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Director's Corner

Meet Service Director Dan Ashe.

We Can, and Must, Help Natural World Adapt to Climate Change

The National Climate Assessment released a few weeks ago puts it bluntly.

“Evidence for climate change abounds, from the top of the atmosphere to the depths of the oceans. Scientists and engineers from around the world have meticulously collected this evidence, using satellites and networks of weather balloons, thermometers, buoys, and other observing systems. Evidence of climate change is also visible in the observed and measured changes in location and behavior of species and functioning of ecosystems. Taken together, this evidence tells an unambiguous story: the planet is warming, and over the last half century, this warming has been driven primarily by human activity.”

The scientific debate over whether climate change is disrupting the natural systems that support life on Earth is over. But two questions remain to be answered by human society: How catastrophic will the effects of this disruption be if we do nothing? And what can be done to avert the worst impacts?

 Neal Smith NWR
Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell (second from left) learns about the work going on at Neal Smith National Wildlife Refuge in Iowa. Photo by Doreen VanRyswyk/USFWS.

Fortunately, we still have time to act to help wildlife and natural systems cope with a rapidly changing climate – and to protect the web of life that sustains the Earth’s human population.


Counting Ducks and Their Habitats from the Skies

Did you know we have a dedicated group of pilot biologists? Today, Jerome Ford, our Assistant Director for Migratory Birds, tells about one of their important jobs:

The 2014 Waterfowl Breeding Population and Habitat Survey has begun! Our pilot biologists and their on-board observers are taking to the skies with support from crews on the ground. The pilots have a bird’s eye view from 150 feet in the air as they fly throughout Canada and the northern United States. They fly more than 55,000 miles every year, over lakes, rivers, marshes and other wetlands counting ducks, geese and swans — a distance equivalent to more than  two times around the world!


Habitat in southwestern South Dakota. You can follow our effort to conserve the prairie at #ConserveThePrairies. Photo by Brenda Kelly/USFWS

Early reports from the pilot biologists and their crews are promising. Alberta received good snowpack during the winter, and it appears much of the melt accumulated and renewed many of the wetlands. The conditions seem very good, and duck numbers are coming in above average. In southern Manitoba and southeastern Saskatchewan, conditions look excellent, and the pilots have noticed how much more water is around this year compared to last year. In southern Saskatchewan, pilots are seeing more green-winged teal than last year, while western South Dakota is yielding good numbers of gadwall, blue-winged teal, mallard and northern shoveler, with a scattering of pintail.


Endangered Species Day: A Celebration of Success

We can all be part of local Endangered Species Day events that will educate and motivate others, and we can all work to further the recovery of endangered, threatened and at-risk species.

Today, May 16, is Endangered Species Day, and it is a day to celebrate the amazing conservation successes of the Endangered Species Act (ESA), one of our most vital tools for protecting our nation’s endangered, threatened and at-risk species. 

Our nation’s rich diversity of fish, wildlife, and plant resources symbolizes America’s richness and promise. If we do great harm to the environment in pursuing our ambitions for wealth today, then we run the risk of impoverishing our children and grandchildren tomorrow – not to mention ourselves. 

The ESA represents a firm commitment to safeguard our natural resources not only for future generations but also for the many benefits we gain from healthy ecosystems. 

Fla panther

The Florida panther was federally listed as an endangered species in 1967 and ultimately under the Endangered Species Act of 1973. Photo by Larry Richardson/USFWS

And guard our resources it has. The ESA is credited with saving 99 percent of those species listed from extinction. 


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