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Updated: 18 min 52 sec ago

Obama Proposes Disaster Funds for Fighting Wildfires

1 hour 29 min ago

Wildfires like this one in Watermelon Hill near the Turnbull NWR destroy significant wildlife habitat. With this year’s wildfire funding projected to fall short by $615 million, costs associated with tackling wildfires threaten to eat into funds set aside for other important Forest Service and Department of the Interior programs. (Photo Credit: Joe Aiello, USFWS)

UPDATE

Last month President Obama requested $3.57 billion in a supplemental funding bill in the Senate, of which a much-needed $615 million will go to battling wildfires. The bill also includes language to fund future wildfires through a disaster fund account similar to procedures in place for other agencies that deal with natural disasters such as floods and hurricanes.

A similar measure was introduced in the Senate last December, by Senators Wyden (D-OR) and Crapo (R-ID) through the Wildfire Disaster Funding Act (WDFA) of 2013 (S. 1875) (See related article). WDFA is an effort to stem the shortfalls in wildfire funding that have forced the U.S. Forest Service and Department of the Interior to utilize other budget accounts to cover wildfire costs, referred to as fire transfers. WDFA would replace fire transfers by allowing the use of disaster funds when wildfire spending goes above the yearly budgeted amount. The bill has 16 co-sponsors in the Senate and the companion WDFA bill in the House (H.R. 3992) has 116 co-sponsors.

The Wildlife Society is part of a coalition that supports the use of disaster funds in fighting future wildfires instead of relying on fire transfers. Wildfires in many instances are disasters and should be treated as such. Fire transfers also take money away from other important Forest Service and Department of the Interior programs including some that fund mitigation and prevention efforts for wildfires, as well as those that provide critical funding for resource management.

Sources: Energy and Environment News (July 23, 2014), Energy and Environmental News (July 24, 2014)

Recent Elephant Poachings Underscore Need for Action

Tue, 2014-07-29 08:27

Two elephants roaming the savannah in Tanzania. Thousands of elephants are poached every year to satisfy growing demand for ivory. (Credit: Richard Ruggiero, USFWS)

Earlier this month, the 50-year-old elephant Klao — famous for appearing in Thai royal processions as well as in the blockbuster movie “Alexander” — was found dead with its tusks removed at the Thailand conservation center where he was being kept. Just last month, Kenya received similar bad news when one of its most beloved elephants Satao was killed for its ivory (see related story). The deaths of these animals are high profile examples of the illegal poaching trade running rampant across Africa and Southeast Asia.

Since 2007, the illegal ivory trade has doubled worldwide, a trend highlighted in a recent Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora’s (CITES) report that details elephant poaching and ivory figures. The report estimates that over 20,000 elephants were poached in Africa just in 2013. On average, an elephant is poached in Africa every 25 minutes.

Most experts attribute the spike in poaching to increased demand — mainly from China and Southeast Asia — as well as the involvement of organized criminal activity. A recent report by the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) notes that the number of ivory items available for sale in Bangkok, such as ivory jewelry and utensils, has almost tripled in the past 18 months. Meanwhile, the CITES report mentions how more and more large shipments of ivory have been confiscated— a clear sign of burgeoning transnational organized crime.

While it is generally agreed that elephants are on the decline, current debate centers on what actions should be taken to reverse the trend. Conservation groups, including WWF, take aim at legal imports, arguing that they not only drive up demand, but create legitimate shipping pathways that poachers can exploit easily. For example, ivory harvested from domesticated elephants is legal in Thailand, so poachers disguise illegally harvested ivory, such as Klao’s tusks, as domestically harvested trinkets and antiques. In the U.S., legal import of trophies provides the same avenue for illegal ivory. The administration took action in February when it announced a nearly all-encompassing ban on commercial trade of ivory as part of a new National Strategy for Combating Wildlife Trafficking (see related story).

But enforcement is not the only issue. Ken Williams, Executive Director of The Wildlife Society, reinforces the critical need to address both the supply and demand side of the problem. “Unless we get control of demand as well as the supply of ivory, we are unlikely to stop the precipitous slide of this charismatic species toward extinction,” Williams said. “This is an international problem that will clearly require international cooperation.”

Some groups worry that the ban will not help control demand or reduce poaching. Sportsmen groups such as Safari Club International note that many African villages and towns rely on tourism dollars brought in from hunting excursions and that an abrupt cessation of these funds would actually make conservation more difficult. At a Congressional committee hearing in June, former House member Jack Fields echoed this sentiment in his testimony, saying that “denying the importation of legally taken sport hunted ivory converts the elephant from an animal protected by local citizens to an animal that is viewed as a source of protein and ivory to be poached.”

In Congress, some GOP lawmakers are attempting to prevent the ban’s enactment citing Fields’ testimony and the concerns of antique dealers. Last week, the House Appropriations Committee passed a bill funding the Environmental Protection Agency and Department of the Interior for Fiscal Year 2015, which contains language barring the administration from banning ivory trade. Companion bills have been introduced in the Senate (S. 2587) and House (H.R. 5052) with the same intent.

Lawmakers and the administration are seeking to find a common middle ground where demand for illegal ivory can be alleviated while causing minimal harm to businesses and African communities.

Sources: Energy and Environment News (February 14, 2014; June 25, 2014; July 17, 2014), Greenwire (July 11, 2014), CITES (June 6, 2014), WWF (July 2, 2014), whitehouse.gov (February 14, 2014), Safari Club International (July 24, 2014), House committee on Natural Resources (June 24, 2014)

Hunters Can Train Dogs for Wisconsin Wolf Hunts

Mon, 2014-07-28 21:29

A beagle picks up on the scent of a wild animal. A new court ruling this month allows Wisconsin residents to train beagles and other hounds to hunt wolves. (Credit: Karen Arnold)

A grey wolf rests under the cover of a forest. Animal rights groups are worried about how the new ruling will impact the safety of dogs and the continued recovery of the wolf population. (Credit: ForestWander Nature Photography)

Wisconsin hunters can now train their dogs to track and hunt wolves, according to a recent ruling by the state appeals court.

Wisconsin wolf hunts began in 2012 after grey wolves were removed from the federal endangered species list. Legalization of the hunts immediately ignited a court battle over whether or the hunts were safe for dogs. Amidst the controversy, a court ruling last year permitted hunters to begin using dogs for the first time ever in the state’s wolf hunt. However, the ruling didn’t allow hunters to train their hounds to track wolves since existing restrictions were outdated and not specific to wolves as game species. Now, the recent ruling — passed earlier this month — has found that the state’s residents have the right to hunt and therefore the freedom to train hunting dogs. As a result, hunters will be able to train their dogs for the upcoming 2014 wolf-hunting season.

The ruling is a disappointment to an alliance of humane societies and the National Wolfwatcher Coalition — a nonprofit organization advocating for wolf recovery and preservation. The groups have been arguing against the use of dogs in wolf hunts and believe that the practice could result in dangerous confrontations that could harm or kill the dogs

Meanwhile, Wisconsin’s Department of Natural Resources (DNR) examined harvested wolf carcasses for evidence of canine confrontations — like bite wounds — after this past 2013 hunting season. The evaluation was inconclusive due to the poor condition of many of the carcasses. However, hunting advocates maintain that wolves should be able to outrun dogs and fights between the two canines will be rare.

Animal rights groups and grassroots organizations are also worried about the impact of the hunts on the state’s grey wolves. Wolf populations were decimated by hunting in the early 1900s and were only just removed from the federal endangered species list in 2012.

“This is going to add another layer of stress on to an already stressed out wolf population,” Rachel Tilseth from Wolves of Douglas County Wisconsin told Wisconsin Public Radio after the ruling.

The DNR says it is pleased with the new court ruling. The agency has implemented emergency rules that restrict the use of dogs at night and require hounds to be marked with identifying collars. The emergency rules will help guide hunters while the agency drafts more permanent regulations — such as restricting dog training to daylight hours during the wolf season and continuing to permit hunters to use up to use up to six hounds during hunts. The permanent regulations should be ready by the 2015 hunting season.

