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Stories from the Home Page

West Indian manatee. Credit: S. Whitcraft / USFWS
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Service to Reclassify West Indian Manatee from Endangered to Threatened

January 7, 2016

The future looks a little bit brighter for the West Indian manatee, with populations recovering from historic lows. There is still more to be done to recover this fascinating mammal, but in recognition of the improvements so far, we have proposed downlisting it from Endangered to Threatened under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). That means ESA protections will remain in place, but its listing status will better reflect its condition in the wild.

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West Indian manatee. Credit: S. Whitcraft / USFWS
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One of the largest conservation efforts in U.S. history kept the greater sage-grouse off the List of Endangered and Threatened Wildlife. Credit: Jeannie Stafford / USFWS
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Endangered Species Act Moments in 2015 Worth Revisiting

December 31, 2015

The Endangered Species Act shone in 2015, helping threatened and endangered species across the globe. These milestones reaffirm both the importance of the act and our commitment to working with partners to conserve imperiled animals, plants and their habitats.

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One of the largest conservation efforts in U.S. history kept the greater sage-grouse off the List of Endangered and Threatened Wildlife. Credit: Jeannie Stafford / USFWS
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Salmon Camp Director Kari Eschenbacher joins Payton Callahan (fourth from left, back row) and other campers. Credit: Nicci Condon / USFWS
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Science Trumps Swing Set

December 30, 2015

What would compel a third-grader to skip the swing sets and spend recess chatting with a substitute teacher? All it takes is a teacher who doubles as director for Salmon Camp at Kodiak National Wildlife Refuge in Alaska and a student who spent part of her summer at the popular science camp.

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Salmon Camp Director Kari Eschenbacher joins Payton Callahan (fourth from left, back row) and other campers. Credit: Nicci Condon / USFWS
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Service Releases 2015 List of Candidates for Endangered Species Act Protection

December 23, 2015

The Service today released the Candidate Notice of Review, a yearly status appraisal of plants and animals that are candidates for Endangered Species Act protection. Two species were removed from the list, and two changed in priority from the last review, conducted in December 2014, including the whitebark pine and Hirst Brothers' panic grass. There are now 60 species recognized by the Service as candidates for ESA protection.

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Rehabilitated arapaima in Shedd Aquarium's care. Credit: Brenna Hernandez / Shedd Aquarium
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Wildlife Trafficking: What Happens to Confiscated Animals?

December 21, 2015

When people think of wildlife trafficking, they often think of elephant ivory or rhino horn. But trafficking in live animals is also devastating – it not only removes species from their native habitat but also can leave officials with wildlife in need of rescue. In August, the Service turned to Chicago’s Shedd Aquarium to help with more than 100 confiscated arapaima, one of the world’s largest freshwater fishes.

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Rehabilitated arapaima in Shedd Aquarium's care. Credit: Brenna Hernandez / Shedd Aquarium
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Pair of male lions. Credit: Heidi Ruffler / USFWS
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ESA Listing Protects Lions in Africa and India, Director’s Order Strengthens Wildlife Import Restrictions for Wildlife Law Violators

December 21, 2015

n response to the dramatic decline of lion populations in the wild, the Service today announced it will list two lion subspecies under the Endangered Species Act. Panthera leo leo, located in India and western and central Africa, will be listed as endangered, and Panthera leo melanochaita, located in eastern and southern Africa, will be listed as threatened. Lion populations have declined by 43 percent due to habitat loss, loss of prey base, and retaliatory killing of lions by humans. Service Director Dan Ashe also issued a Director’s Order to ensure violators of wildlife laws are not subsequently granted permits for future wildlife-related activities, including the import of sport-hunted trophies.

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Pair of male lions. Credit: Heidi Ruffler / USFWS
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Examples of rhino horns seized during Operation Crash. Credit: USFWS
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Rhino Horn Trafficker Sentenced to One Year in Prison

December 17, 2015

A San Francisco art dealer was sentenced and fined Dec. 16 for his role in the illegal sale of black rhino horns. He was brought to justice as part of Operation Crash, an ongoing investigation targeting illegal trafficking of rhino horn and elephant ivory. A “crash” is the term for a herd of rhinoceros. As of November 2015, more than 20 subjects have been prosecuted and sentenced, and forfeiture and restitution amounts have totaled $5.5 million as a result of Operation Crash, which is being conducted by the Service and other federal and local law enforcement agencies.

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Examples of rhino horns seized during Operation Crash. Credit: USFWS
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The Northern Distinct Population Segment of the mountain yellow-legged frog was listed as endangered in 2014. More than 90 percent of the population has disappeared. Credit: Isaac Chellman / NPS
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Biologists Team up with Zoos to Save Frogs on Brink of Extinction

December 16, 2015

Critically endangered tadpoles emergency evacuated from Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks in California and transported to Oakland Zoo and San Francisco Zoo over the summer have successfully morphed into healthy mountain yellow-legged frogs. Non-native trout and a deadly disease have decimated the frog. The Service, National Park Service and the worked together on this effort, and the goal is to release the frogs back into the parks in the summer.

