News Article | March 23, 2017
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has declared the rusty patched bumblebee as endangered, the first and foremost local bee to be included in the list of endangered species. The USFWS presented a regulation on Jan. 11 to add the rusty patched bumblebee to the list of endangered species. The officials of USFWS said that they are unsure about the reasons behind the reduction of these bees, but the species is facing potential threat. Serina Jepson, director at the Xerces Society, stated that several possible reasons could exist behind the disappearance of the bees. "Disease and pesticides are the two biggest threats to the existence of the rusty patched bumblebee, compounded by loss of habitat," said Jepson. She also added that the most concerning matter is the constant usage of strong, enduring, and extremely poisonous pesticides in areas inhabited by the bees. This is a powerful and long-lasting risk to their existence. Many settlements of the rusty patched bumblebee have dropped significantly by 87 percent since the 1990s. Development of human society over the habitats of the bees may be a cause for their disappearance, along with climate change. In the past, the upper part of the Midwest and 31 states across the United States had a thriving population of these bees. Bee colonies used to exist in some parts of Southern Canada as well. Presently, the population of bees could be found only in 13 states. These states include Indiana, Maryland, Illinois, Iowa, Massachusetts, Maine, Ohio, Minnesota, Tennessee, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, and Virginia. A part of Canada also has some remaining colonies of the bees. "Bumblebees are among the most widely recognized and well-understood group of native pollinators in North America," said Eric Lee-Mäder, co-director of the pollinator program at the Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation. He also added that bees contribute greatly in the pollination process of several fruits and vegetables, including melon, cranberry, blueberry, squash, clover, greenhouse tomato, and pepper along with several wildflowers. Lee-Mäder thinks that the extinction of the bees could impact the pollination of crops, which would be a massive financial blow. There are native pollinators available in the United States, but their annual cost will be $9 billion or even more. Several plans and efforts have been made to save the endangered bees. According to the USFWS, the plan is in a good condition. Several agricultural communities all over the country have come forward to help the bees survive against the odds. The communities are protecting as well as restoring thousands of acres of habitat for the bees to thrive. © 2017 Tech Times, All rights reserved. Do not reproduce without permission.
News Article | April 26, 2017
-- "Helping Birds Along the Way" is the theme for this year's International Migratory Bird Day (IMBD), the only international education program that celebrates the migration of nearly 350 bird species between their nesting habitats in North America and wintering grounds in Latin America, Mexico, and the Caribbean.This year IMBD will celebrate the importance of stopover sites, crucial refuges where migratory birds rest and refuel before continuing their remarkable journeys. Because these flights can stretch thousands of kilometers across continents and oceans, the birds depend upon a handful of resource-rich and strategically located habitats to acquire the energy-rich fat stores they need to survive.From coastal estuaries and marshes to forests and grasslands, stopover sites support millions of migratory shorebirds, waterfowl, and songbirds. "Stopover habitats are critical to the survival of birds that travel long distances," says Greg Butcher, Migratory Bird Program Coordinator for the U.S. Forest Service's Office of International Programs. "Providing healthy habitats during migration is essential to migratory birds."Now in its 24year, IMBD has grown from a one-day event into a framework underpinning hundreds of projects and programs year-round. IMBD (http://www.migratorybirdday.org)is coordinated by Environment for the Americas ( http://www.environmentamericas.org/ ), a Colorado-based organization which provides bilingual educational materials and information about birds and bird conservation throughout the Americas. Their programs inspire children and adults to get outdoors, learn about birds, and participate in their conservation.Each year IMBD explores a different aspect of migratory birds. In 2017, participants at more than 700 locations from Argentina to Canada will learn how protecting and restoring stopover sites can benefit migratory birds, the symbolic harbingers of the seasons. Because habitat loss is considered the largest threat to these birds, IMBD events will include restoration activities like clean-ups and planting native species, as well as educational presentations, bird walks, and creative art projects."Through International Migratory Bird Day, we work to engage people of all ages to make their homes and communities safe places for birds," says Susan Bonfield, Executive Director of Environment for the Americas. "There are many small actions that people can take to help protect migratory birds." One way that people can help birds along their way, says Bonfield, is to transform their backyards into safe stopover sites by planting native vegetation, providing fresh water, and keeping cats indoors.Although IMBD is traditionally celebrated in Canada and the U.S. on the second Saturday in May, in reality every day is bird day, and programs, festivals, and other events occur throughout the year, whenever it works best for organizers—and the birds."Ultimately, the goal of IMBD is to connect people to nature through birds," says Laura Koloski, Program Coordinator for Environment for the Americas.To learn more about migratory bird habitats, download IMBD educational and promotional materials in Spanish and English, and search for activities planned in your area, visit http://www.migratorybirdday.org/ Susan Bonfield, Executive Director, Environment for the Americas, Boulder, CO, USA. Email: email@example.com;Tel: 970-393-1183Laura Koloski, Program Coordinator, Environment for the Americas, Boulder, CO, USA. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org;Tel: 303-499-19501.is the Executive Director for Environment for the Americas. After studying Black-legged Kittiwakes in Alaska, she returned to the Lower 48 where she has since gained over 17 years of experience in bird research and education. She has created education programs in the U.S. and Mexico, assisted with workshops on bird monitoring and conservation in both countries, taught basic identification courses, and led a course for the USFWS National Conservation Training Center. Susan has a B.S. in Biology from Randolph-Macon Woman's College, an M.S. in Ecology, Fisheries, and Wildlife from University of Michigan, and a Ph.D. in Human Dimensions of Natural Resources from Colorado State University.
