Frontline Dispatches – April 2022 Vol. IV, No. 4



A rarity in the lower 48 states, the wolverine is the largest member of the weasel family.

Utah Biologists Collar Rare Wolverine
Utah sits at the southern edge of the elusive wolverine’s range. Only eight sightings have been confirmed in the state since 1979. Yet in early March biologists were able to live capture and release a wolverine for the first time, reports St. George News. A flight crew doing livestock protection work first spotted the animal on a dead sheep carcass. Responding quickly, state biologists captured the animal in a live trap the next day. Fitted with a GPS collar and back in the wild, the animal now has the potential to inform wildlife managers about the ecology and needs of this rare species.

New App For Roadkill Fans Will Also Aid Wildlife
A mobile app launched in Wyoming helps people locate and salvage road-killed protein. Developed after Wyoming joined the 30-some states that allow citizens to salvage accidentally killed wildlife, the innovative app is the first of its kind. State wildlife and highway officials created the app to help people quickly claim road killed deer, elk, moose, bison or wild turkey that would otherwise have gone to waste. The app will also help compile location data, assisting the state in creating safety infrastructure to reduce animal deaths, reports AP News.

Targeted by Mexican drug cartels, jaguar body parts are sold and traded.

Drug Cartels Pivot Into Wildlife Trafficking
Mexican drug cartels are increasingly expanding into wildlife crime, reports National Geographic. The cartels have been linked to trafficking marine species, high-end timber, parts of jaguars and reptiles, and more. Legal seafood operations are being used as a cover for the illegal activity, and the wildlife and wildlife parts are being sent to China. In exchange, the cartels often receive chemicals to be converted into fentanyl or meth. An increased wildlife law enforcement presence in Mexico is critically needed.

Wild ring-necked pheasants provide a delicious source of lean meat.

Gone Wild For Game Meat
Game meat is becoming more popular as a solution for improving our diets. Food for thought: Do you know the difference between game meat and wild game? According to the Chicago Sun Times, game meat refers to ranch-raised animals that may feed on provided foods, like corn and alfalfa. Wild game are free-ranging species that are legally hunted. Wild game has more lean muscle and is lower in saturated fat due to higher activity levels and a completely natural diet.

Getting Tough On Poachers
The Oregon Department of Justice has hired its first-ever anti-poaching special prosecutor to enforce game and fish laws and aid criminal prosecutions, reports OPB. Poaching, as opposed to legal hunting or fishing, is capturing or killing any animal illegally and without the proper licensing. Recently, the state has seen an increase in wildlife poaching including species such as deer, elk and wolves.

Black bears in Florida will get a boost thanks to a Florida high school.

High Schoolers Lean Into Bear Conservation
Grassroots conservation can come from a singular idea and humble beginnings. Southwest Florida’s Palmetto Ridge High School students and the Florida Wildlife Federation have paired up to raise money for black bear awareness and habitat conservation, reports Naples Daily News. The school is auctioning art pieces created by 22 different artists to inform conservation issues. Proceeds go toward Florida black bear habitat at a time when new communities, roads and habitat fragmentation are negatively impacting the animals.

Nearly Half Of Bald Eagles Suffer From Lead
In 1963 there were only 417 known nesting pairs of bald eagles in the lower 48 due to the devasting effects of unregulated pesticide use. The primary toxin affecting America’s national bird today is lead contamination from ammunition, reports Landscapes and Letters. Harmful levels of toxic lead have been found in 46 percent of bald eagles sampled in 38 states, AP News reports. Golden eagles also showed significant lead exposure. The contamination is likely from carrion or prey contaminated by lead from ammunition. Alternatives to lead in ammunition could be a solution.

A native bobcat encounters a non-native python in the Everglades. Photo credit: USGS.

VIDEO: Going Native Against The Invasive
The invasive Burmese python now calls the Florida Everglades home. Reaching up to 16 feet and 160 pounds, the big snakes are wreaking havoc on the native ecosystem. Fortunately, one native species, the bobcat, appears to be fighting back! The U.S. Geological Survey captured images of a bobcat striking a 120-pound Burmese python, according to Miami New Times. Watch the footage here. The confrontation followed days of bobcat visits in which the cat fed on eggs from the then unoccupied nest.

College Course Brings Hunting/Conservation Link Into Focus
Wild Sustenance, a 3-credit course developed by the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation and the Wildlife Biology Program at University of Montana (UM), will debut in the fall of 2022. Wild Sustenance will explore the role sustainable hunting plays in society and wildlife conservation. The course will discuss motivations and barriers, ethics and responsibility as well as basic information such as field dressing and care of wild meat. Students from diverse university majors will be encouraged to enroll. Other universities have already expressed interest in the coursework, according to UM.


