Frontline Dispatches – August 2023 Vol. V, No. 8
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service proposes revisions to the Endangered Species Act. Changes to the previous administration’s regulations include a “blanket 4(d) rule” extending protection options for species listed as threatened, along with clarity on species listing or delisting standards and critical habitat designations.
Future grizzly bear management in “administrative purgatory”, writes Outdoor Life. As the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service reviews the status of populations in the Greater Yellowstone and Northern Continental Divide ecosystems, grizzly bears may be recovered sufficiently to remove federal protection, but courts and public opinion remain against state management authority. The debate continues while grizzly bears expand their range, such as the first confirmed sighting in Pryor Mountain of central Montana.
U.S. Department of Agriculture announces $500 million conservation investment. This Farm Bill funding includes a new commitment to the Working Lands for Wildlife program that will benefit farmers, ranchers, private forest owners, and tribes over the next 5 years.
Wild turkey ecology research receives $9 million. The National Wild Turkey Federation and its partners will fund 10 priority projects across 9 U.S. states to address population declines and guide future management efforts.
Why has elk recruitment declined in New Mexico? Calf to cow ratios have declined over time on the Vermejo Park Ranch, which holds one of the largest elk populations in the state. Research suggests a combination of black bear predation and drier range conditions may be limiting factors in New Mexico and other parts of the southern Rockies.
Indigenous leaders and researchers say recovery targets fall short for culturally important species including caribou, bison, and salmon. A recent study calls for greater than minimal viable population sizes to bridge indigenous rights with endangered species laws. The Wildlife Society shares more.
Tribal harvest outside Yellowstone illustrates the complexity of bison restoration. With last year’s controversial hunt taking a record 1,223 bison, tribal advocates say it allows them to reconnect with their indigenous culture. Read more in this article by High Country News.
Bison gores tourist in Yellowstone National Park, the first injury this summer season. The National Park Service urges caution around wildlife and reminds visitors to keep a safe distance.
Montana bald eagles have highest lead exposure after hunting seasons, according to a new study. Researchers found that lead exposure in the blood samples of 165 eagles brought to rehab centers and 62 free-flying eagles captured from 2011 to 2022 was widespread and followed a seasonal trend after Montana’s fall hunting seasons.
Record-breaking python nest removed from the Everglades. The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission recently discovered 111 Burmese python eggs. The snake is invasive to the Everglades and negatively impacts native species, says the state agency.
Angolan giraffe reintroduced to Iona National Park. Also known as the “smokey giraffe”, this subspecies was extirpated from southern Angola by the 1990s after the country’s civil war. Fourteen giraffes were recently translocated from Namibia, marking Angola’s latest conservation achievement.
Botswana responds to the UK’s wildlife import ban debate. Botswana’s Minister of Environment and Tourism writes that Western policymakers too often focus on animal welfare at the expense of human life in Africa, and that income from tourist hunting can promote harmony between local people and wildlife. Listen to this BBC Africa Daily to learn more.
ReconAfrica pauses controversial mining operations in Namibia. The Canadian oil company has exploration licenses across 13,200 square miles in the Okavango Delta watershed, and now plans to operate in northwest Botswana. Read the full story on National Geographic.
European Union’s Nature Restoration Law approved by Parliament. The contentious vote passed in July sets legally binding restoration targets for degraded ecosystems, including 20% of the EU’s land and sea areas by 2030. While many scientists support the law, some within the agriculture and fisheries industries worry it will impact food production and livelihood security.
Romania reopens brown bear quota to manage increasing conflict. Romania’s outgoing environmental minister signed an order outlining management efforts to reduce human-bear conflicts including a hunting quota of 480 bears. Since 2016 when hunting was closed, there have been 154 human attacks and 14 deaths. The country’s bear population is estimated to be about 7,500–8,000.
2022 a record year for deforestation in the Amazon, reports Mongabay. An estimated 4.89 million acres were cleared last year, a 21% increase from 2021 and the worst in over a decade. Cattle ranching, agriculture, mining, and road projects continue to threaten rainforest across Bolivia, Peru, Colombia, Ecuador, Venezuela, and mostly in Brazil. Brazil’s new government, however, reports that their deforestation rates have declined in 2023 and plans to eliminate all deforestation by 2030.
Why do some wildlife reintroductions succeed while others fail? A new study examining 305 species translocations found that incorporating the human side of conservation can improve project outcomes. Read more in this thoughtful piece by The Wildlife Society.