News Article | April 23, 2017
Via the live-streaming cameras on dceaglecam.org, it became apparent to worldwide viewers that DC4 was in trouble and distressed, and that a human-coordinated rescue could significantly decrease the chance of serious injury to the eaglet's leg. The non-profit American Eagle Foundation (AEF) and the U.S. National Arboretum immediately cooperated with the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service and Ex-Cel Tree Experts to plan the removal of the eaglet from the nest. "Typically when something goes awry in a wild eagle nest, we don't even know about it and nature simply takes its course," says AEF President Al Cecere. "In this case, however, we could all clearly see how much the eaglet was struggling and how human intervention might make the difference between life and death. We had the power in our hands to help, so that's what we did." After being retrieved and lowered from the tree by professional arborists Matt Morrison & Marty Levine, the eaglet was initially assessed on the ground by US Fish & Wildlife Service biologist Craig Koppie (also an experienced tree climber). It then received further examination by veterinarian Samantha Sander at the Maryland Zoo in Baltimore, who truly gave the eaglet the "presidential treatment!" A physical check-up and radiograph revealed no permanent damage to DC4's leg, with the only visible signs being a slight abrasion and swelling. Overall, the eaglet received an acceptable health report and was approved by the veterinarian to be placed back into its nest. DC4 was successfully returned to its nest at the Arboretum on April 21st at around 5pm EDT. Mr. President, The First Lady, and DC5 welcomed DC4 back home, safe and sound! The entire process of freeing the eaglet's lodged/stuck leg, getting it checked out/radiographed, and then returning it to the nest took less than 24 hours. Sue Greeley with USNA helped facilitate the entire process at the Arboretum, while AEF President Al Cecere guided and monitored the effort virtually by phone and internet from Tennessee. The nest cam footage of these events can be seen on the AEF's Facebook & Youtube pages. "We are extremely grateful for all USFWS, AEF, USNA, Ex-Cel, & Maryland Zoo staff and volunteers who readily responded to this emergency situation and helped make this a quick, safe and successful rescue effort," says Cecere. In 2015, the American Eagle Foundation (AEF) staff traveled to D.C. to install state-of-the-art cameras, infrared lighting, and other related equipment in-and-around the nest tree with the help of volunteers and experienced tree arborists and climbers. This past year, the AEF added microphones near the nest to further enhance the viewing experience, and a team of arborists and eagle experts affixed natural tree limbs beneath the nest to provide added support. The USDA's U.S. National Arboretum ran a half-mile of fiber optic cable to the cameras' ground control station, which connects the cameras and microphones to the Internet. The entire system is powered by a large mobile solar array (containing several deep cycle batteries) that was designed and built by students and staff from Alfred State College, SUNY College of Technology and was partially funded by the Department of Energy and Environment. USNA has implemented a backup generator that will kick-on if prolonged inclement weather causes the solar array to provide insufficient power to the system. In 2016, APEX Electric Inc. (Kenmore, Washington) traveled to D.C. to assist the AEF in successfully installing audio equipment in and around the tree. The AEF uses Piksel to stream the video images to viewers around the world, and AEF volunteers are trained and coordinated to pan, tilt and zoom the cams, as well as educate the public via LIVE chats while viewers watch the eagles via the cams on the Internet. To view the original version on PR Newswire, visit:http://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/rescued-eaglet-returned-to-national-arboretum-nest-in-washington-dc-300443927.html
News Article | July 27, 2017
They’re known as canned hunts; captive mammal hunting ranches in the US which offer the chance to shoot a zebra or antelope or even a lion for several thousand dollars. The animals are fenced in and often unafraid of humans so the kills are easy, to the extent that some venues even provide the option of shooting them via the internet, with the use of a camera and a gun on a mount. It’s estimated that there are more than 1,000 of them - completely legal. But many US hunters consider them a betrayal of every belief they hold dear. “I don’t consider that hunting,” said John Rogalo, a New Jersey hunter who has been stalking bears, deer and turkeys for nearly 50 years. “It’s a weird culture that has developed in this country in the past few years. I joke that you may as well ask the farmer if you could shoot his black Angus because at least you’d get more meat for it.” Rogalo