President’s Podium

Mon, 2014-07-28 13:54

Council made a major decision at the end of June in deciding to maintain Wiley-Blackwell as the publisher of our journals. Wiley began publishing TWS’s journals in 2011, and its current contract is due to expire at the end of 2015. Wiley was interested in retaining TWS as a client, and made an early renewal offer along with a new draft contract. TWS engaged an independent publishing consultant to review Wiley’s renewal offer and draft contract. Executive Director Williams, Director of Publications and Communications Moore, and Council all reviewed and discussed the report from the consultant, a thorough process of evaluation that culminated in the decision to remain with Wiley as our publisher. Williams and Moore are now working with Wiley to fine-tune the language of the new contract. Once signed, the new contract will go into effect in January 2016.

Among The Wildlife Society’s major roles is sustaining the quality and financial health of its three journals (The Journal of Wildlife Management, Wildlife Monographs, and the Wildlife Society Bulletin). Disseminating scientific information to our members and the broader scientific community is the primary goal of our journals and a vital part of the mission of TWS. Our journal editors manage manuscript review and acceptance, while our publisher handles production, marketing, and distribution.

Maintaining the quality of the journals is the responsibility of TWS through the work of our editors and their staff, the associate editors, and all of the peer reviewers. Overall, our editorial program maintains our journals as excellent sources of high quality information on wildlife biology and management, and the work of all involved in this process deserves our appreciation and respect.

Besides the critical role of disseminating scientific information, the income we receive from our journals has been one of the three primary sources of funding for TWS (the others being membership and conferences). For this reason, Council and staff must carefully evaluate the business aspects of our contract with a publisher. Wiley presented TWS with a very strong offer that with some additional negotiation, became even stronger and resulted in Council deciding to accept the proposed terms. It should secure a healthy revenue stream for TWS over the 7 years of the new contract, which will run from 2016 to 2022.

As indicated in previous editions of the Wildlifer, we expect the publishing world to change with an increasing shift to digital formats and with increasing trends towards open access. Council and staff think that the current format of our journals is appropriate for now, but recognize that changes are highly likely in the future. Language in the new contract will acknowledge the need for flexibility in how we publish our journals in the future and allow for changes to be made when the time is right.

Charting the best path forward for our journals is an important responsibility of Council and TWS staff that all take very seriously. The decision reached by Council was one that was carefully considered and should meet the needs for our journals as we progress in a rapidly changing publishing arena.

News from Headquarters

Mon, 2014-07-28 13:51

TWS Election Results

Bruce Thompson

The electronic and paper ballots have been counted and we are happy to announce the results of the election for Vice President and Section Representatives. Thank you to all members who participated in the election process.

Bob Lanka

Bruce Thompson, Conservation Assessment Section Manager in Wildlife Diversity, Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, has been elected Vice President of The Wildlife Society. Bruce will begin his one year term as Vice President in October 2014. Bruce will then serve one year as President-Elect, and will be installed as President in October 2016.

Bob Lanka, Biological Services Supervisor, Wyoming Game and Fish Department, was elected Central Mountains and Plains Representative to Council. 

Paul R. Johansen, Assistant Chief in Charge of Game Management, West Virginia Division of Natural Resources, was elected Northeast Section Representative to Council.

Paul R. Johansen

Congratulations to all!

Section Representatives serve a 3-three year term and are eligible for re-election to a second 3-three year term. They will be installed at the TWS 21st Annual Conference in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, in October 2014.

We sincerely thank John McDonald, Bill Vodehnal, and Tim Green for their willingness to serve the Society by running for office.

A special thanks to outgoing Central Mountains and Plains Representative Gary White, outgoing Northeast Section Representative John McDonald, and Past President Wini Kessler for their dedicated serviced on TWS Council.

Special thanks to our Ballot Validation Committee members, Tom Franklin, Ken Williams, and Katie Edwards for volunteering their time to tabulate and validate the results.

Strategic Plan

As mentioned in the Executive Director’s address and in the May Wildlifer, The Wildlife Society draft 5-year strategic plan is provided here.We welcome feedback from members and encourage you to provide input to your Council representatives and TWS staff regarding the plan. Council and staff anticipate approving a final plan at the fall 2014 Council meeting in Pittsburgh.

Annual Conference News

Mon, 2014-07-28 13:35

Register Now!

The Wildlife Society Annual Conference is being held in Pennsylvania for the first time! This is also only the second time in the last 15 years that the event has landed in the Mid-Atlantic region of the country. So mark your calendar for October 25-30 and plan to experience TWS live in Pittsburgh. Registration is now open and we are offering a $50 discount for everyone who registers for the full conference prior to August 31. Get a sneak peek at what’s in store for you at www.wildlifesociety.org.

Pennsylvania Field Trips – Secure Your Spot Now!

The 21st Annual Conference in Pittsburgh, PA offers a variety of exciting field trip opportunities that will be conducted on Saturday, October 25 and Thursday, October 30, providing you with an opportunity to explore the wildlife and wild places of Pennsylvania! The deadline for field trip registration is August 31, and there are a limited number of slots available for each trip. Transportation is provided for all field-trips. Full-day field trips also include a box lunch. For more information and to register online, please visit www.wildlifesociety.org.

Field trips offered:

  • Flight 93 National Memorial Tour
  • Ohiopyle Naturalist Hike/Fallingwater Tour
  • Pre-Conference River Clean-Up
  • Tour of Woodrat Habitat on the Chestnut Ridge
  • Wind Farm Field Visit
  • Interactions Among Forest Management and Wildlife: Current Issues and Opportunities on the Allegheny Plateau
  • Tour of Marcellus Shale Gas Infrastructure and Reclamation Sites in SW Pennsylvania
  • The National Aviary – Behind-the-Scenes Tour

Policy News

Mon, 2014-07-28 13:29

TWS Provides Comments on Proposed NPS Feral Animal Policy

The National Park Service (NPS) recently proposed revised regulations concerning pet and domestic animal management in the National Park system; a portion of these regulations dealt with the Service’s response to feral animals within parks. In our comments responding to the proposal, TWS provided recommendations for the proper identification and management of feral animals including feral cats and feral swine. Overall, TWS supported the proposed regulations, citing the clear direction that they would provide for dealing with nuisance animals which endanger native wildlife and habitat. Feral cats have been estimated to kill over 1 billion birds in the U.S. every year while feral swine can be significant disease reservoirs and cause significant damage to wildlife habitat and private property.

Conservation Organizations Support Climate Change Adaptation Legislation

In a letter to the Senate subcommittee on Water and Wildlife, a diverse coalition of groups – including TWS – reiterated their support for the Safeguarding America’s Future and Environment (SAFE) Act (S.1202) to better protect natural resources from changing conditions.

Rising sea levels, more frequent extreme weather events, and more frequent droughts are imperiling communities and natural resources throughout the U.S. The SAFE Act coordinates strategies and resources to help the country adapt to present and future changes in climatic conditions brought about by human-induced climate change.

Each of the five primary federal natural resource management agencies currently have separate strategies and tools to respond to changing climate conditions. This creates redundancies and inefficiencies as highlighted by a Government Accountability Office (GAO) report that criticized the agencies for inadequate responses. The bill turns the administration’s recent adaptation strategy — the National Fish, Wildlife and Plants Climate Adaptation Strategy — into law and encourages consistent and thorough agency implementation.

The bill also promotes research on climate change by authorizing the National Climate Change and Wildlife Science Center within the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS).

TWS and CARE Coalition Urge Congress to Strike Anti-National Wildlife Refuge Rider

In a letter to the House Appropriations Committee, The Cooperative Alliance for Refuge Enhancement (CARE) – of which TWS is a member – encouraged committee members to remove a rider on the Fiscal Year 2015 House Interior Appropriations Bill that would make it difficult to expand the National Wildlife Refuge System.

The National Wildlife Refuge System consists of 150 million acres of land and water dedicated to conserving wildlife species and their habitat. It provides protection to natural resources while also stimulating the economy through an estimated 35,000 jobs supported by outdoor activities such as boating and bird watching.

The rider would require any expansion of the refuge system have congressional approval before being executed. This would bog down initiatives for new refuges or expanding existing refuges in partisan politics. CARE considers this proposed rule burdensome and unnecessary seeing that there is already a bi-partisan commission which includes members of Congress that has provided effective oversight for over 80 years. On July 15, the House Appropriations Committee approved the bill, with this rider included. The Bill now awaits a vote by the full House of Representatives.

