The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) is seeking public comments to help develop regulations related to non-Federal oil and gas development on National Wildlife Refuge (NWR) lands and waters. Currently, the agency does not have comprehensive or consistent regulations in place to address such development on NWRs.
In many instances, FWS does not own the subsurface mineral rights beneath NWR lands and waters. In fact, private or state entities have the legal right to develop these resources. Currently, 103 refuges have oil and gas operations occurring on them, including 1,700 actively producing oil and gas wells. Still, the agency is interested in ensuring oil and gas activities do not adversely affect the natural and cultural resources, recreational activities, or infrastructure present at refuges. It will use the comments to develop a specific approach to the problem and to determine the scope of any future rulemaking.
The FWS will accept comments through April 25, 2014. Comments may be submitted through the Federal eRulemaking portal at http://www.regulations.gov under docket number FWS-HQ-NWRS-2012-0086. By hard copy, submit to: Public Comments Processing, Attn: FWS-HQ-NWRS-2012-0086; Division of Policy and Directives Management; U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service; 4401 N. Fairfax Drive, MS 2042-PDM; Arlington, VA 22203.
Source: Federal Register (February 24, 2014)
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.
Alaska Wants Humpbacks Struck from Endangered List
(Anchorage Daily News)
The state of Alaska is asking the federal government to remove Endangered Species Act protections for the humpback whales that swim between Alaska and Hawaii, spending months each year off Alaska’s Arctic Coast, a prospective oil-rich region. The state on filed a petition with the National Marine Fisheries Service to “delist” whales that feed in Alaska in the summer and breed in Hawaii in winter. More
NEWS FROM NORTH AMERICA
Counting Polar Bears from Space
Polar bears in Nunavut have a lot less privacy these days as a new satellite tracking system helps researchers spy on them from space. Basically, a satellite takes pictures of a landscape, and researchers count the bears — something that once took over 100 hours of manual labor. And you don’t have to be good at Where’s Waldo? to spot the bears, explained Seth Stapleton from the Fisheries, Wildlife and Conservation Biology department at the University of Minnesota. More
US Moves Toward Atlantic Oil Exploration, Stirring Debate Over Sea Life
(The New York Times)
The Interior Department opened the door to the first searches in decades for oil and gas off the Atlantic coast, recommending that undersea seismic surveys proceed, though with a host of safeguards to shield marine life from much of their impact. The recommendation is likely to be adopted after a period of public comment and over objections by environmental activists who say it will be ruinous for the climate and sea life alike. More
Review to Probe Land Use in British Columbia Wildlife Habitats
(The Globe and Mail)
The British Columbia government has called for a full review of lands owned by conservation groups, to determine how many areas that were set aside to protect wildlife habitat have been leased out by the Crown as cattle range. Forest, Lands and Natural Resources Minister Steve Thomson promised the review in response to concerns raised by Ducks Unlimited Canada, The Nature Trust and the Habitat Conservation Trust Foundation. More
Obama to Propose Shift in Wildfire Funding
(The New York Times)
President Barack Obama’s annual budget request to Congress will propose a significant change in how the government pays to fight wildfires, administration officials said, a move that they say reflects the ways in which climate change is increasing the risk for and cost of those fires. The wildfire funding shift is one in a series of recent White House actions related to climate change as Obama tries to highlight the issue and build political support for his administration’s more muscular policies. More
Florida Seeks Volunteers to Help Ease Threat of Bears
Florida wildlife officials hope to recruit volunteers to help manage the state’s growing population of black bears. In the wake of a bear attack on a Seminole County woman — the worst ever recorded on a person in state history — the Florida Fish & Wildlife Conservation Commission will begin a series of meetings with the public to discuss bears and the agency’s management strategies. More
WILDLIFE HEALTH AND DISEASE NEWS
Fatal Bat Disease Found in Kentucky’s Mammoth Cave
A disease deadly to bats has been found in toured areas of Mammoth Cave in Kentucky. Officials said they will not change tour routes. “It is important to remember that White-Nose Syndrome affects bats, not humans,” Superintendent Sarah Craighead said in a press release. “As with all our wildlife, we caution visitors not to approach animals, including bats. If contact should occur, please notify a ranger.” More
Study: Direct Camel-to-Human Transmission of MERS Virus is Possible in Saudi Arabia
An estimated three-quarters of camels recently surveyed in Saudi Arabia have evidence of infection with the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome coronavirus, the virus responsible for human cases of MERS. Results of the new study establish for the first time that direct camel-to-human transmission is possible and provide a pathway to control the spread of the disease. More
Jaguar Gains New Protection in Belize
The future of the jaguar in Belize is looking brighter following the signing of a conservation agreement between the Government of Belize, the Environmental Research Institute of the University of Belize and the wild cat conservation organization Panthera. The trio agreed to work together to implement science-based conservation initiatives that secure and connect jaguars and their habitats in Belize and beyond. More
Number of Rhinos Killed in Kenya on the Rise
Some 59 rhinos were killed last year by poachers compared to 30 in 2012, according to the Kenya Wildlife Service. However the number of elephants killed decreased to 302 last year against 384 in 2012. There are 38,000 elephants in the country and 1,030 rhinos. KWS Spokesperson Paul Mbugua told Capital FM News poaching remains the greatest challenge in the sector, but noted that tough measures have been put in place to curb the vice. More
Chad Takes Action, and the Elephants Hear It
Chad’s president, Idriss Déby, set fire to the country’s 1.1-million-ton ivory stockpile on Feb. 21. This symbolic act reinforced the substantive steps Chad has been taking to save its remaining elephants, now estimated to number about 450 in Zakouma National Park. Elephants in Chad have suffered some of the most severe poaching pressure seen in Africa in recent decades. Never strangers to poaching, they learned how to anticipate and avoid the ravages of horsemen from southern Chad and neighboring Sudan. More
Readers may recall that a number of TWS staffing issues were discussed at the Council meeting last October and highlighted in the President’s Podium in the January issue of The Wildlifer. I thought it would be useful to provide an update on where things stand on these and other activities in the home office.
At the TWS Council meeting in October 2013, the Council voted to abolish the position of Operations Manager. The position had been occupied for many years by Yanin Walker, and the Council reluctantly approved its elimination on financial grounds as part of an effort to reduce costs and return the Society to a healthier financial situation. A rather lengthy process was required, which provided ample opportunity to develop an acceptable severance arrangement. By now all the deadlines for its implementation have passed without incident, and I am pleased to say that this difficult process has been successfully completed and barring any unforeseen complications is now behind us.
Membership, Marketing, and Conferences
Shortly after the October Council meeting, Darryl Walter, Chief of Staff and the Director of Membership, Marketing, and Conferences, announced that he would be moving on to another association position in the D.C. area. Darryl was with the Society for about 5 years, and he remains under contract to provide consulting services during the search for his replacement. A large number of applications were received in response to an advertisement for the position, and each was reviewed and ranked by the search committee. With the approval of an ad hoc team of Council representatives, Ed Thompson was ultimately selected as the new Chief of Operations for the Society. Ed has a long record of involvement in association management and leadership at the directorate and vice-presidential level, with a strong background and experience in membership development, marketing strategy, and conferencing. Ed will begin with the Society on February 14, and will attend the upcoming Council meeting in Denver.
