Frontline Dispatches – November 2023 Vol. V, No. 11
Nevada battles over how to manage its wild horses. This short film by The Nevada Independent documents the social complexities around one of the largest round-ups in the country, removing around 3,000 wild horses from the state’s Antelope Complex North area.
Who’s to blame for Colorado’s human-moose conflicts? As moose numbers increase in that state, so do dangerous encounters with them, and wildlife managers are being criticized for not allowing a “management harvest”—aka hunting. According to the Colorado Sun, 21 people have been injured by moose in Colorado since 2017.
Colorado ballot initiative would ban mountain lion and bobcat hunting. Similar initiatives narrowly approved a wolf reintroduction plan in 2020 and have a history of changing wildlife management in the state. The ballot is being proposed for a vote in November 2024.
Bighorn sheep in the Tendoy Mountains have high lamb survival. Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks report that the newly established herd, translocated in 2020, is growing well with possible 100% lamb survival in year 2 of the project. Access the full update here.
Grizzly bears could be reintroduced to Washington state, per a new proposal by the National Park Service and U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service. Reintroduction options include releasing up to 7 grizzlies each year in the North Cascades Ecosystem over the next 10 years. The federal agencies are seeking public comment on their restoration plan through November 13th, available here.
National survey estimates $395 billion economic contribution from outdoor recreation activities, including strong participation by Americans in hunting, fishing, and wildlife watching. Read more from this recently released 2022 report, conducted every 5 years, from the Association of Fish & Wildlife Agencies.
President Biden signs Protecting Hunting Heritage and Education Act, announces the Congressional Sportsmen Foundation. After the Department of Education cut funding to outdoor education school programs, this new bipartisan law ensures that federal funds will remain available for student enrichment such as hunter education, archery, and wilderness training.
Fat Bear Week actually has a basis in wildlife science. It’s not about being cute or roly-poly—Alaska’s brown bears feed voraciously on salmon so they can survive the coming winter. A fat bear is a biologically successful bear! Learn what’s really behind Katmai National Park and Preserve’s annual competition that has become so popular on social media.
Rhino numbers are increasing despite poaching. The International Union for Conservation of Nature announced in September that there are now an estimated 23,290 black and white rhinos across Africa (mostly in South Africa and Namibia), which is a 5.2% increase since 2021. Still, at least 561 rhinos were poached last year.
More than 40% of lion populations have fewer than 50 big cats. Social and political stability is increasingly important for lion conservation, as a new study indicates that populations in Somalia and Sudan are most vulnerable. In contrast to declines in west and central Africa, lion populations in Botswana, Namibia, South Africa, and Zimbabwe have increased 12% from 1993 to 2014.
One in six species in the UK are threatened with extinction, including species such as the water vole, natterjack toad, and this marsh fritillary butterfly. The State of Nature Report details threats from industrialization and agricultural intensification, and possible recovery actions by 2050.
Wild pigs are ravaging protected areas in South America, writes Forbes. Research shows that invasive feral pigs threaten hundreds of species in 54 countries and 14 species have already gone extinct due to the pigs’ destructive ecological impacts.
Indian farmers grow rice for elephants as a peace offering to human-wildlife conflicts. More than 70 people and 80 elephants die each year in the state of Assam. Watch Mongabay’s special to learn more about how local conservationists are trying to find solutions.
Japan is using robot wolves to stop brown bear attacks, as four people were killed and 10 injured by bears in 2021. There are an estimated 12,000 brown bears in the Hokkaido region. Read more in what BBC dubs “bears versus robot wolves”.
Details in the devil’s tumors. Discovery of a second type of rare and contagious cancer, devil facial tumor disease, may help future vaccine development. For now, releasing endangered, captive-raised Tasmanian devils back into the wild is increasing genetic diversity and maintaining a small but stable population.
Researchers recover Tasmanian tiger RNA in genetics breakthrough. This success is the first time RNA has been sequenced from an extinct species, offering new insights into the thylacine’s physiology and ancient viruses.