Take Action: Tell Your Representative to Join the Invasive Species Caucus

Invasive species are one of the largest threats to native wildlife around the world. The U.S. alone experiences economic losses in the billions of dollars every year due to invasive species and their often destructive and disruptive impacts. Further, approximately 42 percent of threatened and endangered species are placed at an increased risk by non-native, invasive species.

Solutions to the invasive species problem – based on sound science – are achievable. Congress and other policymakers need to be made aware of the pervasiveness of the issue, how it affects their constituents and local economy, and how they can enable wildlife professionals and help create solutions.

Take action today by asking your representative to join the recently formed Congressional Invasive Species Caucus! As a member of the caucus, your representative will be regularly updated on the most recent invasive species issues and are much more likely to participate positively in legislative solutions.

Click the link below to log in and send your message:
https://www.votervoice.net/link/target/tws/J94bgNig5.aspx

Publications and Communications News

Mon, 2014-07-28 13:11

TWS Members in the News 

Photo by USFWS.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service recently selected Sabrina Chandler to serve as the complex manager for the Upper Mississippi River National Fish and Wildlife Refuge. As part of her new role, Chandler will advise the FWS’ Midwest regional office on Upper Mississippi River issues such as watershed development and invasive species, manage a team of project leaders, and oversee long-term planning for the complex, which is comprised of 16 national wildlife refuges across Minnesota, Iowa, Wisconsin, Missouri, and Illinois. We wish her the very best.

Have any of you done a study or given a speech that was mentioned in the press? Have you submitted an op-ed that was published, appeared on a TV or radio program, provided wildlife-related testimony? If so, we’d like to highlight your efforts in a new feature in the monthly Wildlifer, TWS’s electronic newsletter that goes to all members of the Society.

If you have been in the news or the public arena, please send a brief note to editor@wildlife.org, and put “In the News” in the subject line. Include your name, your agency or university, and a sentence or two about your press coverage or other relevant activity, with links to the news clip, study, video clip, or other such reference. Include a small headshot if you can.

Here’s an example of what we’re looking for (from the Ecological Society of America’s website):

DEE BOERSMA (University of Washington) was featured in a New York Times article spotlighting her study on climate change’s impacts on the reproductive success in Magellanic penguins (Spheniscus magellanicus).

You—the members of The Wildlife Society—are out there every day making a difference in the health and sustainability of wildlife and habitats. Help us tell the story of the great work you’re doing!

Johns Hopkins University Press – New, Larger Book Discount for TWS Members

Members of The Wildlife Society (TWS) can now get a 30 percent discount on all books published by Johns Hopkins University Press (JHUP). To date, JHUP has published five books about wildlife management and conservation in collaboration with TWS:

Valuable as textbooks or for general research and reference, these are important works for wildlife practitioners. In addition, portions of each sale come back to The Wildlife Society to support our programs and our mission.

To order, go to the links above or to www.press.jhu.edu and use code HTWS.

News from Subunits

Mon, 2014-07-28 11:39

Colorado Chapter – Mindy Rice, Past-President

Colorado Chapter members, please vote for the Central Mountain and Plains Section (CMPS) elections by August 1. Go to http://wildlife.org/CMP/ by August 1 if you haven’t already done so. We are one of the biggest chapters in CMPS so it would be nice to have representation there which we haven’t had in a couple years.

Second, CMPS is selling a 60th anniversary fleece if interested. I have attached the order form which for pre-orders is due July 25, but I’m sure they will take orders after that. We are also working on getting our chapter’s shirts online so that you can more easily order them there so stayed tuned!

Thanks for being a member! The board will start discussing next year’s meeting at our board meeting July 29 so if you have any ideas for workshops or topics for the meeting, please contact Ryan Monello or myself at coloradotws@gmail.com.

 

Minnesota Chapter – Steve Windels, President 

The Minnesota Chapter of The Wildlife Society will be hosting a workshop, Minnesota’s Forest Habitats: Managing across the forest continuum, at the Long Lake Conservation Center, Palisade, MN on August 18, 2014 (optional field day the morning of August 19, 2014). The focus of the workshop will be on managing Minnesota’s forest habitats from a landscape perspective where the full continuum of forest types and age classes are considered. The latest research and management options will be discussed. Anticipated topics include the state of Minnesota’s forests based on the latest forest inventory data; effects of stressors (e.g., invasive species and climate change) on future forest conditions; management strategies for integrating habitat needs of young and old forest wildlife from a landscape perspective; and the latest research on forest-dependent wildlife

Registration is limited to 100 participants and includes catered lunch and breaks. The registration deadline is August 4th. Click here for more information on registration and the preliminary agenda. TWS is offering 6.5 contact hours towards TWS’ Certification Renewal/Professional Development program for participation in the workshop.

Native People’s Wildlife Management Working Group – Michel Kohl, Chair

The Wildlife Society believes that one of the most-effective ways to support Native American wildlife students is to give them the opportunity to attend TWS’s Annual Conference, the largest gathering of wildlife professionals on the North American continent. Individuals selected for this program will receive grants of $2,000 each to help cover registration fees, lodging, meals, and transportation. Program participants also will receive a one-year membership in The Wildlife Society and become members of the Native People’s Wildlife Management Working Group.

Click here for information on eligibility and how to apply.

The deadline for applications is August 1, 2014.

 

Rangeland Wildlife Working Group – Megan Clayton, Chair

The Wildlife Society has formed a new rangelands working group. The Rangeland Wildlife Working Group promotes unified efforts in managing rangelands for both wildlife and livestock sustainable use. It provides a forum for members who may have dual interests in other related professional societies or in multi-purpose land management to build support for symposia, outreach, special projects, information exchange, and networking of members who work toward a common goal. If you are interested in wildlife resources that occur on rangelands, consider joining this working group. Contact Megan Clayton (megan.clayton@ag.tamu.edu) for more details.

 

Renewable Energy Working Group Greg Forcey, Chair-Elect

Explore the Casselman Wind Farm in Pennsylvania

The Wildlife Society Renewable Energy Working Group has been busy over the last few months, planning an upcoming field trip to the Casselman Wind Plant during the Annual Conference in Pittsburgh this year. This will be a great opportunity to gain first-hand knowledge and background of wildlife interactions with wind energy developments within the backdrop of an operating wind plant. The Casselman Wind Plant was developed in 2007 and is owned and operated by Iberdrola Renewables, LLC. It is located about 60 miles southeast of Pittsburgh in Somerset County, Pennsylvania. The project has 23, 1.5 megawatt turbines that can generate enough energy for more than 10,000 homes.

This upcoming field trip provides an up-close look at a commercial wind plant, an opportunity to learn about wind turbine technology, and hear about the latest research on wildlife impacts at the facility. The trip will be organized and moderated by Brad Romano, a Senior Wildlife Biologist with Shoener Environmental, Inc. and Jerry Roppe, Wildlife Permitting Operations Compliance Manager, Iberdrola Renewables.

The field trip will start at 8AM when we depart for the facility. We expect to arrive approximately 2 hours later and will begin our tour in the operations and maintenance center. Operations personnel will describe the plant development history to better understand wildlife interactions in context with turbine design, controls, and operations. For the next part of the trip, we will break up into small groups and visit an individual turbine. You’ll be able to view the inside of the turbine and ask questions in a small group setting. The rest of the field trip will include a variety of guest speakers, presentations, and discussion at the operations and maintenance building. Guest speakers will include:

  • Cris Hein, Conservation Scientist; Program Coordinator for the Bats and Wind Energy Cooperative
  • John Taucher, Pennsylvania Game Commission Wind Energy Project Coordinator
  • Chris Long Casselman Plant Manager, Iberdrola Renewables
  • Rob Batarags, Casselman Asset Manager, Iberdrola Renewables
  • Mike Barton, Founder of Environmental Resources Information, Technology, and Education Center
  • Taber Allison, Director of Research and Evaluation, American Wind-Wildlife Association

Guest speaker presentation topics will include:

  • Pre and post construction and operations wildlife monitoring
  • Bird and bat conservation strategies/Wind Energy Guidelines
  • How turbines are built and how the power is collected
  • Siting considerations with respect to wildlife
  • Forestry concepts applied to wind energy development
  • Pennsylvania-specific wind wildlife issues
  • Overview of national guidelines on wind-wildlife studies
  • Regional differences in wind energy impacts to wildlife

Lunch will be provided around noon and is included in the cost of your field trip registration. You will have the option of signing up for special food requests when you register. We plan to finish the tour around 2:30pm and head back to the conference venue, arriving around 5:00pm.