Government Affairs and Partnerships
A few months ago Terra Rentz, the Deputy Director for Government Affairs and Partnerships, announced her departure to pursue a master’s degree at SUNY/Syracuse University in public policy. Director Laura Bies conducted a search for a replacement, and recently announced that Keith Norris has accepted the position of Assistant Director, Government Affairs and Partnerships. Keith comes to us from Columbus, Ohio, where he has been pursuing a second master’s degree in wildlife at The Ohio State University. He will start as Assistant Director on February 18, and will attend the Council meeting in Denver.
At its October meeting the Council approved a budget that included a new development position, to provide a badly needed focus on grants, donations, membership expansion, and outreach to potential partners of TWS. The idea was for the incumbent in this position to work with TWS officers, members, and especially the MMC staff, to build out our membership, connect more effectively with TWS partners, and enhance our financial status. The position was advertised several weeks ago, and thus far 25 applications have been received. A review of candidates will be undertaken once Ed Thompson is on board.
Part-time Admin and Web Support
With the departure of Yanin Walker the Society lost capacity to provide administrative support for Council meetings, conferences, awards, and a number of other activities. We also have an ongoing and critical need for operational support for our web presence, which continues to limit our outreach and communications efforts. We have started the search for part-time staff in these areas, with the hope of finding someone who could help meet both needs.
Publications and Communications
Finally, I should mention that Lisa Moore, Director of Publications and Communications, is back with us in headquarters after an extended period of leave. Lisa took a leave of absence starting December 1, and returned at the beginning of this month. In Lisa’s absence, Divya Abhat has headed up the effort to represent PAC and keep the publication of The Wildlife Professional on track. During that time she consulted with Lisa and worked with interns to keep things on schedule and up to quality standards. Divya deserves special thanks and recognition for her hard work under difficult circumstances. And all of us, including Divya, are happy and relieved to have Lisa back with us full-time.
In addition to staffing, another focus of attention for the Society is the development of the Conservation Affairs Network. This initiative builds on a recognized need and opportunity for better communication and coordination among the Society and the sections and chapters. Look for more discussion about the network under Policy News in this volume of The Wildlifer.
Lastly, I’ll mention the efforts about to be undertaken to rebuild our membership back to a peak of nearly 11,000 members in 2012. We have fallen off somewhat from that peak, as we have had to cut back on resources to reach out to potential new members. A tailing off of memberships should be a concern to all of us, because our members are in every way the lifeblood of the Society. I am excited about the prospects for membership marketing efforts that can be undertaken by our new operations chief and development officer, and the potential of these efforts to help with both our finances and our membership. In the next few months we will have the capacity on board to ramp up these efforts, and should begin shortly thereafter to see results.
The Ballot Validation Committee met on January 28, 2014 at The Wildlife Society office in Bethesda, MD to verify and count the ballots by the membership for proposed changes to the bylaws. The following changes to the bylaws have been approved:
Article VI, Section 3, Clause A
Elections for Officers of the society (vice-President) and Section Representatives to the Council may be conducted by a mail-in or electronic election process. Other issues requiring a membership vote also may be resolved by a mail-in or electronic voting with approval of the council. For voting purposes, it is the sole responsibility of members to ensure they have provided the society with a valid and current email address and/or postal address prior to the voting period.
Article VI, Section 3, Clause A, Number 1
Mail-in and electronic voting systems will ensure that only one vote may be registered per voting Member.
Article VI, Section 3, Clause A, Number 2
Voting for elections and other issues requiring a membership vote and commence at least 60 days prior to the annual Meeting of the Society and continue for a period of 30 days.
Article VI, Section 3, Clause A, Number 3
All Voting Members with valid e-mail addresses will be notified electronically at the beginning of the voting period, and be provided a summary of the issues or candidates that are on the ballot; this information also will be posted on the website of The Society at the beginning of the voting period.
Article VI, Section 3, Clause A, Number 4
Electronic voting will be open to all Voting Members for 30 days, regardless of the topic (Officer of the Society, Section Representative, and other relevant issues). Reminders will be sent electronically to all members with valid e-mail addresses on the work day closes to 10 and 20 days after voting begins, and
Article VI, Section 3, clause A, Number 5
Members without e-mail addresses will be mailed a summary of the issues or candidates that are on the ballot and paper ballots at least 40 days before electronic balloting closes, and a reminder at least 20 days before closing of the voting period.
Article VI, Section 3, Clause A, Number 6
Subunits of the Society (Chapters, Sections, Working Groups) may have electronic voting conditional on the subunit abiding by stipulation 1 above.
Article VIII, Section 1, GENERAL
Administrative and fiscal affairs of the Society shall be conducted by the Executive Director under the general supervision and direction of the council as specified in TWS Financial Policies. Council is responsible for developing and implementing sound financial policy for the society and shall be provided copies of all legally required financial documents at time of deposition and will be updated at least annual on the financial position of the Society.
Article VIII, Section 2
The fiscal year shall begin July 1 and end on June 30 each year.
Annual Conference News
The Request for Associated Reception or Working Group Meeting is available here. The deadline for submission of requests is June 30, 2014.
Apply now for 2014 Leadership Institute
The Wildlife Society (TWS) is currently accepting applications for its Leadership Institute. The Institute’s goal is to facilitate development of new leaders within TWS and the wildlife profession. The Institute will recruit 10-15 promising early-career professionals for a series of intensive activities and mentoring relationships. The focus will be on exposing the participants to the inner workings of TWS and increasing the number of active leaders in TWS and the wildlife profession.
From May until October, participants will engage in a series of activities to develop and expand their leadership skills. Institute members will attend the TWS Annual Conference in Pittsburgh (October 24-30, 2014) and participate in various activities, including mentoring and leadership workshop sessions. The Institute is free, and participants receive free registration and a travel grant for the conference.
Participation in the Institute is geared toward early-career professionals, individuals 2 to 3 years out of school (either undergraduate or graduate school), currently working full-time in a wildlife professional position, and with demonstrated evidence of their leadership potential. Also eligible are more recent graduates who have shown strong evidence of their leadership potential and those who are working while concurrently pursuing a graduate degree. All applicants must be dues-paying members of TWS and a Chapter or Section of TWS. Learn more.
TWS and Amazon.com
Now when you shop on Amazon, you can help support The Wildlife Society by clicking on http://wildlife.org/amazon. TWS will earn a commission for everything you buy at Amazon at no extra charge to you. This is a great way to help support your Society.
2014 Awards Nominations
The Wildlife Society’s Awards Program honors individuals and groups who have made notable contributions to TWS and wildlife management and/or conservation. Please help us recognize deserving recipients by submitting your nominations for these awards. Please refer to each award description for deadlines and instructions on preparing your nominations.
- Aldo Leopold Award, due by March 15, 2014
- Caesar Kleberg Award for Excellence in Applied Wildlife Research, due by March 15, 2014
- Chapter and Student Chapter of the Year Awards, Chapter nominations due by March 15, 2014 and Student Chapter nominations due by June 30, 2014
- Conservation Education Award, due by March 15, 2014
- Donald H. Rusch Memorial Game Bird Research Scholarship, due by March 15, 2014
- Distinguished Service Award, due by March 15, 2014
- Diversity Award, due by March 15, 2014
- Excellence in Wildlife Education Award, due by March 15, 2014
- Honorary Membership, due by March 15, 2014
- Jim McDonough Award, due by March 15, 2014
- Special Recognition Service Award, due by March 15, 2014
- Student Chapter Advisor of the Year Award, due by March 15, 2014
- Wildlife Publication Awards, due by March 1, 2014
TWS Spring Council Meeting
The spring meeting of TWS Council will be held March 9-10 in Denver, Colorado at the Sheraton Downtown Denver Hotel in conjunction with the Wildlife Management Institute’s North American Wildlife and Natural Resources Conference. Members are welcome to attend. More information on the conference, including lodging and registration.
