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News Article | May 12, 2017
Site: www.marketwired.com

Discovering Biodiversity Even at the Heart of the Nation's Capital OTTAWA, ON--(Marketwired - May 12, 2017) - Next May 16, right at Parliament Hill itself, comes the launch of a new cross-Canada initiative, BioBlitz Canada 150, one of the Canada 150 Signature Projects. Coordinated by the Canadian Wildlife Federation and more than 60 partner organizations, this series of BioBlitz events will reach thousands of Canadians from sea to sea to sea in a celebration of our wild natural heritage. The launch will take a "nature selfie" of the Hill, outdoors, in habitat that lives on at this historic site. A select all-party squad of parliamentarians, some of whom are accomplished scientists in their own right, will team up with expert naturalists and head out to demonstrate what a BioBlitz is. Before media representatives and a film crew, they will have 45 minutes to survey a section along the base of the wooded slopes and the riverside, in a friendly race to list all the living species they can see, hear or reach. "This fascinating project will help us raise our environmental awareness," said the Honourable Mélanie Joly, Minister of Canadian Heritage. "Let's take this opportunity to celebrate Canada 150 by connecting with Canada's natural beauty and learning more about Canada's wild species -- a priceless resource." "BioBlitz Canada 150 calls all citizens to be citizen-scientists this year," added Rick Bates, CEO of the Canadian Wildlife Federation. "Canadians, like our parliamentarians, range from very expert to just getting to know our wildlife better. But everyone can truly contribute real scientific knowledge in 2017 for the future of Canada's natural heritage." Leading the way, Senator Rosa Galvez (Independent) and MPs Will Amos (Liberal), Richard Cannings (NDP), Elizabeth May (Green) and Robert Sopuck (Conservative) will show how Canadians everywhere can come together too in 2017 to explore Canada's rich biodiversity. In 2017, 35 official BioBlitz events across the country will include 5 flagships in Regina, Toronto, Vancouver, Quebec City and Halifax, with 20 community celebrations and science activities, as well as 10 specialized science-intensive surveys by taxonomic experts. The BioBlitz Canada 150 events, including the demonstration launch, will gather real scientific data, tracking the changing species mix in each area -- maybe even making discoveries of species new to science. This information will ground our knowledge of such issues as climate change and the state of our biodiversity. The results will be shared in the public domain, accessible to all citizens, wildlife managers, conservation groups, science and education institutions, and government organizations to help shape wise decisions now and into the future to help conserve these wild species for generations to come. For more information about BioBlitz Canada 150 and for the list of events, as they roll out across the country, please visit bioblitzcanada.ca. The Canadian Wildlife Federation is dedicated to fostering awareness and appreciation of our natural world. By spreading knowledge of human impacts on the environment, sponsoring research, promoting the sustainable use of natural resources, recommending legislative changes and co-operating with like-minded partners, CWF encourages a future in which Canadians can live in harmony with nature. Visit CanadianWildlifeFederation.ca for more information. BioBlitz Canada is a national partnership of leading conservation, education and research organizations with the goal to document Canada's biodiversity by connecting the public with nature in a scientist-led participatory survey of life from sea to sea to sea, and make sure this important information can be useful to current and future science, with open-source access to all. Its vision is to help Canadians learn about and connect with nature, be it in one's own backyard or the most important ecological sites in Canada. Alliance of Natural History Museums of Canada, Biodiversity Institute of Ontario, Biological Survey of Canada, Birds Studies Canada, Canadian Museum of Nature, Canadian Wildlife Service (Environment and Climate Change Canada), iNaturalist Canada, Nature Canada, Nature Conservancy of Canada, NatureServe Canada, New Brunswick Museum, Parks Canada, RARE Charitable Research Reserve, Royal Ontario Museum, Royal Saskatchewan Museum, Stanley Park Ecology Society, Toronto Zoo, Vancouver Aquarium and other organizations. About iNaturalist Canada: Launched in 2015, iNaturalist Canada is a virtual place where Canadians can record and share what they see in nature, interact with other nature watchers, and learn about Canada's wildlife. The app is run by the Canadian Wildlife Federation (CWF) and the Royal Ontario Museum (ROM) in collaboration with iNaturalist.org and the California Academy of Sciences. Parks Canada, NatureServe Canada and CWF's Hinterland Who's Who have been key partners in the development of iNaturalist Canada and will continue to play a role in the program.


