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Frontline Dispatches – May 2024


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NORTH AMERICA

Jean Beaufort

Grizzlies return to the North Cascades?

Source: Outdoor Life

Federal agencies aim to establish a population of up to 25 grizzlies in the Northern Cascades over the next 5–10 years. The plan categorizes these grizzlies as a ‘nonessential experimental population,’ a status that mitigates human-grizzly conflicts by relaxing protections granted by the Endangered Species Act.

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Julie Young

Man’s best friend turns grizzly bouncer in Montana.

Source: Science

Similar to livestock guardian dogs, a recent experiment shows an 88% reduction in bear visits to farms with dogs. While the study offers promise for cost-efficient coexistence, whether dogs can provide long term grizzly deterrence remains to be seen.

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Shutterstock

Economic wealth shapes mammal communities across 23 American cities.

Source: The Hill

Greater mammal diversity, including species like red fox, can thrive in higher income areas with dedicated parks and greenspaces, reports a new study. In contrast, lower-income areas often only support animals highly adapted to urban living, like rats. This research supports previous work that links urban biodiversity to health and wealth.

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Shutterstock

Firefighting beavers?

Source: The Colorado Sun

Known mostly for their disrupting dam-building, evidence suggests that beavers also provide numerous benefits, including fire protection, carbon storage, and water filtration. Some restoration efforts are embracing nature-inspired methods like building logjams to attract this keystone species back to its natural habitat.

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Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife

Wolves are experiencing increased poaching and unexplained deaths.

Source: Oregon Capital Chronicle

While livestock predation explains the legal removal of 16 wolves—a high since recordkeeping began in 2008—illegal killings resulted in 12 additional deaths. At 178 wolves, the state’s wolf population did not increase for the first time in eight years.

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Kush Dwivedi

Utah sets a new record for conservation funding!

Source: The Times-Independent

Auctions of permits for limited-entry, once-in-a-lifetime hunts by conservation groups contributed to a total commitment of $4.8 million for habitat enhancement, wildlife transplants, and research. Of the 105 projects presented, 88 were partially or fully funded, positively impacting over 100,000 acres.

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Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation/Desireee Branson Cline/RPS

Black bears return to the Oklahoma panhandle after decades of absence.

Source: Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation

After two summers of surveying with remote cameras and hair snares, Oklahoma State University graduate student Bailey Kleeberg estimates a population of 26 black bears in the region. Genetic analysis suggests that these bears are coming from an established population in neighboring New Mexico.

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AFRICA

Derek Keats

How do scientists combat interbreeding among wild dogs in South Africa?

Source: The Conversation

With a population of about 550 individuals in 14 fragmented populations, low genetic diversity undermines the species’ resilience to rabies and canine distemper virus outbreaks. In response, researchers directly introduce valuable genes across populations via artificial insemination and seek to build an African wild dog sperm bank.

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Diego Delso

The new face of safari guides

Source: BBC

Women reshape the safari guide profession across Africa by offering a unique and previously absent perspective. Rising above stereotypical beliefs and the challenges of working in remote conditions, women taking advantage of these emerging opportunities are a source of community pride and development.

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Shutterstock

Mining threatens great apes

Source: Science Daily

Nearly one-third of gorillas, bonobos, and chimpanzees are at risk from mineral mining, highlighting the potential conflict between the transition to clean energy and conservation. While the extraction of copper, lithium, nickel, cobalt, and other rare earth elements in Africa is key to renewable technologies, researchers warn of a 20% overlap between mining areas and critical habitat for approximately 180,000 great apes.

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John & Karen Hollingsworth, US Fish and Wildlife Service

Former List of World Heritage in Danger site recognized

Source: Mongabay

A big win for conservation at Manovo-Gounda St. Floris National Park, Central Africa’s largest savanna park (17,400 square kilometers). UNESCO’s Man and the Biosphere Program recognizes the park’s new management plan, which called for hiring rangers to deter poaching and engaging local guards to liaise with livestock herders.

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David Clode

Infrastructure promotes inbreeding in migratory wildebeests.

Source: Anthropocene

New findings show that species disrupted by fences and transportation corridors are less genetically healthy than their migratory counterparts. This example joins a growing area of study some call “fence ecology.”

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EUROPE

Izabela Cardoso and Fernando Teixeira

Cattle cave art brought to life

Source: BBC

Rewilding Portugal introduces a version of the extinct aurochs cattle whose ancestors, depicted by paleolithic peoples in the region, played a key role in maintaining grassland ecosystems millennia ago. Now, their descendants will help establish a 1,200 sq km (463 sq miles) wildlife corridor along the Côa River.

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Shutterstock

Wolves spark heated debate

Source: Euractiv

European Commission considers reducing protections amid concerns for livestock predation. Farmers advocate for permission to hunt the apex predator, while some rural dwellers and conservationists are convinced that strict safeguards remain necessary.

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WORLD

Andries Hoogerwerf

Is the Javan tiger truly extinct?

Source: Mongabay

Authorities plan to search for remnants of this predator that occurs only on this Indonesian island after recent observations, including the discovery of hair with matching DNA. Indonesia’s Ministry of Environment and Forestry plans camera survey efforts and DNA sweeps to corroborate these reports.

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Shutterstock

How does tapir research benefit humans?

Source: Mongabay

Tapirs are acting as a sentinel species in Brazil, where pesticide contamination in captured animals led to a public health investigation. According to tapir specialist Patrícia Medici, researchers discovered the contamination when they encountered difficulties anesthetizing tapirs that hinted at possible organ damage.

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Willem Strien

Get to know the top 10 most critically endangered species!

Source: USA Today

With populations ranging from 10 to 5,500 individuals, these rare species are threatened by a variety of human-caused pressures. For terrestrial mammals, none more so than the Sumatran and Javan rhinos, which rank 2nd and 3rd on this list.

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Shutterstock

Humans are not the only stargazers, but baboons, hippos, and birds respond to stars in their own ways.

Source: The Nature Conservancy

Continuing in a time-honored naturalist tradition of observing wildlife during eclipses, citizen scientists digitally record behavior during the April 2024 eclipse. Previous observations indicate that some species treat the eclipse as if it were night, while others, such as lions, seem indifferent.

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