TWS student chapters host five regional student conclaves each year that provide college students with valuable hands-on training in wildlife management and conservation, and networking opportunities with wildlife professionals. Some activities include field trips, workshops (i.e., telemetry, trapping, chemical immobilization, mist-netting), field competitions, local tours, game-calling competitions, quiz bowls, banquets, photography contests, and guest speakers.
Northeast Student Conclave
The Northeast Student Wildlife Conclave will be hosted by the Penn State University Student Chapter of The Wildlife Society at the Seven Mountain Scout Camp, Spring Mills, PA from March 28-30, 2014. Please visit http://sites.psu.edu/neconclave2014/ for more information.
Midwest Student Conclave
The Midwest Student Wildlife Conclave will be hosted by the Northern Michigan University Student Chapter of The Wildlife Society at the Bay Cliff Health Camp in Big Bay, MI from April 11-13, 2014. Interested students can visit http://nmutws.weebly.com/2014-conclave.html for information and updates or can email email@example.com.
Southeastern Student Conclave
The Southeastern Student Wildlife Conclave will be hosted by the Clemson University Student Chapter of The Wildlife Society from March 20-22, 2014. More information will be published as it becomes available. Please contact the Student Chapter Advisor, Rickie Davis (firstname.lastname@example.org), with questions regarding conclave.
Western Student Conclave
The Western/CMPS Student Wildlife Conclave will be hosted by the University of Nebraska-Lincoln Student Chapter of The Wildlife Society at Mahoney State Park in Nebraska from March 14-17, 2014. Registration packets will be sent out to interested chapters in the beginning of November. Please email email@example.com for more information.
Canadian Student Conclave
The Canadian Student Wildlife Conclave will be hosted by the Universite Laval Student Chapter of The Wildlife Society in Quebec City from March 28-30, 2014. Please visit http://wildlife.org/Canada/ for more information.
TWS Urges Changes to Injurious Species Listing Process
In a January 14 letter, the National Environmental Coalition on Invasive Species (NECIS), of which TWS is a member, urged U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) Director Dan Ashe to improve the process for listing a species as injurious under the Lacey Act.
NECIS stressed that the FWS should dedicate more time to improving the regulatory listing process through the Lacey Act, rather than focus on a new voluntary listing process they have recently pursued. The letter noted several concerns with the voluntary listing process, including the belief that the process is being driven by regulated industries such as the pet trade. In addition, they feel the Standard Operating Procedures in place for conducting risk screenings are too limiting, focus unduly on aquatic species, and do not consider a broad array of wildlife diseases. Lastly, the Ecological Risk Screening Summaries (ERSS) that are produced during the listing process need to be posted in the Federal Register to give the public opportunity to comment.
In that letter, NECIS gave their support for the FWS’ proposals to list as injurious 10 new “high risk” species plus five constrictor snake species, as well as for FWS’ plan to adopt a NEPA Categorical Exclusion for its Lacey Act injurious species listing process.
TWS Urges Support for Wildfire Disaster Funding Act
TWS signed on to a letter prepared by the Partner Caucus on Fire Suppression Funding Solutions, a diverse coalition of conservation and firefighting groups supporting sustainable forest management. The letter urges members of the Senate to vote for The Wildfire Disaster Funding Act (S. 1875).
The Act would move fire suppression spending within the U.S. Forest Service (USFS) and Department of the Interior (DOI), in excess of 70 percent of the 10-year average, to a separate disaster account, similar to procedures in place for other agencies that deal with natural disasters such as floods and hurricanes. This would alleviate the need for USFS and DOI to transfer funds from non-wildfire budget accounts in order to cover costs needed for fighting disastrous wildfires.
The USFS alone has spent $3 billion in seven of the past 12 years from non-fire accounts to fight increasingly large and devastating wildfires. While Congress repaid all but $400 million, this still leaves a huge funding gap. Most redirected funds come from forest research, reforestation efforts, and capital improvements, which may directly impact the Forest Service’s efforts on behalf of wildlife and their habitats.
Fire seasons have lengthened in recent years due to increasing development, excessive fuel loads in forests, and changing climate, making this a critical issue for Congress and the two agencies.
TWS Supports 2014 Farm Bill
TWS, along with the Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies, The Nature Conservancy, World Wildlife Fund, and National Wildlife Federation, among other groups, sent a letter to House and Senate leadership on February 3 in support of the 2014 Farm Bill and urging its passage.
The twelve groups behind the letter expressed support for conservation and forestry provisions, including the Sodsaver provision to reduce incentives for grassland conversion. Although many conservation groups advocated for a national Sodsaver program, they acknowledge the six states included in the bill represent a significant first step toward increasing sustainability. TWS also strongly supported re-linking conservation measures to crop insurance assistance to continue the success of management efforts that reduce soil erosion, protect wetlands, and conserve wildlife habitat. Groups further applauded the permanent extension of stewardship contracting, which would encourage collaboration among agencies, local communities, and stakeholders in restoring ecosystems.
Conservation Affairs Network Update
For years, TWS has been operating as an organization made of isolated parts – the parent society, Sections, and Chapters working independently. However, a new initiative spurred from a subset of Section officers and reworked by countless Chapter and Section leaders over the past year has come to fruition. The Conservation Affairs Network creates a communication and support structure throughout all levels of the organization and, for the first time, connects Chapters, Sections, and the parent society through the establishment of comparable and compatible Conservation Affairs Committees. These new structures will enhance communication between Chapters and across Sections while streamlining the flow of information between TWS staff and our TWS leaders throughout North America.
The network features coordination at the Section level through the creation of consistent Conservation Affairs Committees (CACs) that are comprised of representatives from each Chapter within the Section. The Section CAC would be responsible for tracking and taking action, if appropriate, on regional issues of concern, providing support to Chapters who need assistance addressing issues that are too volatile on a local level for direct Chapter involvement, and passing on regional issues that may have national significance to headquarters to address. The Section CAC would also serve as the hub for communication and inter‐subunit collaboration for a particular issue. Chapters would, of course, still function with a high level of autonomy and could tailor a system to address conservation affairs issues in a way that best meets the unique needs of an individual chapter.
As 2014 progresses, Chapter and Section officers will be vetting the concept of a Conservation Affairs Network with members. Member input remains a critical component of this grassroots effort and interest will be weighed to determine how a given Chapter or Section may implement the Network strategy. How a Chapter or Section choses to participate in the network will vary, but subunits now have the tools to more effectively work together to meet our collective conservation affairs goals for The Wildlife Society.
TWS Members in the Spotlight
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 firstname.lastname@example.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. Thanks!
Canadian Section Annual Meeting
The Canadian Section of TWS will hold a joint annual meeting with the Université Laval Student Chapter on March 28-30, 2014 in Quebec City, QC. The conference plenary theme is History of Wildlife Management in Canada. Lively entertainment includes the 3rd Canadian Conclave and Quiz Bowl and an entertaining evening event at a Sugar shack/Cabane à Sucre! Please visit http://wildlife.org/canada/csagm for more information.