The Aftermath Of Namibia’s Elephant Auction
Namibia caused a global furor when it sold off 170 elephants to reduce overpopulation in high-conflict areas; the fate of 37 of them is now known: Conservation Namibia reports that one successful bidder, a wildlife sanctuary, moved 15 elephants to its new 33,000-hectare (81,500 acres) reserve. The other buyer, a game farmer, bought 22 elephants and resold them to safari parks in the United Arab Emirates. Questions, regrets, and controversy remain . . .

One Step Closer To Artificial Rhino Eggs 
ScienceDaily reports that researchers seeking to create artificial egg cells from stem cells, to prevent the extinction of the northern white rhino, are now one step closer to this goal.

The Disneyfication Of Africa
Simon Espley, of Africa Geographic, describing a fatal but entirely natural encounter: “Fig, a confiding and beloved leopardess from a conservancy bordering the Maasai Mara, [was] killed by a male lion. I can imagine how traumatic this must have been for the guests and guides that bore witness. And yet this primal process plays itself out all over wild Africa, in so many ways. One gent, a respected photographer and local lodge owner, was so upset . . . that he threw himself into a rather dramatic Facebook post. He described the lion as ‘a brutal alpha male’ that ‘invaded a small unthreatening enclave.’ On the lion’s behavior, he commented that the ‘leonine tyrant savaged its innocent prey in an unprovoked, unnecessary and seemingly unwarranted attack.’ Fig was described thus: ‘She was our bank, inspiration, figurehead, and confidant. She was our Zelensky.’ Stepping aside from the peculiar reference to the Ukraine situation, reactions like this from a person of influence, in response to nature behaving normally, emphasize the ongoing Disneyfication of real life in Africa.”

Ngorongoro Maasai Face Eviction From Lands
Tanzania is threatening to evict more than 80,000 Maasai from the Ngorongoro world heritage site in the interests of conservation and wildlife corridors, reported the Review of African Political Economy in February.


Has Europe Had It With Large Carnivores?
Social tolerance of wolves and bears has reached its limit across many parts of Europe, according to a joint statement by FACE (The European Federation for Hunting and Conservation) and Europe’s largest rural stakeholders.

A thoroughfare in Madrid packed with orange-clad demonstrators.

A Mass Countryside Protest In Madrid
More than 400,000 demonstrators turned out in Spain’s capital on March 20 to demand guarantees for a “future for the countryside.” They responded to calls from several organizations including bullfighters and the Royal Spanish Hunting Federation, which has criticized the Spanish President’s “anti-hunting policy,” reported Spanish News Today.

UK Ban On Hunting-Trophy Imports Banned
The Guardian reports that the bill has been scrapped, at least in this parliament. The Campaign to Ban Trophy Hunting is livid and blames “a handful of crusties [in the Conservative Party that] have managed to seize control.” BASC, the British Association of Shooting and Conservation, said: “There is much good in the animals abroad bill that everyone who cares for animals and the countryside will support, but there are areas of the bill such as banning the importation of trophies from sustainable and regulated hunting which are not evidence based and will damage conservation.”


An elephant freely explores the contents of a bus.

Human-Elephant Conflict In India Is Increasing
Since 2011, some 800 people have died in conflict with elephants in the state of Jharkhand as mining impacts traditional elephant migration corridors. The Wildlife Trust of India has identified 108 elephant corridors, but the government has yet to act, according to Mongabay.

Tapirs are South America’s largest mammal, growing to 300 pounds.

Brazil’s Tapirs: Down But Not Out
Lowland tapirs today occupy less than 2% of their historic range in Brazil’s Atlantic Forest, reports Mongabay, and only a few populations are deemed viable over the long term. The biggest threat is vehicle strikes as tapirs cross highways in search of food, followed by habitat fragmentation, and slow reproduction.

A giant flock of starlings flying in a murmation.

VIDEO: Why Do Flocks Of Birds Swoop And Swirl?
A shape-shifting flock of thousands of birds—called a murmuration for the sound of thousands of wingbeats and soft flight calls—is an amazing sight. The Conversation explains the phenomenon and offers a couple of excellent videos.

AVONET collaborator Marcus Chua measuring birds

Measuring The Shape Of Every Kind Of Bird
Researchers from 30 countries have published the first global catalog of anatomical measurements of 11,009 living bird species—everything from ducks and penguins to vultures and ostriches. The AVONET data set contains 11 morphological traits, such as beak shape and wing length, for 90,020 individual birds from 181 countries.