News Article | May 17, 2017
Site: www.prweb.com

New statistics show that Delaware soybean farmers have increased yields by 25 percent since 2010 while reducing their land, water and energy use. The information comes from a national report examining sustainability in the soybean harvest. Delaware’s farmers produce soybeans in all three counties. By continuously improving their management practices and adopting new technologies, they have dramatically increased their productivity over the years, while using fewer resources. Based on statistics from the United Soybean Board’s “Soy Sustainability” research, Delaware soybean farmers produced 5.5 million bushels on 175,000 acres, averaging 32 bushels per acre in 2010. By 2015, they were able to produce 6.9 million bushels on 173,000 acres, averaging 40 bushels per acre. That’s a 25 percent increase in bushels produced and on fewer acres. And they’ve done so while reducing their impact on the environment. Since 2010, they’ve: “A high-quality and high-yielding soybean harvest and a healthy environment are not mutually exclusive. At the center of both is a sustainable farm,” says Jay Baxter, chairman of the Delaware Soybean Board and soybean farmer from Georgetown, Delaware. “We work hard to produce soybeans more efficiently each year, while reducing our impact on the environment, all with our neighbors and future generations in mind.” The sustainability report was compiled using data collected by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, among other sources. The United Soybean Board has placed a high priority on defining and measuring sustainability of the nation’s crop. Delaware soybean farmers now plant about 180,000 acres per year, harvesting more than 6.9 million bushels and contributing $60 million to Delaware’s economy. The Delaware Soybean Board consists of nine farmer-directors and the Secretary of Agriculture, and administers the federal soybean checkoff programs in the state. Under the soybean checkoff, one half of one percent of the net market value of soybeans is assessed at the first point of sale to support research, marketing and education programs to benefit the soybean industry. About Delaware Soybean Board: The Delaware Soybean Board administers soybean checkoff funds for soybean research, marketing and education programs in the state. One-half of the checkoff funds stay in Delaware for programs; the other half is sent to the United Soybean Board. To learn more about the Delaware Soybean Board, visit http://www.desoybeans.org.