Western Section – Now Accepting Papers for the Section’s New Journal, Western Wildlife
Please consider submitting your manuscripts to the Western Section’s new journal, Western Wildlife, formerly known as the Transactions of the Western Section of The Wildlife Society. Western Wildlife is an open-access, peer-reviewed journal that publishes original research, reviews, perspectives, and correspondence on the ecology, natural history, management, and conservation biology of animals. Submit materials to David Germano at email@example.com. Papers will be peer-reviewed and then published online once accepted by the editor. Visit the Western Section’s site for updates at http://www.tws-west.org/
Iowa Chapter 2014 Winter Meeting
February 19 – 20, 2014, Ames, Iowa. Presentation topics include:
- Quail habitat management and monitoring in southern Iowa
- Blanding’s Turtle telemetry in northwest Iowa
- Sediment removal in wetland restorations
- Wetland dynamics in Iowa’s Prairie Pothole Region
- Canada Goose nesting in Iowa
- Stress responses of birds to wind energy development
Any questions can be emailed to: firstname.lastname@example.org
New York Chapter Annual Meeting
The NY Chapter is planning our annual meeting for April 3-4, 2014 at the Oxford Rod & Gun Club near Norwich, NY. The theme of the meeting will be Hunter Culture and the Future of Wildlife Management, and will include 2 days of presentations about how hunting influences wildlife management. The conference will include a wild game dinner on Thursday night, and will be followed on Friday night and Saturday by a New York State Sportsmens’ Education (Hunter Safety) Course for those that wish to take it. Contact Michael Fishman, Chapter President, at email@example.com, or Valorie Titus, Chapter President-Elect, at firstname.lastname@example.org for details and registration. Hope to see you there!
North Carolina Chapter Annual Meeting
The NCTWS announces their 2014 meeting which will focus on adaptive management (“Adaptive Management: Food Plots to Ecological Restoration”). The two-day meeting will be held jointly with North Carolina Partners-in-Flight (NCPIF) and will feature a plenary speaker. Dates are February 25-26, 2014, at Haw River State Park in Brown Summit, North Carolina.
In 2016, North Carolina will host the annual TWS Conference in Raleigh, North Carolina. A steering committee and state-level subcommittees will be formed in the coming months to begin planning for this event.
North Dakota Chapter – Teddy Roosevelt Family Day: Engaging Youth with the Ideals of Theodore Roosevelt – Bill Jensen
In the spring of 2012, I wrote a brief article for The Wildlife Professional about partnering with Boy Scouts of America (BSA), Girl Scouts of the USA (GSUSA), and 4H in developing of local events to engage our youth in outdoor activities. The goal was simple: provide a gateway to educate youth in the ethics and values of conservation, promote the North American Model of Wildlife Management, and provide the young people with the skill sets needed to enjoy an active outdoor life.
As an introductory event we held the first annual “Teddy Roosevelt Family Day” on September 30, 2012. With 18 activity stations ranging from BB-Gun shooting to a waterfowl wing maze, and the help of a glorious fall day, the Sunday afternoon event was a hit. We didn’t get a count of attendees, but we did handout 500 patches to kids within the first two hours. The second annual Teddy Roosevelt Day was recently held on September 29, 2013. This year we added atlatl throwing, kids-in-boats, tipi set up, and more. In all, about 60 volunteers donated their Sunday afternoon to run 32 activity stations. In total more than 1300 kids and family members spent the afternoon engaged in hands-on outdoor activities; and not one Nintendo DS was in sight.
The success we have had is in no small measure due to the involvement of local 4H, GSUSA, and BSA staff and volunteers. With more than 100-years of experience each and now currently serving more than 11.5 million youth each year; these three organizations are truly the experts at organizing and delivering youth oriented programs. By taping on local environmentally interested agencies and clubs, a host of gracious volunteers staffed the various stations. And the cost for patches, a radio station broadcasting live, and miscellaneous supplies; less than $2000. The third annual is being planned for September 28, 2014! Will these sorts of events have any future impact on changing public policy and promoting wildlife conservation? We didn’t know in 2011 when we started, and we may never know. The real world rarely offers perfect solutions to any of the challenges we face. But it feels like the right thing to do, and the kids are having fun – outside.
A special thanks to the North Dakota Game and Fish Department and the North Dakota Chapter of The Wildlife Society for providing seed money. And a special thank you to Ducks Unlimited, Delta Waterfowl, National Wild Turkey Federation, and McQuad Distributing Company Inc. for their additional financial support. If you are interested in getting your local TWS chapter involved in a similar event, send me an email at email@example.com.
South Dakota Chapter Annual Meeting
The South Dakota Chapter of TWS will be having its annual meeting February 24 – 26 at Cedar Shores Resort in Oacoma, SD. The agenda is full of interesting talks and the theme of this year’s meeting will be “building public support for wildlife conservation.” The agenda and registration form along with more info about the meeting is available on the chapter website at www.sdwildlife.org
Texas Chapter 50th Anniversary
We are rapidly approaching February 19-22, the dates for our annual meeting in Austin! At this meeting, we will begin our jubilee year in celebration of 50 years as a chapter. The theme is “The Past 50 Years in Wildlife Management – Struggles and Achievements”. A special thanks goes to Program Co-chairs, Mike Tewes and Nova Silvy, and to Local Arrangements Co-chairs, Jeff Raasch and T. Wayne Schwertner, along with Kristin Rathburn, Chair of the Exhibits Committee. These folks have worked many hours preparing for this special meeting. In addition, nearly $20,000 has been raised in sponsorships to offset some of the costs. We have an inspiring group of plenary speakers to kick off the meeting Friday morning. Four workshops are planned for Wednesday and Thursday: R for Ecologists, Wildlife Track ID, Selling Conservation on Private Lands, and Finding Your Dream Job. Go to http://www.txchapter50th.com/ for all the details.
Texas Chapter Wildlife Conservation Camp
The first Wildlife Conservation Camp was held at the Rob & Bessie Welder Wildlife Foundation near Sinton, Texas in 1993. Since this time, Camp has often found its way back to the Foundation and does so again for 2014. From July 20-26, campers will have the opportunity to observe and study species such as white-tailed deer, javelina, coyotes, bobcats, alligators, snakes, and hundreds of species of birds while at the refuge. Campers will also enjoy a mid-week trip to the coast for some fun in the sun!
The Executive Board of the Texas Chapter of The Wildlife Society provides oversight to the Camp, and ensures that the camp experience reflects the values and professional integrity of our organization. Camp staff and mentors are carefully selected based on their professional background, resource knowledge, and experience in working with high school students.
Camp is staffed by professional wildlife biologists, each of whom is knowledgeable in an array of subject matter areas. Camp staff may have experience working as professional wildlife consultants, agency biologists, academic researchers, University faculty, private ranch managers, or any number of professional backgrounds. Interested in volunteering for camp? Serving as a Camp Volunteer is a rewarding experience that will teach you valuable leadership skills and provide countless opportunities for networking with fellow natural resource students and professionals. Volunteering for camp is a big commitment, and well worth it! We rely on your dedication and hard work to ensure the success of this camp each year.
