Tag: wildlife

Court stands up for jaguar habitat in New Mexico

A motion-sensor camera captured this image of a jaguar in Arizona last year. Photo courtesy BLM.

Cattle ranchers come up empty in bid to cut protection

Staff Report

Endangered jaguars in North America don’t really know whether they are in Mexico or Arizona, so there need to be continued recovery efforts on both sides of the border. A federal court in New Mexico recently recognized that fact when it turned aside an attempt by ranching and cattle groups to eliminate habitat protections for the wild cats.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service designated about 59,000 acres of critical habitat in 2014. The court ruling upholds protections under the Endangered Species Act that prevent the federal government from rendering the habitat unusable for jaguars. An additional 705,093 acres were designated in Arizona but not challenged. Continue reading “Court stands up for jaguar habitat in New Mexico”

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Study says Florida manatees safe for now

Population expected to double in the next 50 years

Florida manatees at Crystal Springs. @bberwyn photo.

Staff Report

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”

New interior secretary begins stint by re-authorizing use of toxic lead hunting ammunition

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An endangered California condor soars over Zion National Park. As carrion eaters, condors are especially susceptible to lead poisoning. Photo courtesy National Park Service.

Let them eat lead …

Staff Report

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.

His first move as Interior Secretary should make it clear that anybody who had been hoping Zinke would be a reasonable voice in the new anti-environment administration was sorely mistaken. Along with the rest of Trump’s cabinet picks, Zinke seems likely to move ahead at full speed in dismantling as many environmental protections as possible. Continue reading “New interior secretary begins stint by re-authorizing use of toxic lead hunting ammunition”

Study says road threat to carnivores is underestimated globally

Findings to help guide conservation strategies

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Many carnivore species around the world are threatened by road networks. Photo courtesy USFWS.

Staff Report

The threat of roads to carnivore species around the world has been seriously underestimated, according to a new study that looked at the issue on a global scale.

After looking at 232 carnivore species around the world (out of a total of about. 270 existing species) and assessing how severely these are affected by roads cut through their habitat, the researchers concluded that some rare species are even at risk in areas with low road densities. The study, published in the journal Global Ecology and Biogeography, calculated natural mortality rates, reproduction and carnivore movement patterns, determining the maximum density of roads that a species can cope with. Continue reading “Study says road threat to carnivores is underestimated globally”

Wildlife: Jackals spreading into central Europe

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A golden jackal photographed in the Czech Republic. Photo courtesy Klára Pyšková.

Changing climate, shifting species

Staff Report

Climate change and other impacts from human activities are enabling jackals to spread into parts of Europe, scientists said after documenting the first living golden jackal in the Czech Republic. The mammal, native to northern Africa and southern Eurasia, was photographed by motion sensors cameras several times just 40 kilometers from Prague, according to a new study published in the open access journal ZooKeys.

“The habitat, where the golden jackal decided to settle, resembles the landscapes which these animals prefer in their natural distribution area, the Balkans – an open grass-shrubland surrounded by a forest. It is one of the warmest areas in the country, with mild winters.The observed animal was mostly active at dusk and dawn, with majority of the sightings occurring in the morning hours,” said researcher Klára Pyšková, who co-authored the paper with  a group of researchers from Charles University and Institute of Botany of the Czech Academy of Sciences, among them her supervisors Ivan Horáček and David Storch. Continue reading “Wildlife: Jackals spreading into central Europe”

Draft plan for jaguar recovery panned by wildlife advocates

Photo courtesy Bjørn Christian Tørrissen, via Wikipedia and the Creative Commons.
Photo courtesy Bjørn Christian Tørrissen, via Wikipedia and the Creative Commons.

Jaguars listed as endangered since 1997

Staff Report

Jaguars making their from Mexico back to the southwestern U.S. apparently won’t be getting much help from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. The agency this week released a draft recovery plan that puts the conservation burden on Mexico. The plan’s criteria for recovery and removal of the jaguar from the “endangered” list could be met without any jaguars occupying any of their vast historic range in the United States, according to wildlife watchdogs with the Center for Biological Diversity.

The draft was released just a short time after a second jaguar was documented in the Southwest. Between 2011 and 2015, another jaguar was seen several times around the Santa Rita Mountains southeast of Tucson. Another jaguar called “Macho B” was photographed repeatedly from 1996 until he was killed by the Arizona Department of Game and Fish as a result of a botched capture operation in 2009.

“Jaguars are making their presence known in the southwestern United States so it’s disappointing to see the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service put the focus of jaguar recovery solely in Mexico,” said Michael Robinson of the Center for Biological Diversity. “By excluding the best remaining unoccupied jaguar habitat, this plan aims too low to make a difference in saving the jaguar. It’s an extinction plan, not a recovery plan.” Continue reading “Draft plan for jaguar recovery panned by wildlife advocates”

Snake-killing fungus is widespread in the East

Ophidiomyces ophiodiicola, a fungus that is afflicting snakes across the Midwest and Eastern US, shares many traits with Pseudogymnoascus destructans the fungus that causes white-nose syndrome in bats, researchers report. Credit Julie McMahon
Ophidiomyces ophiodiicola, a fungus afflicting snakes across the Midwest and Eastern US, shares  traits with Pseudogymnoascus destructans the fungus that causes white-nose syndrome in bats. Credit: Julie McMahon.

Some snake populations appear at-risk from spreading fungal pathogen

Staff Report

First the chytrid fungus started killing amphibians, then white-nose syndrome emerged to devastate bat populations, and now, there’s Ophidiomyces ophiodiicola, a snake-killing fungus that appears to be much more widespread than thought, according to new research from the U.S. Geological Survey.

The USGS report concluded the fungus is present in at least 20 eastern states and in many snake species not previously known to  harbor the fungus. These findings increase the total number of confirmed susceptible snake species to 30. Snakes affected by Snake Fungal Disease include the threatened eastern massasauga rattlesnake. The research also shows that SFD infections are often mild, but there are unknown factors that cause outbreaks of severe skin disease and death. Continue reading “Snake-killing fungus is widespread in the East”