Frontline Dispatches – December 2023 Vol. V, No. 12



image: WWF-US, Clay Bolt

Bison are back thanks to Native Nations. About 25,000 bison are now managed on tribal land in the United States. Rosebud Reservation in South Dakota alone can support 1,500 bison in the Wolakota Buffalo Range. However, much work remains to further restore American bison populations.

Louisiana considers black bear season after recovery success. Following decades of habitat restoration, the Louisiana black bear was removed from the U.S. Endangered Species Act in 2016 and today’s increasing population is considered an American conservation success. Louisiana’s Department of Wildlife and Fisheries’ Commission recently voted to consider a highly regulated hunting season and is accepting public comment before making a final decision.

image: Bernd Zeugswetter, LAist

California’s Sierra Nevada bighorn herds hit hard by big snow, as half of the sheep tracked by biologists died during last year’s record-breaking winter. The population is now estimated at 360 sheep according to the California Department of Fish and Wildlife. Read more about conservation challenges facing Sierra Nevada bighorn sheep on LAist.

Vermont moose need management for healthy populations. High moose density contributes to an abundance of winter ticks, which can reduce moose survival. The Vermont Fish & Wildlife Department issues limited hunting tags to support the state’s management goals informed by research.

image: Jacob W. Frank, National Park Service

First case of CWD detected in Yellowstone National Park, reports the National Park Service. Authorities from the park and Wyoming Game and Fish Department confirmed the presence of chronic wasting disease in a mule deer buck collared as part of a research study. The park is now revising its disease surveillance plan and increasing monitoring efforts.

What is the Farm Bill? And what does its recent expiration mean for conservation funding? The Farm Bill is the United States’ largest annual investment in conservation ($6 billion/year), including important habitat management programs. The Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership explains more in this video.

U.S. Administration announces $140 million in America the Beautiful grants. The National Fish and Wildlife Foundation will administer the funds issued to 74 projects across 46 states and 21 Tribal Nations as part of the goal to conserve 30% of U.S. lands and waters by 2030. Expected outcomes include habitat management, fence removal, prescribed burning, wetlands restoration, and public land access.

Tax Stamp Revenue Transfer for Wildlife and Recreation Act would bolster state conservation funding, reports the Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation. The newly introduced bipartisan bill would add about $200 million of Pittman-Robertson funding annually to state wildlife agencies, which has generated over $15 billion since 1937.

image: The Canadian Press, Justin Tang

Canada bans trade of elephant ivory and rhino horn, citing population declines due to poaching. The new policy announcement from Ottawa includes importation of hunting trophies. CTV News says that 14 elephant tusks and 2 rhino horns were imported into Canada annually between 2015 and 2021.


image: Rights and Resources Initiative

First Indigenous Peoples’ and Local Communities’ Conservation Congress held in Namibia. Following the historic Africa Protected Areas Congress in 2022, this recent conference addressed critical issues of indigenous land rights and inclusion in wildlife conservation. The newly formed Alliance for Indigenous Peoples and Local Communities for Conservation in Africa will represent voices from 43 countries in attendance.

South Africa’s new biodiversity tax incentive to help conservation costs. Taxpayers safeguarding threatened species or ecosystems can now deduct management and protection related expenses (e.g., rhino anti-poaching). This innovative financing could provide added conservation incentives by saving private landowners up to R$1.5 million (about $82,000 US) a year.


Adaptive management reduces turtle dove harvest by 70%. EU Member States from the central and eastern flyway (Austria, Romania, Italy, Malta, Bulgaria, Greece, and Cyprus) have substantially reduced harvest by implementing quotas and bag limits, following recommendations from the European Commission. However, habitat restoration is still needed to recover dove populations.


image: Department of Forests and Park Services, Bhutan

Bhutan’s snow leopards increased almost 40% in 6 years, according to the World Wildlife Fund. These promising results from a new survey confirmed the presence of 134 snow leopards in Bhutan. Additional population assessments across the species’ range are still needed.

Kazakhstan’s management of saiga antelope an opportunity for sustainable use. Once a critically endangered species, Kazakhstan’s populations of saiga have rebounded to an estimated 2.6 million. The government is now proposing to remove 337,000 animals to protect livestock grazing. Some criticize the announcement as a missed chance to conserve the species while others call for caution because saiga are susceptible to mass die-offs from disease.

Pakistan’s markhor population increases for 10th straight year thanks to community-based conservation programs. Most of the country’s estimated 5,000 markhor, a long-horned wild goat, are found in the northern Gilgit-Baltistan region. Now the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province also wishes to benefit more communities by increasing its quota for tourist hunting.

Pandas return to China from zoos amid tense diplomatic relations with the United States. Although a sad day for fans at the Smithsonian National Zoo as pandas boarded their long flight to China (dubbed the “Panda Express”), the future of panda conservation remains bright. Learn more about the political history of pandas in the United States on VOA News.

image: Re:wild

Rare echidna is the newest “rediscovered” species! The Attenborough’s long-beaked echidna, pictured above and named after the famous voice of Planet Earth Sir David Attenborough, is a nocturnal egg-laying mammal. Last recorded in 1961, the species was recently found by researchers in Indonesia’s Cyclops Mountains.