West Virginia Chapter Annual Meeting
The Joint Annual Meeting of the WV Chapters of the American Fisheries Society and the Wildlife Society will be held at the WVDNR Operations Center in Elkins, WV on February 27, 2014 from 9 a.m. – 4 p.m.
Delaware Valley College Student Chapter – Avery Corondi
Delaware Valley College’s Student Chapter of The Wildlife Society recently travelled to the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History – about 20 members went altogether. Much of our time has been occupied as we prepare for Game Dinner, our biggest fundraiser that promotes hunting as a responsible form of conservation.
University of Wisconsin – Stevens Point – Elise Worthel, President
As we return from winter break the UWSP student chapter is doing their best to not let the snow interfere with their events. So far this semester our deer project has begun trapping in Schmeeckle Reserve. As the deer are trapped they are ear tagged and collared. The project has quite a few collars and will be trapping for a few weeks to use them up. Deer project’s leaders try to ensure that the project is very hands on, but also ensures that the deer aren’t overly stressed – getting them out of the trap, ear tagged, and collared in under five minutes. Every volunteer gets an opportunity to help out and no one is just an observer. The project will also be helping out a Wildlife of North America course, taking students out during their labs, allowing more than just TWS members to get hands on experience with the deer. As the semester gets more under way many more projects will begin taking members out.
Four of our members drove eight and a half hours to attend the Midwest Fish and Wildlife Conference in Kansas City, allowing them to network with professionals and learn a few things along the way. Some of our members will also be attending the Wisconsin Chapter TWS meeting in March.
Attending our weekly meetings will be speakers, including Ben Stefanski from the DNR, Dick Thiel who will speak to us about the wolf hunt, and another organization on campus, MANNRS, (Minorities in Agriculture, Natural Resources and Related Sciences). We will also be trying to recruit some new members at this semester’s Student Organization Fair.
West Texas A&M University Student Chapter - Mark Cancellare, President
Our chapter has been growing as WTAMU’s wildlife program has been growing, and this is allowing us to become more involved with other activities. In addition to our twice monthly meetings with speakers, our members are actively engaged in research with graduate students and faculty, travel to professional meetings, volunteer with local TPWD biologists, and participate in outreach events, such as the Amarillo Zoo’s Conservation Celebration to help educate the public about local endangered species issues.
One of our chapter’s highlights is that in years past we invite members to partake in a black-footed ferret survey, where we travel west to assist Arizona Game and Fish Department biologists with trapping. Two years ago, on one of our best trips, our group of volunteers captured nine ferrets over the four night survey period. Given the rigors of the all night surveys, this was no small task, but it continues to be an awesome opportunity, where volunteers get to experience first hand one of North America’s most endangered species and the efforts to conserve it.
This year we were able to participate in the Mule Deer Foundation Banquet for the Amarillo Chapter. Members donated their time to help set up tables and run the auction. This was also an opportunity to learn about the declining numbers in the mule deer population and to receive a donation of $500.00 towards our society from the Mule Deer Foundation.
In November, members also participated in a land navigation course taught by Randy Glass. Members were given the opportunity to take a course about land navigation and topography. Then participants were given set locations on individual maps and were sent in groups to find these set locations out in the field. We are hoping to do this again next year along with a star navigation course.
We also hosted a “Game Feed” at the end of the year. The dinner was a chance to get everyone together and invite the public. Our dinner menu included roasted beaver, Javelina kabobs and casserole, buffalo chili, jalapeño dove poppers, and antelope jerky. A raffle drawing also heightened some of the excitement with great prizes such as a guided hog hunt, a GPS, book sets, and a skull collection that had been graciously donated from local suppliers. Given that it helped get our name out and raise funds for our activities, the Game Feed was a huge success!
Our society is continuing to grow, and it is our hope that we can begin to interact more with the community by increasing our presentations to local schools and hosting booths at more outreach events.
Biometrics Working Group
The Biometrics Working Group (BWG) of The Wildlife Society is offering student travel grants of up to $2,500 for TWS student members presenting papers or posters at the Annual Conference of The Wildlife Society. The purpose of the travel grants is to promote student interest in biometrics and the BWG. Applicants must be students and members of The Wildlife Society. Preference will be given to applicants who demonstrate strong statistical or mathematical skills.
To be considered, submit:
- a cover letter requesting an award (maximum 1 page) that explains your interest in applying quantitative methods to wildlife/ecological research;
- a letter of support from a mentor, advisor or supervisor; and
- an abstract of the paper or poster being presented at the meeting (formatted according to the meeting guidelines)
The deadline for submission of travel grants is July 1, 2014. For more information or to submit an application, contact Mark Lindberg, Department of Biology and Wildlife and Institute of Arctic Biology, University of Alaska Fairbanks, Fairbanks, AK at firstname.lastname@example.org. Following submission, you will receive an email confirming receipt of your application.
Wildlife Disease Working Group
The Wildlife Disease Working Group held their annual elections in December for open seats on the Board. Congratulations to Margaret Wild (Chair-Elect); Tim Algeo (Secretary/Treasurer) and Krysten Schuler (Re-elected, Board Member); Jordona Kirby (Board Member) and Julie Blanchong (Board Member).
Thanks to Collin Gillin, Aaron Hildreth, Barbara Bodenstein, Marcus Gray, Kristin Madden, Michelle Rosen, Stacey Samuelson, Eric Michael Schauber, Nina Schoch and Kyle Van Why for their willingness to run for a board position and their ongoing commitment to TWS and the Working Group. I would also like to thank outgoing Board Members Scott Hygnstrom (Past Chair), Kevin Castle (Board Member) and Michelle Rosen (Board Member) for their excellent work on behalf of the Working Group over the last few years. The 2014 Working Group Board is Chair: Rich Chipman; Past-Chair: Rick Brown; Chair-Elect: Margaret Wild; Secretary/Treasurer: Tim Algeo; Board Members: Krysten Schuler, Jordona Kirby, Julie Blanchong, Keith Wehner, Mike Samuel and Dave Edmunds. The Newsletter Editors are Sam Goldstein and Michelle Rosen. Please feel free to contact any Board Member with questions.
26th Vertebrate Pest Conference, an educational event for discussing and exchanging information on human-wildlife conflicts, will be held March 3-6, 2014, at the Hilton Waikoloa Village, Big Island, Hawaii. Registration is now open, and “early bird” rates apply through Feb. 7, with a savings of $50. Registration website.
