MW1133 at Sevilleta prior to release in Gila Wilderness. Photo credit: Tom Buckley, USFWs.
Mexican Wolf Returned to Captivity
On Saturday, May 11, Mexican wolf M1133 was captured by members of the Interagency Field Team (IFT) just east of the San Mateo Mountains in New Mexico, outside of the Blue Range Wolf Recovery Area, and was taken to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Wolf Management Facility at Sevilleta National Wildlife Refuge. M1133 is the male wolf recently released by the IFT, along with female Mexican wolf F1108, into the Gila Wilderness.
Working 24/7 – U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's Biologist Rescues Trapped Osprey
May 2013 While preparing for a day-off recreational canoe trip, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Southwest Region Migratory Bird specialist Bob Murphy found himself on a Mothers Day avian rescue mission. Bob and a friend Dale Stahlecher, spotted an Osprey trapped in a tree, tangled in fishing wire and the rescue began. Without the efforts of Bob Murphy and Dale Stahlecker the Osprey would not have survived. Read the entire story on the frontpage of the Albuquerque Journal or learn more here.
Middle Rio Grande Urban Waters Federal Partnership
Today, the Middle Rio Grande, Valle de Oro National Wildlife Refuge and the city of Albuquerque received national attention from a multi-federal agency partnership addressing urban waters. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) will co-lead a team of federal partners towards a conservation initiative, a restoration project, and a pilot program for storm water permits in the Middle Rio Grande Region.
Urban Waters Federal Partnership Designation
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service are holding a celebration in honor of the Urban Waters Federal Partnership designation for Albuquerque, New Mexico. The event takes place Tuesday, May 14, at 1 p.m., just west of the Hispanic Cultural Center, in Albuquerque, N.M. The Urban Waters Federal Partnership aims to stimulate regional and local economies, create local jobs, improve quality of life, and protect American’s health by revitalizing urban waterways in underserved communities across the country. This year 11 new project locations were added, to include the Albuquerque metropolitan area and the new Valle de Oro National Wildlife Refuge.
Southwest Region employees receive awards from the New Mexico Federal Executive Board. Photo credit: USFWS.
Eleven U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Southwest Region Employees Receive Federal Executive Board Awards
The Federal Executive Boards (FEBs) were established by Presidential Directive in 1961 as a forum for communication and collaboration among federal agencies outside the Washington, D.C. area. The New Mexico Federal Executive Board recognizes outstanding federal employees each year for their dedication, performance, and public service. This year, Steve Stucker of New Mexico’s top rated morning program, Eyewitness News 4 Today, provided the Keynote Address and 11 employees of the U.S. Fish and Wildife Service Southwest Region received recognition for their exceptional performance in their careers.
Dead Bald eagle outside room in Salisaw, OK. Photo credit: USFWS.
Reward Offered for Information in Bald Eagle Death
May 2013 The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) and Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation (ODWC) are seeking information regarding the death and mutilation of a Bald Eagle in Sequoyah County, Oklahoma. In late March 2013, FWS Special Agents and ODWC Game Wardens were informed of an eagle carcass abandoned on the sidewalk of Motel 6 in Sallisaw, Oklahoma. Initial forensic evaluation revealed the talons had been removed along with the tail feathers and several of the larger primary wing feathers.
A reward of up to $2,500 is being offered for information which leads to the conviction of the person or persons responsible for the death and mutilation of the eagle.
A California condor flies over the Bitter Creek National Wildlife Refuge. Photo credit: USFWS.
200th California Condor Chick Hatches
Emerging from its shell on May 2, 2013, a tiny California Condor chick becomes the 200th chick to hatch in a captive breeding facility since a joint effort to breed endangered condors was started in 1993. The captive breeding facility at The Peregrine Fund’s World Center for Birds of Prey in Boise, Idaho, is home to 62 condors, the world’s largest flock of captive condors. This year, 18 pairs produced 20 eggs. When the chicks are about 9 months old, they are released near the Grand Canyon in Arizona, where they join the wild flock, which currently numbers 72 birds. The condor recovery program is conducted in cooperation with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. This year, Peregrine Fund biologists have observed six wild condor pairs exhibiting incubating behaviors in the rugged canyonlands of northern Arizona. Today, there are more than 400 California Condors, with more than half of them flying free in the wild in Arizona, California and Baja, Mexico.
