Category: wildlife

New U.S. ivory ban could slow elephant slaughter

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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

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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”

Volunteers needed for Summit County wildlife rescue team

Birds, Summit County Colorado
Chirpy! @bberwyn photo.

Info session set for May 16

Staff Report

Colorado Parks and Wildlife is looking to add members to its Summit County Wildlife Transport Team, an all volunteer group of citizens devoted to helping the agency respond to wildlife emergencies.

Interested residents can get more information at a May 16 information session, 7 p.m. at the North Branch Library in Silverthorne. During the session, CPW will screen applicants and review requirements and expectations.

“Volunteers help us by responding and assisting with certain types of wildlife calls, usually small mammals and birds that are injured or causing a nuisance,” said District Wildlife Manager Elissa Knox of Summit County. “Our current team has several seasoned volunteers that are an invaluable asset. We encourage people to join them and help us educate the public and help wildlife.” Continue reading “Volunteers needed for Summit County wildlife rescue team”

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”

Colorado poacher gets big fine after illegal elk killing

Bull elk in morning sun, Rocky Mountain National Park.
A Colorado elk poacher will lose his license and pay more than $14,000 in fines after pleading guilty to numerous violations of hunting laws. @bberwyn photo.

Three other men also face fines for related crimes

Staff Report

A Colorado man has been ordered to pay more than $14,000 in fines after pleading guilty to numerous poaching charges charges.

According to Colorado Parks and Wildlife, 59-year-old Melvin Weaver killed three bull elk on the Uncompahgre Plateau west of Montrose last fall, then called friends and told them to come to the location and to use their licenses to claim the animals as their own. In Colorado, hunters can only tag animals that they have shot themselves. Continue reading “Colorado poacher gets big fine after illegal elk killing”