This field trip sponsored by the Renewable Energy Working Group promises to be enjoyable, educational, and fun! If you would like to review some of the work that has been done thus far at the site, view the following link for more information (http://iberdrolarenewables.us/cs_casselman.html). Please look for the field trip item when you pay for your Annual Conference registration. We hope you can join us.

The Renewable Energy Working Group (REWG) is one of several working groups within The Wildlife Society that focuses on potential impacts to wildlife and their habitats from renewable energy development. We are a new working group that received official working group standing in the spring of 2013 after three years in interim status developing our organizational capacity. We are a unique and highly collaborative group seeking to leverage our networks, day jobs, and expertise in this rapidly emerging space. We have consistently sponsored one or more events at each annual conference for the last several years and are always looking for enthusiastic volunteers to help advance our mission. For more information about our working group including our officers, resources on renewable energy impacts, and governing documents (by laws and minutes), please visit http://www.wildlife.org/renewenergy/. For more information, contact Chair-Elect Greg Forcey at gforcey@normandeau.com.

 

San Francisco Bay Area Chapter – Matthew P. Bettelheim, President

Following in the footsteps of our annual chapter mixer – where we brainstorm the events for the year-to-come, the San Francisco Bay Area Chapter leapt into spring with two BioBlitzes – Save Mount Diablo’s Morgan Fire Footprint BioBlizt and the GGNRA BioBlitz – and the sold-out trip to the Sutter Buttes in April with David Wyatt to see (and trap) ringtail cats. Now that we’ve caught our breath, there’s a great lineup in store for members this summer, beginning with a trip to Muir Beach on Saturday, July 26th, to learn about the Redwood Creek Restoration Project’s creek and wetland restoration activities underway.  Once we’re done removing invasive vegetation, we’ll break for some bangers and mash at the Pelican Inn, and then take a hike to Green Gulch Farm or hike the Coastal Trail.

In October, the chapter is hosting the next in a series of workshops – the Advanced Camera Trapping Workshop set for October 3-5th at Pepperwood Preserve.  And make sure to save the date for the first annual Gourmet Greens and Beasts Feast October 12 in Tilden Park, the much-talked-about, fabled fête pitting wildlife biologists (The Wildlife Society members) against botanists (The Native Plant Society members) in a battle of wits, muscle, and gourmet grub. Feast attendees will each be asked to bring a potluck dish featuring a native (or non-native) ingredient: acorn bread, venison, rose hips, trout, miner’s lettuce salad, wild boar sausage. This family-friendly event will feature games galore – treasure hunts, tug-of-war, gunny-sack races – as well as raffles and bake-offs. Details to follow!

Other upcoming events include a reprisal of the tule elk hike in August, a September tarantula hike, kayaking Big Break, a birding trip, and a trip to the coast to see butterflies and barnacles. So stay tuned!

 

Student Development Working Group – Andy Little, Chair

The Student Development Working Group promotes increased student awareness of TWS membership benefits, works to expand knowledge and technical capabilities of student members, and helps prepare student members for professional wildlife careers. The working group facilitates networking between students and experienced TWS members by hosting meetings, workshops, poster sessions, a mentoring program, and other events. Click here to learn more about the opportunities offered by the Student Development Working Group to help advance professionalism and career advancement of student members and events that will be held at the upcoming TWS 21st Annual Conference in Pittsburgh, PA.

The Student Development Working Group (SDWG) is offering a travel award to help a student attend the 2014 TWS Annual Conference.  This travel grant will cover the cost of early student registration ($220 USD).  Applications are due 15 August, 2014. Click here for eligibility and application information.

 

Western Section – Natural Resources Communication Workshop AnnouncedJon Hooper

The Natural Resources Communication Workshop, sponsored by the Western Section of The Wildlife Society and the Department of Recreation, Hospitality, and Parks Management at California State University-Chico, will be held at California State University, Chico from January 5-9, 2015. The week-long workshop is designed to help natural resource workers more effectively communicate with general as well as technical audiences through personal presentations using computer-generated PowerPoint images. A variety of topics are covered including selecting communication strategies for specific audiences, creating computer-generated graphics, avoiding PowerPoint presentation “pitfalls,” handling difficult questions, and solving equipment problems.

The workshop’s instructor is Dr. Jon Hooper, a Certified Wildlife Biologist (CWB) and longtime member of The Wildlife Society. He is a Certified Interpretive Trainer (CIT) and has taught communication workshops for over 35 years in locations around the country and holds degrees in environmental communication and wildlife ecology.

The initial deadline for applications is October 31, 2014 (Friday). Late applications are accepted for placement on a waiting list. The registration fee is $795. The workshop is limited to 16 participants. The registration fee is not due until an applicant has been officially accepted into the workshop.

Applying for the workshop is easy. On letterhead, applicants should describe: (1) their current position within their agency/organization, (2) how they would use the training, (3) any special reasons why they feel they should be chosen as a participant, and (4) if they already have official agency/organization approval to attend. Applicants should include their address, phone number, fax number, and email address with their application.

Submit applications to: Dr. Jon K. Hooper, Dept. Recreation, Hospitality, and Parks Management, Calif. State University, Chico, CA 95929-0560. For more information, contact Jon by calling (530) 898-5811, faxing (530) 898-6557, or e-mailing jhooper@csuchico.edu.

New FWS Conservation Credit System Open for Comment

Mon, 2014-07-28 11:17

Declining species such as the Greater sage-grouse could benefit from the new FWS policy that incentivizes conservation action through an innovative credit system. (Credit: Steve Fairbairn)

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) is accepting comments on a draft policy designed to reward private landowners for helping to conserve declining species.

The proposed policy would grant credits to landowners and other government entities for performing “pre-listing” conservation actions – such as preserving or enhancing habitat – for species that are on their way towards endangered or threatened status under the Endangered Species Act (ESA).

FWS and conservation groups tout the policy because it focuses on prevention as opposed to recovery, a much less expensive and time-consuming endeavor.

The policy requires that any pre-listing action must not only be voluntary, but part of a state-administered program to ensure that conservation actions are tailored for local conditions.

Credits can be used to offset future activities that may have negative impacts on the environment. For example, a landowner could preserve native grassland habitat in one area to build a road in another, as long as the benefit to the species outweighs the harm. In a nod to free-market economics, the credits can also be sold to third-party brokers.

FWS believes that by creating an incentive, landowners will invest in these declining species — a win-win for conservation and landowners.

FWS is looking for input from interested parties. To add your comments, go to the Federal eRulemaking portal at http://www.regulations.gov under docket number FWS-R9-ES-2011-0099. Or, send comment by hard copy to Attn: Docket No. FWS-R9-ES-2011-0099; Division of Policy and Directives Management; U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service; 4401 N. Fairfax Drive, PDM-20142; Arlington, VA 22203. Comments will be accepted until September 22, 2014.

Sources: Energy and Environment News (July 17, 2014), Federal Register (July 22, 2014)

Wildlife News Roundup (July 19-25, 2014)

Mon, 2014-07-28 10:31

The following clips reflect recent wildlife-related news coverage in the media. The Wildlife Society does not independently verify any statements or assertions in these articles. The statements expressed are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect official TWS policy unless so stated. Likewise, products mentioned herein are not endorsed by The Wildlife Society unless so stated.