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Reopens Comment Periodon Lesser Prairie-Chicken Listing Proposal Agency seeks additional information from public, scientific community to inform final decision and continues conservation efforts with partners
May 2013 The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service today announced the reopening of the public comment period on its 2012 proposal to add the lesser prairie-chicken to the Federal List of Endangered and Threatened Wildlife. The public comment period will be reopened for 45 days to allow an opportunity for the public, the scientific community and other interested parties to provide input on the original listing proposal in light of a newly-released range-wide conservation plan for the species. The conservation plan was drafted by the Lesser Prairie-Chicken Working Group, in association with the Western Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies. A copy of the plan is available at http://www.wafwa.org/documents/AprilDraftLEPCPlanSubmittedUSFWS04_02_2013.pdf.
The reopened comment period also allows the public to review and comment on a proposed special rule that, if approved, would foster conservation of the lesser prairie-chicken and give landowners across the species’ range additional flexibility to manage their land, should the species require protection as a threatened species under the Endangered Species Act. The proposed special rule, issued under Section 4(d) of the ESA, would allow take of lesser prairie-chicken incidental to activities carried out through the Natural Resources Conservation Service's Lesser Prairie-Chicken Initiative and activities included in comprehensive prairie-chicken conservation programs developed by or in coordination with the state fish and wildlife agencies. The 4(d) rule would only be implemented if the lesser prairie-chicken were to be listed.
Public comments will be accepted until June 20, 2013. Comments may be submitted in one of the following methods:
(1) Electronically: Go to the Federal eRulemaking Portal: http://www.regulations.gov. In the Search box, enter FWS–R2–ES–2012–0071, which is the docket number for this rulemaking. You may submit a comment by clicking on “Comment Now!”
(2) By hard copy: Submit by U.S. mail or hand-delivery to: Public Comments Processing, Attn: FWS–R2–ES–2012–0071; Division of Policy and Directives Management; U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service; 4401 N. Fairfax Drive, MS 2042–PDM; Arlington, VA 22203.
Service Announces Availability of Draft Economic Analysis for Three Endangered Comal Invertebrates
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) today released an analysis that estimates the cost related to the revised proposed critical habitat for the Comal Springs dryopid beetle, Comal Springs riffle beetle and Peck’s cave amphipod over the next 20 years. In addition, the Service is announcing the reopening of the comment period for 30 days to allow all interested parties the opportunity to comment on the draft economic analysis, the amended determinations sections and the revised proposed critical habitat rule.
The Service will hold a public informational meeting followed by a public hearing on Friday, May 17, 2013, at the San Marcos Activity Center. The informational meeting will be held from 5:30 p.m. - 6:30 p.m. followed by a break and then the public hearing will be held from 7:00 p.m. – 8:30 p.m.
Representatives of FWS, USFS, NMDGF, AZGFD Honored with Extraordinary Action Award
April 2013 Several agencies, including the Fish and Wildlife Service, are being recognized by The National Fish Habitat Board for their cooperative effort to successfully rescue, conserve and protect critical populations of Gila Trout within the Gila Wilderness damaged by the devastating Whitewater–Baldy Complex forest fire in New Mexico in 2012.
This was an amazing effort that spanned seven agencies across two states. Over 40 individuals assisted in this effort to conserve fish and set their sights on working to restore habitat damaged by the fire. The project was successful due to the incredible coordination and dedicated biologists, especially ground crews in NM that traveled on the forest immediately after the fire.
Mules carrying two wolves into Gila Wilderness for eventual release. Photo credit: USFWS.
Two Pairs of Mexican Wolves to be Released
April 2013 The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) and the Arizona Game and Fish Department (AGFD) will release a pair of Mexican wolves into the Blue Range Wolf Recovery Area of Arizona. In a separate action, the Service will also release a second pair of Mexican wolves into the wolf recovery area in New Mexico. Both pairs, selected to increase genetic diversity of the wild wolf population, were previously held at the Service’s Sevilleta National Wildlife Refuge Wolf Management Facility where they have undergone an acclimation process to determine that they are suitable release candidates.
Wolf being examined for release into Apache National Forest.
Photo credit: USFWS.
“We continue to be committed to strategic releases that improve genetic diversity, increase the number of breeding wolves, and offset illegal mortalities in the Blue Range Wolf Recovery Area,” said Benjamin Tuggle, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Southwest Regional Director. “We’re excited to be working with our partners on this simultaneous release of Mexican wolves in Arizona and New Mexico. This dual release is another step that helps us reach our goal of a self-sustaining wild wolf population.”
