Tag: wildlife

New report shows how global warming will affect birds and reptiles in the Southwest.

 red-tailed hawk
Global warming will take a toll on reptiles and birds in the Southwest. @bberwyn photo.

Many bird species could lose between 78 and 85 percent of their existing habitat

Staff Report

Birds and reptiles in the Southwest that live in fragmented habitat will be hit hardest by global warming in the decades ahead, according to a new study by scientists with the U.S. Geological Survey and the Northern Arizona University.

The researchers took a close look at about 30 different animals, including well-known species such as the Gila monster, horned lizard, chuckwalla, Sonoran desert tortoise, pinyon jay, pygmy nuthatch, sage thrasher and black-throated sparrow.

A few species could see their habitat expand as the climate warms, but many others will be hit hard by global warming. Most climate models project temperatures to increase by about 6 degrees Fahrenheit in the Southwest in the next century, while precipitation is expected to decline by between 5 and 20 percent. Continue reading “New report shows how global warming will affect birds and reptiles in the Southwest.”

Wildlife: Wyoming grizzly hunting plan challenged in court

Grizzly bear attacks are rare, and hikers are encouraged to carry pepper spray to deter attacks. PHOTO COURTESY U.S. FISH AND WILDLIFE SERVICE.
Grizzlies are under the gun in Wyoming. Photo via USFWS.

Activists say public was short-changed on comment period

Staff Report

Wildlife advocates are going to court to challenge a proposed grizzly hunting plan in Wyoming. A lawsuit filed last week alleges that he Wyoming Game and Fish Commission illegally fast-tracked approval of the plan without allowing adequate public comment.

The approval would authorize the state’s first trophy hunt of grizzly bears in 40 years, but the public only had 30 days to review and comment on the plan — far too short to be able to evaluate the biological consequences of the proposed hunt. The commission simultaneously adopted a tri-state memorandum of agreement with Idaho and Montana to formalize quotas for grizzly hunts, allocating over 50 percent of the quota to Wyoming. Continue reading “Wildlife: Wyoming grizzly hunting plan challenged in court”

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”

Florida’s latest invasive species is a potential man-eater

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Nile crocodiles may be spreading out Florida. Photo courtesy MathKnight and Zachi Evenor, via Wikipedia and the Creative Commons.

Scientists say Nile crocs may be thriving in Sunshine State swamps

Staff Report

The latest non-native species to invade Florida’s subtropical clime is a man-eater, according to University of Florida researchers who say they’ve genetically identified Nile crocodiles living in the swamps of the Sunshine State.

The aquatic reptiles can grow as long as 18 feet and weigh as much as a small car, and in their native habitat eat everything from hippos and zebras to humans. In Florida, they could eat native birds, fish and mammals, as well as the state’s native crocodile and alligators, said the researchers, have confirmed the capture of multiple Nile crocodiles in the wild, using DNA analysis.

Crocodylus niloticus, as they’re known scientifically, were blamed for at least 480 attacks on people and 123 fatalities in Africa between 2010 and 2014. Three juveniles, likely released by humans, have been found in South Florida, swimming in the Everglades and relaxing on a house porch in Miami. Continue reading “Florida’s latest invasive species is a potential man-eater”

USGS scientists sound another warning on amphibian extinctions

boreal toad
The last living boreal toad found 2006 in the Cucumber Gulch wetlands in Breckenridge, Colorado. @bberwyn photo.

Focused local conservation efforts needed to stem slow the rapid decline

Staff Report

In an era that’s already being defined by an unprecedented global rate of species extinctions, the amphibian die-off is especially troubling, and the trend continues unchecked, according to a new study led by the U.S. Geological Survey.

And for now, there is no smoking gun pointing to a single reason for the decline. That means there’s no easy answer, either, the scientists said, explaining that, across the U.S. there are multiple and geographically diverse factors that play role.

A 2013 study found that pesticides may be linked with die-offs of amphibians, bats and birds because the toxic chemicals suppress immunity. More recently, researchers identified a new invasive fungus that threatens salamanders in the U.S., and yet another study said pollution and climate change are key threats to amphibians. In Spain, a newly discovered virus is taking toll on amphibians. Continue reading “USGS scientists sound another warning on amphibian extinctions”

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”