Gulf Oil Spill Early Restoration Plan Focuses on Bird and Turtle Habitat

Loggerhead Sea Turtle Hatchlings. Credit: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
Phase II proposed projects focus on restoring nesting habitat for birds and sea turtles. Response efforts resulting from the Deepwater Horizon oil spill caused injuries to this natural habitat. Loggerhead Sea Turtle Hatchlings. Credit: USFWS
November 8, 2012

Trustees overseeing the Natural Resource Damage Asessment and Restoration process for the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill have released the Deepwater Horizon Phase II Draft Early Restoration Plan & Environmental Review for public review and comment. The plan includes two proposed projects totaling about $9 million that focus on restoring nesting habitat for birds and sea turtles. Response efforts resulting from the Deepwater Horizon oil spill caused injuries to this natural habitat. U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Southeast Regional Director Cynthia Dohner, who serves as the Department of the Interior's representative on the Trustee Council, called these projects "a near-term opportunity to improve the nesting habitats of birds and turtles, two species that are integral to the Gulf Coast wildlife community.

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Refuge Study Evaluates Contaminants in Sea Ducks

Setac copyrighted logo with link to setac website.
The sea duck capture net being taken down as the ducks are removed from the trap for banding in Blue Fox Bay, Kodiak NWR. - Photo Credit: Jenna Cragg University of Victoria.

October 25, 2012

In a study initiated this summer, Kodiak Refuge biologists and Fairbanks Contaminants Program staff are evaluatingthe level of contamination in sea ducks. Blood samples were collected from 30 harlequin ducks and 21 Barrow’s goldeneye to look for polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) and trace metals (lead, selenium, mercury, cadmium, and copper) as well as to establish baseline levels. The project is specifically interested in comparing ducks banded at remote locations on the refuge to bays close to the town of Kodiak where exposure to contaminants may be higher. Kodiak is a major national port for marine vessel traffic and has a number of contaminated sites primarily as a legacy of its military history.

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Kodiak National Wildlife Refuge. Field Notes Entry - KODIAK: Refuge Study Evaluates Contaminants in Sea Ducks

Environmental Contaminants Program Ecologist Named to Professional Organization Board of Directors

Setac copyrighted logo with link to setac website.
SETAC's mission is to support the development of principles and practices for protection, enhancement and management of sustainable environmental quality and ecosystem integrity. Logo used with permission from SETAC.

September 26, 2012

Congratulations to Tom Augspurger, of the Service's Raliegh, North Carolina office, for being elected the Society of Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry (SETAC) North America Board of Directors! SETAC is a not-for-profit, global professional organization comprised of some 6,000 individual members and institutions from academia, business and government. Since 1979, the Society has provided a forum where scientists, managers and other professionals exchange information and ideas on the study, analysis and solution of environmental problems, the management and regulation of natural resources, research and development, and environmental education. Each board member will serve a 3-year term, beginning at the SETAC North America 33rd Annual Meeting, 11-15 November 2012.

Society of Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry (SETAC)

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Raleigh Ecological Services Field Office

Silent Spring - 50th Anniversary. An Essay Series

Photo of Rachel Carson. credit U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
Rachel Carson worked for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service from 1936 to 1952 and is recognized as one of the world’s foremost leaders in conservation. Credit: USFWS
September, 2012

September 2012 marks the 50th anniversary of the publication of Rachel Carson's book Silent Spring, which warned of the dangers of DDT and launched the environmental movement.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is commemorating the work of Rachel Carson, an employee of the Service for 16 years, with a series of articles on environmental contaminant issues in the Midwest.

Rachel Carson worked for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service from 1936 to 1952 and is recognized as one of the world’s foremost leaders in conservation. Her work as an educator, scientist and writer revolutionized America’s interest in environmental issues. In addition to sounding the warning about DDT in “Silent Spring,” she is remembered for her passion for the oceans and coasts, her inspiration as one of the first female scientists and government leaders, and her overall footprint on the history of conservation.

To learn more, visit Silent Spring 50th Anniversary- An Essay Series

Pollution and predators: a double whammy for tadpoles.

Photo of a Chiracahua leopard frog tadpole.
Chiricahua Leopard Frog Tadpole. Credit: Jim Rorabagh/USFWS

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

The occurrence of skeletal abnormalities in amphibians has been identified as a major source of concern, potentially linked to global amphibian declines. Whereas there have been numerous studies reporting the effects of individual factors (e.g., parasites, toxicants, predators) on the occurrence of skeletal abnormalities in amphibians, there is not agreement about specific mechanisms for this widespread phenomenon.

Copper is an important environmental pollutant. It is a primary constituent in road runoff due to vehicular brake wear, in agricultural runoff as a component or active ingredient in biocides, and a major constituent of hard rock mining waste and resultant runoff into aquatic environments.

Fish and Wildlife Service biologists recently studied how low levels of copper - below known toxicity thresholds and water quality standards - might interact with the stress caused by their predators to influence tadpole behavior. They found that both copper and predators caused the tadpoles to reduce their activity. The biologists think this reduced activity might cause greater attack rates for tadpoles in contaminated areas.

The behaviors studied experimentally provide much-needed mechanistic linkages between toxicants and predation as prime factors causing skeletal abnormalities in Alaskan wood frogs.

Environmental Health News Article | Ecosphere, (June 2011) Journal Publication

Mining Company to Pay $12.3 Million, Protect 715 Acres to Compensate for Natural Resource Damages

Environmental Contaminants Specialist, Russ MacRae, stands at mine site.  Three decomposing bird carcasses are circled to assist viewers in seeing them
Service Environmental Contaminants Specialist, Russ MacRae, at mine site. Carcasses of migratory birds are circled. Credit: USFWS

Monday, April 26, 2012

The owners of several copper mines in southwestern New Mexico and southeastern Arizona have agreed to pay $12.3 million to resolve their civil liability for natural resource damages. The damages were first documented during a successful Service Law Enforcement and Environmental Contaminants investigation that secured criminal prosecutions for the deaths of migratory birds linked to the release of sulfuric acid, metals, and other hazardous substances at the companies' mines.

The Natural Resource Damage Assessment and Restoration (NRDAR) Program

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Southwest Region NRDAR Program

Department of Justice News Release

Proposed Consent Decree (4 MB pdf)

Being Prepared for an Oil Spill at San Diego Bay National Wildlife Refuge is Essential

Boom Practice
The yellow boom barrier was placed at the mouths of each wetland on the San Diego Bay NWR to practice protecting it from oil entering from the main Sweetwater River Channel. - Photo Credit: Lisa Cox/USFWS

Monday, March 19, 2012

The San Diego Bay National Wildlife Refuge provides habitat for the federally-listed California least tern, Light-footed clapper rail and Western snowy plover as well as an endangered plant species, Salt marsh bird’s beak. Being prepared to respond to an oil spill is essential to protecting these endangered and threatened species. Recently, Federal and state agencies, and non-profit organizations, teamed up to tested a number of strategies to deal accidental spills in this area.

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Last updated: February 13, 2013