News Article | May 19, 2017
Site: www.marketwired.com

OTTAWA, ON--(Marketwired - May 19, 2017) - As the Auditor General reported on numbers just south of the Hill, meanwhile, on the Hill's eastern side, the numbers of living species were tallied, as Parliamentarians led a demonstration nature count to launch BioBlitz Canada 150, a nation-wide Canada 150 Signature project. "This fascinating project will help us raise our environmental awareness," said the Honourable Mélanie Joly, Minister of Canadian Heritage. "Let's take this opportunity to celebrate Canada 150 by connecting with Canada's natural beauty and learning more about Canada's wild species -- a priceless resource." In only 45 minutes, the Parliamentarians' teams blitzed an impressive 137 species of the air, land and water, all logged onto the national iNaturalist.ca database. This, for a location in middle of Canada's capital, downtown, within centimetres of where hundreds of tourists walk by, and metres from the turbulent Ottawa River, at historic flood levels only days before. Two squads vied in a little friendly contention, this time outside Parliament, by representatives of the different political stripes, plus the Clerk of the House of Commons on behalf of all the Hill officials. Several are top-notch naturalists in their own right, and they were joined by some local specialists. The Parliamentary Secretary for Science Kate Young cheered them on, and added her estimate of how many species would be found. Estimates ranged from 3,100 species to 67 (the latter more symbolic than serious). The closest to the actual total was by MP (and professional biologist) Richard Cannings (South Okanagan-West Kootenay) who predicted 167. Among the smallest of the species were barely visible freshwater plankton. A special find was a Yellowbanded Bumble Bee, a species listed as "Special Concern" by the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada. Among the largest species identified was a Butternut tree along the escarpment of the Hill. A mere ten minutes drive away, the maximum species list is 3,592, in the Gatineau Park area, site of the Bioblitz Canada 150 National Capital BioBlitz for the public on June 10-11. This tally has been compiled over decades by constant surveying and by experts in the most obscure taxa -- and even there, a species new to science was added this past year. Other bioblitzes are set for the next days and months across Canada: there will be 35 official events, with a growing list of independent projects posted at bioblitzcanada.ca. CWF and its partners in conservation across the country call on Canadians to join in all year at a Bioblitz Canada 150 event or on their own with the resources available through the website. The CWF will be inviting all Canadian to play along by guessing the total species identified under the project as of October 31, 2017, the end of the events season. About the Canadian Wildlife Federation: The Canadian Wildlife Federation is dedicated to fostering awareness and appreciation of our natural world. By spreading knowledge of human impacts on the environment, sponsoring research, promoting the sustainable use of natural resources, recommending legislative changes and co-operating with likeminded partners, CWF encourages a future in which Canadians can live in harmony with nature. Visit CanadianWildlifeFederation.ca for more information. About BioBlitz Canada: BioBlitz Canada is a national partnership of leading conservation, education and research organizations with the goal to document Canada's biodiversity by connecting the public with nature in a scientist-led participatory survey of life from sea to sea to sea, and make sure this important information can be useful to current and future science, with open-source access to all. Its vision is to help Canadians learn about and connect with nature, be it in one's own backyard or the most important ecological sites in Canada. Other partners in conservation include: Alliance of Natural History Museums of Canada, Biodiversity Institute of Ontario, Biological Survey of Canada, Birds Studies Canada, Canadian Museum of Nature, Canadian Wildlife Service (Environment and Climate Change Canada), iNaturalist Canada, Nature Canada, Nature Conservancy of Canada, NatureServe Canada, New Brunswick Museum, Parks Canada, RARE Charitable Research Reserve, Royal Ontario Museum, Royal Saskatchewan Museum, Stanley Park Ecology Society, Toronto Zoo, Vancouver Aquarium and other organizations. About iNaturalist Canada: Launched in 2015, iNaturalist Canada is a virtual place where Canadians can record and share what they see in nature, interact with other nature watchers, and learn about Canada's wildlife. The app is run by the Canadian Wildlife Federation (CWF) and the Royal Ontario Museum (ROM) in collaboration with iNaturalist.org and the California Academy of Sciences. Parks Canada, NatureServe Canada and CWF's Hinterland Who's Who have been key partners in the development of iNaturalist Canada and will continue to play a role in the program. Image Available: http://www.marketwire.com/library/MwGo/2017/5/19/11G139307/Images/BioBlitz_Canada_150_Logo-06e7dfbae1048b518343499c85e03879.jpg Image Available: http://www.marketwire.com/library/MwGo/2017/5/19/11G139307/Images/mw1bggo93tgma01pcmtvvmfo1f6q2-fc5e904644859ce3a72a8d7d3d8fc3dc.jpg Image Available: http://www.marketwire.com/library/MwGo/2017/5/19/11G139307/Images/mw1bggntv641hf8vev1qkp1rq11sia2-9bd032cc4beaac678edd64a202b2a648.jpg Image Available: http://www.marketwire.com/library/MwGo/2017/5/19/11G139307/Images/mw1bggnkbkth8glup6q614raedl2-d3af64f9d31da9929d8912828e52264b.jpg


