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Frontline Dispatches – March 2024 Vol. VI, No. 3


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NORTH AMERICA

What happens when adventure skiing and caribou conservation collide? Biologists are asking the backcountry heli-skiing industry to share information on their operations to reduce risks to endangered southern mountain caribou herds in British Columbia. Read more about this issue in The Narwhal.


Apex predators are not a “quick fix” for ecosystem restoration. A 20-year study challenges the belief that habitat damage from elk browsing can be reduced by recovering predator populations. Returning apex predators to Yellowstone National Park to transform this ecosystem to previous conditions did not occur as scientists hoped. The lead researcher at Colorado State University said, “The conservation message is don’t lose [predators] in the first place.”


image: West Virginia Division of Natural Resources

West Virginia adds 17 elk to its growing herd. The newest elk, translocated from western Kentucky to the Tomblin Wildlife Management Area, are the first of 40 elk to be moved this year. West Virginia now has 127 elk statewide.


Will new solar energy development impact wildlife on western public lands? The Bureau of Land Management plans to open 22 million acres across the West to possible solar energy projects, writes Field & Stream. Conservation groups are worried about potential impacts to wildlife corridors and winter habitat, in addition to loss of recreation areas.
(https://www.planning.org/blog/9253223/visual-guide-to-agrivoltaics-and-wildlife-friendly-solar/)


image: Diana Haecker/The Nome Nugget

Learning to live with musk oxen in Nome, Alaska. After the town’s first musk- ox related human fatality, community members are calling for more local management options and conflict mitigation action. Musk oxen were introduced to Alaska’s Seward Peninsula decades ago without consent from indigenous peoples and now number more than 2,000.


Bobcat populations in central and western New York are critically low, according to camera trap surveys. This observation is concerning to wildlife officials because of the importance of bobcats to northeastern ecosystems and the people who live there.


Culling helps restore the native ecosystem at Long Point, a small spit of land jutting into Lake Erie from mainland Ontario. This 30-year effort has been the life’s work of two researchers. Overabundant white-tailed deer with no predators or hunting pressure over browsed the habitat, having ‘a devastating effect’. Intensive culling efforts have reduced the deer herd and restored this landscape.


image: Outdoor Life/Adobe Stock

Montana man charged for illegally breeding “Frankenstien-esque” Marco Polo sheep, writes CFL contributor Katie Hill in Outdoor Life. The game farmer is facing felony charges for multiple Federal Lacey Act violations after selling hybridized offspring of a cloned sheep species originating from Kyrgyzstan.

AFRICA

image: Tony Karumba/Getty Images

World’s first in vitro fertilization pregnancy could save the northern white rhino. This first successful embryo transfer is a reproductive breakthrough for rhinos. With only 2 northern white rhinos remaining under strict protection in Kenya’s Ol Pejeta Conservancy, experts are now racing to save the species.

Giraffe populations declined 40% across 4 subspecies since 1985. GPS devices are now small enough to be attached to a giraffe’s tail or ear. Giraffe Conservation Foundation is using this new technology to increase protection for the critically endangered Nubian giraffe in two of South Sudan’s national parks.

EUROPE

image: The National

Saving Wales’s pine marten is a fight for their survival, writes The National. Only an estimated 120 pine marten remain in Wales due to loss of woodland habitat, persecution, and vehicle mortality. Conservation actions including forest restoration, reintroductions, and public awareness campaigns are increasing optimism for the small but charismatic mammal.

image: European Federation for Hunting and Conservation

New survey reveals nuanced stance on hunting in Europe. Results from a 2023 survey of more than 7,000 Europeans from 5 countries suggest that public opinion is more accepting of or neutral toward international hunting practices than previously claimed by an animal protection and welfare organization.

WORLD

image: Biosphoto/Slyvain Cordier

Bengal tigers make a comeback in Bhutan. After surveying two-thirds of the entire country, researchers estimated 131 tigers, a 27% increase from 2015. However, habitat loss from commercial logging, agricultural expansion, and other development has caused more conflict with humans. Bhutan provides important habitat corridors between tiger populations in Nepal and northeast India.


555 Asiatic lions died in India over the last 5 years, reports the country’s environment ministry. Although India’s only lion population in the Gir forest of Gujarat increased from 523 to 674 during 2015–2020 and mortality rates appear to be stable, lions are threatened by poaching and habitat fragmentation.


image: Yasuyoshi Chiba/Getty Images

Migratory species face extinction from unsustainable human activity, according to the new State of the World’s Migratory Species Report. Of the 1,189 species listed by the Convention on Migratory Species, 1 in 5 are threatened, including whales, sharks, elephants, wild cats, raptors, birds, fish, and more. Habitat loss, overexploitation, and pollution are major threats.


image: Anthropocene

Artificial intelligence offers a revolution in wildlife science. Smart bioacoustics have previously unimaginable uses in ecology studies. New AI-assisted research is being used to understand how oil spills influence whale numbers, how wildfires reshape bird populations, and how coral reefs recover from overfishing. Read stories of the scientists using this technology here.


image: Omer Abrar/Getty Images

Snow leopard captured after killing livestock in Afghanistan. In a rare incident, the juvenile animal was trapped in the livestock enclosure. Authorities said they planned to release it back into the wild after veterinary treatment. The Snow Leopard Trust estimates that 3,920 to 6,390 snow leopards live in central Asia.