is firmly on one side of an ever-deepening divide in the hunting community – one of the longest and proudest traditions in US culture. He considers himself part of a proud lineage of conservation-minded hunters whose totem is Theodore Roosevelt, the former president and avid outdoorsman. Roosevelt and his contemporaries invoked a mantra of “fair chase” which they defined as an “ethical, sportsmanlike and lawful” pursuit that does not give the hunter some sort of improper advantage over the prey. He would call himself a true “hunter”. “Hunters view it as a sport, you may take days or weeks tracking your quarry ... If you didn’t get anything, that didn’t matter. It was the pursuit that counts,” says Craig Packer, a zoologist best known for his work on lions in south and east Africa. On the other side of the divide from Rogalo are the “shooters”, as they are known. “The shooter will come over, check his Blackberry every few hours, kill something and go home. There are now more and more shooters – younger, more urban, masters of the universe. They will have bait put out, sit in a blind and shoot lions as they feed. There’s no sport in that. It’s like a selfie.” Walter Palmer, the Minnesota dentist who gained international infamy after shooting Cecil the lion in 2015, would almost certainly qualify as a shooter rather than a hunter. Palmer paid guides $50,000 to stalk Cecil, famed for his black mane, before shooting him with a bow and arrow. Controversially, bait was used to lure the 13-year-old lion outside of a protected area in Zimbabwe. Palmer was initially apologetic for killing a famous and well-loved lion but has since adopted the mantra that the fee he paid will help lion conservation in Africa, recently tweeting that “trophy hunting actually HELPS.” Palmer is a member of “hunter’s rights” organisation the Safari Club, which has logged more than 40 of Palmer’s kills including, among other animals, a polar bear. Last week it was revealed that Cecil’s six-year-old son Xanda was shot and killed by another trophy hunter, also outside the boundary of a reserve in Zimbabwe. It’s unclear what will happen to Xanda’s remains – Palmer had wanted to sever and mount Cecil’s head before it was handed over to police – but these trophies are garnered with minimum effort essentially for the thrill of it, all to a backdrop of a 60% decline in African lion numbers over the past three decades. Most US hunters remain on the ‘hunting’ side of the debate. A nationwide poll from 2013 found that 35% of American hunters aged over 18 said they hunted “for meat” with just 1% saying they wanted to procure a trophy from the animal, but tightly-held tradition and socialising are also key elements of the American hunting experience. “A lot of it is about storytelling and male bonding. There is a lot of card playing,” Simon Bronner, an ethnologist who has spent plenty of time with hunters in Pennsylvania while researching books said. “There’s this idea that being out in the woods is recreating the pioneer experience that they see as being the basis of America. They are living an experience where land is a resource controlled locally in an urbanised country that is changing around them.” It’s the emotional charge, the quiet time in the woods (many hunters frown upon cellphone use and reject mechanised modern weaponry in favour of bows and muskets) that creates a virtuous circle, according to Bronner, that brings revenue and oversight to states through licenses while ensuring the stewardship of the land. “Anyone who spends time in the woods and watches wildlife would demand that we do more work on improving habitat.” Theodore Roosevelt, the 26th president of the United States, perfectly embodied the belief that “true hunting” was a vital part of conservation. Up until the end of the 19th century, it had been open season on American wildlife. Bison were considered so bountiful that people could shoot them from trains, while waterfowl were gunned down to provide plumage for hats. But at the turn of the century nascent environment groups such as the Audubon Society, as well as a new breed of venerated “gentleman” hunters such as Roosevelt, Davy Crockett and Daniel Boone – the Boone and Crockett club exists to this day – pushed for change. Roosevelt didn’t create the first national park – Yellowstone, perhaps the first reserve of its kind in the world, was established in 1872 under president Ulysses S Grant – but it was he who set out the moral imperative of protected areas for America’s natural wonders. Even as he was heading west in order to hunt the continent’s big game before it disappeared, Roosevelt’s writing was pockmarked with sadness at the disappearing bounty. He wrotetimelessly that it is “vandalism wantonly to destroy or to permit the destruction of what is beautiful in nature, whether it be a cliff, a forest, or a species of mammal or bird. “Here in the United States we turn our rivers and streams into sewers