Category: endangered species

Debris-free beaches aid sea turtle nesting

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A loggerhead turtle heads toward the sea at Cape Hatteras National Seashore.

New study shows how to help recover endangered loggerheads

Staff Report

Nobody likes a dirty bedroom and sea turtles are no exception.

New research by scientists at the University of Florida shows that removing beach debris helps sea turtle nesting. At cleared beaches, the number of nests rose by as much as 200 percent, the study shows, while leaving the detritus decreased the number by nearly 50 percent.

With many sea turtle species classified as endangered or threatened, restoring nesting habitat is critical to keeping them alive, said Ikuko Fujisaki, the study’s lead author and an assistant research professor of wildlife ecology and conservation with the UF Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences. Continue reading “Debris-free beaches aid sea turtle nesting”

Vaquita population drops to brink of extinction

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Continued poaching is pushing the vaquita toward extinction. Photo courtesy Paula Olsen/NOAA.

New survey results show as few as 60 remaining vaquita porpoises in the Gulf of California

Staff Report

The population of vaquita porpoises in the Gulf of California may be down to just 60 individuals, according to conservation advocates, who released the results of recent surveys in a press release last week.

The vaquita is the world’s smallest and most endangered porpoise and could be extinct in less than a decade without stringent conservation measures, especially a complete and well-enforced ban on gill nets in the northern Gulf of California. The new vaquita population estimate is based on observer data and acoustic monitoring conducted during a joint Mexico-U.S. vaquita research cruise last fall. Continue reading “Vaquita population drops to brink of extinction”

Wildlife: Court settlement compels feds to complete recovery plan for Mexican gray wolves in the Southwest

Mexican gray wolfWolf advocates hope for more releases of captive-bred wolves

Staff Report

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service this week agreed to prepare a recovery plan for Mexican gray wolves by 2017. The court settlement will compel the federal agency to finally meet its legal obligation to ensure that the wolves can establish a healthy, sustainable population. The settlement may speed up the slow-going conservation and recovery effort.

The settlement came in response to a lawsuit filed by a coalition of wolf-conservation groups, environmental organizations and a retired federal wolf biologist. Less than 100 Mexican gray wolves exist in the wild, making it one of the most endangered mammals in North America. The settlement follows a September 2015 ruling by a federal judge in Tucson that rejected the government’s effort to dismiss the case.

The recovery effort has long been mired in politics, with conservative Republican lawmakers setting roadblocks at every turn, pressuring the USFWS from the state level and trying to make end runs around the Endangered Species Act in Congress. Continue reading “Wildlife: Court settlement compels feds to complete recovery plan for Mexican gray wolves in the Southwest”

Wildlife: Biologists track genetics of elusive Himalayan wolves

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Wildlife biologists tracking the genetics of Himalayan wolves say the species needs special protections to survive. Photo courtesy Madhu Chetri/CC 4.0.

Study suggests more protection needed for rare mountain predators

Staff Report

Biologists tracing the elusive Himalayan wolf say that new genetic studies show the species branched off from its relatives so long ago that they are divergent from the whole globally distributed wolf-dog clade. Based on that isolated genetic isolation, the Himalayan wolf should considered a species of particular conservation concern.

The Himalayan wolf is visibly distinct from other wolves, standing out because of its smaller size, longer muzzle and stumpy legs, as well as a white coloration around the throat, chest, belly and inner part of the limbs. Its characteristic woolly body fur has given the subspecies the common name of woolly wolf. Continue reading “Wildlife: Biologists track genetics of elusive Himalayan wolves”

Milkweed shortage not the only reason for monarch decline

Monarch butterflies during migration. PHOTO COURTESY GENE NEIMINEN/USFWS.
Monarch butterflies at their overwintering grounds in Mexico. Photo courtesy Gene Neiminen/USFWS.

‘We have to get the science right’

Staff Report

The decline of milkweed may not be the main factor driving monarch butterflies toward oblivion, according to a new study by Cornell University scientists. Weather, habitat fragmentation and dwindling sources of nectar in the autumn are also critical, the new study reports.

“Thanks to years of data collected by the World Wildlife Fund and citizen-scientists across North America, we have pieced together the monarch life cycle to make inferences about what is impacting the butterflies,” said Cornell University Prof. Anurag Agrawal.

“Given the intense interest in monarch conservation, the blame being put on herbicide use and the national dialog about potentially listing monarchs under the endangered species act, we have to get the science right,” Agrawal said. Continue reading “Milkweed shortage not the only reason for monarch decline”

Watchdog group keeps door open for endangered species petitions

Two of the five lynx dens documented this spring by CDOW are in Summit County. PHOTO BY TANYA SHENK, COLORADO DIVISION OF WILDLIFE.
Two of the five lynx dens documented this spring by CDOW are in Summit County. Photo by Tanya Shenk/Colorado Division of Wildlife.

Feds dial back proposed regs that would have made it harder to seek endangered species protection

Staff Report

Many plants and animals that are protected as endangered species in the U.S. got that status because conservation groups — representing concerned citizens — petitioned the federal government. It’s a process that’s explicitly mandated by the Endangered Species Act, but that has led to serious frustration among government biocrats and various extractive industries that specialize in exploiting public land resources.

In an attempt to try and cripple citizen groups, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service recently proposed making the petitioning process much more difficult by requiring pre-clearance from state agencies and limiting petitions to a single species. All in all, the proposal was aimed at trying to avoid giving protection to species that need it. Continue reading “Watchdog group keeps door open for endangered species petitions”

Conservation groups say Mexico must step up vaquita conservation efforts to prevent extinction

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Gill nets are still being used in protected areas, according to conservation advocates.

Better monitoring and enforcement of gill net ban needed in Gulf of California

Staff Report

So far, Mexico’s efforts to save the Gulf of California’s endangered vaquita haven’t been enough, according to conservation activists tracking the last-ditch attempt to save one of the world’s most endangered marine mammals. By some estimates, as few as 50 vaquita remain.

In an open letter to Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto, nonprofit organizations asked Mexico to step up patrols and enforcement of a gill-netting ban aimed at preventing extinction of the species. In recent months, three vaquitas have died in illegally set nets. Continue reading “Conservation groups say Mexico must step up vaquita conservation efforts to prevent extinction”