A joint investigation by the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service led to charges of illegal possession of a bald eagle. On April 23, 2013, the United States Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Oklahoma issued a news release announcing that Charles McFadden, of Westville, Oklahoma, was sentenced to a $1,000 fine, and a one year of probation for possession of a Bald Eagle, in violation of Title 16, United States Code, Section 668(a).
City of Austin Requests Amendment to the BartonSprings Pool Habitat Conservation Plan
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) is announcing the availability of the draft Environmental Assessment (dEA) and the draft amendment to the Barton Springs Pool Habitat Conservation Plan (BSPHCP) and requesting public review and comment. The City of Austin (Applicant) has applied to amend their existing incidental take permit (ITP) to include the proposed endangered Austin blind salamander, increase the amount of take for the Barton Springs salamander and extend their current permit for 20 years.
The City of Austin’s renewed ITP with a major amendment, if granted, would authorize the incidental take of the endangered Barton Springs salamander and the proposed endangered Austin Blind salamander. The proposed incidental take would result from activities associated with recreation, operations, maintenance and restoration at Barton Springs Pool, Old Mill Spring, Eliza Spring and Upper Barton Spring. The Service’s dEA evaluates the impacts of, and alternatives to, the possible issuance of an incidental take permit covering the City of Austin’s activities at the Barton Springs Pool.
Service Announces Availability of Draft Economic Analysis for Two East Texas Plants
April 2013 The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) today released an analysis that estimates the cost related to the proposed critical habitat for the Texas golden gladecress and the Neches River rose-mallow over the next 20 years. In addition, the Service is announcing the reopening of the comment period for 30 days to allow all interested parties the opportunity to comment on the draft economic analysis, the amended determinations sections and the proposed rules.
On September 11, 2012, the Service proposed to list the Texas golden gladecress as endangered and the Neches River rose-mallow as threatened under the Endangered Species Act. The Service also proposed to designate approximately 1,353 acres as critical habitat for the Texas golden gladecress and approximately 167 acres as critical habitat for the Neches River rose-mallow in East Texas.
The Service will hold a public informational meeting followed by a public hearing on Wednesday, May 1, 2013, in the Kennedy Auditorium at Stephen F. Austin State University, 1906 Alumni Drive S., Nacogdoches, Texas. The informational meeting will be held from 5:30 p.m. - 6:30 p.m. followed by a break and the public hearing will be held from 7:00 p.m. – 8:30 p.m.
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Determines Permit for Limited Take of Golden Eagles Would be Compatible With Their Preservation
April 2013 The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) has completed an amended Final Environmental Assessment and Finding of No Significant Impact regarding the issuance of a permit to the Hopi Tribe for take of nestling golden eagles in 2013 for tribal religious purposes. The take would occur at traditional sacred sites in northeastern Arizona.
Grant Harris, Division of Biological Sciences Chief, receives the Science Leadership Award from Dr. Benjamin Tuggle, Southwest Regional Director, USFWS. Photo credit: USFWS.
Grant Harris of the Southwest Region Wins the 2012 Science Leadership Award
April 2013 The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s 2012 Scientific Leadership Award goes to Grant Harris, the Southwest Region’s Chief of Biological Sciences. Harris took over the Chief role in 2010 when the Biological Services group consisted of only two half-time staff members. Now the group encompasses a scientific team of 12 and growing.
The Science Awards were established to recognize that effective wildlife management and conservation is founded on innovative scientific inquiry and principles.
Sea Turtle Nesting Season Begins Again on the Texas Coast Public Asked to be Observant
April 2013 This year’s sea turtle nesting season began on April 1, 2013. Last year, the number of Kemp’s ridley sea turtle nests found in Texas rose to 209 from 199 in 2011 and 141 in 2010. Biologists want to stress the importance of locating and protecting every sea turtle nest on the Texas Gulf Coast. By keeping an eye out for Kemp’s ridley sea turtles on the Texas coast you can help protect the most critically endangered sea turtle in the world.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service), the National Park Service, NOAA Fisheries, Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, Texas A&M University at Galveston, UT Marine Science Institute’s ARK in Port Aransas, and Sea Turtle Inc on South Padre Island work together to coordinate the response when a nesting sea turtle or sea turtle nest is found. Efforts will be on-going during nesting season to find and protect the nesting turtles and their eggs, to ensure their survival and continued population growth. Biologists and volunteers will be patrolling Texas Gulf beaches daily from April through July. Patrols will be held during the day since these two-foot-long turtles come ashore for nesting mostly during daylight hours. Other species of turtles occasionally nest at night along the Texas coast.
