Category: Environment

Why is the government spying on climate activists?

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Fossil fuel protestors targeted by undercover investigations

Staff Report

The threat of international terrorism apparently is not keeping federal agents so busy that they don’t have time to investigate the largely peaceful community of climate activists who are advocating for a rapid shift to a carbon-free energy economy.

In recent months, federal and local law enforcement agencies have cooperated with fossil fuel companies to spy on groups like 350.org and the Break Free movement, as shown by a series of documents obtained by The Intercept. Those records show that agents went underground to monitor the groups activities and training sessions. Of course, such domestic intelligence operations aren’t new — paranoid government agencies have a long history of tracking activists going back at least to Dr. Martin Luther King. Continue reading “Why is the government spying on climate activists?”

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”

Colorado will kill bears and lions to boost deer herds

Colorado mule deer.
Colorado mule deer. @bberwyn photo.

State plans predator control research on Roan Plateau

Staff Report

Colorado wildlife managers say they are set to start a three-year study on whether killing bears and mountain lions can help boost deer populations in the northwestern part of the state, where hunting is a big part of the local economy.

According to Colorado Parks and Wildlife, mule deer populations remain below objective in the state’s largest mule deer herds in the Piceance Basin. Part of a 2015 strategy to boost those numbers is predator control, which is not a popular concept with some wildlife advocates, who believe that habitat fragmentation from oil and gas development is probably a bigger factor in the long-term decline of deer herds. Continue reading “Colorado will kill bears and lions to boost deer herds”

Study eyes tourism threat to sustainable fisheries in Caribbean

A spiny lobster in the Florida Keys Marine Sanctuary. Photo courtesy NOAA.
A spiny lobster in the Florida Keys Marine Sanctuary. Photo courtesy NOAA.

Under-reporting of catches documented by nonprofit research group

Staff Report

The marine environment around some Caribbean islands is still threatened by unsustainable fishing, according to a new study that documents the under-reporting of catches in the Turks and Caicos Islands. According to the research, catches on the islands were 86 percent higher than what was reported to the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization, a finding with troubling implication for sustainable fisheries efforts.

The research team from the nonprofit Sea Around Us program says urgent policy action is needed to ensure the future sustainability of the fishing industry in this archipelago nation. The findings were published in open-access journal Frontiers in Marine Science. Continue reading “Study eyes tourism threat to sustainable fisheries in Caribbean”

Genetic study tracks westward spread of bat-killing disease

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White-nose syndrome is wiping out bats across the U.S. Photo courtesy USGS.

Are humans responsible for  the big jump to the West Coast?

Staff Report

Genetic analysis shows that the bat-killing fungus recently detected for the first time in western North America is  similar to strains found in the eastern United States. That means there is a good chance that humans were involved in spreading the disease, according to conservation advocates who want resource managers to step up efforts to halt the spread of the fungus by restricting cave tourism.

The new study, published in the journal mSphere, has implications for resource managers battling the spread of a disease that has wiped out millions of bats in North America. It provides new clues about the origin of this strain of the Pseudogymnoascus destructans fungus, or Pd. The latest case of WNS near North Bend, Washington was about 1,300 miles from the previous westernmost detection in Nebraska. Continue reading “Genetic study tracks westward spread of bat-killing disease”

Feds move to better protect carnivores in Alaska’s national wildlife refuges

New rule bans some predator control practices

A brown bear in the Kodiak National Wildlife Refuge, Alaska.
A brown bear in the Kodiak National Wildlife Refuge, Alaska. Photo via USFWS.

Staff Report

Alaska’s native bears and wolves — at least those living in national wildlife refuges — may get a break from the federal predator control program, as the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service this week finalized new regulations that ban the controversial practice of culling carnivores through aerial gunning, baiting, trapping, and killing mother bears and cubs and wolves and pups in their dens.

The practices are legal under Alaska state law, and wildlife conservation advocates say they’re used to artificially inflate deer, moose and caribou populations for hunting. But the killing conflicts with the USFWS conservation mission on national wildlife refuges. Continue reading “Feds move to better protect carnivores in Alaska’s national wildlife refuges”

New guidance requires closer look at climate impacts from activities on public lands

The U.S. is the second-largest producer of coal in the world, thanks in part to massive surface mines like this one in Wyoming. Photo courtesy BLM.
New guidance for federal agencies will require closer scrutiny of climate impacts of developments on public land. Photo courtesy BLM.

CEQ updates NEPA rules with an eye toward greenhouse gases

Staff Report

Public land managers and other federal agency decision-makers will no longer be able to shy away from considering climate change as they consider new projects.

Saying that emissions from any given proposal are only a small fraction of global emissions “is not an appropriate basis for deciding whether or to what extent to consider climate change impacts under NEPA,” the White House Council on Environmental Quality wrote in new guidance that directs agencies to quantify greenhouse gas emissions and to choose alternatives for projects that minimize climate impacts. Continue reading “New guidance requires closer look at climate impacts from activities on public lands”