News Article | April 26, 2017
Site: www.eurekalert.org

For species where both parents work together to raise their offspring, cooperation is key -- it's as true for birds as it is for us! A new study from The Auk: Ornithological Advances shows how pairs of Common Murres update each other on their condition so that when one partner needs a break, the other can pick up the slack. Common Murre parents trade duties throughout the day -- one stays at the nest while the other leaves to forage, hopefully coming back with a fish for the chick. Because brooding the chick requires much less energy than foraging, staying at the nest is preferable for a bird that's in poor condition. Linda Takahashi, Anne Storey, and Carolyn Walsh of Newfoundland's Memorial University, along with Sabina Wilhelm of the Canadian Wildlife Service, studied the "turn-taking ceremony" that parents perform when they switch places. They found that the time they spend preening each other provides a way for the two birds to exchange information about how they're doing, so that if one is in poor shape the other can compensate. The researchers observed 16 pairs of murres with chicks on an island off the coast of Newfoundland in summer 2009, recording their behavior when parents switched duties at the nest and capturing the birds to check their body condition. Their results show that these "nest relief" interactions take longer when one partner is especially low in body mass, suggesting that when brooders withhold preening and stall their departure, they're letting their mates know that they need more time to rest; the returning mate can then compensate by going off to forage again rather than trading places immediately. Similarly, the brooding mate might let a struggling returner take over take over at the nest even if they haven't brought back a fish. "We had been doing murre field work for years in Witless Bay studying reproductive and parental behavior, and we became intrigued with the variation that we saw among pairs in their nest relief behaviors," says Walsh. "Some nest reliefs were short and businesslike, while other nest reliefs seemed to involve a lot of interaction between the mates, and it took a long time for the mates to exchange brooding duty. When Linda Takahashi came to Memorial University as a master's degree student, we decided that her project should focus on getting the details about this very interesting variation in murre nest relief behaviors." "The roles of avian pair members have been much studied in terms of energy investment and food delivery, but we are accustomed to thinking of these problems in terms of evolutionary tradeoffs. The ways in which contributions are actually negotiated within individual pairs has, until recently, been largely overlooked," according to longtime seabird researcher Tony Gaston of Environment Canada. "Linda Takahashi's paper addresses this deficiency, and this is a field which promises to open up additional avenues of research on within-pair communication." "Turn-taking ceremonies in a colonial seabird: Does behavioral variation signal individual condition?" will be available April 26, 2017, at http://americanornithologypubs. (issue URL http://americanornithologypubs. ). About the journal: The Auk: Ornithological Advances is a peer-reviewed, international journal of ornithology that began in 1884 as the official publication of the American Ornithologists' Union, which merged with the Cooper Ornithological Society in 2016 to become the American Ornithological Society. In 2009, The Auk was honored as one of the 100 most influential journals of biology and medicine over the past 100 years.


News Article | April 26, 2017
Site: phys.org

Common Murre parents share information about their condition and compensate when one is struggling. Credit: L. Takahashi For species where both parents work together to raise their offspring, cooperation is key—it's as true for birds as it is for us! A new study from The Auk: Ornithological Advances shows how pairs of Common Murres update each other on their condition so that when one partner needs a break, the other can pick up the slack. Common Murre parents trade duties throughout the day—one stays at the nest while the other leaves to forage, hopefully coming back with a fish for the chick. Because brooding the chick requires much less energy than foraging, staying at the nest is preferable for a bird that's in poor condition. Linda Takahashi, Anne Storey, and Carolyn Walsh of Newfoundland's Memorial University, along with Sabina Wilhelm of the Canadian Wildlife Service, studied the "turn-taking ceremony" that parents perform when they switch places. They found that the time they spend preening each other provides a way for the two birds to exchange information about how they're doing, so that if one is in poor shape the other can compensate. The researchers observed 16 pairs of murres with chicks on an island off the coast of Newfoundland in summer 2009, recording their behavior when parents switched duties at the nest and capturing the birds to check their body condition. Their results show that these "nest relief" interactions take longer when one partner is especially low in body mass, suggesting that when brooders withhold preening and stall their departure, they're letting their mates know that they need more time to rest; the returning mate can then compensate by going off to forage again rather than trading places immediately. Similarly, the brooding mate might let a struggling returner take over take over at the nest even if they haven't brought back a fish. "We had been doing murre field work for years in Witless Bay studying reproductive and parental behavior, and we became intrigued with the variation that we saw among pairs in their nest relief behaviors," says Walsh. "Some nest reliefs were short and businesslike, while other nest reliefs seemed to involve a lot of interaction between the mates, and it took a long time for the mates to exchange brooding duty. When Linda Takahashi came to Memorial University as a master's degree student, we decided that her project should focus on getting the details about this very interesting variation in murre nest relief behaviors." "The roles of avian pair members have been much studied in terms of energy investment and food delivery, but we are accustomed to thinking of these problems in terms of evolutionary tradeoffs. The ways in which contributions are actually negotiated within individual pairs has, until recently, been largely overlooked," according to longtime seabird researcher Tony Gaston of Environment Canada. "Linda Takahashi's paper addresses this deficiency, and this is a field which promises to open up additional avenues of research on within-pair communication." Explore further: Why do guillemot chicks leap from the nest before they can fly? More information: "Turn-taking ceremonies in a colonial seabird: Does behavioral variation signal individual condition?" April 26, 2017, americanornithologypubs.org/doi/full/10.1642/AUK-17-26.1


