Saving monarch butterflies means planting a lot of their favorite food, say U.S. Geological Survey scientists, who outlined conservation measures in a new study.
After over-wintering in Mexico, monarchs rely on milkweed plants for food and breeding habitat. But milkweed has been wiped out across millions of acres. The new study measures the need in terms of stems of milkweed.
In the northern U.S. at least 860 million stems were lost during the last decade. After studying the density of Eastern migratory monarch butterflies overwintering in Mexico from 1979-2002 and the amount of milkweed plants available to them in North America. The study found that 3.62 billion milkweed stems are needed to reestablish this monarch population, but only 1.34 billion stems remain in the U.S.
“Monarchs in eastern North America are a beloved insect, but they’re in jeopardy, partly due to the loss of milkweeds in cropland,” said Wayne Thogmartin, a USGS scientist and the lead author of the report. “Our study is important because it helps specify the conservation needs of this charismatic species.” Continue reading “To save monarchs, plant milkweed — lots of it!”→
Population expected to double in the next 50 years
Biologists say current conservation efforts for Florida’s manatees should suffice to help the marine mammals survive for at least the next 100 years. If resource managers continue to protect manatees and their habitat, there’s less than a half-percent chance the population would drop below 500 individuals, the level that would threaten long-term survival.
The new study was done by the US Geological Survey and the Florida Fish and Wildlife Research Institute. It found that Florida’s manatee population is likely to gradually double over the next 50 years and then level off. Over time, environmental and habitat changes will probably cause manatees to become less abundant in South Florida and more numerous in North Florida, but the population as a whole will remain high. Continue reading “Study says Florida manatees safe for now”→
Ranching, farming groups sue to end legal protections
Wildlife conservation advocates are helping fend off a nuisance lawsuit by a right wing group that seeks to end state endangered species protection for wolves in California. The lawsuit, brought against the California Fish and Wildlife Commission by the Pacific Legal Foundation, falsely claims that wolves are ineligible for state protection. Like many other legal actions filed by the group, this one is aimed mainly at harassing government agencies and others working in the public interest.
Toxic lead is back on the menu for many wildlife species, as newly appointed Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke revoked a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service order that had banned lead hunting ammunition on federal wildlife reserves after a years-long campaign by wildlife advocates.
The USFWS order was finalized the day before Donald Trump was inaugurated as president. In his reversal, Zinke made no reference to the extensive body of science showing that lead ammunition is harmful to wildlife.
Small hibernating bat colonies need protection to prevent extinction
Between collisions with wind turbines and deadly white-nose syndrome, endangered Indiana bats may not have much of a chance of recovering, according to a recently published U.S. Geological Survey study.
Federal biologists say they can boost the population of grizzly bears in the North Cascades ecosystem by relocating the predators from other areas. The National Park Service and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service this week released a draft plan (open for public comment), for increasing the total number of bears in the region to 200. Bt current estimates, only about 10 remain, too small a population to sustain itself. According to the draft plan, grizzly bears could be relocated from either northwestern Montana or south-central British Columbia.
“We’re happy to see the agencies taking a step in the right direction to restore grizzly bears to the North Cascades,” said Andrea Santarsiere, a senior attorney with the Center for Biological Diversity. “Without a helping hand, grizzly bears are likely to disappear from the Pacific Northwest.” Continue reading “Feds eye grizzly reintroduction in North Cascades”→
With perhaps fewer than 100 vaquitas remaining in the Gulf of California, conservation experts say they will start a last-ditch recovery effort by trying to capture several of the marine mammals and keeping them in a temporary sanctuary. The emergency action plan will be led by the Mexican government and supported by a consortium of marine mammal experts from more than a dozen organizations around the world.
Despite substantial efforts by the Mexican government to protect vaquitas, the recovery team recently reviewed the latest results from advanced acoustic monitoring technology that showed the vaquita population continuing to rapidly decline.
“We are watching this precious native species disappear before our eyes,” said Rafael Pacchiano, Mexico’s secretary of the environment and natural resources. “This critical rescue effort is a priority for the Mexican government and we are dedicated to providing the necessary resources in order to give the plan its best chance of success.” The plan will be implemented in tandem with ongoing efforts to remove the threat of gillnets in the Upper Gulf of California and eliminate illegal fishing. Continue reading “Conservation groups eye emergency rescue plan for vaquitas”→