Frontline Dispatches – June 2023 Vol. V, No. 6



Montana embarks on mule deer monitoring and research initiatives after concerns for declining populations statewide due to winterkill, habitat change, and predation. Part of the Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks’ effort includes public engagement with hunters and surveying their attitudes towards current management strategies.

image: Nick Sulzer, Buckrail

Thriving elk, struggling deer a coincidence? Not according to new research. Preliminary findings from the Deer-Elk Ecology Research in Wyoming suggest that the closer mule deer live to elk, the skinnier the deer get. A small decrease in body fat can mean the difference between surviving winter or not. Read more about this research here.

image: Colorado Parks and Wildlife

Colorado’s wolf reintroduction could be delayed by federal experimental designation. A bipartisan state Senate bill requiring a “10j” Endangered Species Act rule be adopted before wolves are reintroduced was recently vetoed by Colorado’s Governor. The rule is a management tool that allows harvest of wolves in cases of livestock depredation or self-defense. The Colorado Parks and Wildlife Commission also approved their final wolf restoration and management plan including support for the rule and increased livestock compensation.

New project monitors expanding black bears in Arkansas. As bears recover their range in the Gulf Coastal Plain in the southern part of the state, Arkansas Game and Fish Commission biologists are studying this unique population’s habitat use and home ranges. Watch this video to learn more.

North Dakota counts record bighorn sheep for third consecutive year. The Game and Fish Department’s annual survey revealed 347 bighorns in the state’s western grasslands, 15% above the 5-year average.

Turkey population declines lead to canceled seasons and reduced bag limits in the Great Plains. Once turkey hunting hotspots, Kansas, Nebraska, and Oklahoma state agencies are responding to population lows by implementing unprecedented harvest restrictions. Read more in Outdoor Life. (image: John Hafner).

Resolution would end protection for lesser prairie chicken. A recent U.S. Senate provision to end Endangered Species Act protection for the lesser prairie chicken is the latest legal controversy surrounding the species’ listing. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service says populations have declined throughout their range by 90% since the early 20th century, from hundreds of thousands to just over 32,000 today.

Quebec’s threatened caribou herd is expecting a baby boom. Twelve pregnant females are good news for the province’s struggling population of woodland caribou that managers put into a temporary captive breeding program. However, environmentalists argue that the government should do more to restore old growth forests and implement Canada’s Species at Risk Act.

U.S. Department of Transportation announces $350 million to reduce wildlife-vehicle collisions, the largest single investment made to address the issue. The funds will be used to build wildlife crossings and track animal movements across the country.

$16 billion surpassed in Pittman-Robertson excise tax contributions for conservation in 2022. Firearm and ammunition manufacturers are celebrating this milestone achievement in total funding to the Wildlife Restoration Trust Fund since 1937.


image: Wildlife Conservation Society

First lions confirmed in area of Chad after 20 years, according to a new remote camera survey conducted by the Wildlife Conservation Society. The images were captured in Sena Oura National Park where lions are listed as extirpated. The newly confirmed presence of lions is testament to the conservation commitments by Chad and neighboring Cameroon.

image: Jill Cohen

A number of lions were killed in Kenya, after the latest human-wildlife conflict in and around Amboseli National Park. Livestock depredations by lions have worsened during a recent drought, in addition to crop raiding and threats to human life from elephants. The Kenya Wildlife Service is engaging with local communities to find solutions.

image: John Dambik/Alamy

Will a U.S. Endangered Species Act listing save hippos? Animal welfare groups desire restrictions on trade in hippo products, but conservation experts say that increasing protection would have little benefit to hippos’ real threats of habitat loss and conflicts with humans. Yale Environment 360 reports more.

Mining poses a serious threat to wildlife and local environmental rights. The Washington Post reports that increasing demand for electric vehicles is fueling a new “gold rush” frontier in African countries rich in metals, like Guinea, one of the poorest nations but with the largest reserve of bauxite – a mineral used in aluminum. A study shows that 1.1 million acres of habitat will be destroyed by mining activity over the next two decades in Guinea alone.

image: Hemis/Alamy

Is Africa’s great green wall withering? A plan to restore 7,000 square kilometers (about 2,700 mi2) of Sahel habitat across 11 countries from Senegal to Djibouti by 2030 is at risk of losing its pan-African vision, reports Nature. The project seeks to plant trees, improve soil, build community gardens, and protect forests while creating jobs and sequestering 250 million tons of carbon. However, the pace of financing may be too slow to meet this ambition as international donors pull away from some countries.

Improving governance of community wildlife management areas in Tanzania. 5 communities in the Ruvuma region, covering 8,100 square kilometers (over 3,100 mi2) with 75,000 people, are working to become financially sustainable, socially valued, and provide long-term environmental protection. These areas form an important part of the Niassa-Selous Transfrontier Conservation Area shared with northern Mozambique. Learn about this progress via the Community Leaders Network.


Netherlands experiments with ecological engineering to rewild new islands. Marker Wadden is a man-made 3,200-acre archipelago built from dredged mud that is already home to 47 breeding bird species. This unique project will be one of the largest habitat restorations in western Europe. Read the story on Nature.


image: Rewild

Tasmanian devils are making a comeback, according to conservation organization Rewild. Thirty-two devils were reintroduced to mainland Australia, the country with the highest mammal extinction rate, in 2020 after a 3,000-year absence. An estimated 45 baby “joeys” were born this year, making it the most successful breeding season yet.

India is now talking about managing their growing tiger population, as deadly attacks on humans are becoming more common. A recent conference introduced the topic of tiger hunting, representing a possible new conservation approach to India’s preservationist philosophy. Watch this video by Fieldsports News to learn more.

image: Rhett Butler/Mongabay

How are private philanthropists investing in nature? Mongabay reports that the Protecting Our Planet campaign, the largest ever private biodiversity fund, has allocated about a quarter of the pledged $5 billion to conservation projects. Critics however are calling for greater spending transparency and say that the plan entrenches “fortress conservation” at the expense of indigenous peoples’ rights.