News Article | April 20, 2017
Site: www.prweb.com

Roanoke River Partners (RRP) is marking a milestone with its 20th anniversary this spring. Incorporated in 1997, RRP was formed in response to a declining economic climate for the counties that border the Roanoke River in North Carolina. Since then, RRP has cultivated partnerships and garnered support to develop and market the region as a destination for outdoor adventures and small town experiences, capitalizing on the area’s natural and cultural assets as a source for new enterprise. RRP’s signature achievement has been the development and promotion of the Roanoke River Paddle Trail, encompassing more than 200 miles of waterways featuring 16 rustic camp sites along the river. A pioneer of this type of development in North Carolina, RRP is considered the “grandfather” of water-based trails incorporating a system of camping platforms along a multi-county stretch of connected waterways. “For much of the past 20 years, the Roanoke River Partners have been raising public awareness of this great river and its astonishing system of swamps, islands and tributaries, which supplies most of the fresh water in Albemarle and Pamlico Sounds,” said Bland Simpson, author of “The Inner Islands” and “Litter Rivers & Waterway Tales.” “This wonderful group has inspired, and led, thousands onto the Roanoke’s many waters and made it possible for adventurous boaters to find their way into the lower Roanoke’s most remote retreats and spend a night or two on well-made tent-camping platforms there. What made them do all this grand conservation work? Nothing but the deepest love of the beautiful, powerful, haunting Roanoke River – our Amazon.” As intended, the trail has attracted outdoor enthusiasts from across the United States as well as other countries. RRP’s reservation system books more than 1,200 overnight stays each year. An estimated 5,000 paddlers access the river for day trips annually. This visitor traffic helped spur the opening of outfitters like Williamston-based Roanoke Outdoor Adventures, which contributes to the local economy. Trail users also spend money on gas, groceries and needed supplies in local towns. A recent study by NC Growth showed that RRP’s operations return over $550,000 to the regional economy each year. “RRP had the vision, creativity and perseverance to develop a natural network of paddle trails, cultivate a successful economic development plan and, ultimately, empower a community,” said Sammy Cox, regional paddler and coordinator for Pocket Guide to the Albemarle Sound. “Their foresight and sweeping efforts have contributed to making the region of the Roanoke more livable, desirable and sustainable.” In addition to the nationally-recognized water trail, RRP also has spearheaded the preservation of the former Hamilton Colored School with plans to repurpose it as the Rosenwald River Center in Martin County. The school will serve as a community center and interpretive site to highlight the region’s Rosenwald history and the Roanoke River’s role in the Underground Railroad. A master plan for development is nearly complete – and with it, RRP is kicking off a $300,000 capital campaign to support this historic preservation project. Over two decades, RRP has cultivated partnerships and garnered both public and private support from state and national organizations, county and town governments, regional tourism and media partners, outfitters, other small businesses and organizations, and many dedicated individuals. The Roanoke River Mayor’s Association and 15 member towns have provided leadership and support as well. “RRP is a wonderful example of a grassroots partnership that has come together because of a shared love for the natural world and the many unique wonders of our area,” said Pam Wingrove, natural resource planner with the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service and Northeastern North Carolina’s Balancing Nature and Commerce Initiative. In the future, RRP hopes to attract even more visitors to the region while fostering community pride among residents. “RRP will continue to join forces with compatible interests to expand the regional brand cultivated over the past 20 years,” said Carol Shields, director of RRP. Roanoke River Partners connects the five North Carolina counties (Northampton, Halifax, Martin, Bertie and Washington Counties) which border the Roanoke River from the Virginia state line to the Albemarle Sound through its rural development initiatives. For more information, visit http://www.roanokeriverpartners.org or call 252 798-3920.