and dumping-grounds, we pollute the air, we destroy forests, and exterminate fishes, birds and mammals.” As president, Roosevelt signed five national parks into existence and helped create the Antiquities Act, which allows presidents to unilaterally designate protected areas – which he used 18 times, most notably to safeguard the Grand Canyon. Simultaneously his presidency spawned the US Forest Service to protect public lands where hunting, grazing and other activities are allowed, unlike in the more sacrosanct national parks. He helped draw the clear delineation between pristine areas almost frozen in time for species conservation, and areas for fishing and shooting and rampaging around on horses and, later, four wheel drive cars; a distinction that has endured in conservation management around the world. This sort of neatly divided mapping is by no means perfect – Cecil the lion didn’t know he had crossed an invisible line to an unprotected area; elephants will never have their long migration routes free of farmland and therefore irate farmers – but it at least fostered the idea that wildlife had a place too, that animals don’t actually provide an inexhaustible supply of targets for carefree hunters. But even as he made these reforms, Roosevelt continued to embrace the American ideal of hunting as an activity for all. His great grandson Tweed Roosevelt says: “Hunting for Brits was an upper class activity, whereas we’ve gone to great lengths to make it an activity for the people... Sportsmen like Roosevelt created a concept of fair chase, rather than firing cannons at ducks. I don’t think he would support canned hunts.” But Roosevelt was also a keen, even obsessive, hunter, and saw no conflict in that: “Nothing adds more to a hall or a room than fine antlers when their owner has been shot by the hunter-displayer, but always there is an element of the absurd in a room furnished with trophies of the chase that the displayer has acquired by purchase,” he wrote in 1902. Two weeks after he finished his second term in the White House, Roosevelt embarked upon a 15 month shooting tour with the goal of bringing back a cornucopia of African wildlife to start a natural history museum in Washington DC. The former president and his entourage bagged thousands of animals, including a bull rhino in the Belgian Congo: he called the beast “a monster surviving over from the world’s past, from the days when the beasts of the prime ran riot in their strength, before man grew so cunning of brain and hand as to master them.” Even then, Roosevelt’s huge kills sparked some public protest. These days, despite the claims by hunters that their money helps local communities and species, there is growing revulsion against the idea of big game hunting. There was barely constrained glee recently when Theunis Botha, a South African big game hunter, died recently after being crushed by an elephant that had been shot by a colleague. An online petition mourning the elephant calls the incident “karma”. And palpable anger at Cecil’s death forced Palmer into hiding, a fate shared by Texas millionaire Corey Knowlton, who paid $350,000 at an auction for the privilege of shooting an endangered black rhino in Namibia in 2015. Knowlton said the three-day hunt would benefit the species but then faced death threats over his trip, and told CNN, which had accompanied him on the safari: “I think people have a problem just with the fact that I like to hunt. Being on this hunt, with the amount of criticism it brought and the amount of praise it brought from both sides, I don’t think it could have brought more awareness to the black rhino.” Then there is the Trump family, breezily upending norms and expectations. Donald Trump Jnr, the president’s eldest son, goes hunting with his bow most weekends and is referred to by his friends as the “Fifth Avenue redneck.” He has targeted elk and mule deer at home as well as “15 or 16 species” in Africa, where he has been pictured grasping a severed elephant’s tail and holding a dead leopard with his brother, Eric. Last year, Donald Trump Jnr said the US Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) “should be encouraging American hunters legally and ethically hunting abroad, not hindering them.” He also called for wolves to be culled in the US west, claiming they deprive hunters of moose. Junior is seemingly attempting to fashion a new type of “hunter” – invoking the spirit of Roosevelt while posing with big game body parts and viewing public lands as sites for shooting and mining and not much else. “We have to make sure we’re heard,” he told Petersen’s Hunting. “Lately, we’ve been a forgotten group. I want to change that now and forever. “And we are going to do whatever we can to make sure that any kind of Trump presidency is going to be the best since Theodore Roosevelt for outdoorsmen, for hunters, for our public lands, and for this country as it relates to anything in the great outdoors.”