The Western Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies (WAFWA), Utah Division of Wildlife Resources (UDWR), and Wild Felid Research and Management Association (WFA): Eleventh Mountain Lion Workshop
Monday, May 12, 2014 – Thursday, May 15, 2014, at the Hunter Conference Center, Southern Utah University, Cedar City, Utah. The Workshop theme is “Integrating Scientific Findings into Management.” For more information and the call for papers visit: https://www.regonline.com/mountainlionworkshop2014
Midwest Partners in Amphibian and Reptile Conservation Annual Meeting, August 22-24, 2014, at Camp Iduhapi, Loretta, MN. The meeting topic is “Survey 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
New Online Tool Tracks Tree Loss in ‘Near Real Time’
A new global monitoring system has been launched that promises “near real time” information on deforestation around the world. Global Forest Watch is backed by Google and over 40 business and campaigning groups. It uses information from hundreds of millions of satellite images as well as data from people on the ground. Businesses have welcomed the new database as it could help them prove that their products are sustainable. More
NEWS FROM NORTH AMERICA
Canadian Court Finds ‘Enormous Systemic Problem’ in Enforcement of Species at Risk Act
(The Canadian Press via Global Post)
A Federal Court judge in Canada has ruled that the environment minister and the fisheries minister both broke the law by failing to enforce the Species at Risk Act. In a case covering four species that Justice Anne Mactavish calls “the tip of the iceberg,” the court found there’s a major systemic problem in the two ministries charged with protecting endangered and threatened wildlife. More
Mexico, US, Canada to Work on Monarch Butterflies
(The Associated Press via KRIV-TV)
Mexico, the United States and Canada have agreed to form a working group on the conservation of Monarch butterflies, whose numbers fell to record lows this year at their wintering grounds in central Mexico. Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto announced the decision at the end of a one-day summit with U.S. President Barack Obama and Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper. More
Banff Bears Use Trans-Canada Wildlife Crossings to Find Mates
Grizzly and black bears are looking for love on both sides of the Trans-Canada Highway, and using wildlife crossings to rendezvous with members of the opposite sex, a new study confirms. Scientists had previously been concerned that the highway, which is fenced on both sides through Banff National Park, might block animals from breeding with others of their species on the other side of the highway. That, in turn, could lead to isolation and inbreeding. More
Beyond Black Eye, Bison Hunt Near Yellowstone Benefits CSKT, Other Tribes
In the 1980s, bison hunting in Montana — begun in response to a disease some of the animals carry that threatens cattle — turned into a public relations nightmare. “It was kind of like a firing line on the boundary” of Yellowstone National Park, says Tom McDonald, manager of Fish, Wildlife, Recreation and Conservation for the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes. “It gave the state a black eye.” More
A Snowy-Owl Bonanza, Thanks to a Little, Stubby-Legged Arctic Rodent: The Lemming
(The Washington Post)
For the lowly Arctic lemming, life is cruel. On the wide-open tundra, they are nature’s carryout meal, the Lay’s potato chip of an unforgiving habitat — no predator can eat just one. In a flash before death, often the last things a lemming sees are the deadly talons of a majestic snowy owl. A mass sacrifice of this rodent with stubby legs probably gave rise to what scientists are calling the largest snowy-owl irruption in at least a half-century. More
A Crazy Ant Invader Uses Acid to Its Advantage
(The New York Times)
The crazy ant, the latest ant to invade North America, is having remarkable success at replacing its predecessor, the red fire ant, former king of the invaders. Part of the reason, according to research at the University of Texas, is that the newcomer can detoxify fire ant venom in a way not seen before in other insects or animals. The crazy ant uses its own venom to neutralize that of the fire ant, which is deadly to many other ants and gives the fire ant its notorious sting. More
500,000 Cranes Headed for Nebraska in One of Earth’s Greatest Migrations
Nature got it right with the cranes. They have been around since the Eocene, which ended 34 million years ago. They are among the world’s oldest living birds and one of the planet’s most successful life-forms, having outlasted millions of species (99 percent of species that ever existed are now extinct). The particularly successful sandhill crane of North America has not changed appreciably in 10 million years. There are 15 Gruidae species. More
WILDLIFE HEALTH AND DISEASE NEWS
Honey Production Down in Canada as Problems Continue to Plague Bees
(The Epoch Times)
The future of Canada’s honey production is continuing to be examined by the Senate’s agricultural committee following massive bee deaths in Ontario and Quebec thought to be tied to the use of the pesticide neonicotinoid. “The acute incidences of honeybee mortality in Quebec and Ontario continues to concern scientists, beekeepers, farmers, and regulatory bodies alike,” Mark Wales, a board member of the Canadian Federation of Agriculture, told senators. More
Tourism Best Hope for Critically Endangered Lemurs
Madagascar’s lemurs — the world’s most threatened primate — could be saved from extinction by eco-tourism, conservationists say. The big-eyed fluffy creatures are unique to the island but their numbers have declined dramatically in recent years. Now researchers have unveiled a survival plan that combines tourism with increased conservation efforts. More
Tiger Population Grows in India, As Does Fear After Attacks
(The New York Times)
No one has lived long enough to describe the tiger in detail, but some things about her are known. She traverses great stretches of land in a day and is comfortable wandering deep into human territory. After killing her first three or four people, she began to eat her victims — starting rump-first, one expert said, as she would a deer. Though it is impossible to say with certainty whether the same tiger is at fault, last weekend brought the 10th death in six weeks widely attributed to the “man-eater.” More
Paper-Made ‘Panda Army’ Invades Taipei to Promote Wildlife Conservation
A display featuring 600 paper giant pandas took place yesterday in downtown Taipei as a warm-up for an upcoming outdoor exhibition in which 1,600 pandas and 200 Formosan black bears made from recycled paper will be showcased to raise awareness of wildlife conservation. The paper pandas, to the joy of pedestrians, made an appearance in the early afternoon near the Daan Forest Park, their second stop since arriving in Taiwan the previous day, according to the Taipei city government. More
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) recently reopened the public comment period for removing the entire Gray wolf (Canis lupus) species from the federal endangered species list. In an effort to maintain protections for the Mexican wolf (Canis lupus baileyi) the agency will uphold the subspecies’ listing as endangered under the Endangered Species Act.
USFWS reopened the comment period on the Gray wolf on February 10—following a previous extension—after the National Center for Ecological Analysis and Synthesis submitted an independent scientific peer review report that challenged the agency’s decision to delist the wolf along with the 2012 scientific report upon which it based its decision. The independent report stated that proposed delisting was not based on the best available science, drawing from studies that confused species divisions and mistook boundaries of historic ranges.
USFWS will accept comments until March 27. Comments can be submitted through the Federal eRulemaking Portal under Docket No. FWS-HQ-ES-2013-0073 or by U.S. mail to: Public Comments Processing, Attn: FWS-HQ-ES-2013-0073; Division of Policy and Directives Management; U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service; 4401 N. Fairfax Drive, MS 2042-PDM; Arlington, VA 22203. Further details about the ruling’s background and original June 13, 2013 proposal (78 FR 35664) can be found on the federal register.
The White House released a National Strategy for Combating Wildlife Trafficking last week in an effort to address the increase in illegal wildlife trade, which threatens wildlife conservation and global security.
The U.S. is one of the world’s largest markets for both legal and illegal wildlife and wildlife products. Furthermore, there has been an increasing demand for elephant ivory and rhinoceros horns, mainly from buyers in Asia, where these products are considered highly desirable by a burgeoning middle class as high value gifts and aphrodisiacs, among other uses. The national strategy seeks to address these and other issues by acting as a guiding document to direct U.S. federal agencies to share information and resources to address the problem of illegal wildlife trade, which is purported to bring in over $19 billion per year to international crime syndicates.
Further, the strategy aims to reduce illegal trade in wildlife not only in the U.S., but around the world by focusing on three main priorities: strengthening enforcement, reducing demand for illegally traded wildlife, and expanding international cooperation and commitment.
The strategy also directs the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) to immediately ban commercial import and export of African elephant ivory, with limited exceptions. Furthermore, the strategy will restore Endangered Species Act protections for African elephants that the FWS had previously revoked by a special rule (50 CFR 17.40(e)).
