Category: endangered species

Climate: Pikas disappearing from marginal habitat

New study documents population declines in Great Basin

Colorado pika
A Quandary Peak pika enjoys some sunny weather on a rocky ledge in the Colorado Rocky Mountains. @bberwyn photo.

Staff Report

U.S. Geological Survey scientists have filled in another piece in the pika puzzle, finding that changes in distribution of populations of the tiny mammals are mainly influenced by climatic factors. The new study, published in The Journal of Mammalogy, helps show how global warming will affect the species.

Several previous research efforts have been inconclusive, and one study from Colorado suggests that pikas are holding their own in the highest reaches of the central and southern Rocky Mountains. But the new study, conducted in 2014 and 2015 at 910 sites, showed  widespread reduction in pika range in three mountainous regions including the Great Basin, southern Utah and northeastern California.

Another recent study that included National Park Service researchers tried to project where pikas will be able to persist in places like Rocky Mountain National Park, Crater Lake and Yellowstone National Park. More information is available on the NPS Pikas in Peril website. Continue reading “Climate: Pikas disappearing from marginal habitat”

New report IDs biggest global threats to wildlife

Some species of seals are expected to face a growing global warming threat in coming decades. @bberwyn photo.
Some species of seals are expected to face a growing global warming threat in coming decades as warmer temperatures melt their habitat. @bberwyn photo.

‘Reducing immediate impacts is essential to tackling the biodiversity crisis’

Staff Report

About 75 percent of the world’s threatened species are at risk because of human impacts to their environment and unsustainable harvesting, according to a new study in the journal Nature.

“Addressing these old foes of overharvesting and agricultural activities are key to turning around the biodiversity extinction crisis” said lead author Sean Maxwell of the University of Queensland, “This must be at the forefront of the conservation agenda.”

Scientists from the University of Queensland, the Wildlife Conservation Society and the International Union for Conservation of Nature studied 8,688 species on the IUCN Red List. They found that 72 percent of species are imperiled by unsustainable harvesting. The production of food, fodder, fiber and fuel crops; livestock farming; aquaculture; and the cultivation of trees imperils another 62 percent.  By comparison, 19 percent are considered threatened by climate change. Continue reading “New report IDs biggest global threats to wildlife”

Conservation groups seek trade sanctions against Mexico in effort to save the endangered vaquita

Continued illegal gill net fishing cited in push for ban on Mexican seafood

vaquita
There may be as few as 60 endangered vaquita remaining in the Gulf of California. Photo courtesy NOAA.

Staff Report

In what could be a last-ditch effort to save imperiled vaquita in the Gulf of California, conservation advocates are urging the Obama administration to launch economic sanctions against Mexico to halt that country’s trade in totoaba. According to the Center for Biological Diversity, the sanctions would be justified because Mexico is violating the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) by not enforcing the ban on totoaba trade.

The June 28 letter to high level U.S. Cabinet officials is the latest step in a long-running an complex struggle to prevent extinction of vaquitas, an endangered porpoise that lives in only a small section of the upper Gulf of California. My some estimates, there may only be 60 individuals remaining. Continue reading “Conservation groups seek trade sanctions against Mexico in effort to save the endangered vaquita”

Reaching Paris climate goals would help polar bears survive

New research suggests that capping global warming below 2 degrees Celsius would lower chances of big population decline by preserving critical sea ice

 Eric Regehr, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
Can these mighty Arctic predators survive the era of human-caused global warming?  Photo courtesy Eric Regehr, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

Staff Report

Now that the world has a clear target for limiting global warming, scientists say they show how how achieving the goal would protect at least some ecosystems and vulnerable species from impacts.

One newly updated study found that aggressively cutting greenhouse gas emissions would help ensure the survival of polar bears, listed as threatened because of Arctic sea ice declines. Polar bears depend on the ice as platforms for feeding around the biologically rich continental shelves of the Arctic Ocean. Continue reading “Reaching Paris climate goals would help polar bears survive”

Endangered species status sought for bluefin tuna

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Pacific bluefin tuna are on the brink of extinction, according to conservation groups seeking to list the fish on the endangered species list. Photo courtesy NOAA.

Over-fishing threatens species with extinction

Staff Report

The bluefin tuna population in the Pacific Ocean has dropped so low that a coalition of conservation groups have petitioned the National Marine Fisheries Service to protect the species under the Endangered Species Act.

According to the petition, the population has declined more than 97 percent since fishing began, largely because countries have failed to reduce fishing enough to protect the iconic species, a luxury item on sushi menus.

“Without help, we may see the last Pacific bluefin tuna sold off and lost to extinction,” said Catherine Kilduff of the Center for Biological Diversity. “New tagging research has shed light on the mysteries of where majestic bluefin tuna reproduce and migrate, so we can help save this important species. Protecting this incredible fish under the Endangered Species Act is the last hope, because fisheries management has failed to keep them off the path toward extinction.” Continue reading “Endangered species status sought for bluefin tuna”

Wildlife in Southeast will need help to survive global warming

Some species of turtles in North America will be hard-pressed to survive global warming. bberwyn photo.
Some species of turtles in the Southeast will be hard-pressed to survive global warming without help.  @bberwyn photo.

New study IDs climate connectivity corridors that can help plants and animals move

By Bob Berwyn

Natural habitat in the eastern half of the U.S. has been so fragmented by roads, farms and cities that many plants and animals won’t be able to survive global warming without a lot of help.

That means thinking about the concept of climate connectivity, according to a new study that aims to give policy makers tools to consider climate change for development and conservation planning.

The research, reported June 13 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, shows how creating climate-specific movement corridors could give many species a better chance to survive the warming expected in the coming decades. Continue reading “Wildlife in Southeast will need help to survive global warming”

Wildlife: Wyoming grizzly hunting plan challenged in court

Grizzly bear attacks are rare, and hikers are encouraged to carry pepper spray to deter attacks. PHOTO COURTESY U.S. FISH AND WILDLIFE SERVICE.
Grizzlies are under the gun in Wyoming. Photo via USFWS.

Activists say public was short-changed on comment period

Staff Report

Wildlife advocates are going to court to challenge a proposed grizzly hunting plan in Wyoming. A lawsuit filed last week alleges that he Wyoming Game and Fish Commission illegally fast-tracked approval of the plan without allowing adequate public comment.

The approval would authorize the state’s first trophy hunt of grizzly bears in 40 years, but the public only had 30 days to review and comment on the plan — far too short to be able to evaluate the biological consequences of the proposed hunt. The commission simultaneously adopted a tri-state memorandum of agreement with Idaho and Montana to formalize quotas for grizzly hunts, allocating over 50 percent of the quota to Wyoming. Continue reading “Wildlife: Wyoming grizzly hunting plan challenged in court”