Two Vietnamese children work at a fishery early in the morning. Laborers, including children, are often sold to fishing boats and forced to work long hours at sea for years without pay. (Credit: International Labor Organization/Trong Thang)

Global Wildlife Decline Driving Slave Labor, Organized Crime
(Phys.org)
Global decline of wildlife populations is driving increases in violent conflicts, organized crime and child labor around the world, according to a policy paper led by researchers at the University of California, Berkeley. The authors call for biologists to join forces with experts such as economists, political scientists, criminologists, public health officials and international development specialists to collectively tackle a complex challenge. More

 

NEWS FROM NORTH AMERICA

Canadian Forests Ravaged by Pine Beetles Burn Hotter, Pose Additional Risks
(The Province)
Many fires that have flared up in Interior and northern British Columbia in the past week are burning in the vast dead forests killed in the mountain pine beetle epidemic. These dead and dying pine forests are a hazard for firefighters and a worry for communities. Fires in beetle-killed pine stands can spread more quickly, burn more intensely, and start spot fires more often. And in older dead stands, falling trees are a significant threat to firefighters. More

Wildlife Group, Cattle Company Join Federal Wild Horse Lawsuit
(Elko Daily Free Press)
Two more entities joined a federal lawsuit regarding wild horse policy, which demands the government round up and remove excess horses. In an amended complaint, Nevada Bighorns Unlimited and Crawford Cattle were listed as plaintiffs, in addition to Nevada Association of Counties and the Nevada Farm Bureau Federation, who first filed suit in December. More

Glendale, California, Switches Rat Poisons to Reduce Risk to Urban Wildlife
(Los Angeles Times)
Months after a photo showed a once-majestic looking mountain lion ravaged by a case of mange in Griffith Park, adjacent Glendale, California, is ditching the kind of rat poison linked to the famous cat’s condition. The mountain lion, known as P-22, gained widespread attention earlier this year when a trail-camera photo shot against the backdrop of the Hollywood sign revealed a 4-year-old, 125-pound cougar that had made the urban park its home. More

First Nation Tribe Discovers Grizzly Bear ‘Highway’ in Its Backyard
(National Geographic)
Grizzly bears and aboriginal tribes in Canada have lived with each other for thousands of years. But one First Nation tribe, the Heiltsuk of British Columbia, was surprised to discover just how many bears a new study turned up in its backyard. The Heiltsuk live near the Koeye watershed — 69 square miles of temperate forest on the central British Columbia coast. More

2 Bats Proposed for Endangered List
(The Associated Press via News & Observer)
Two bat species are being proposed for the Maine endangered species list because they’ve been decimated by white nose syndrome, state officials said. Recent cave counts of the northern long-eared bat and little brown bat show nearly 90 percent declines, officials said. A third species, the eastern small-footed bat, has also declined, though not as much, and will be proposed for the state’s threatened species list. More

Brighton, Colorado, to Expand Park, Wildlife Habitat
(Denver Post)
The City of Brighton, Colorado, is developing a master plan to turn 648 acres of gravel pits and disrupted open space into a flourishing wildlife habitat and signature recreation destination. “It’s an area with a lot of potential,” said Gary Wardle, director of Brighton parks and recreation. “The existing mines will be filled in and used as water storage … and then it will become wetlands and conveyance for Third Creek. That’s also the area where we will put in some developed parks.” More

The Remarkable Comeback of Sea Otters to the B.C. Coast
(The Globe and Mail)
The evening before Barb Wilson faced the chiefs of the Nuu-chah-nulth First Nations, she had a nightmare. The Haida elder and her colleague, Anne Salomon, an assistant professor at Simon Fraser University, had asked to speak with the chiefs about the spread of sea otters on the West Coast. The species is making a remarkable comeback in British Columbia after being pushed to the edge of extinction nearly 100 years ago. More

WILDLIFE HEALTH AND DISEASE NEWS

New Model Helps Explain How Provisions Promote or Reduce Wildlife Disease
(Phys.org)
Scientists have long known that providing supplemental food for wildlife, or resource provisioning, can sometimes cause more harm than good. University of Georgia ecologists have developed a new mathematical model to tease apart the processes that help explain why. Their research, which has implications for public health and wildlife conservation, appears in the Royal Society journal Biology Letters. More

Chikungunya Virus Continues Spreading Across Country
(WBOC-TV)
A new mosquito-borne illness called Chikungunya is spreading across the nation, and is even popping up in the region, creating some concern from state agencies. As of Tuesday, the Center for Disease Control reported there were 497 cases nationwide of the Chikungunya Virus, spanning across 35 states. John Ghabra the owner of Mosquito Authority, a company that exterminates these mosquitoes, told WBOC that the virus is spreading. More

INTERNATIONAL NEWS

Good News for Spanish Seabirds
(Wildlife Extra)
The Spanish government has announced the establishment of 39 new marine protection areas which closely mirror the Marine Important Bird and Biodiversity Areas identified by BirdLife International’s Spanish partner SEO/BirdLife after a decade of scientific research tracking seabirds and understanding their behavior at sea. The new sites are Special Protection Areas for Birds, designated under the European Birds Directive. More

‘Only 100 Gorillas Left in Nigeria’
(All Africa)
The Country Director of Wildlife Conservation Society, Andrew Dunn, has made a shocking revelation that there are only 100 gorillas left in the whole of Nigeria. He warned that if nothing was done quickly, that number will be depleted. Dunn spoke in Calabar, Nigeria, when the revised regional action plan for the conservation of the Cross River gorilla was launched. More

Indian Tiger Conservation Receives a Boost from Frontline Support Training
(Wildlife Extra)
The Wildlife Trust of India recently trained and equipped 55 frontline forest staff working to protect the Achanakmar Tiger Reserve. The training, which took place over three days, saw top brass from the Forest Department joining the training along with Range Officers, Foresters and Forest Guards. The training topics covered a variety of issues that the officials frequently have to tackle in the field. More

Drones on a Different Mission
(The New York Times)
Belize has made a great effort to protect its coral reef system — the largest in the Western Hemisphere — by establishing more than a dozen protected areas. But patrolling large stretches of ocean and coastline and enforcing fishing regulations takes time, people and boats. Or drones. In June, the Wildlife Conservation Society began training operators from the Belize Fisheries Department to use two drones to help track illegal fishing activities. More

Meetings/Workshops of Interest

Mon, 2014-07-28 10:23
Wildlife Disease Association coming conferences and meetings:

63rd Annual International WDA Conference: Tamaya Resort, 15 miles north of Albuquerque, New Mexico, USA, July 27-August 1, 2014.

Bi-annual European WDA Conference: Edinburgh, Scotland, August 24-29, 2014

64th Annual International WDA Conference and WDA Australasian Section Conference: Maroochydore, 50 miles north of Brisbane,Australia, July 26–August 1, 2015

65th Annual International WDA Conference: Ithaca, New York, Hosted by Cornell University, Summer 2016

 

8th International Congress for Wildlife and Livelihoods on Private and Communal Lands: Livestock, Tourism, and Spirit, Sept 7-12, 2014, Estes Park Colorado: http://tiny.cc/2014WildlifeCongress

 

8th International Deer Biology Congress and International Wildlife Management Symposium
The 8th International Deer Biology Congress and International Wildlife Management Symposium (8th IDBC & IWMS) will be held in Harbin, China, on July 27-31, 2014, sponsored by the Northeast Forestry University, China, the Scientific Steering Committee of the International Deer Biology Congress and the Southern Illinois University, USA. The main organizer is Northeast Forestry University in Harbin, China. http://8thidbcharbin.yolasite.com

 

Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation: Pollinator Conservation Short Course
August 27, 2014 at the University of Rhode Island East Farm, Kingston, RI

This full day training will provide you with the latest science-based approaches to reversing the trend of pollinator declines, and will equip you with the recipes necessary to protect and manage habitat for these vital insects. http://www.xerces.org/pollinator-conservation/

 

Midwest Partners in Amphibian and Reptile Conservation Annual Meeting, August 22-24, 2014 at Camp Iduhapi, Loretta, MN. The meeting topic isSurvey and Monitoring of Amphibians and Reptiles with an Emphasis on Restored Habitats.” Optional field trips will be held at Crow Hassan Park Reserve (Friday) and French Regional Park (Sunday). Partnering organizations include Three Rivers Park District, Minnesota Dept. of Natural Resources, and the University of St. Thomas. For more information, please visit http://www.mwparc.org/.

 

Raptor Research Foundation 2014 Conference, September 24-28 at the Emerald Beach Hotel in Corpus, Christi, Texas. Co-hosts are the Caesar Kleberg Wildlife Research Institute at Texas A&M University, Kingsville and HawkWatch International. Workshops, three days of scientific papers, and field trips during the peak of hawk migration. Updates on the web site: http://www.raptorresearchfoundation.org/conferences/current-conference

 

Science for Parks, Parks for Science: The Next Century 
A 2.5-day Summit at UC Berkeley March 25-27, 2015 convening natural and social scientists, managers and practitioners — 100 years after historic meetings at UC Berkeley helped launch the National Park Service — to rededicate a second century of science and stewardship for national parks.  This summit will feature visionary plenary lectures, strategic panel discussions on current controversies, and technical sessions of contributed paper and posters. Abstract submission deadline is 1 November 2014.  For more information, see http://www.xcdsystem.com/parksforscience.

