Tag: wildlife

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”

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: Biologists track genetics of elusive Himalayan wolves

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Wildlife biologists tracking the genetics of Himalayan wolves say the species needs special protections to survive. Photo courtesy Madhu Chetri/CC 4.0.

Study suggests more protection needed for rare mountain predators

Staff Report

Biologists tracing the elusive Himalayan wolf say that new genetic studies show the species branched off from its relatives so long ago that they are divergent from the whole globally distributed wolf-dog clade. Based on that isolated genetic isolation, the Himalayan wolf should considered a species of particular conservation concern.

The Himalayan wolf is visibly distinct from other wolves, standing out because of its smaller size, longer muzzle and stumpy legs, as well as a white coloration around the throat, chest, belly and inner part of the limbs. Its characteristic woolly body fur has given the subspecies the common name of woolly wolf. Continue reading “Wildlife: Biologists track genetics of elusive Himalayan wolves”

Sunday set: Critters

Spiders are cool!

Even though I’m not a wildlife photographer, every now and then, a hapless animal cross in front of my lens. If I’m lucky, I manage to snap the shutter at the right moment to capture a halfway decent image. That always makes me happy, until I remember that humanity’s completely unsustainable approach to life is putting many other species at serious risk of extinction. Pesticides threaten many insects, especially pollinators that are so critical to ensuring a sustainable food supply. Reptiles like turtles are also threatened by impacts to water quality and wetlands, and many other species are being lost because of habitat fragmentation and, of course, climate change. If we can’t find ways to sustain the web of life that sustains us, we’re likely to become an endangered species ourselves. Some people would argue that we already are. Visit the online Summit Voice gallery to purchase landscape and nature prints — a great way to support independent journalism.