News Article | April 19, 2017
Site: www.theguardian.com

Conservationists have lodged a formal request for the US government to list giraffes as endangered in a bid to prevent what they call the “silent extinction” of the world’s tallest land animal. A legal petition filed by five environmental groups has demanded that the US Fish and Wildlife Service provide endangered species protections to the giraffe, which has suffered a precipitous decline in numbers in recent years. According to the International Union for the Conservation of Nature, which listed giraffes as a threatened species in December, just 97,500 of the animals exist in sub-Saharan Africa today, a drop of almost 40% since 1985. There are now fewer giraffes than elephants in Africa. Giraffes have suffered from loss of habitat, disease and illegal hunting for bushmeat. They also face the risk of collisions with vehicles and power lines. But the petitioners argue that the species is facing added pressure from “trophy” hunters who travel to Africa to shoot their big-game quarry. These hunters overwhelmingly come from the US. According to the groups’ analysis of import data, Americans imported 21,402 bone carvings, 3,008 skin pieces and 3,744 miscellaneous hunting trophies from giraffes over the past decade. At least 3,700 individual giraffes are thought to have been killed for such items. An endangered species listing would place heavy restrictions on any American hunter wishing to travel to Africa and bring back a slaughtered giraffe. A hunter would have to somehow demonstrate the taking of the giraffe trophy was helping sustain the species. The petition states that the US is “uniquely positioned to help conserve these tall, graceful and iconic animals”. It adds: “Considering the ongoing threats to giraffes and their small remaining populations, now is the time for Endangered Species Act protections for this seriously and increasingly imperiled species.” The plight of giraffes, which have necks as long as six feet and tongues that reach 20in, has caught some conservationists by surprise. The peril faced by the animals has somewhat been overshadowed by the poaching crisis engulfing elephants and rhinos as well as high profile controversies such as the slaughter of Cecil the lion by a Minnesota dentist in Zimbabwe in 2015. But recent surveys have painted a stark picture of decline for giraffes, which now live in increasingly fragmented habitats. The role played by trophy hunters was highlighted in August when pictures emerged of a 12-year-old girl from Utah posing beside the slumped body of a dead giraffe. “When I was doing research on giraffes in Kenya a few years ago, they were quite abundant and no one questioned that they were doing well,” said Jeff Flocken, North America regional director of the International Fund for Animal Welfare (Ifaw). “Only recently have we looked at them critically and seen this huge drop, which has been a shock to the conservation community. This is an iconic animal and it’s in deep trouble.” Flocken said while the US could not do much to prevent the killing of giraffes in Africa, the regulation of trophy imports would be a “significant” step in stemming the decline of the species. “In the past few years, several gruesome images of trophy hunters next to slain giraffe bodies have caused outrage, bringing this senseless killing to light,” said Masha Kalinina, international trade policy specialist with Humane Society International. “Currently, no US or international law protects giraffes against overexploitation for trade. It is clearly time to change this. As the largest importer of trophies in the world, the role of the United States in the decline of this species is undeniable, and we must do our part to protect these animals.” In September, genetic research revealed that there are four distinct species of giraffe, not just one as long believed. However, the endangered species petition requests protection for all giraffes regardless of sub-species. The Fish and Wildlife Service deemed the African lion to be endangered in 2015 in an attempt to conserve the species. Donald Trump’s sons, who are avid hunters, have been pictured holding parts of an elephant and a leopard. However, the process of listing endangered species has not been altered under the new administration. Under federal rules, the Fish & Wildlife Service has 90 days to respond to the petition and determine whether a listing may be warranted. It can then take more than a year to assess and decide upon the request.