Keynote Plenary Speaker: E. O. Wilson.

Distinguished Plenary Speakers and Panelists:
David Ackerly, Jill Baron, Steven Beissinger, Joel Berger, Ruth DeFries, Thomas Dietz, Josh Donlan, Holly Doremus, Ernesto Enkerlin, Carolyn Finney, David Graber, Denis Galvin, Jane Lubchenco, Gary Machlis, George Miller, Hugh Possingham, Jedediah Purdy, Nina Roberts, Mark Schwartz, Daniel Simberloff, Monica Turner, & Jennifer Wolch.

 

V International Wildlife Management Congress
July 26-30, 2015, Sapporo, Japan

It is with great pleasure that we formally announce the Fifth International Wildlife Management Congress will be held from 26-30 July 2015 in Sapporo, Hokkaido, Japan. The Congress will be held in partnership with the Mammal Society of Japan (MSJ) and The Wildlife Society. This is the first time this prestigious Congress will be held in Asia. http://www.iwmc2015.org

 

Former TWS President to Lead USGS Cooperative Research Units

Wed, 2014-07-23 14:18

John Organ holds tagged baby Canada lynx (Lynx canadensis). Organ was recently appointed the new director of the USGS Cooperative Research Unit program. (Courtesy of John Organ)

John Organ, former president of The Wildlife Society (TWS), has been appointed director of the U.S. Geological Survey’s (USGS) Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Units.

In his new position, slated to begin August 25, Organ will oversee 40 research units at universities in 38 states from program headquarters in Reston, Virginia. As part of a collaborative effort between state agencies, USGS, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS), and the Wildlife Management Institute, cooperative units conduct cutting edge research for fish and wildlife conservation, provide technical guidance to cooperative agencies on natural resource issues, train the next generation of wildlife and fisheries biologists as well as provide continuing education for established natural resource professionals.

Founded in 1935 by conservationist J.N. “Ding” Darling, the cooperative research unit program “has been one of the most productive science engines for fish and wildlife conservation in this country,” Organ said. “My job will be to direct the program relative to other federal priorities, work with other cooperative agencies to ensure the viability of the program moving forward, maintaining the integrity of this historic mission, and making sure it is relevant for our current needs.”

Organ began his career in the cooperative research program at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. “That’s where I earned my Ph.D.,” he said. “So it’s coming full circle for me.” But for the past 35 years, Organ served with FWS Northeast Region in a variety of roles including wetland ecologist for the National Wetlands Conservation program, research biologist, and finally chief of the Region 5 Wildlife and Sport Fish Restoration program. Notably, he led the development of national wildlife damage management policies and helped guide management of numerous species including black bears, wild turkey, ruffed grouse, and river otters.

Organ serves on numerous scientific and advisory committees and is currently an Adjunct Associate Professor of wildlife and fisheries conservation at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. He is also a graduate faculty member in the Department of Ecology and Natural Resources at the Universidad Andres Béllo in Santiago, Chile, where he advises Ph.D. students in the Conservation Medicine program.

Organ served as TWS president from 2006 to 2007. Ken Williams, TWS Executive Director and previous Chief of CRU, applauded USGS leadership for selecting such a highly qualified individual. “Unit Cooperators and partners are fortunate indeed to have John as the new CRU Chief,” Williams said. “He is highly respected as a scientist, administrator, and strategist, with a long record of involvement and deep understanding of the program. There is no doubt that the Units and their Cooperators will benefit from his leadership.”

Wildlife News Roundup (July 12-18, 2014)

Mon, 2014-07-21 11:18

The following clips reflect recent wildlife-related news coverage in the media. The Wildlife Society does not independently verify any statements or assertions in these articles. The statements expressed are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect official TWS policy unless so stated. Likewise, products mentioned herein are not endorsed by The Wildlife Society unless so stated.

Moraine Lake in Alberta, Canada’s Banff National Park. Parks Canada budget cuts will see a reduction of the operating season and the elimination of guided activities and education spending, among other things. (Credit: Karl Johnson)

Parks Canada Services Take Hit in Budget Cuts
(The Star)
Get out to a national park while you can — budget cuts at Parks Canada have resulted in shorter seasons and fewer guided tours, according to internal agency documents. Documents obtained by the Star reveal Parks Canada is on pace to cut more than $27 million from its planned $659.7 million 2014-15 budget, including savings of $5 million through limiting operating seasons at national parks and historic sites to “peak visitation periods.” More

 

NEWS FROM NORTH AMERICA

Study: Mountaintop Removal for Coal Hurts Water Quality and Harms Fish
(The Washington Post)
In West Virginia’s Appalachian mountains, fish are vanishing. The number of species has fallen, the populations of those that remain are down, and some individual fish look a little skinny. A new government study traces the decline in abundance to mountaintop removal, the controversial coal mining practice of clear cutting trees from mountains before blowing off their tops with explosives. More

Poaching and the Illegal Wildlife Trade Threaten Ontario Turtle Populations
(The Canadian Press via Ottawa Citizen)
Turtle populations in southern Ontario are under threat by poachers, who sell the critters on the black market as aquarium novelties or for the dinner plate. Ron Brooks, who studied turtles in Algonquin Provincial Park for 40 years, said there are no statistics on the number of turtles being poached and sold in the illegal wildlife trade. But he said it appears that poachers will collect turtles and sell them to ethnic markets for delicacies such as turtle soup. More

Arizona Enlists a Beetle in Its Campaign for Water
(The New York Times)
In this corner of America known for its vast landscapes, rugged mountains and deep river canyons, signs of the havoc created by the minuscule tamarisk beetle are everywhere. For miles along the banks of the Colorado River, hundreds of once hardy tamarisk trees — also known as salt cedars — are gray and withered. Their parched branches look like victims of fire or drought. More

Quebec and Ontario Work Together to Save the American Eel
(Montreal Gazette)
A joint operation between the Ontario and Quebec provincial governments, Hydro-Québec, the Canadian Wildlife Federation and the Algonquins of Ontario saw 400 juvenile American eels released into the Ottawa River for the first time in an effort to save the species in Ontario. The American eels were provided from a Hydro-Québec eel ladder at the dam in Beauharnois and transported to Voyageur Provincial Park in East Hawkesbury in the morning. More

African Elephants in Zoos Threatened by Obesity
(Discovery News)
African elephants in captivity are packing on the pounds, and experts warn that the rise in obesity is contributing to infertility, which could be detrimental to the survival of the species in zoos. To get a handle on the problem, one group of researchers in Alabama is looking for a better way to measure body fat on the already huge animals. Just like humans, elephants with excess fat are more likely to develop heart disease, arthritis and infertility. More

Conservation Group Praises New Manitobal Park to Protect Polar Bears
(Winnipeg Free Press)
Canada’s parks are under even more threat, but Manitoba at least gets higher marks for launching a process to create a huge new park to protect polar bears and other species on the Hudson Bay coastline. The findings are in the Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society sixth annual review of the state of Canada’s parks. More

WILDLIFE HEALTH AND DISEASE NEWS

New Disease Afflicting Sea Otters
(KCET-TV)
A virus related to the ones that cause smallpox and chickenpox has been found in sea otters from California and Alaska, according to researchers at the University of Florida. Though it’s unknown just how virulent the virus is, scientists are concerned it could interfere with infected otters’ ability to stay warm in the frigid waters of the Pacific Ocean. More

Digging Up the Seafloor Makes Coral Reefs Sick
(National Geographic)
Australia’s coral reefs are in danger, due in part to the expansion of ports to accommodate the growing number of ships loaded with coal or natural gas. That’s the conclusion of a new study looking at the effects of dredging projects on reefs in northwest Australia, reported in the journal PLoS ONE. Coral reefs need clear, warm water to thrive. More

INTERNATIONAL NEWS

River Dolphin on the Decline Due to Dams
(Nature World News)
Populations of the endangered Indus river dolphin are on the decline in part from the removal of river water for irrigation and habitat fragmentation, a new study has warned. Many freshwater marine mammals are endangered due to rapidly degrading habitat, and conservation depends on preserving what habitat is left. Officials used historical range data and information presence from fisher interviews to understand the timing pattern of range decline of the Indus River Dolphin. More

