Wildlife: Idaho ends wilderness wolf hunt — for now

There will no wolf hunting in Idaho and Montana this year. Photo by Tracy Brooks/Mission Wolf / USFWS

Idaho halts wilderness wolf hunt. Photo by Tracy Brooks/Mission Wolf/USFWS.

Wildlife advocates claim hunt was intended to boost elk numbers to benefit hunters and outfitters

By Summit Voice

FRISCO — Wildlife conservation advocates made some headway in their battle to halt relentless wolf hunting in the northern Rockies this week, as the Idaho Department of Fish and Game agreed to stop its trapping and hunting program in the Middle Fork region of the Frank Church-River of No Return Wilderness.

Since mid-December, Idaho killed nine wolves from two packs in the region. Represented by Earthjustice, several conservation groups went to court to block the killing, arguing that the state wolf extermination program would degrade the largest forested wilderness in the lower-48 states. Continue reading

Environment: Unchecked population growth & development are threatening Florida’s wildlife

State’s wildlife is squeezed from all sides

Oceanic birds and birds that rely on coastal habitat face challenges related to climate change, according to the 2011 State of the Birds report. PHOTO BY BOB BERWYN.

Oceanic birds and birds that rely on coastal habitat face challenges related to climate change, according to the 2011 State of the Birds report. bberwyn photo.

By Summit Voice

FRISCO — The rapid growth of Florida’s population, combined with laissez-faire development policies and the lack of strong environmental regulations is putting the state’s natural resources at risk, conservation advocates said in a year-end press release.

The warning came as the U.S. Census Bureau released figures showing that Florida will soon overtake New York as the third-most populous state in the country, and as Florida’s wildlife continues to struggle in the face habitat loss, urban sprawl, water withdrawals and other effects of rapid human population growth in recent decades.

“As Florida’s human population growth breaks new records, incredible species like panthers and manatees are dying at record rates,” said Stephanie Feldstein, the Center for Biological Diversity’s population and sustainability director. “Florida is a beautiful, biodiversity-rich state, but it has a long history of replacing that beauty with condos and strip malls. If Florida doesn’t get its growth under control, development and concrete are all that will be left.” Continue reading

Wyoming wolf battle far from over, as wildlife advocates challenge delisting in federal court

Gray wolves a. Photo courtesy USFWS.

Gray wolves are facing state-sanctioned slaughter in Wyoming. Photo courtesy USFWS.

Lawsuit says state management plan is inadequate

By Summit Voice

FRISCO — Wildlife advocates say that, without federal protection, wolves in Wyoming could soon be back on the ropes because of anti-wolf state policy that does little to protect the predators.

Based on those concerns, conservation groups sued the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in U.S. District Court in Washington, D.C. The court heard arguments in the case on Dec. 17, with Earthjustice attorney Tom Preso asking the judge to restore Endangered Species Act protections to gray wolves in Wyoming until state officials develop a stronger wolf conservation plan. Continue reading

Will reindeer survive global warming?

Some herds likely to lose most of their habitat as climate warms

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Reindeer are adapted to life in cold, snowy climates. Photo courtesy USGS.

By Summit Voice

FRISCO — Digging deep into the genetics of caribou populations, scientists said the animals could disappear from most of their range in southern and eastern Canada in the next 60 years, as climate change fragments habitat.

The study, published Dec. 15 in the journal Nature Climate Change, found that caribou populations in the most climatically stable areas had the greatest genetic diversity. Climate projections, combined with the new genetic data, suggest the animals won’t fare well in the coming in decades.

“Caribou can respond to habitat change in three ways,” said Kris Hundertmark, co-author and wildlife biologist-geneticist at the Institute of Arctic Biology at the University of Alaska Fairbanks. “They can move to new, suitable habitat, adapt to the changed habitat or die. Continue reading

Feds once again push grizzly bear de-listing

An adult grizzly bear in the brush. PHOTO COURTESY THE U.S. FISH AND WILDLIFE SERVICE.

An adult grizzly bear in the brush. PHOTO COURTESY U.S. FISH AND WILDLIFE SERVICE.

Conservation groups say it’s too early

By Summit Voice

FRISCO — Federal biologists last week said they expect to decide within a month whether they will remove grizzly bears in the northern Rockies from the endangered species list despite a recent study suggesting that populations may be declining.

