Tag: wildlife conservation

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”

Judge says USFWS must analyze cumulative impacts before authorizing grizzly kills

Grizzlies are roaming farther north and encroaching on Polar bear habitat, PHOTO COURTESY U.S. GEOLOGICAL SURVEY.
Grizzlies are the focus of an intensifying conservation battle in the northern Rockies. Photo courtesy U.S. Geological Survey.

New ruling foreshadows major legal battle over grizzly bear conservation

Staff Report

A federal judge says the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service violated environmental laws when it authorized the killing of four threatened grizzly bears in Wyoming’s Grand Teton National Park.

The agency allowed the lethal “taking” of the grizzlies in connection with an elk hunt in the park, but U.S. District Court Judge Rudolph Contreras ruled that the biological studies used by the agency didn’t meet the standards of the Endangered Species Act. Contreras said the agency must do a better job of analyzing the cumulative impacts of its decision. Continue reading “Judge says USFWS must analyze cumulative impacts before authorizing grizzly kills”

Are California sea otters on the verge of recovery?

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Can sea otters bounce back from the brink?

Population along California coast hovering near targeted recovery level

Staff Report

FRISCO — Sea otters are making a slow and steady comeback along the Central California coast, with the species’ population nearing a level that could earn them the distinction of being taken off the endangered species list.

In the latest official population estimate released last week, federal scientists said there were just under 3,000 southern sea otters living along the Central California coast, based on a population index used since the 1980s. That’s up slightly from 2013 and just shy of the 3,090 threshold set by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service as a recovery benchmark. Continue reading “Are California sea otters on the verge of recovery?”

Wolves get more protection in California

State decides on endangered species status for wolves even as feds proceed with national de-listing push

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Wolf pups near the Oregon-California border may be the offspring of a wolf that has lived part-time in California the past few years. Photo courtesy USFWS.

Staff Report

FRISCO — When wolves start to reclaim their historic territories in the wilds of California, they’ll be protected under state law. The California Fish and Game Commission voted last week to protect gray wolves under the state’s Endangered Species Act after being petitioned by the Center for Biological Diversity.

The decision came just a few days after biologists documented the presence of two wolf pups  in the Oregon portion of the Rogue River-Siskiyou National Forest that straddles the California-Oregon border. The pups, which are likely to be part of a litter of four to six pups, are the offspring of the wolf known as OR-7, which has made California part of his range for the past four years. Continue reading “Wolves get more protection in California”

Feds revise critical habitat proposal for lynx

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Proposed critical habitat for lynx in the northern Rockies, as mapped by the USFWS.

Colorado once again left out of critical habitat zone

By Bob Berwyn

FRISCO — Working under a court order, federal biologists have finished a revision of a critical habitat designation for threatened lynx — but once again, Colorado was left out of the equation.

The latest critical habitat designation, subject to a 90-day comment period, would cover about  41,547 square miles within the boundaries of five critical habitat units in the states of Maine, Minnesota, Montana, Idaho, Washington and Wyoming.

Colorado wasn’t included because the agency doesn’t believe that the state’s population is essential to the long-term conservation of the species, said U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service biologist Jim Zelenak.

“We looked at the historical record and the biological history of lynx in Colorado and it’s just not clear that Colorado ever supported a persistent population over time … We recognize the potential for lynx in the southern Rockies … but our approach has been to look at those places with persistent populations over time. We want to feel fairly certain that an area has the physical attributes needed to support lynx,” Zelenak said. Continue reading “Feds revise critical habitat proposal for lynx”

Federal judge says Forest Service must consider critical habitat designations in regional forest plan guidance for lynx

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Federal agencies rebuked for violating Endangered Species Act. Photo courtesy USFWS.

Decision will trigger new reviews of forest plans and projects in northern Rockies

By Summit Voice

FRISCO — The U.S. Forest Service has once again been called out for failing to live up to its legal obligations to protect endangered species, this time by a federal judge in Montana, who ruled last week that the agency violated the Endangered Species Act when it failed to consult with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service on a regional forest plan amendment.

Dana L. Christensen, chief judge for the U.S. District Court for the State of Montana, ordered the Forest Service to re-initiate consultation, but did not block any specific projects on the affected forests, saying that plaintiffs couldn’t show any “irreparable harm.” Continue reading “Federal judge says Forest Service must consider critical habitat designations in regional forest plan guidance for lynx”

Climate change requires landscape-level conservation plans

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Mountain goats may need a far-reaching conservation strategy to survive global warming. Photo courtesy Colorado Division of Wildlife.

New protected areas between Banff and Glacier national parks could help maintain wildlife populations

By Summit Voice

FRISCO — Species vulnerable to climate change impacts in the Canadian Rockies will need room to roam, according to a new report from the Wildlife Conservation Society Canada.

The report outlines a safe haven strategy designed around an assessment of six iconic species: Bull trout, westslope cutthroat trout, grizzly bears, wolverines, mountain goats and bighorn sheep — five of which were ranked as highly vulnerable to projected changes.

The area in question is located between Glacier National Park in Montana and Banff National Park in Canada, supporting one of the most diverse communities of carnivores and hoofed mammals in North America. Continue reading “Climate change requires landscape-level conservation plans”