The Gierisch mallow is a perennial, flowering plant that is only found on gypsum outcrops in northern Mohave County, Arizona and closely adjacent Washington County, Utah. Photo credit: Lee Hughes, BLM.
Service Seeks Additional Input on Proposal to Protect Arizona-Utah Plant
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has reopened the comment period on its proposal to protect the Gierisch mallow as endangered under the Endangered Species Act and identify areas important to the species’ recovery. The Service is also requesting input on a draft economic analysis and draft environment assessment that will help inform its critical habitat decision.
Protection Proposed for Two Arizona Cacti – Additional Information Sought
April 2013 The acuña cactus, a small spherical cactus that occurs in valleys and on small knolls and gravel ridges in southern Arizona, and the quarter-sized Fickeisen plains cactus of northern Arizona have been proposed for Endangered Species Act protection. The Service is requesting information on the plants and input on a draft economic analysis that will help inform its critical habitat decision.
Service Determines that Rosemont talussnail Does Not Warrant Endangered Species Act Protection
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced today it has completed a status review of the Rosemont talussnail and concluded it is not a valid species and therefore does not warrant protection under the Endangered Species Act. It is being removed from the list of candidate species.
Celebrating 15 Years of the Return of the Mexican Wolf
On March 29, 1998, eleven Mexican wolves were released into the wilds of the Blue Range Wolf Recovery Area of Arizona and New Mexico. These captive born and reared wolves were descendants of the last known remaining Mexican wolves, and were the vanguard of the now growing number of Mexican wolves in the wild
Protected under the Endangered Species Act since 1976, recovery of this unique member of the gray wolf family began with a bi-national captive breeding program between Mexico and the United States, initiated with the capture of the last remaining Mexican wolves in the wild in Mexico in 1977 – 1980, and subsequent addition of a few Mexican wolves that were already in captivity. Through
Mexican wolf release. Photo credit: ADGF.
the breeding of the 7 founding wolves and generations of their offspring, the captive population has expanded to nearly 260 wolves in 52 facilities.
The success of this captive breeding program saved the Mexican wolf from extinction and made possible their reintroduction back to the wild. In the United States, collaborative efforts over the last 15 years have resulted in the most recent minimum wild population count of at least 75 Mexican wolves in Arizona and New Mexico, an all-time high. Mexico’s reintroduction effort got off to a start with the release of five wolves into the wild in 2011, marking the first time wolves roamed freely in Mexico in over 30 years.
Missouri City Man Pays Price for Illegally Possessing Bald Eagle
CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas - Sam Mathew, 53, of Missouri City, was ordered to pay the maximum fine allowed by law for illegally possessing a bald eagle based on evidence collected by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and Texas Parks and Wildlife Department. The case was prosecuted by United States Attorney.
Children enjoy a wildlife presentation at Hagerman NWR. Photo credit: USFWS.
Friends of Hagerman National Wildlife Refuge Receives U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Southwest Region Friends Award
The Friends of Hagerman National Wildlife Refuge (Friends), a Texas-based non-profit
organization, received the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Southwest Region Friends Award. Dr. Benjamin Tuggle, Regional Director for the Southwest Region, presented the Friends with the award due to their significant contributions to environmental education and outreach benefiting the Hagerman National Wildlife Refuge (NWR).
Dr. Benjamin Tuggle congratulates the Friends of Hagerman NWR on their award. Credit: USFWS.
Tuggle said, “At a time when partnerships are paramount, organizations like the Friends of Hagerman NWR are one of the most important allies in the National Wildlife Refuge System’s wildlife conservation effort.”
Dallas Man Convicted and Fined for Killing Whooping Crane Only Fifth Known Case in Nearly 45 Years
CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas – Worthey D. Wiles, 42, of Dallas, entered a plea of guilty and was sentenced for killing a whooping crane, United States Attorney Kenneth Magidson and Nick Chavez, special agent in charge of U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's (FWS) Southwest Region, announced on March 7.