Marine and Terrestrial Wildlife Haven Becomes Four Million-Acre Biosphere Reserve
(Phys.org)
A rugged peninsula in Argentina’s Patagonia region teeming with wildlife, including southern right whales, Magellanic penguins, massive elephant seals, flightless Darwin’s rheas, and camel-like guanacos, has been declared a Biosphere Reserve by the United Nations Environmental, Scientific, and Cultural Organization. Península Valdés on the Atlantic coast of Patagonia in Southern Argentina has the largest breeding colony of southern elephant seals in South America. More

UN Applauds Kenya’s Role in Joint Anti-Ivory Smuggling Operation
(All Africa)
Some conservationists could not believe it when news from Geneva, Switzerland, started trickling in that Kenya’s law enforcement against wildlife crime had won recognition at a United Nations meeting. Four Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora Secretary General’s Certificates of Commendation were awarded to Nepal, China, Kenya and Nairobi-based regional agency Lusaka Agreement Task Force for exemplary wildlife law enforcement efforts. More

Proposed CRP Changes Open for Comment

Fri, 2014-07-18 11:54

A vegetation buffer protecting a stream on a farm in Clay County, MN. Private landowners help conserve natural resources, like the clean water and wildlife habitat from this stream, with support from the CRP program. (Credit: Clay County)

The Farm Service Agency announced this week that it is accepting comments on a draft Supplemental Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement (SPEIS) for the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP). The SPEIS addresses changes to CRP mandated by the recently passed 2014 Farm Bill.

The Conservation Reserve Program, administered by the Farm Service Agency (FSA), pays landowners to conserve ecologically sensitive land and to employ conservation practices to enhance natural resource benefits on that land. In the new Farm Bill, there are several mandatory and discretionary changes to the CRP program that the FSA is required to make. For example, FSA must target sensitive land during enrollment in the program as well as provide for both managed and emergency harvesting and grazing on CRP acres.

FSA developed an environmental assessment to examine the consequences of administering these changes – specifically the discretionary changes because they have some flexibility in how the FSA chooses to implement them.

The FSA will accept comments through September 8, 2014. Comments may be submitted through the Federal eRulemaking portal at http://www.regulations.gov under docket number FSA_FRDOC_0001-0228. By hard copy, submit to: CRP SPEIS, C/O Cardno TEC, Inc., 11817 Canon Blvd., Suite 300, Newport News, VA 23606.

Sources: FSA website (accessed July, 2014), regulations.gov (accessed July, 2014), Federal Register (July 15, 2014)

FWS Finalizes Protections for Garter Snakes

Tue, 2014-07-15 09:49

A narrow-headed garter snake slithers through its native streamside habitat in Greenlee County, AZ. The aquatic snake is one of two snake species recently listed as threatened due to concerns over water resources and competition from invasive species. (Credit: Tom Brennan)

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) finalized a rule listing two garter snake species as threatened under the Endangered Species Act. The two semi-aquatic reptiles are native to New Mexico and Arizona and have been threatened by declining water resources as well as competition from invasive species.

FWS released the final rule July 8 detailing how development – such as a proposed open-pit copper mine in Arizona – will affect groundwater supplies and in turn the garter snakes. Both species rely on riparian habitats for breeding and feeding. The northern Mexican garter snake (Thamnophis eques megalops) is largely terrestrial but derives most of its meals from streams and river-side environments. The narrow-headed garter snake (T. rufipunctatus) is more aquatic, making its home in clear, rocky streams. Anything that reduces water availability or quality will severely damage the two snake species’ prospects for prey.

FWS officials are currently developing the critical habitat for a future rule. The listing rule will go into effect August 7.

Sources: Energy and Environment News (July 7, 2014), USFWS (accessed July, 2014), Federal Register (July 8, 2014)

USDA pledges $50 million for Midwest Wetlands

Mon, 2014-07-14 12:53

A flock of ducks erupts from the fertile grasslands of the Prairie Pothole region. It is estimated that three quarters of North American waterfowl breed and nest here. (Credit: Shawn May, USFWS)

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) recently announced plans to direct $50 million from the 2014 farm bill budget to conservation projects affecting the Red River of the North Basin. The funds are on top of a $35 million pledge that the agency made in February. The USDA’s Natural Resource Conservation Service will direct the money over five years through conservation programs designed to incentivize landowners to preserve and enhance wetlands through technical and financial assistance.

The 25 million-acre Red River watershed is part of the Prairie Pothole region – Midwestern plains that encompass parts of five states and three Canadian provinces. The region is characterized by shallow depressions that collect water – perfect habitat for waterfowl and migratory birds. In fact, it is estimated that 75 percent of North American waterfowl use these seasonal wetlands – commonly referred to as “America’s duck factory” – for breeding and nesting while nearly half of the continent’s migratory bird species rest and fuel up in the fertile wetlands and grasslands during migrations.

A recent report by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) brought attention to “alarming losses” suffered by the region’s natural areas. Agriculture, oil and gas drilling, and other development activities have led to serious declines in wetland and grassland area, threating not only the health of the duck population, but also the safety of residents. The Red River floods nearly every year, and the wetlands are vital to soaking up excess flow.

Conservation groups applaud the decision citing both wildlife benefits and flood protection. The region’s waterfowl are essential to economies that rely on sportsmen dollars. The duck stamp program alone brings in an average of $25 million annually for wetlands acquisition.

Sources: Energy and Environment News (July 2, 2014), Energy and Environment News (June 6, 2014), Energy and Environment News (February 14, 2014), USFWS (accessed July, 2014)

Wildlife News Roundup (July 5-11, 2014)

Mon, 2014-07-14 11:38

The following clips reflect recent wildlife-related news coverage in the media. The Wildlife Society does not independently verify any statements or assertions in these articles. The statements expressed are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect official TWS policy unless so stated. Likewise, products mentioned herein are not endorsed by The Wildlife Society unless so stated.

A newly hatched loggerhead turtle (Caretta caretta) makes its way to the ocean. A new ruling that designates more than 300,000 miles of land and ocean as critical sea turtle habitat will help wildlife officials focus ongoing conservation efforts. (Credit: Florida Fish and Wildlife)

Feds Protect Sea Turtles with Largest Ever Critical Habitat Ruling
(UPI)
The U.S. federal government set a record, as wildlife officials designated an additional 685 miles of nesting beach and some 300,000 square miles of ocean as critical habitat for the federally protected loggerhead sea turtle — the largest such declaration in history. The newly protected nesting areas include various stretches of beach from Mississippi all the way to North Carolina. More

 

NEWS FROM NORTH AMERICA

Kansas to Pursue Prairie Chicken Breeding Program
(The Associated Press via WHEC-TV)
Kansas will develop a program for breeding lesser prairie chickens in hopes of getting the federal government to back off its listing of the bird as a threatened species, Gov. Sam Brownback announced. An Audubon of Kansas leader labeled the idea “far-fetched” and said it won’t work because game birds bred in captivity typically don’t have the skills necessary to survive long in the wild. More

Dreaded Asian Carp the Target of New Ontario Lab
(CBC News)
Canada has a new tool to battle the spread of an insatiable invasive species: an Asian carp research lab that’s the first of its kind in the country. Researchers say the Burlington, Ontario-based lab at the Canada Centre for Inland Waters will be an integral part of the battle against a fish that threatens to decimate food sources for native species in North America. More

3-D Technology Used to Help California Condors and Other Endangered Species
(Phys.org)
A team of researchers has developed a novel methodology that, for the first time, combines 3-D and advanced range estimator technologies to provide highly detailed data on the range and movements of terrestrial, aquatic and avian wildlife species. One aspect of the study focused on learning more about the range and movements of the California condor using miniaturized GPS biotelemetry units attached to every condor released into the wild. More

British Columbia Releases 5-year Species at Risk Plan
(The Canadian Press via Global News)
With about 50,000 plants and animals calling British Columbia home, the province boasts the highest wildlife diversity in Canada. But a report states some, including the prehistoric-like white sturgeon and Vancouver Island’s water-plantain buttercup, are under threat and need protection. The report sets out the government’s expectations for the management of species facing risks over the next five years. More