News Article | June 1, 2017
The condor chick's mother. California condors can reach heights of 15,000 feet when flying and could travel as far as 150 miles a day using their keen eyesight to search for carcasses on which to feed. (Credit: Molly Astell/USFWS) With all of the fine entertainment now on TV, you'd think that watching a baby condor go about its business on a remote mountain perch near Hopper Mountain National Wildlife Refuge in California wouldn't be that captivating. But somehow it is. Thanks to a livestream video from the Cornell Lab Bird Cams Project, you can check up on the little bird with big feet whenever you want and, if you're lucky, you can even see it interact with its parents. California condors – the largest bird in North America – are a critically endangered species, but they are slowly rebounding. There were only 22 of them left in the wild in 1987, but there are now 276 with another 200 thriving in captive breeding programs. So getting a chance to watch the birds in the wild is indeed a rare opportunity. This is the third year a condor nesting site has been livestreamed by Cornell along with cooperation from the Santa Barbara Zoo and the US Fish and Wildlife Service, but this is the first time this particular nesting pair and its offspring has been featured. The chick's mother is eight years old and was hatched at the World Center for Birds of Prey in Boise Idaho in 2009. Its father is 18 and hatched at the Los Angeles Zoo in 1999. "Webcam viewers will see the rich social interactions of these intelligent birds, such as the two adults sharing parental duties, and their interactions with each other and the chick," said Dr. Estelle Sandhaus, director of conservation and research at the Santa Barbara Zoo. "Condor chicks actually engage in 'play,' by pouncing on and grabbing feathers and sticks, for instance. It's a thrill to watch the chick grow, learn, and play under the watchful eyes of its dedicated parents." While Condor numbers are slowly rebounding, the birds still face challenges, chiefly lead poisoning from feeding on carcasses peppered with lead bullets. The animals also face trouble from what's known as micro trash – small bits of metal the parents collect and mistakenly feed to their chicks. The cause for this is unclear, but it is theorized that the adult birds mistake the metal for bits of bone and shell which would indeed be a source of nutritious calcium for the chicks. "Nest cameras like this one were first used as a management tool to help biologists monitor the nests for problems, like lead poisoning and micro-trash ingestion, so that we could intervene on behalf of the chicks if needed," said Brandt. "After watching the footage we realized that it was also an incredible opportunity to show the world just how caring and attentive condor parents can be, not to mention the comical behaviors of the chicks." Last year's livestream garnered nearly one million views and 19 million minutes of watch time. We've had the nest cam open in a dedicated tab on our computers here at the New Atlas offices for a day now and we've definitely enjoyed checking in on the chick from time to time. For the most part the footage has consisted of the baby bird grooming itself, but there was that one time when a yellow hummingbird appeared on the scene and the interaction between the creatures definitely took on a bit of a Disney quality. The chick just celebrated its 50-day-old birthday yesterday. Condor chicks typically fledge (develop the proper feathers and strength for flight) at around 150 days, so there should still be plenty of time to enjoy the bird in its perch. They can live to be up to 60 years of age, so hopefully this new bird's YouTube debut will be the start of a long life. You can watch the chick below, or on the Cornell Lab Bird Cam Project's YouTube page.
News Article | August 15, 2017
The grants are a part of NFWF's Longleaf Stewardship Fund, a landmark public-private partnership that includes the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Natural Resources Conservation Service, the U.S. Forest Service, the U.S. Department of Defense, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Southern Company, International Paper's Forestland Stewards partnership, Altria Group, American Forest Foundation's Southern Woods for At-Risk Wildlife Initiative and Louis Bacon's Orton Foundation which is an affiliate of The Moore Charitable Foundation. Longleaf Stewardship Fund projects will restore more than 13,300 acres and enhance more than 270,000 additional acres of longleaf pine habitat across the historic longleaf range. The projects supported by Southern Company will impact more than 199,000 acres, of which 6,100 acres will be newly planted longleaf pine. "We're pleased to play a role in restoring a remarkably diverse ecosystem that is deeply connected to the culture and economic growth of our region," said Southern Company Environmental and System Planning Vice President Jeff Burleson. "Through the landscape-scale conservation approach of the Longleaf Stewardship Fund, a wide range of plants and wildlife that depend on this critical habitat will benefit." The Longleaf Stewardship Fund builds on the success of the Longleaf Legacy program, a partnership between Southern Company and NFWF, which for eight years invested more than $8.7 million in projects to restore more than 87,000 acres of longleaf pine forest and the native species that rely on the habitat. Another 20,000 acres were restored through the company's closely aligned Power of Flight program with NFWF. To date, the longleaf pine forest has increased from 3 million acres to a projected 4.7 million acres. "The longleaf pine is an iconic and beloved tree throughout most of the South, and the forests these trees anchor represent some of our nation's richest areas of biodiversity", said Jeff Trandahl, executive director and CEO at NFWF. "Restoring these vital habitats at such a large scale could not be done without the cooperation and support of private landowners, federal agencies, military installations, private corporations like Southern Company, and a coalition of conservation organizations." The Fort Stewart-Altamaha Longleaf Partnership (Georgia) – The Longleaf Alliance will coordinate with partners to establish 140 acres of longleaf pine, treat an additional 21,600 acres with prescribed fire, and build a network of public and private