Grizzlies were classified as a threatened species in 1975 and cooperative conservation efforts have help recover and stabilized some populations, but wildlife conservation groups say the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service proposal to take grizzlies off the list is premature. Continue reading

Christmas bird count starts this week

Annual survey helps track population trends, potential threats

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A red-tailed hawk perches on a snag in the Williams Fork Range in Summit County, Colorado. bberwyn photo.

By Summit Voice

FRISCO — Experienced birders and novices alike are invited to join in one of the longest-running citizen science surveys in the world — the 114th annual Christmas Bird Count, set this year for Dec. 14 through Jan. 5, 2014.

This year, Colorado Parks and Wildlife is hosting an event at the State Forest State Park, near Gould. The 71,000-acre park includes alpine lakes, forests and peaks along the west side of the Medicine Bow Mountains and into the north end of the Never Summer Range. Continue reading

Once again, please don’t feed wild animals!

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A Northern Bahamian rock iguana (Cyclura Cychlura Inornata). Photo via Wikipedia and the Creative Commons.

Study shows how human food affects rare rock iguanas

By Summit Voice

FRISCO — There are plenty of good reasons to follow the old adage about not feeding wild animals, and a recent study of endangered Bahamian rock iguanas provides even more proof.

According to the findings, tourist-fed iguanas are suffering physiological problems as a result of eating human food. In the study, led by Charles Knapp of the  John G. Shedd Aquarium in Chicago, the scientists compared blood and faecal samples from iguanas that were fed by tourists to samples from iguanas that did not have any interactions with humans.

The body condition of the two groups of iguanas was similar, but indicators for dietary indicators showed the effects of feeding by humans. Both male and female iguanas from the islands frequently visited by tourists showed notably different levels of glucose, potassium, and uric acid, as well as levels of other minerals. The female iguanas from tourist areas differed significantly in ionized calcium. Continue reading

Dwindling Denali wolves raise tourism concerns

wolf population across the 6 million acre park and preserve declined from 143 in fall 2007 to just 55 in spring 2013

Wolves on the Denali Park Road. Photo courtesy NPS Photo / Nathan Kostegian.

Wolves on the Denali Park Road. Photo courtesy NPS/Nathan Kostegian.

By Bob Berwyn

FRISCO — An arbitrary decision by the Alaska Board of Game to allow wolf hunting and trapping near Denali National Park has cut the regional wolf population by nearly two-thirds and significantly reduced opportunities for park visitors to see wolves in the wild — one of the main reasons people go to Denali in the first place.

This year, fewer than 5 percent of park visitors were able to see wolves, down from about 45 percent back in 2000, according to National Park Service statistics obtained by a federal government watchdog group.

“This precipitous decline in wildlife viewing success appears to be unprecedented in the history of the national park system,” said Rick Steiner, a retired University of Alaska professor and a Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility board member. Continue reading

Putting up Christmas lights? Keep wildlife in mind

Antlered animals can get tangled in light strands

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We love our holiday lights, but take care to avoid wildlife entanglements. bberwyn photo.

By Summit Voice

As the holiday season nears and decorations begin to adorn houses, yards and trees, Colorado Parks and Wildlife reminds the public to decorate with wildlife safety in mind. Outdoor holiday decorations and structures, like Christmas lights or trampolines, can cause problems for antlered animals.

“Deer, elk, and moose often find themselves tangled in material or stuck in pools, skate parks, etc.” said Jennifer Churchill, public information officer for Colorado Parks and Wildlife. “Although some may find these interactions cute or think that the animal is having fun, these situations can be very stressful to the animal. Coloradans should do all they can to prevent our wildlife from conflict with man-made obstructions.” Continue reading

Wildlife: Colorado Birding Trail expands to northwestern part of state with 13 new segments

New designations could help boost local economies

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Osprey have built nests in the top of beetle-killed lodgepole pines along the shore of Dillon Reservoir. bberwyn photo.

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Migrating grebes visit Dillon Reservoir in late fall and early winter. bberwyn photo.

By Summit Voice

FRISCO —It’s not too late to do a little bird-watching in Colorado; in fact, it’s one of the best times of the year to catch a glimpse of some migratory wanderers making a last stop before heading to sunnier climes for the next few months.

It’s also a good time to get dialed in for the annual Christmas bird count, a nationwide event that helps wildlife biologists get an overall picture of bird populations across the country.

And just in time, Colorado Parks and Wildlife has unveiled the recently completed northwest section of the Colorado Birding Trail, covering popular recreation areas like Summit County. The latest addition includes a series of 13 trails-or driving loops-and 155 wildlife viewing sites to the previously established trails across the southeast and southwest areas of the state. Continue reading

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