New Mexico Man Sentenced to Probation and Fined $2,500 for Trespassing on a National Wildlife Refuge During Oryx Hunt
ALBUQUERQUE – Kenneth Espinosa, 46, of Ruidoso, N.M., was sentenced this morning to a year of probation and ordered to pay a $2,500 fine for trespassing on the San Andres National Wildlife Refuge. Espinosa’s sentence was announced by U.S. Attorney Kenneth J. Gonzales and Nicholas E. Chavez, Special Agent in Charge of the Southwest Region, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Office of Law Enforcement.
Pollinator Dynasty for the Southwest Region! Region 2 Finishes First for the Second Year in a Row in the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s National Pollinator Challenge
Region 2, with over 20 field stations participating in the 2012 Pollinator Challenge, has once again won this Service wide competition. Regions 4 and 8 followed closely behind for second and third place. Cabeza Prieta National Wildlife Refuge in Arizona tallied the most points in Region 2, followed closely by the Texas Partners Program based in the Corpus Christi & Austin Ecological Services Field Offices.
Arizona Man Sentenced for Illegally Selling Golden Eagle and Other Migratory Bird Parts
Patrick Scott, 47, of Tuba City, Arizona, was sentenced in Phoenix yesterday to 30 days in prison, five months home confinement, one year supervised release and a $2,000 fine for illegally selling golden eagle and other migratory bird parts, a felony criminal offense. The investigation leading to Mr. Scott's conviction was conducted by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Office of Law Enforcement in coordination with the Navajo Fish and Wildlife Division of Natural Resources. The case was prosecuted by the Environmental Crimes Section of the Justice Department and the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Arizona.
Whooping Cranes. Photo credit: USFWS, Steve Sykes.
2012-2013 Winter Whooping Crane Survey Results
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) Winter Whooping Crane Survey (survey) estimates there are a total of 279 whooping cranes, including 257 found within the primary wintering grounds and 22 beyond that area. During December, Service personnel conducted seven surveys of the primary wintering grounds of the Aransas-Wood Buffalo flock, the last remaining wild flock of whooping cranes. With the help of the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department’s Texas Whooper Watch and other observers, documented sightings during that same time frame suggest there were at least 22 additional whooping cranes found outside the primary wintering grounds.
Last year, the survey estimated a total of 267 whooping cranes in the wild, including 254 on the primary wintering grounds and 13 beyond.
Collin County Man Guilty Of Customs Violations Chinese national attempted to smuggle ivory falsely labeled as “wood carvings”
SHERMAN, Texas – A 44-year-old Plano, Texas man has pleaded guilty to negligently attempting to smuggle ivory carvings from the United States, announced U.S. Attorney John M. Bales today. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's Office of Law Enforcement conducted the investigation of the case, along with law enforcement officers from partnering agencies.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Southwest Region proudly celebrates the 50th anniversary of the Anahuac National Wildlife Refuge. Established in 1963, the 34,000-acre refuge is part of the National Wildlife Refuge System, a national network of lands and waters set aside for the benefit of wildlife and you. The management focus of the refuge (and its companion refuges, McFaddin and Texas Point) is to protect and manage the coastal marsh for migrating, wintering and breeding waterfowl, shorebirds and waterbirds, and provide strategic and crucial nesting areas for the neotropical migratory songbirds migrating across the Gulf of Mexico. Watch for details on the celebration later this month, or contact the Refuge for more information.
Winnie Depot Maintenance Facility Opens Its Doors!
It is with great pride that we announce a dedication ceremony in recognition of the Winnie Depot. The ceremony will be held on Wednesday, February 20. The story behind this facility is a compelling one. On September 13, 2008, Hurricane Ike (Category 4) made landfall near Galveston, Texas, with maximum wind speeds of 145 mph, storm surge of over 20 feet, 103 fatalities, and 37.5 billion in damage. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Southwest Region was hit particularly hard by Hurricane Ike. All of the National Wildlife Refuges within our Texas Chenier Plains Refuge Complex were badly damaged. Every one of the facilities at our Anahuac, McFaddin and Texas Point National Wildlife Refuges were leveled, leaving only debris at those sites. Getting our Texas coast refuges up and functional again was vital – both in terms of our mission critical wildlife and habitat management priorities. As we looked at the Texas Chenier Plain Refuge Complex as a whole, we took a broader view and developed an innovative approach to maintenance and fire needs. We considered efficiencies and recognized that we could provide maintenance service more effectively to all four refuges in the Texas Chenier Plains R efuge Complex by establishing a zoned maintenance facility. We also set out to find a centralized site where a facility for maintenance and fire operations for all four refuges could be located. We determined that the perfect location is near Winnie, Texas, where the facility now stands. The Design-Build, Construction Consulting Services Multiple Award Task Order Contract delivery approach for planning, design and construction makes the Winnie Depot one of the most successful contracted projects in our region.