Florida Panthers Rebound as Wildlife Service Offers Ranchers Payment Plan
(The Guardian)
The endangered Florida panther, running out of room to prowl as its numbers rebound, may find its best chance at survival is a program to pay distrustful ranchers to protect what remains of its habitat. The payment plan proposed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has never been tried before on a large scale with a wide-ranging predator, officials say. Landowners could receive $22 per acre to maintain the cattle pastures and wooded scrub increasingly critical as panther terrain. More

Alberta Government Selling Endangered Caribou Habitat
(Hinton Parklander)
Environmentalists are upset over the Alberta provincial government’s continuing sale of endangered caribou habitat. But a spokesman for Alberta Environment says they are working on range plans to protect the endangered animals, with two of the plans concerning herds near Hinton that should be implemented by the end of this year. More

Florida FWC Issues 120 Citations for Online Wildlife Trafficking
(Clearwater Gazette)
The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission says it issued arrests and warnings in 24 counties, from Polk to Escambia, as part of a four-day operation called “Operation Wild Web.” The operation aimed to crack down on the illegal selling of fish and wildlife. Katie Purcell, Community Relations Coordinator for the FWC, confirmed that 36 citations and 84 warnings were issued to 97 individuals. More

Volunteers Provide Knitted Nests to Help Rehabilitate Abandoned Bird Chicks
(KPIX-TV)
A wildlife conservation group in California’s Marin County that cares for hundreds of orphaned baby birds has enlisted an army of knitters to make nests for the rehabilitating chicks. San Rafael-based WildCare rehabilitates thousands of wild animals a year, including hundreds of bird chicks who fall from nests during spring nesting season. More

From Twitter, a Growing Collection of Communicative Conservationists
(The New York Times)
By Andrew C. Revkin: A Facebook post by the environmental journalist John Platt directed me to an excellent Twitter list of — at last count — 89 conservation biologists, journalists, educators and other people focused on using new communication tools to foster wildlife conservation and animal welfare. The list was assembled by the editors of The Dodo, a website tracking biological wonders and issues that arise when Homo sapiens interacts, for good or ill, with other animals. More

WILDLIFE HEALTH AND DISEASE NEWS

Manatee Fatalities Show Decline
(The Tampa Tribune)
If it’s not reckless boaters chopping into the backsides of manatees, it’s the red tide. Or the cold. Or some mysterious bug along the southeastern coast that is claiming thousands of acres of sea grass, starving the sea cows to death. But so far this year, the number of manatees dying is down — an encouraging sign for those working to recover the species but sure to feed an escalating debate over whether Florida’s signature marine mammal should be removed from the endangered species list. More

Outlook Still Looking Grim for Prince Edward Island Bats
(Atlantic Farm Focus)
This winter, somewhere in the Bonshaw (Prince Edward Island) area, upwards of 50 bats crawled out of their seasonal refuge and died in the snow. They were sick and starving, without the energy to fly, let alone deal with the cold. All together, the Department of Agriculture and Forestry’s fish and wildlife division is reporting that about 90 dead bats were recovered, and another 30 to 40 reported, by Islanders during the winter of 2014. More

INTERNATIONAL NEWS

Creation of New Nature Reserve Protects Important Bird Habitat
(Wildlife Extra)
The Endangered Wildlife Trust is celebrating the publication of the Notice of Intent to Declare the Beaumont Nature Reserve in the Swartberg region of KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa. “The proposed Beaumont Nature Reserve is 1050 ha in size and forms part of the Thule Conservancy, which was created in 2012,” said Cobus Theron, the EWT’s African Crane Conservation Programme’s Southern Drakensberg/East Griqualand Stewardship Facilitator. More

Fight Against Illegal Ivory Stalled in Thailand
(National Geographic)
Many of the countries involved in the illegal trade of elephant ivory have made positive steps toward stemming the crisis — except for Thailand, conservation experts announced. The Southeast Asian country has not done enough to hamper black market sales of ivory, and it remains the largest unregulated market for ivory in the world, according to officials with the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora. More

Bipartisan Bill on Hunting Access Dies in Senate

Fri, 2014-07-11 15:08

Sportsmen in Utah head out to the hills for a big game hunt. The ‘Bipartisan Sportsmen’s Act’ – which the Senate recently rejected – would have improved access on public lands for this and other recreational activities. (Credit: Utah Division of Wildlife Resources)

A bill to support hunting access while also ensuring financial support for key conservation programs failed on a procedural vote on the Senate floor. Controversial amendments doomed the bill, which had easily passed the initial vote just days before.

The Bipartisan Sportsmen’s Bill (S. 2363) – introduced in May – aimed to enhance hunting opportunities on federal land by requiring land owned by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and the U.S. Forest Service (USFS) to be open to sporting opportunities, unless there was a legitimate reason for barring hunting or other recreation uses for individual parks and areas. It also directed funding to the North American Wetlands Conservation program and the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation which conserve wetlands for waterfowl and allow federal agencies to acquire land of high conservation value.

Another provision would have exempted lead bullets used by many sportsmen from EPA regulation under the Toxic Substances Control Act.

The House passed its own version of the bill in February. Environmental groups were happy to see that the Senate bill did not include exemptions to the National Environmental Policy Act and the Wilderness Act that were in the House version.

Despite bipartisan support and initial optimism, chances faded fast for the Senate bill to move forward. Senators flooded the floor with over 100 amendments that ranged from small fixes to divisive revisions. For example, Wyoming Republican Sen. John Barrasso proposed to block the EPA’s proposal to clarify the Clean Water Act’s reach and the Forest Service’s proposed groundwater protection directive. Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) filed a controversial amendment to strike the lead bullet exemption.

Senate majority leader Harry Reid and many of the bill’s 46 co-sponsors called for ‘relevant amendments’ while decrying amendments like Barrasso’s as virtually ‘filibustering’ the bill with politically tough votes.

Sources: Energy and Environment News (July 8, 2014), Energy and Environment News (July 10, 2014), Greenwire (July 10, 2014), Congress.gov (accessed July, 2014)

Recent Related TWS Articles: House Passes Sportsmen’s Act

FWS Proposes Injurious Species Status for Five Snakes

Wed, 2014-07-09 16:30

U.S. Geological Survey researchers hold a 17-foot long python they captured in Everglades National Park, Florida. Since 2002, wildlife authorities have removed more than 1,800 pythons from the Everglades. (Credit: Christine Puckett, USGS)

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) has re-opened the comment period for a rule first published in 2010 to list nine species of large constrictor snakes as injurious under the Lacey Act. Four of the nine snake species were listed in 2012, so the current comment period pertains to the remaining five species — the reticulated python (Python reticulatus), DeSchauensee’s anaconda (Eunectes deschauenseei), green anaconda (Eunextes murinus), Beni anaconda (Eunectes beniensis), and boa constrictor (Boa constrictor).

Listing would effectively ban the import and interstate transport of these species. Research shows that these snake species are a threat to human safety and can cause extensive damage to native ecosystems if released into the wild.

Since the mid-1990s, pythons and other constrictor snakes have established breeding populations in southern Florida, where environmental conditions are favorable for their survival. The presence of these non-native snakes is a result of accidental and intentional releases by pet owners. The snakes are generalist predators, meaning they will eat almost anything, mature rapidly and produce many offspring, are highly camouflaged, and can adapt to various habitats. As a result, these large snakes are causing significant disruptions to native Florida ecosystems. Studies have documented decreases in native mammal populations and indicate the snakes are competing for prey with native predators such as the indigo snake.

The Wildlife Society has sent a number of letters to the Department of the Interior and Office of Management and Budget urging officials to expedite the listing of these snakes and outlining the threats posed by the five snake species.

Comments can be submitted to FWS until July 24, 2014 by one of the two following methods:

  • Federal eRulemaking Portal: http://www.regulations.gov. In the Search box, enter the docket number for the proposed rule, which is FWS-R9-FHC-2008-0015. Click on “Comment Now!” to submit a comment. Please ensure that you have found the correct rulemaking before submitting your comment.
  • U.S. mail: Public Comments Processing, Attn: Docket No. FWS-R9-FHC-2008-0015; Division of Policy and Directives Management; U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service; 4401 N. Fairfax Drive, Suite 222; Arlington, VA 22203.

Sources: Federal Register (June 24, 2014), U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (accessed June, 2014), National Park Service (accessed June, 2014), USGS (accessed June, 2014), PNAS (accessed June, 2014)

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