Sources: National Strategy for Combating Wildlife Trafficking (February, 2014), White House Wildlife Trafficking Fact Sheet (February, 2014), Energy and Environment Daily (February 11, 2014), The Huffington Post (accessed February, 2014)
Congress is currently considering bills in both the House and Senate that seek to protect and enhance opportunities for recreational hunting and fishing–the Sportsmen’s Heritage and Recreation Enhancement (SHARE) Act (H.R. 3590) in the House and the Bipartisan Sportsmen’s Act of 2014 (S. 1996) in the Senate.
The SHARE Act, passed by the House on February 5, includes provisions for the maintenance of shooting ranges, creation of permanent electronic duck stamps, and opening of federal lands to recreation. While celebrated as a victory by sportsmen’s organizations, some organizations remain concerned by wording that could diminish conservation measures for protecting fish and big game species, exemptions for lead in hunting equipment, and a lack of provisions for enhancing recreation and conserving wildlife habitat. The bill also includes exemptions from the National Environmental policy Act (NEPA) and the Wilderness Act.
Other versions of a sportsmen’s bill have included provisions popular with conservation groups, such as an increase in the price of federal duck stamps and the reauthorization of programs such as the Land and Water Conservation Fund, National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, and Neotropical Migratory Bird Conservation Act. The Senate’s Bipartisan Sportsmen’s Act has garnered more support from hunting groups and is currently undergoing discussion in committee. This combination bill by Senators Hagan and Murkowski includes provisions to reauthorize the North American Wetlands Conservation Act, Federal Land Transaction Facilitation Act, and the Recreational Fishing and Hunting Heritage and Opportunities Act, unlike the proposed SHARE bill.
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.
Fighting Wildlife Crime: New US Strategy Broadens Scope
President Barack Obama’s new national strategy to combat illegal wildlife trafficking around the globe is intended to be far more sweeping than curbing the poaching of African elephants. It is also aimed at combating organized crime in unstable African countries. “Record high demand for wildlife products, coupled with inadequate preventative measures and weak institutions, has resulted in an explosion of illicit trade in wildlife in recent years,” Obama said. More
NEWS FROM NORTH AMERICA
Yellowstone Bison Slaughter Begins
(The Associated Press via ABC News)
Yellowstone National Park has transferred 20 bison to a Montana Indian tribe for slaughter, marking the first such action this winter under a plan to drastically reduce the size of the largest genetically pure bison population in the U.S. The transfer was first disclosed by the Buffalo Field Campaign, a wildlife advocacy group, and confirmed by park officials. Five more bison that had been captured were to be turned over to the U.S. Department of Agriculture for use in an experimental animal contraception program, said park spokesman Al Nash. More
3 Louisiana Men, Business Indicted on Charges of Smuggling Deer into Mississippi
(The Sun Herald)
A federal grand jury has indicted a Louisiana business and three associates on charges alleging they conspired to import white-tailed deer from other states into wildlife enclosures in two counties for the breeding and killing of trophy bucks. Omni Pinnacle LLC, Brian R. Reine, Ronald W. Reine and Bruce A. Swilley Jr. are set for trial March 17 in U.S. District Court in Gulfport, Miss. They were arraigned and released on unsecured bonds of $25,000 each. More
Wildlife Officials Mull Quotas for World’s Last Unregulated Polar Bear Hunt
(The Canadian Press via Edmonton Journal)
Public hearings have begun in the tiny community of Inukjuak in Quebec’s arctic region to discuss putting quotas on the world’s last unregulated polar bear hunt. Scientists say climate change is starting to affect the health of the south Hudson Bay population, and voluntary limits on the hunt should be reduced — especially as Canada’s management policies come under increasing international scrutiny. But the aboriginal communities in Quebec, Ontario and Nunavut that hunt that population of bears aren’t willing to reduce their take. More
Cities Could Be Wildlife Refuges of the Future
(Christian Science Monitor)
Mention the word wildlife to a city dweller and images of animals and birds in remote natural surroundings will probably come to mind — not in an empty parking lot around the corner. But research shows that cities can in fact support wildlife biodiversity, and this can have major implications for conservation efforts. On a crowded planet, protecting species in their natural habitat is proving increasingly difficult. More
WILDLIFE HEALTH AND DISEASE NEWS
Fungal Disease is Killing Swans in Washington State
(The Bellingham Herald)
A fungal disease is being blamed for the deaths of trumpeter swans spending the winter on Whatcom County’s Wiser Lake in the state of Washington. Martha Jordan, wildlife biologist and chairwoman of Washington Swan Stewards, said the big white birds have been congregating on the lake by the thousands this winter. The birds prefer to spend the night afloat in the lake closest to their food supply, and this year, that appears to mean Wiser Lake. More
Photos: Mass Turtle Hatching Produces Over 200,000 Babies
Biologists recently documented one of nature’s least-known, big events. On the banks of the Purus River in the Brazilian Amazon, researchers witnessed the mass-hatching of an estimated 210,000 giant South American river turtles (Podocnemis expansa). The giant South American river turtle, or Arrau, is the world’s largest side-necked turtle and can grow up to 80 centimeters long (nearly three feet). More
Global Wildlife Protection Effort Nets Traffickers in Africa, Asia
Law enforcement officers from 28 countries Feb. 11 announced completion of a groundbreaking, global operation to combat wildlife poaching and trafficking. Code named Operation Cobra II, the monthlong operation and capacity-building activity promoted cross-border law enforcement cooperation and drew praise from the conservation community for its impressive results, including more than 400 arrests of wildlife criminals and 350 major wildlife seizures across Africa and Asia. More
Zoo Official on Marius the Giraffe: Conservation Isn’t Always Clean
Outrage over the recent killing of a healthy giraffe at a Danish zoo misses a crucial point, an official argued. “Conservation is not always simple. It’s not always clean,” said Lesley Dickie, executive director of the European Association of Zoos and Aquaria, a European body governing 345 institutions. “I’m afraid that when we have limited space in zoos — and it’s limited because of problems in the wild, of course, and more and more animals need our help — then we sometimes have to make these really tough decisions.” More
The Senate Environment and Public Works Committee recently advanced the North American Wetlands Conservation Extension Act—a bill (S. 741) that would reauthorize the North American Wetlands Conservation Act (NAWCA) through 2017. NAWCA was originally passed in 1989 to support some of the activities of the North American Waterfowl Management Plan, which provides a strategy for cooperation among North American countries relating to the protection of wetlands and their associated upland habitats.
NAWCA funds wetlands conservation programs through a competitive grants process, which requires a private match in funds. In the last 23 years, NAWCA has provided $1.28 billion in grants awarded to approximately 2,300 projects. These projects have brought in almost $3 billion in matching funds and affect 27.5 million acres of habitat. Many important wetland areas across the country have received funding through this program, including the Prairie Pothole region in the Dakotas and wetlands in the Great Lakes Basin.