landowners focused on native groundcover restoration through prescribed burns, native seed collection and planting. This project will improve habitat for the gopher tortoise and other longleaf-dependent species on public and private lands within close proximity to Fort Stewart and Townsend Bombing Range. The Okefenokee – Osceola Local Implementation Team (Georgia/Florida) – The Nature Conservancy, Georgia will coordinate with partners to establish 2,574 acres of longleaf pine and improve management of an additional 27,880 acres of existing longleaf habitat on public and private lands. Project will continue training young people living below the poverty level to serve on longleaf restoration teams, build prescribed fire capacity, and educate private landowners through a prescribed fire manager certification session, two landowner workshops and a longleaf academy. Tall Timbers Research, Inc. (Georgia/Florida) and partners will install artificial nest cavities and translocate 25 red-cockaded woodpeckers (RCWs) on private lands in the Red Hills region of Florida and Georgia. Project will treat more than 38,000 acres of existing longleaf with prescribed fire to improve and maintain forage and nesting habitat for translocated RCWs. The Talladega Mountain Longleaf Conservation Partnership (Alabama/Georgia) – The Nature Conservancy, Alabama will coordinate with partners to establish 447 acres of longleaf pine and improve 17,700 acres of existing longleaf habitat with prescribed fire on public and private lands with the support of a seasonal fire crew. Project will develop a conservation plan to prioritize and guide future restoration and conduct outreach to engage private landowners to restore longleaf pine. The Forest Landowners Association (Alabama/Florida/Georgia) will establish or enhance 2,000 acres of longleaf pine habitat and host Forest Forums and Timber Talks to bring together landowners, USFWS and other key stakeholders. Project will engage large working forest landowners and forest consultants in key longleaf pine priority areas to increase communication and identify specific actions for addressing barriers to longleaf restoration. The Appalachicola Regional Stewardship Alliance (Florida) – The Nature Conservancy, Florida will coordinate with partners to establish 862 acres of longleaf pine and improve more than 25,000 acres of existing longleaf habitat through the use of prescribed fire and planting of native groundcover on public and private lands. Project will benefit Tyndall Air Force Base, improving habitat both on and off base for numerous wildlife species including the eastern indigo snake, a federally-threatened species, as well as the gopher tortoise and Bachman's sparrow. The Gulf Coastal Plain Ecosystem Partnership (Alabama/Florida) – The Longleaf Alliance will coordinate with partners to establish 333 acres of longleaf pine and improve an additional 55,350 acres of existing longleaf habitat through prescribed fire and private landowner outreach and technical assistance. Project will translocate 140 gopher tortoises, a candidate species for possible listing under the Endangered Species Act, to high-quality, managed land and provide technical assistance and educational opportunities for private landowners, including a Longleaf Academy. The Longleaf Alliance, Inc. (Alabama/Florida/Georgia/Mississippi) and partners will translocate 60 red-cockaded woodpeckers (RCWs) to properties designated as recovery sites by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Project will manage and improve 6,000 acres of longleaf pine forest, providing high quality habitat for RCW nesting and foraging. The Alabama Wildlife Federation (Alabama) will provide technical assistance, outreach, and information to private landowners, contractors, and resource professionals to establish or enhance grassland habitat throughout Alabama. Project will increase awareness of the ecological value of native grassland habitat, foster a collaborative environment among project partners and restore 3,000 acres of grassland habitat for northern bobwhite quail and other grassland birds. The DeSoto-Camp Shelby Longleaf Implementation Team (Mississippi) – The Nature Conservancy, Mississippi will coordinate with partners to establish more than 745 acres of longleaf pine and enhance an additional 2,500 acres of existing longleaf habitat with prescribed fire on private lands to benefit several rare species including the gopher tortoise, black pine snake and dusky gopher frog. Project will engage 850 private landowners through outreach and technical assistance and enroll 12 new landowners in stewardship programs. Southern Company (NYSE: SO) is America's premier energy company, with 46,000 megawatts of generating capacity and 1,500 billion cubic feet of combined natural gas consumption and throughput volume serving 9 million customers through its subsidiaries. The company provides clean, safe, reliable and affordable energy through electric operating companies in four states, natural gas distribution companies in seven states, a competitive generation company serving wholesale customers across America and a nationally recognized provider of customized energy solutions, as well as fiber optics and wireless communications. Southern Company brands are known for excellent customer service, high reliability and affordable prices that are below the national average. Through an industry-leading commitment to innovation, Southern Company and its subsidiaries are inventing America's energy future by developing the full portfolio of energy resources, including carbon-free nuclear, 21st century coal, natural gas, renewables and energy efficiency, and creating new products and services for the benefit of customers. Southern Company has been named by the U.S. Department of Defense and G.I. Jobs magazine as a top military employer, recognized among the Top 50 Companies for Diversity by DiversityInc, listed by Black Enterprise magazine as one of the 40 Best Companies for Diversity and designated a Top Employer for Hispanics by Hispanic Network. The company has earned a National Award of Nuclear Science and History from the National Atomic Museum Foundation for its leadership and commitment to nuclear development and is continually ranked among the top energy companies in Fortune's annual World's Most Admired Electric and Gas Utility rankings. Visit our website at www.southerncompany.com.