Tree planting crew: about 2 dozen staff from the Southwest Regional office, Sevilleta NWR, and members of the New Mexico Invasive Species Strike Team, University of New Mexico and volunteers. - Photo Credit: USFWS
Riparian Restoration at Sevilleta NWR
On February 13, 2013, Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) employees, volunteers and interns spent all day planting trees at Sevilleta National Wildlife Refuge (NWR)! There were a total of 2,071 trees planted as part of an on-going riparian restoration project along the Rio Grande.
This area had been overrun by tamarisk, an invasive non-native plant, and then cleared a few years ago. For this year's restoration efforts, one of the refuge employees drilled about 2,000 holes with a bobcat and auger over several days before the event. Meanwhile, several Service employees from Sevilleta NWR, the New Mexico Invasive Strike Team and the Los Lunas Inmate Work Camp crew harvested about 2,000 Gooding's willow poles from within the previously planted area adjacent to the new planting site.
Edwards Aquifer. Photo credit: Courtesy of the Edwards Aquifer Authority.
Service Approves Edwards Aquifer Recovery Implementation Program's Incidental Take Permit
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has approved the Edwards Aquifer Recovery Implementation Program’s (EARIP) Habitat Conservation Plan (HCP) and incidental take permit for the EARIP. The notice of availability of the final Environmental Impact Statement (fEIS) and an incidental take permit for the Edwards Aquifer Recovery Implementation Program (EARIP), including the Habitat Conservation Plan will publish in today’s Federal Register.
Photo credit: Courtesy of the Edwards Aquifer Authority.
The Edwards Aquifer Recovery Implementation Program’s HCP is the result of a successful consensus based collaborative effort by a diverse group of more than forty groups and individuals from south central Texas to address the conservation needs of eight listed species and the needs of the communities’ dependent upon the Edwards Aquifer. Issuance of this incidental take permit will enable the Edwards Aquifer Authority; San Antonio Water Systems; the City of New Braunfels, Texas; the City of San Marcos, Texas; and Texas State University (collectively the Applicants) to continue their projects and operations, while preserving protected species and their habitat.
Service Announces the Availability of a Draft Economic Analysis and Draft Environmental Assessment for the Proposed Designation of Critical Habitat for the Jemez Mountains Salamander
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) is announcing the availability of a draft economic analysis and draft environmental assessment of the proposed designation of critical habitat for the Jemez Mountains salamander, and the reopening of the public comment period on the September 12, 2012, proposed endangered status for the Jemez Mountains salamander and proposed designation of critical habitat under the Endangered Species Act.
The Service is also announcing an amended required determinations section of the proposal. The Service is proposing minor amendments to the proposed critical habitat units based on updated mapping data. In addition, the Service is proposing minor changes to clarify the primary constituent elements. The Service is reopening the comment period to allow all interested parties an opportunity to comment simultaneously on the proposed rule, the associated draft economic analysis and draft environmental assessment, the amended required determinations section, and the proposed changes to the primary constituent elements and critical habitat units described in this document.
Woodland Caribou, painted by Sky Waters from Minnesota, was selected as the grand prize winner of the 2012 Endangered Species Day Youth Art Contest. Photo credit: Endangered Species Coalition.
Service Announces Annual Endangered Species Day Youth Art Contest!
Parents, teachers, and scout leaders tell your kids to start the drawing engines and participate in the annual Endangered Species Day Youth Art Contest! Entries must be postmarked by March 15, 2013. The Youth Art Contest provides students from kindergarten to high school with an opportunity to learn about threatened and endangered species and express their knowledge and support through artwork. Organized by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the Endangered Species Coalition, the Association of Zoos and Aquariums, and the International Child Art Foundation, the art contest is an integral part of the eighth annual national Endangered Species Day on May 17, 2013.
Deputy Director for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Rowan Gould speaks to students. Photo credit: USFWS.
Conservation Career Symposium Held in Albuquerque
Select Graduate and undergrad students from across the country were invited to attend the Southwest Conservation Career Symposium in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Students had a chance to meet with top professionals in Natural Resource and the Biological Sciences and participate in an outdoor classroom environment at the Beccechi Open Space adjacent to the Rio Grande bosque and Rio Grande Valley State Park.