News Article | April 26, 2017
Site: news.yahoo.com

FILE - In this undated file photo provided by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, a Mexican gray wolf leaves cover at the Sevilleta National Wildlife Refuge, Socorro County, N.M. The Denver-based 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on Tuesday, April 25, 2017, lifted a preliminary injunction that had prevented the Fish and Wildlife Service from releasing more Mexican gray wolves. (Jim Clark/U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service via AP, File) DENVER (AP) — A federal court on Tuesday removed an obstacle to the U.S. government's plan to release more endangered wolves in New Mexico over the state's objections, but it was not clear whether additional animals would be reintroduced under the Trump administration. The Denver-based 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals lifted a temporary order issued by a lower court that stopped the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service from releasing more Mexican gray wolves after New Mexico refused to agree to the plan. The state Game and Fish Department is disappointed, but it will keep pursuing the case in federal court in New Mexico, where it was originally filed, spokesman Lance Cherry said. Fish and Wildlife spokesman Jeff Humphrey said the agency was still reviewing the decision. Despite the ruling, it wasn't immediately known whether wolf releases would resume. President Donald Trump has slowed or reversed other environmental initiatives since taking office in January, when the appeals court was considering the wolf case. And many Republicans in control of Congress have long objected to parts of the Endangered Species Act, which is the legal authority for re-establishing the Mexican gray wolf and other animals. Protected status under the act usually brings restrictions on ranching, mining and other activities. Only about 110 Mexican gray wolves live in the wild. They nearly disappeared in the 1970s, and the federal government added them to the endangered species list in 1976. The Fish and Wildlife Service began reintroducing them to parts of their original range in New Mexico and Arizona in 1998. New Mexico has complaints about the way the program is managed, and in 2015 it refused to issue a permit to Fish and Wildlife to release more of the predators. The agency decided to release them anyway, citing an urgent need to expand the wild population to prevent inbreeding. New Mexico officials went to court, and a federal judge temporarily blocked further releases last year while the dispute is resolved. The government appealed. The 10th Circuit says New Mexico failed to show that the state would suffer irreparable harm if more wolves were released — a requirement for such an order. "The irreparable harm comes to the ranchers and the people of New Mexico," said Caren Cowan, executive director of the New Mexico Cattle Growers Association. Wolves are known to attack livestock. "It saddens me to think that the court doesn't understand how much harm is coming to our ranching families and their livelihood," she said. Bryan Bird of Defenders of Wildlife called the ruling a victory for the wolves. He said his group works with residents who live in the wolves' range. "We can coexist with these icons of the Southwest," he said. The appeals court didn't address other questions, including whether New Mexico would likely win in a lawsuit over the dispute. Wolf reintroduction programs are always contentious because of the threat the predators pose to livestock and wild game favored by hunters. Last year, the Interior Department's internal watchdog said Fish and Wildlife had not fulfilled its obligation to remove Mexican gray wolves that preyed on pets and cattle. New Mexico officials also complain that federal officials tripled the target number of wolves in the wild — from about 100 to 300 — without sufficient justification. Separately, a federal court in Tucson, Arizona, will hear arguments Wednesday in a lawsuit from two environmental groups alleging the Fish and Wildlife Service imposed harmful limits on the size and range of the Mexican gray wolf population. Follow Dan Elliott at http://twitter.com/DanElliottAP. His work can be found at https://apnews.com/search/dan%20elliott.


News Article | April 23, 2017
Site: www.prnewswire.com

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 | April 17, 2017
Site: co.newswire.com