News Article | May 23, 2017
Some thoughts on the oil and gas situation as we approach the end of May... How will the anti-fossil fuel lobby demonize this? The Associated Press reported on Monday that Hilcorp, LLC is going to great lengths to protect a pregnant polar bear who has established a den in a snow bank near one of its operations off the northern coast of Alaska. Hilcorp, of course, was the subject of a great number of negative stories filed by anti-fossil fuel websites like EcoWatch during March and April, as it worked cooperatively with both state and federal regulatory agencies to resolve a leak in a natural gas pipeline it operates in the Cook Inlet. As I wrote at that time, the demonization of Hilcorp was a part of the larger strategy of the anti-fossil fuel lobby to shift much of its collective resources away from demonization of Fracking to their new boogeyman, pipelines. As the AP details, a Hilcorp employee noticed a hole in the snow bank in December, and, after he was able to prove that it had been created by a nesting polar bear, reported the situation to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS). Hilcorp then worked with USFWS to develop and execute a plan to ensure that the mother was left undisturbed for three months, until she and her cub emerged and eventually left the area to go hunt for food. The conflict groups who make up the anti-fossil fuel lobby will have a hard time coming up with a negative angle to this story, though they will no doubt try their best. This may be the first time in history that images of cuddly animals are actually on the oil industry's side. Go figure. "Ok, on energy policy, let's just throw out a bunch of terrible ideas and see how many people we can alienate." The formal Trump Administration budget proposal rolled out on Tuesday contains an array of provisions designed to increase revenues from oil and gas to the federal government. That concept is ok, as far as it goes. But it won't go very far in this budget. The problem is, in pursuing that concept, the Administration's budget writers have come up an array of proposals that are either a) absolutely awful ideas, or b) bound to die on the vine due to the massive opposition they will engender, or c) both.
News Article | June 26, 2017
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service removed grizzly bears in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem from the Endangered Species List yesterday (June 22). The decision to return the Yellowstone bears to state and tribal management reflected rebounding grizzly numbers in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem (GYE), a region that encompasses Wyoming, Idaho and Montana, U.S. Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke said in a statement. However, scientists and Tribal Nations representatives have argued against the delisting, citing that the bears aren't out of the woods just yet, according to a statement published online by the Sierra Club, a nonprofit environmental organization. [Species Success Stories: 10 Animals Back from the Brink] About 700 bears currently inhabit the GYE — up from 136 individuals in 1975 — and their range covers 2,500 square miles (6,475 square kilometers). The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) found the population to be stable and sustainable, determining that the bears had reached a recovery point that no longer required federal protections, representing "one of America's great conservation success stories," Zinke said. Grizzly bears "have long warranted delisting," as they have met or exceeded recovery objectives since 2003, Wyoming governor Matt Mead said in a statement published online by the governor's office. Grizzly bears were listed as endangered in 1975. They were delisted in 2007, but protections were reinstated by a federal judge in 2009, stating that the USFWS had overlooked the decline of an important food source for the bears, and Mead requested removing grizzly bears' endangered status again in 2013. But many remain skeptical about the bears' prospects, despite USFWS assurances. Some experts say that the grizzlies' recovery is still a work in progress, and without federal oversight, the progress that the bears have enjoyed in recent years could quickly be reversed, according to Michael Brune, executive director of the Sierra Club. "Without necessary endangered species protections, the survival of grizzly bears in Greater Yellowstone is put in jeopardy," Brune said in the Sierra statement. The Yellowstone bears' delisting follows another recent legislative decision that abolished other types of protections for bears in Alaska. On March 21, the U.S. Senate voted to overturn hunting regulations in Alaska refuges that banned aerial hunting, trapping and baiting of grizzlies and other wildlife. Supporters of that resolution claimed that relaxing hunting restrictions against large predators would benefit other types of declining wildlife, but there is no evidence to support such a claim, Sierra Club representatives said in the statement. "People and bears can coexist — and as grizzly recovery so far has demonstrated, can do so in a way that is highly beneficial to all," Brune said. "However, coexistence cannot work if misplaced political hostility continues to impede the ability of sound science to keep bears from sliding back towards extinction."