Mexican wolf being brought to Alpine facility for processing during 2012 pop count. Photo credit: USFWS.
2012 Mexican Wolf Population Survey Complete - Numbers Up from 2011
During its annual year-end surveys, the Mexican wolf Interagency Field Team (IFT) counted at least 75 Mexican wolves in the wild in Arizona and New Mexico at the end of 2012. Compared to the 2011 minimum population count of 58 wolves, this number demonstrates an increase in the known population in the wild.
Arizona Navajo Man Sentenced for Violating Migratory Bird Treaty Act
Daniel Chee Walley, 47, a member of the Navajo Nation from Chambers, Ariz., was sentenced this afternoon for violating the Migratory Bird Treaty Act, announced U.S. Attorney Kenneth J. Gonzales and Nicholas E. Chavez, Special Agent in Charge of the Southwest Region, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Office of Law Enforcement.
Scottsdale Man Sentenced for Stealing Cacti from Public Lands
PHOENIX – On Jan. 28, 2013, Kenneth Brian Cobb, 46, of Scottsdale, Ariz., was sentenced by U.S. District Judge Roslyn O. Silver to five years supervised probation with eight months of weekend incarceration and was ordered to pay $32,000 in restitution. Cobb pleaded guilty on Sept. 10, 2012, to theft of government property and a violation of the Endangered Species Act.
Federal Grand Jury Indicts Two Utah Men for Violating Migratory Bird Treaty Act
A federal grand jury sitting in Albuquerque has indicted two men from Bluff, Utah, for violating the Migratory BirdTreaty Act, announced U.S. Attorney Kenneth J. Gonzales and Nicholas E. Chavez, Special Agent in Charge of the Southwest Region, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Office of Law Enforcement.
USFWS Wildlife and Sports Fish Restoration Program Has Generated $14 Billion for Conservation from Hunters and Anglers
The U.S Fish and Wildlife Service has released a landmark publication celebrating the 75th Anniversary of the Wildlife and Sport Fish Restoration Program, the cornerstone of fish and wildlife conservation in North America. This vital program provides more than $700 million each year through the sale of hunting and fishing equipment to support habitat conservation and outdoor recreation projects across the nation.
ESA 40th Anniversary Celebration
Photo credit USFWS.
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Begins Commemoration of 40th Anniversary of the Endangered Species Act
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service will honor the 40th Anniversary of the Endangered Species Act with a year-long commemoration of the Act that has been so successful in stabilizing populations of species at risk, preventing the extinction of many others and conserving the habitats upon which they depend. The Service launched a dedicated web site spotlighting the history and accomplishments of efforts to protect and recover America’s threatened and endangered species under the Endangered Species Act, found at www.fws.gov/endangered/ESA40/index.html.
FWS staff and partners attach planks to the Pelican Island walkway commemorating the establishment of two new refuges in the Southwest.
Photo credit USFWS.
Commemoration Ceremony at Pelican Island Walkway Includes Recognition of Two Newly Named Refuges in the Southwest - Valle del Oro and Rio Mora
Friday, January 11, 2013, Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar celebrated the establishment of six new national wildlife refuge units during the past year by laying commemorative planks on a walkway at Pelican Island National Wildlife Refuge, the nation’s first refuge. “Each time we establish a new national wildlife refuge, we set aside a treasured landscape, conserving our priceless fish and wildlife and their habitat not only for this generation but for future generations,” said Salazar. “We also provide a place for people to connect with nature through fishing, hunting, hiking and other outdoor recreation. This not only restores the spirit and refreshes the mind but also supports economic growth and jobs in local communities.” During the ceremony, Salazar added planks to the walkway that now commemorates all 561 national wildlife refuges. This included planks in recognition of two recently named refuges in the Southwest: Valle del Oro National Wildlife Refuge and Rio Mora National Wildlife Refuge and Conservation Area.
After the investigation, the Coastal Research Laboratory identified the rescued turtle as a Green Sea Turtle. Photo credit: USFWS.
Narcotics Seizure and Arrest Leads to Recovery of Green Sea Turtle
January 8, 2013, Texas - Following an execution of a search warrant for narcotics by the Harlingen Police Department, there was discovery of an unlawful possession of an endangered species. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service worked with the local police to recover an endangered Green Sea Turtle and to issue a citation for an Endangered Species Act Violation to one of the individuals already in custody.
