Frontline Dispatches – May 2022 Vol. IV, No. 5
First Nations’ Extreme Caribou Strategy Succeeding
After logging and oil drilling fragmented Canadian woodland caribou habitat, First Nations groups in central British Columbia created a non-profit to save a dwindling herd. Success hasn’t come without controversy, reports Science. Management efforts included killing hundreds of wolves, penning pregnant caribou cows and battling to win land protections. However, efforts have been successful and caribou numbers have increased.
LISTEN: Bird Flu Quietly Killing Millions Of Birds
A new strain of bird flu exists in the US and Canada. Thought to have been carried in by wild migratory birds, the flu poses serious problems, reports NPR. Wild birds transmit the disease to domestic flocks, and millions of domestic chickens and turkeys have already died or been killed to slow the spread of the disease. With only one known human case, the risk to humans seems low, but waterfowl, as well as the birds that eat sick or dead waterfowl, are being hit hard.
Thanks To Tribe, Northern California May See Condors
The California condor has not been seen in northern California in more than a century. California’s indigenous Yurok Tribe considers bringing the bird back “a sacred responsibility,” reports The Guardian. The Yurok are collaborating with state and federal agencies to fulfill a common purpose: to restore the condor, with its nine- to 10-foot wingspan, to the skies.
Ironically, The Spoils Of Utah Poachers Fund Conservation
Antlers, furs, hides and taxidermy seized from poachers over the past six years were auctioned by the state of Utah this week. Most of the illegally killed wildlife parts were collected by Utah wildlife officials as evidence in poaching investigations, reports Outdoor Life. All auction sale proceeds will be used for wildlife conservation in the state, according to the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources.
New England Wildlife Boom Not An Accident
After a century of science-based wildlife management, New England is teeming with wildlife, reports The Boston Globe. Contributing to the success is the North American Model of Wildlife Conservation, which has guided managers and helped implement conservation policies. Although new threats are always around the corner, citizens are observing a wildlife renaissance, allowing for the declaration of “the new golden age of wildlife” in New England.
Mexican Wolf Increase Continues in US Southwest
Mexican wolf numbers in the US reached 196 animals in the most recent survey of the endangered species. The total marks the sixth straight year of population increase, reports the Santa Fe New Mexican. However, the increase was softened by higher-than-average pup mortality due to drought. Ranchers are concerned about livestock predation while environmentalists hope the Fish and Wildlife Service will allow the wolves to establish new packs in areas beyond the current recovery zone.
Conservation Order Targeting Snow Geese Endures
By the 1990s, numbers of nesting mid-continent snow geese were so great that they threatened sensitive arctic habitats. In response, the Spring Light Goose Conservation Order was created in 1999 to manage the exploding population. Unlike typical goose-hunting seasons, the special season has fewer restrictions and coincides with spring rather than fall migrations. Also unique, the order can be turned off when population goals are achieved, reports MeatEater. This spring marked the 23rd consecutive spring light goose season.
Wild Horses, Burros Still Strain US Public Lands
Despite modest declines, new estimates of wild horses and burros on federal lands far exceed population goals, reports the Bureau of Land Management. The BLM manages wild horses and burros on nearly 27 million public acres. The current herds, three times the agency’s desired numbers, put extra pressure on feed and water, especially as drought continues to threaten wildlife across the West.
Continuing Trend: Alberta Builds Key Wildlife Overpass
The Yellowstone to Yukon Conservation Initiative reports the construction of Alberta’s first wildlife overpass on provincial lands. The crossing structure is at a key location in the region east of Banff National Park. Farther south, California is making way for an unprecedented overpass in the Santa Monica Mountains, which will let wildlife safely cross a busy 10-lane highway. The overpass would be the world’s largest wildlife bridge, reports The Guardian.
West African Lions Edging Back From The Brink
Senegal’s 3,525 square-mile (9,130 sq km) Niokolo-Koba National Park is home to one of four surviving populations of critically endangered West African lions. The Lion Recovery Fund estimates there are now 30-40 lions in the park; their prey populations are also increasing.
A New Stronghold For Africa’s Rarest Falcon
Many breeding nests of the Taita falcon have been discovered on the inselbergs of Mozambique’s Niassa Special Reserve, reported Mongabay in March. No more than 1,000 Taita falcons remain in Africa; the Niassa Reserve is threatened by poaching, mining and armed uprisings.
World Bank & South Africa Step Up For Rhinos
A first-of-its-kind 5-year “Rhino Bond” will eventually send up to $13.76 million to rhino conservation in South Africa, reports The Daily Maverick, and investors will be rewarded—if rhino population targets are achieved. South Africa has also decided to sell permits to hunt up to 10 carefully selected male black rhinos this year, the significant income from which will also go to rhino conservation. A full explanation appeared in The Conversation last month.
Super-Tusker Treated For Spear Wound
Rangers in the Amboseli-Tsavo-Kilimanjaro ecosystem recently spotted Tolstoy, one of their huge elephant bulls, limping from a spear wound to his front right leg. Tolstoy was sedated and the injury cleaned and treated, reported Africa Geographic.
Wolves Are Repopulating Rural Germany
The state of Lower Saxony recently reported 35 packs, five pairs and three single wolves for 2020-21, including a total of 153 newborn pups. The Ministry of the Environment estimates there are now 350 wolves in Lower Saxony, which covers 18,388 square miles (47,624 sq km) and has a population of almost 8 million (humans, that is).
Huge (really huge) Taxidermy Collection Seized In Spain
Two warehouses totaling 538,000 square feet (more than 12 acres) and housing 1,090 animal mounts and decorations, including 198 elephant tusks, were impounded by Valencia’s Guardia Civil last month. It’s likely that many of the animals were collected and/or imported legally, but police are investigating whether the owner has documentation for all of them, reported MeatEater.
Rewilding Is Underway Across Argentina
Fundación Rewilding Argentina, a non-profit arm of Tompkins Conservation, has acquired hundreds of thousands of acres in Patagonia, Iberá and the Chaco regions and reintroduced pampas deer, giant anteaters and collared peccaries while conserving jaguars, coypus, Wolffsohn’s viscachas, red-and-green macaws, bare-faced curassows and other key species, reports Nature.com.
VIDEO: Protecting Snow Leopards In Northern Pakistan
Check out this March CNN photo essay from a video by environmental anthropologist Shafqat Hussain on conservation successes in the towering mountains of Gilgit-Baltistan Province.
Super-Rare Sumatran Rhino Born In Captivity
Indonesia, last refuge of the Sumatran rhino, reported the birth of a female at a captive breeding center. Eight rhinos, including the newborn, live in Way Kambas National Park and a lone female is at the Kelian sanctuary in Indonesian Borneo. The wild population is estimated to be no more than 80 scattered individuals. See more from Mongabay.
War Halts Wildlife Tracking From Space
ICARUS, the International Cooperation for Animal Research Using Space, assesses environmental and human influences on migrating animals. A German antenna on the Russian International Space Station was tracking their journeys via GPS tags, but Russia halted the program after it invaded Ukraine, reported Science.
How Fences Slice Up The Natural World
Barriers of all sorts, from the US-Mexico border wall to Australia’s 3,480-mile ((5,600 km) Wild Dog Barrier, divide many wildlife habitats, interrupting migrations and increasing genetic isolation. Scientists are beginning to map these barriers and their impacts, and some fences are already being modified or removed. Read “Unnatural Barriers” on e360.Yale.edu.