News Article | June 19, 2017
PIGEON FORGE, Tenn.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--On June 20, 1782, our nation's Founding Fathers placed the bald eagle at the center of the Great Seal of the United States. Since then, the bald eagle has served as the living symbol of all that America stands for: freedom, courage, strength, spirit, independence, democracy, and excellence. On June 20, 2017, the American Eagle Foundation, along with the United States Congress and governors coast to coast, invite U.S. citizens to celebrate American Eagle Day by remembering the bald eagle’s dramatic comeback through conducting educational activities and ceremonies, while reflecting on its special symbolism. Since 1995, the not-for-profit American Eagle Foundation (AEF) (www.eagles.org) has spearheaded the establishment of American Eagle Day. To date, more than 80 governors from 49 states have recognized “American Eagle Day” with proclamations and special documents, giving the USA’s National Bird its own official day in their states. This year marks the 10th year of American Eagle Day being recognized by U.S. Congress. “We once almost lost this precious national treasure due to our own mistakes and neglect. Habitat destruction, illegal shootings, and the use of DDT caused the Bald Eagle population to drop to less than 500 nesting pairs in the lower 48 states in the early 60s,” says AEF Founder and President Al Cecere, “but we the people joined together, rose to the occasion, and vigilantly brought it back to America's lands, waterways and skies.” The USFWS estimates that there are more than 143,000 Bald Eagles in the United States today. The Bald Eagle was removed from Endangered Species Act protection in 2007, but still remains protected by the Bald & Golden Eagle Protection Act of 1940. “On American Eagle Day, and every day, let us continue to treasure and protect the bald eagle all across this great land for future generations to enjoy,” says Cecere, who has been spearheading the effort for more than two decades. The American Eagle Foundation is a not-for-profit 501(c)(3) organization whose mission is to care for, restore and protect the USA’s living symbol of freedom, the Bald Eagle, and other birds of prey through the four pillars of Education, Repopulation, Conservation, & Rehabilitation. It is headquartered in the foothills of the Great Smoky Mountains at Dollywood theme park in Pigeon Forge, TN. Learn more at www.eagles.org.
News Article | June 7, 2017
Female Steller sea lions tend to breed at or near the rookery where they were born, according to a study published June 7, 2017 in the open-access journal PLOS ONE by Kelly Hastings from the Alaska Department of Fish and Game, USA, and colleagues. Understanding the patterns of dispersal for an animal species is critical for measuring changes in the population, which helps with conservation efforts. Previous studies have shown that Steller sea lion (Eumetopias jubatus) males tend to disperse more frequently than the females, however, little is known about the movements of breeding females. The authors of the present study monitored 369 Steller sea lion females that had been marked as pups in the rookeries where they were born in southeastern Alaska, gathering observation and recapture data between 2001 and 2015 to assess how frequently breeding females switched rookery. The researchers found that most female sea lions tended to breed at the rookeries where they were born, with fewer than 3 percent switching rookeries between years. When female sea lions did move to another rookery before breeding, they tended to select rookeries that were nearby and had a higher population of other sea lions. Female sea lions' tendency to breed in the location where they were born could suggest that familiarity with neighboring females and knowledge of the topography of the site (for both giving birth to pups and foraging) could be crucial components of their reproduction and thus, the conservation of their species. In your coverage please use this URL to provide access to the freely available article in PLOS ONE: http://journals. Citation: Hastings KK, Jemison LA, Pendleton GW, Raum-Suryan KL, Pitcher KW (2017) Natal and breeding philopatry of female Steller sea lions in southeastern Alaska. PLoS ONE 12(6): e0176840. https:/ Image Credit: David B. Ledig/USFWS Funding: Funding for this research was provided to the Alaska Department of Fish and Game by the State of Alaska and by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Fisheries Alaska Region, through awards NA17FX1079, NA04NMF4390170, NA08NMF4390544, NA11NMF4390200, and NA15NMF4390170. The funders had no role in the study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript. Competing Interests: The authors have declared that no competing interests exist.