Feathers from 15 different migratory bird species were seized during the search. Photo credit: USFWS.
Wildlife Trafficking Investigation Leads to Five Year Sentence for Possession of Child Pornography and Trafficking in Wildlife
On December 20, 2012, Emerson Austin, 36, of Leesville, La., was sentenced to serve five years in federal prison for possession of child pornography and five years in prison for trafficking in wildlife, to run concurrent. On March 11, 2009, law enforcement officers executed a search warrant at Austin’s residence for the purpose of obtaining information related to wildlife trafficking. During the search, officers found a significant amount of hard core child pornography. Additionally, feathers from 15 different migratory bird species were seized. The case was investigated by the United States Fish & Wildlife Service and the Louisiana State Police.
New Images of a Jaguar and an Ocelot in Southern Arizona Available
An adult male jaguar and an adult male ocelot have been photographed in two separate southern Arizona mountain ranges by automated wildlife monitoring cameras. The images were collected as part of the Jaguar Survey and Monitoring Project led by the University of Arizona. Both animals appear to be in good health.
Victoria Jury Convicts Missouri City Man of Illegal Possession of Bald Eagle
VICTORIA, Texas - Sam Mathew, 53, of Missouri City, has been convicted of illegally possessing a bald eagle, United States Attorney Kenneth Magidson announced today. Mathew was indicted in May of this year for one count of violating The Migratory Bird Treaty Act (MBTA). The jury returned its verdict late yesterday after two days of trial and approximately an hour of deliberations. The case was investigated by agents from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and Texas Parks and Wildlife Department.
Tamara Kurey poses with the fish she caught. Photo credit: Tamara Kurey.
Southwest Regional Director on the Wounded Warrior Project
In the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s (Service) Southwest Region, we have partnered with Wounded Warrior Project to provide internships to any member of the military cleared to participate. These Wounded Warriors serve our country with honor and distinction, and now it is our privilege to host them in our offices and field stations as they gain work experience that will enable them to re-enter the workforce.
Secreatry Salazar announces two new wildlife refuges in the Southwest Region. Photo credit: Nicole Osborne, USFWS.
AMERICA’S GREAT OUTDOORS: Salazar Dedicates Two National Wildlife Refuges in New Mexico Valle de Oro and Rio Mora Become Nation’s 559th and 560th National Wildlife Refuges
Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar today dedicated the Valle de Oro National Wildlife Refuge in Albuquerque, making it the first urban refuge in the Southwest and one of a handful across the nation. Later today, Salazar will travel to Wind River Ranch near Mora, New Mexico for a signing ceremony establishing the Rio Mora National Wildlife Refuge and Conservation Area on over 4,200 acres donated by the Thaw Charitable Trust.
The Secretary will announce the name of the urban refuge in Albuquerque on Thursday, September 27, funded in great part by local agencies, non-profits and the Bernalillo County, with a check of $5 million. Photo credit: USFWS.
Salazar Makes Announcements on National Wildlife Refuges During Trip to New Mexico
Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar travels to New Mexico to make a major announcement on conservation efforts underway on the Middle Rio Grande in Albuquerque and the proposed Rio Mora National Wildlife Refuge in Watrous. Both of these partnership driven efforts are examples of diverse approaches taken to protect lands for conservation benefit and engage youth in outdoor education and recreation.
Fire burns through 300,000 acres of the Gila Wilderness Area of southwestern New Mexico. Photo credit: USFWS.
Heroic Efforts Save Fish Caught in the Whitewater Baldy Complex Fire
The Whitewater Baldy Wildfire Complex was ignited by lightning in May 2012, burning through 300,000 acres of the Gila Wilderness Area of southwestern New Mexico, and causing a major problem for threatened and endangered fish in its path. The fire was fought by 35 engines, 27 water tenders, four dozers, 10 helicopters, 12 mules and 900 people. Fish were airlifted out of the wilderness or captured in lower elevation habitats.
Rescued fish were then sent to waiting facilities at the Mora National Fish Hatchery, the New Mexico Fish and Wildlife Conservation Office, Dexter National Fish Hatchery, and to habitats outside the reach of the wildfire in Ash Creek on the Coronado National Forest in southeastern Arizona. The fire affected eight out of the 14 populations of Gila trout, two core populations of spike dace and loach minnow, and the two largest populations of Gila and headwater chubs. After weeks of work, 438 Gila trout, 167 loach minnow, 267 spikedace, and 323 chubs were brought to safety.