Category: wildlife

Environment: Massive fish kill reported in Yellowstone River

A Colorado Division of Wildlife biologist holds a young rainbow trout before releasing it into the Blue River in Silverthorne. The fingerling was raised in a cross-breeding program to develop a strain of fish resistant to parasitic whirling disease that all but wiped out rainbow trout across parts of the West.
A  young rainbow trout @bberwyn photo.

Disease may be exacerbated by warm water, low stream flows

Staff Report

The Yellowstone River, part of Montana’s iconic western landscape, is once again beset by environmental woes, as a rapidly spreading fish kill has spurred state resource managers to close the river to all recreational uses, including fishing, boating and tubing. Biologists with Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks said they’ve counted more than 2,000  dead mountain whitefish, and the estimate the total mortality in the tens of thousands. The river was also hammered by an oilspill in 2011 after pipeline burst. Continue reading “Environment: Massive fish kill reported in Yellowstone River”

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”

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 U.S. ivory ban could slow elephant slaughter

Can a new U.S. regulation limiting the ivory trade help slow the slaughter of African elephants? Photo courtesy USFWS.

USFWS closes loopholes that helped illegal ivory traders

Staff Report

A new regulation finalized by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service will give federal investigators more tools to combat the illegal ivory trade, helping to close some loopholes that wildlife traffickers have exploited.

The rule, which is basically a near-total ban on the domestic commercial trade of African elephant ivory, is being touted as a significant step in protecting endangered elephants.

During a recent three-year period, an estimated 100,000 elephants were killed for their ivory, an average of approximately one every 15 minutes, and poaching continues at an alarming rate. The carcasses of illegally killed elephants now litter some of Africa’s premiere parks. Elephants are under threat even in areas that were once thought to be safe havens. Continue reading “New U.S. ivory ban could slow elephant slaughter”

Small oil spills can add up to big impacts for sea birds

Report says more monitoring of wildlife needed on offshore oil drilling rigs

Oil in the Gulf of Mexico. PHOTO COURTESY U.S. COAST GUARD.
Oil spills have a devastating impact on sea life,, there’s not enough monitoring to track environmental degradation. Photo via U.S. Coast Guard.
This is an Oiled Thick-billed Murre, Cripple Cove (near Cape Race), Newfoundland November 28, 2004. Credit Photo by Ian L. Jones
This is an oiled thick-billed murre, Cripple Cove (near Cape Race), Newfoundland November 28, 2004. Photo by Ian L. Jones.

Staff Report

It only takes exposure to a teaspoon full of oil to kill some seabirds, but oil drillers off the coast of Canada are failing to adequately monitor small, persistent spills that can lead to chronic pollution and population-level impacts, according to a new study by scientists with York University.

The research published in the international journal, Marine Pollution Bulletin, looked at how offshore oil operators monitored and responded to small spills (less than 1,000 litres) for three production projects off the coast of Newfoundland and Labrador. It came after authorities failed to respond to three high-profile environmental assessments by Environment Canada that requested impacts on seabirds be monitored following small spills. Continue reading “Small oil spills can add up to big impacts for sea birds”

Study: Yellowstone bison not to blame for brucellosis

Elk deemed mostly responsible for spreading disease to livestock

Elk feeding a big factor in spread of brucellosis. @bberwyn photo.

Staff Report

The most rapidly spreading strains of brucellosis, a disease with implications for livestock and wildlife management, appear to be centered around areas where humans feed elk to keep populations artificially high for hunters.

Those findings come from scientists with the U.S. Geological Survey and partners, who studied how the disease is transmitted back and forth between cattle, bison and elk in the greater Yellowstone area. Notably, the researchers found that a fifth, genetically distinct strain, originated, and was mainly found in bison of Yellowstone National Park. This strain appeared to be spreading less rapidly. Continue reading “Study: Yellowstone bison not to blame for brucellosis”

Study shows conflict between wolf watching and wolf hunting

Trapping and hunting near parks cuts has big impact

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

Staff Report

Many Americans travel thousands of miles for a chance to spot wolves in the wild, but a new study shows that their chance of spotting the predators decreases dramatically when hunting and trapping is allowed. In 2013, Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility first raised the alarm that dwindling wolf numbers near Denali National Park are affecting wildlife watching.

The new research, published in the journal PLOS ONE, suggests visitors to national parks were just  half as likely to see wolves in their natural habitat when wolf hunting was permitted just outside Denali National Park’s boundaries during a period from 1997- 2013. Other important factors linked to wolf viewing rates include, the proximity of wolf dens to the Park Road and the regional wolf population.

In 2013, documents obtained by PEER showed wolf hunting and trapping near Denali National Park had cut the regional wolf population by nearly two-thirds and significantly reduced opportunities for park visitors to see wolves in the wild. Continue reading “Study shows conflict between wolf watching and wolf hunting”