private ranches where they were interbred with cattle. By 1902, only 25 bison remained in the wild in the U.S., seeking refuge deep within Yellowstone National Park. Today, this Yellowstone herd numbers around 4,500 animals. Continue reading

Environment: House GOP continues anti-wolf crusade

The leader of the new Summit County wolf pack, dubbed "John Denver" by federal biologists. PHOTO COURTESY USFWS.

GOP continues wolf persecution.  Photo via USFWS.

Latest budget amendment would overturn federal court rulings that reinstated protection for wolves

Staff Report

FRISCO — For the second time in five years, anti-environmental Republicans in Congress are trying to make an end run around the Endangered Species Act by stripping federal protection for gray wolves in Wyoming and the western Great Lakes states.

The amendment to a spending bill for the Interior Department is similar to a measure passed in 2011, when Congress removed protections for wolves in Idaho and Montana — the first time that Congress legislatively removed protections for a species. Since the 2011 rider passed, more than 1,900 wolves have been killed in the two states. Continue reading

With help, European bison are making a comeback

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This is an American bison in the Black Hills of South Dakota, but wildlife advocates in Europe are in the midst of an ambitious program to restore native European bison.

European rewilding movement gaining ground

Staff Report

FRISCO — It’s hard enough to maintain native species in places like the wide-open spaces of the American West.

Imagine the challenges on a crowded continent like Europe with a much greater population density. Nevertheless, conservation biologists are making progress, finding nooks and crannies across Europe to restore native wildlife, including bison.

In late May, the nonprofit group Rewilding Europe, in partnership with WWF-Romania, said it will release a small herd of bison into the southern Carpathian Mountains of Romania — the first of the species to roam the region freely in more than 200 years. Continue reading

Predator recovery brings new conservation challenges

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Recovering sea lion populations are putting pressure on other endangered species. Photo courtesy NOAA.

‘in protecting one species you have to be thinking ahead to account for cascading effects that may impact other species too’

Staff Report

FRISCO — The recovery of major predators in ocean and land ecosystems is leading to new challenges for wildlife managers, as animals like seals and sea lions take a toll on other species — some of them also endangered. In some cases, the recovery also affects human activities.

This conservation paradox requires new management approaches, researchers concluded in a new paper after they studied patterns of predation in the ocean off the Pacific Northwest Coast in the Greater Yellowstone ecosystem. Continue reading

Battle over Colorado coal mine heats up

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More coal mining in Colorado?

Environmental activists want Forest Service to drop expansion plan for West Elk mine

Staff Report

FRISCO — A U.S. Forest Service coal-mining plan that could result in dozens of miles of new roads in a pristine Colorado forest is drawing fire from conservation groups and citizens around the country.

Expanding Arch Coal’s West Elk coal mine in Gunnison County would be a lose-lose — bad for the state’s environment, and bad for the global climate, according to the environmental groups, who recently rallied their members to flood the agency with letters and emails. Continue reading

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