Connectivity -- it's a hot buzzword when it comes to wildlife. But what does it really mean? At The Vital Ground Foundation, connectivity shapes our organizational vision. A dozen years ago, when the foundation moved from Utah to Montana and became a working land trust focused on grizzly bear recovery, it was connectivity that drew us quickly to the Swan Valley. "We don't need to save thousands and thousands of acres," explains biologist and Vital Ground trustee Douglas Chadwick. "We just need to save hundreds of acres in exactly the right places." South of Canada, grizzlies once lived from Glacier National Park to the Sierra Madre of Mexico and from the Olympic Peninsula to the Dakota prairie. But the development of the West during the 19th and 20th centuries confined the big bruins to the region's remotest corners and eventually pushed them near extinction. Recovery efforts now leave an estimated 1,800 grizzlies in the Lower 48, but the species remains confined to just four percent of its historic range across the American West. That's a problem if your goal is to ensure the survival of the iconic silver-tipped bears as an integral part of our regional heritage, as a birthright for future generations of Montanans, Idahoans, Washingtonians and Wyomingites. Preserving that legacy is Vital Ground's mission-and it's why connectivity looms as our watchword. It's All About Genes "We have a native species on the landscape that we have reduced to exceedingly low population levels," says Wayne Kasworm, a longtime biologist for the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service. "Bears need secure habitat that provides opportunities for them to move across the landscape without bumping into too many people along the way." While large cores of protected habitat anchor grizzly populations in the Yellowstone and Glacier-Bob Marshall areas, these footholds are not enough to provide long-term security for the species. The key to connectivity, Kasworm explains, is genetic diversity, the thing that prevents the downward spiral of inbreeding. That only happens when reproductive bears can move between previously isolated subpopulations. "When I think about linkages," he says, "it's not only about the ability of the animal to get there, but to get there and reproduce, so we have genetic linkage as well." In western Montana, the Glacier-Bob Marshall bears now range into the Rattlesnake Mountains and south of Highway 200. At roughly 1,000 animals, this Northern Continental Divide subpopulation is the largest south of Canada. The expanse of its range has everything to do with connectivity. Highlighting that success is the Swan, where conservation efforts have linked Mission Mountain habitat with the larger core of the Bob Marshall Complex. Vital Ground began chipping in with a permanent conservation easement on Bud Moore's Coyote Forest property in 2005. Eight easements later, we've helped create a patchwork of protected land in the valley, a corridor that maintains working landscapes while letting bears and other wildlife move between the mountains with much less risk of conflict. "We are continuing the concept of maintaining vital wildlife as well as productive private forests," says Bill Moore, Bud's son and one of the participating landowners in Vital Ground's Elk Flats Neighborhood Project near Condon. "We are striking a sustainable balance in our part of the Upper Swan Valley." Balance is harder to find elsewhere in the state. Although Northern Continental Divide bears periodically venture west of Whitefish and Highway 93, lack of an established habitat link keeps them genetically isolated from their neighbors in the Cabinet-Yaak recovery zone. Connecting these populations stands as a major goal in ensuring survival for bears west of the Glacier region. Even within the Cabinet-Yaak Ecosystem, the developed Kootenai River Valley splits bears into two struggling subpopulations, one in the Yaak Valley and another in the Cabinet Mountains. With no evidence of breeding females passing between the two-or between the Cabinets and the Selkirk Mountains of the Idaho-Washington-British Columbia borderlands-the Cabinet and Yaak subpopulations hover around just 25 bears apiece, according to Kasworm's latest estimates. "We want to see linkage occur where bears move in naturally," Kasworm says. "We've documented a couple of instances of males getting into the Cabinets from either the Selkirks or the Yaak, and that's certainly a good sign, but ultimately we need reproduction because that's where we get genetic change." With recent DNA sampling showing inbreeding among the Cabinet and Yaak grizzlies, Vital Ground sees the region as ground zero for building connectivity. We've recently purchased two properties in the Kootenai Valley near Troy and our latest project seeks to conserve land along the river, creating a fully protected habitat corridor that links mountainous U.S. Forest Service lands on either side of the valley. But the long-term vision of grizzly stability extends far beyond western Montana. Across the Clark Fork Valley from Missoula and the Rattlesnake Mountains, the sprawling Selway-Bitterroot-Frank Church complex offers several million acres of prime protected bear habitat but the linkages are too weak for any grizzlies to have settled into recorded residency there. Meanwhile, recent sightings show silvertips moving west from Yellowstone into the Big Hole Valley near Wisdom, a promising sign that linking both Yellowstone and Glacier bears to the Selway-Bitterroot stands as a realistic goal. And to the west, in the North Cascades of Washington, a new proposal would gradually reintroduce grizzlies to that ecosystem, a large rugged wilderness anchored by a national park and one that might eventually link to the Selkirks, less than a hundred miles to the east. At a time when the West's political discourse blares with threats of public land transfer, connectivity goals for grizzlies may seem like an environmental pipedream. But Vital Ground and other private-land conservation groups know that it's not, that the template is before us to establish those key corridors that will make a much broader difference. With the Swan Valley for inspiration, we are committed to working with landowners across the region who want to join in our connective vision, saving places not just for bears but for elk and lynx and bull trout and people alike. Join us today in imagining a future that leaves room for all the diverse species and traditions that color our treasured heritage. Matt Hart is a Wyss Conservation Scholar in the Environmental Studies graduate program at the University of Montana and a communications intern at Vital Ground. To learn more and get involved, visit vitalground.org.

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