Sources: Greenwire (February 6, 2014), U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (accessed February, 2014), U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Standard Grants (accessed February, 2014), Ducks Unlimited (accessed February, 2014)
White House Announces 7 Regional Climate Hubs
(The New York Times)
On the heels of the Senate’s passage of a long-awaited farm bill, the Obama administration announced the creation of seven regional “climate hubs” to help farmers and rural communities respond to the risks of climate change, including drought, invasive pests, fires and floods. White House officials described the move as one of several executive actions that President Obama will take on climate change without action from Congress. More
NEWS FROM NORTH AMERICA
Experts Recommend Limiting Ravens, Owls to Save Sage Grouse from Extinction
(The Canadian Press via Montreal Gazette)
Conservation experts are making five main recommendations to protect one of Canada’s most highly endangered birds from extinction. One suggestion is to protect the sage grouse by potentially reducing the number of predators, such as ravens. The ideas come from a workshop by the Calgary Zoo that brought together biologists, ranchers, government and energy industry representatives. More
New York Wants to Banish a Symbol of Love: Mute Swans
(The New York Times)
In the war against invasive species, the targets are typically unappealing. Think feral pigs, snakehead fish, Asian long-horned beetles and emerald ash borers. But now, the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation has declared war on mute swans — the jumbo, snow-white waterfowl with the long, graceful necks — which were introduced from Europe in the late 1800s for their aesthetic appeal. More
NAWCA, Duck Stamp Price Increase Reported Out of Senate EPW Committee
The Senate Environment and Public Works Committee marked up and reported out several wildlife bills, including the reauthorization of the North American Wetlands Conservation Act and a price increase to the federal duck stamp. “Many areas in the United States are experiencing tremendous droughts,” DU CEO Dale Hall said. “The wetlands conserved and restored with NAWCA and duck stamp recharge the underground aquifers that many Americans rely on for drinking water.” More
Aerial Manatee Survey Finds Nearly 5,000 Swimming Around Florida
(Tampa Bay Times)
For the first time since 2011, state biologists have surveyed Florida’s manatee population from the air. They counted 4,831, the third-highest number since counting began in 1991. “We are encouraged by the relatively high count, especially given the high number of manatee deaths documented recently,” said Gil McRae, director of the state’s Fish and Wildlife Research Institute in St. Petersburg, which oversees the aerial surveys. More
Hungry Polar Bears Robbing Arctic Bird Colonies
There were more than 300 nests in the bird colony when the polar bear arrived. When it meandered off with a belly full of eggs, only 24 nests remained, say scientists who witnessed the “near total” destruction of nests on the bird colony off Baffin Island. It was far from an isolated event, the team from Environment Canada and Carleton University reported. Hungry polar bears are becoming a bigger threat to seabirds in the Canadian Arctic than traditional nest robbers like foxes and gulls. More
Condor Cam Offers Rare Glimpse of California Condor Family Nest
(Santa Barbara Independent)
For decades, field biologists, researchers and animal care staff were the only people able to witness the development of a California condor family. Now viewers around the globe will be able to watch the growth of a condor, from caring for the egg to rearing the hatched chick, via the San Diego Zoo Wildlife Conservancy’s online Condor Cam. This rare glimpse has only recently been available for public viewing with the hatching of the Condor Cam’s very first star, Saticoy, in 2012. More
WILDLIFE HEALTH AND DISEASE NEWS
Record Levels of Banned Insecticide Found in Illinois Otters
(Great Lakes Echo)
The river otter — sleek swimmer, audience-magnets at zoos and aquariums, whiskered diver, aquatic frolicker, correct answer to crossword puzzle clue for “playful mammal.” And biomonitor to track toxics that damage the health of an environment or ecosystem. North American river otters play that role because they’re “apex consumers” in the aquatic ecosystem — meaning they’re at the top of the food chain. More
Meta-Analysis of Honeybee Colony Collapse Highlights Shortcomings
(Nature World News)
Socioeconomic and political pressures on honey production over the past few decades has caused a long-term reduction in the number of productive honeybee colonies in the U.S., Europe and other countries, a study by EcoHealth Alliance concluded. The research showed the more recent, increasing “annual colony losses” reported by honeybee managers to be the result of pests, pathogen and management issues. More
Wisconsin DNR to Conduct Wasting Disease Air Surveys
(The Associated Press via Bradenton Herald)
State wildlife officials are planning to launch an aerial search for chronic wasting disease in northwestern Wisconsin. The Department of Natural Resources plans to conduct aerial surveys around the Shell Lake area in Washburn County, where a doe tested positive for the disease in 2011. No other deer from the area have tested positive for the disease since. More
Huge Chimpanzee Population Thriving in Remote Congo Forest
In one of the most dangerous regions of the planet, against all odds, a huge yet mysterious population of chimpanzees appears to be thriving — for now. Harbored by the remote and pristine forests in the north of the Democratic Republic of Congo and on the border of the Central African Republic, the chimps were completely unknown until recently — apart from the local legends of giant apes that ate lions and howled at the moon. More
Human Activities in Southeast Atlantic Affect Humpback Whale Routes
Swimming off the coast of Africa, humpback whales encounter more than warm waters for mating and bearing young, according to a new study led by the Wildlife Conservation Society. They also encounter offshore oil rigs, major shipping routes and potentially harmful toxicants. The researchers used satellite tags affixed to more than a dozen whales to conduct their studies. More
Congress gave final approval Tuesday to the new five-year farm bill, which includes cutbacks on federal nutrition assistance, reauthorization of agricultural subsidies, and streamlining of rural conservation and energy programs.
The provisions come as a relief to many conservation groups, who successfully advocated for the reattachment of conservation measures to federal subsidies for crop insurance. Wildlife organizations were also pleased with the “sodsaver” provision, which would limit subsidies for newly converted land in six states to discourage the development of grasslands into farmland (although many groups had pushed for a national Sodsaver program).
Other provisions would prevent soil erosion and conserve wetlands in an effort to protect wildlife and water quality. Overall, the bill would consolidate 23 conservation programs down to 13 and provide $57 billion in conservation funding, with $6 billion in conservation spending cuts. This will be the first decrease in conservation funding by a farm bill since the inclusion of conservation incentives in 1985.
Key conservation incentive programs such as the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) and Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP) are to continue with maximum allotted acres reduced over time but an increase in payment limitations to farmers. Both the CRP and CSP have been effective in encouraging environmentally-friendly farming practices, converting sensitive agricultural land to healthy habitat and distributing land use payments in proportion to environmental benefit production, respectively.
The Farmland Protection Program, Grassland Reserve Program, Wetlands Reserve Program, and Wildlife Incentive Program will be consolidated under the umbrella Agricultural Conservation Easement Program, with transition funding for current contracts and easements. Also, the Wildlife Habitat Incentive Program (WHIP) would be consolidated under the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) as part of streamlining while providing farmers assistance to improve wildlife habitat on working lands.
Current priority designations for the Chesapeake Bay Region, Great Lakes Region, and Long Island Sound Region would be removed, although the Secretary would retain the authority to designate future conservation priority areas. Future regional initiatives and the Agriculture Water Enhancement Program will be consolidated into the Regional Conservation Partnership Initiative for investment in local conservation projects. The U.S. Forest Service would also benefit from increased authority in stewardship contracting and project creation to handle wildfires and insect or disease outbreaks.
One of the farm bill’s major changes is eliminating direct payments to farmers and replacing the benefit with either a revenue insurance program or assistance when markets fall below a designated price level. The food stamp program would also receive $8 billion less over the next decade — part of a bipartisan compromise to cut $23 billion from the federal budget.
Sources: E&E News PM (January 28, 2014), E&E Daily (January 28, 2014, January 29, 2014), Greenwire (January 29, 2014), House of Representatives Conference Report, ProAg Title II Statement, National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition (January 31, 2014)