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Frontline Dispatches – April 2024 Vol. VI, No. 4


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NORTH AMERICA

Cody Bear Sutton, The Colorado Sun

Colorado’s new mountain lion management plan addresses growing conflicts with the big cats. Overall, Colorado Parks & Wildlife’s goal is to maintain a stable population on the Eastern Slope as human development expands farther into Front Range habitat. There are about 3,800–4,400 mountain lions in Colorado statewide.


Bureau of Land Management

Which species respond best to development in Wyoming? As little as 3% land development can disrupt animal migrations, says the Beyond Yellowstone Program. Elk and pronghorn are flexible in their movement patterns, but mule deer follow ingrained routes that can increase human contact.


National Park Service, A. Falgoust

Grizzly bear activity and recreation restrictions mismatch timing in Yellowstone National Park. Seasonal restrictions on recreational access in areas of high bear density are intended to reduce human-bear conflicts. However, new research shows that male grizzlies spend more time in Yellowstone management areas at times when there are no restrictions on visitor access, likely due to habitat change. Updating the timing and location of these restrictions could improve their effectiveness.


What’s killing fishers in New Hampshire? The state’s population of this carnivore is declining. The University of New Hampshire was recently awarded $1.2 million to study why, including possible mortality from rodenticides. Farther north in Newfoundland, another member of the weasel family, the American marten, was downlisted to vulnerable status as the island’s population is now estimated at between 2,500–2,800.


Strategic cattle grazing practices could boost sage-grouse conservation, according to new research. Food for sage grouse increases during their breeding season with higher intensity grazing in spring and summer. There are only about 3,300 sage grouse in Nevada and California, emphasizing the urgent need for habitat improvements.


Bipartisan bill would make it harder for the U.S. government to sell public lands, writes Field & Stream. The Public Lands in Public Hands Act would require U.S. federal agencies like the Bureau of Land Management and Forest Service to obtain congressional approval for the sale or transfer of land parcels larger than 300 acres. A coalition of conservation organizations backs the bill.


‘ACE’ Act passes U.S. Senate committees, according to the Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation. The America’s Conservation Enhancement Act would reauthorize critical habitat programs through 2030. One such program is the North American Wetlands Conservation Program, which has provided billions of dollars to conserve 32 million acres of wetlands. The ACE Bill passed the Environment and Public Works committees unanimously.

AFRICA

Herds of Land Cruisers spotted on safari. About 300,000 tourists visit Kenya’s Maasai Mara National Reserve each year, supported by “catastrophic” growth of high-end safari camps. Wildlife can be besieged by photographic vehicles as animal overcrowding rules are weakly enforced. Click through this Wall Street Journal story to learn more.

Wildlife park established in South Africa’s Loskop Dam Nature Reserve. A partnership between the Mpumalanga Tourism and Parks Agency and the Aspinall Foundation’s WeWild Africa is the first of its kind between a provincial government and an international NGO to reintroduce iconic species and develop ecotourism.

EUROPE

European Parliament approves the Nature Restoration Law. The new law, passed in late February, aims to restore 20% of the European Union’s degraded land and sea by 2030 and all ecosystems in need by 2050. The European Council now must approve it; implementation will then depend on member states’ habitat restoration plans.

Indigenous peoples are impacted by green energy development. For example, large-scale wind-energy development threatens the traditional reindeer herding lifestyle of the Sámi people in Norway. According to Geographical, more than 200 such allegations have been reported globally since 2010.

African communities speak out against the UK’s proposed wildlife import ban. African media are asking the United Kingdom to reconsider legislation that, if enacted, would harm both conservation efforts and local community livelihoods. Botswana has been particularly outspoken; see this community march to the British High Commission in Gaborone last month.

WORLD

Shreya Dasgupta, Mongabay

Cambodia plans to revive its ‘functionally extinct’ tiger population by translocating four cats from India to the Tatai Wildlife Sanctuary this year. Tigers were last seen there on camera in 2007. Meanwhile, Nepal’s tiger recovery success has conservationists dealing with tigers that increasingly come in conflict with humans. Some 38 people died from tiger attacks in Nepal during 2019–2023.


Indian town erupts over elephant attacks. After three people were killed, protests erupted in Mananthavady in southern India’s Kerala State. While habitat degradation is driving human-wildlife conflicts, locals also blame government policy for pushing elephants into residential areas.


image: Snapshot USA, New York Times

Where did the ‘wild things go’ during the pandemic? Not all wildlife thrived during COVID-19 lockdowns, according to a global study using camera-trap images of 162 species from 102 projects in 21 countries. Conservation Frontlines’ Editor-in-Chief, Dr. Jerry Belant, told The New York Times the results “move the needle” toward understanding general patterns of animal responses to human behavior.


Anthropocene

Guard dogs help livestock and predators to coexist. Maremma sheepdogs effectively keep red foxes away from ranches in Australia, offering an alternative to lethal predator control. This big white, furry breed is just one example of working dogs for conservation.


Scientists were shocked to discover the world’s largest snake in the Amazon. The northern green anaconda can grow more than seven meters (23 feet) long and weigh 250 kilograms (550 pounds)!