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The Northern Distinct Population Segment of the mountain yellow-legged frog was listed as endangered in 2014. More than 90 percent of the population has disappeared. Credit: Isaac Chellman / NPS
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Gila topminnows. Credit: Courtesy George Andrejko / Arizona Game and Fish Department
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Endangered Fish Rediscovered in Arizona’s Santa Cruz River

December 10, 2015

After a 10-year absence, the Gila topminnow has returned to the Santa Cruz River in southern Arizona. Last month, researchers found the native Arizona species, listed under the Endangered Species Act in 1967, in the river near the U.S.-Mexico border during the annual fish survey. The fish’s return demonstrates the role of recycled wastewater in ecosystem recovery.

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Gila topminnows. Credit: Courtesy George Andrejko / Arizona Game and Fish Department
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Canada geese. Credit: USFWS
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Service Proposes Liberal Framework for Migratory Game Bird Hunting Seasons

December 10, 2015

Steady or improving population numbers have allowed the Service to propose continued liberal game bird hunting seasons and bag limits for 2016-17. A new process for setting these frameworks streamlines regulatory practices and gives biologists more time to analyze bird survey data. Each year, the Service works with states to establish frameworks for hunting season lengths, dates and bag limits.

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Canada geese. Credit: USFWS
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USFWS oil and gas specialist inspects an oil production site at the Lower Rio Grande Valley National Wildlife Refuge in Texas. Credit: USFWS
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Service Proposes Improvements to 50 Year-old Regulations Governing Oil and Gas Development on Refuge System Lands

December 10, 2015

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service today announced a proposed rule and draft environmental impact statement to update 50 year-old regulations governing the management of non-federal oil and gas development on National Wildlife Refuge System lands. The proposed revisions continue to allow for the responsible extraction of oil and gas, but require closer adherence to industry best management practices – especially with respect to abandoned infrastructure and debris. The regulations will reduce refuge impacts, including habitat loss and degradation, wildlife mortality and displacement, and other risks to ecological integrity.

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USFWS oil and gas specialist inspects an oil production site at the Lower Rio Grande Valley National Wildlife Refuge in Texas. Credit: USFWS
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Kids on snowshoes at Minnesota Valley National Wildlife Refuge. Credit: USFWS
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Scenic Snow Trails You’ll Love at National Wildlife Refuges

December 9, 2015

Here’s a cure for winter blues: Explore scenic nature trails by snowshoe or cross-country ski at a national wildlife refuge. Some refuges lend you the equipment free. Look for animal tracks – easy to spot in the snow – and occasional wildlife sightings. For maps or more detailed trail descriptions, contact the refuges.

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Kids on snowshoes at Minnesota Valley National Wildlife Refuge. Credit: USFWS
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White pelicans wintering at J.N. Ding Darling National Wildlife Refuge in Florida. Credit: USFWS
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National Wildlife Refuges Announce Fee-Free Days for 2016!

December 9, 2015

Get outside and enjoy some of the country’s most magical places – America’s national wildlife refuges offer unparalleled opportunities to experience the great outdoors and see a rich diversity of wildlife in beautiful natural settings. If that wasn’t enticement enough, refuges that normally charge entrance fees will offer an additional incentive — free admission on certain days in 2016. There’s at least one refuge in every state…and one within an hour’s drive of most major metropolitan areas.

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White pelicans wintering at J.N. Ding Darling National Wildlife Refuge in Florida. Credit: USFWS
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A Bornean orangutan mother and infant in Sabangau Forest. Credit: OuTrop
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Agents Arrest Two in Wildlife Smuggling Scheme

December 8, 2015

The Service-led Operation Pongo has resulted in the arrest of two men after they allegedly illegally smuggled orangutan skulls and parts of other protected wildlife into the United States. The operation name comes from the orangutan’s genus Pongo. 

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A Bornean orangutan mother and infant in Sabangau Forest. Credit: OuTrop
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One of the hunters illegally killed a grizzly bear. Credit: Steve Hillebrand / USFWS
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Hunting Show Host, Others Plead Guilty in Multi-year Poaching Operation in Alaska

December 2, 2015

Syndicate TV show host Clark Dixon recently pleaded guilty to two felony violations of the Lacey Act and was sentenced to 18 months in prison, a fine of $75,000, and forfeiture of 17 trophies, bows and rifles used in the illegal take of game in Alaska. Others, including his father, who forfeited an aircraft used in the illegal hunts, pleaded guilty to numerous violations of hunting laws.

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One of the hunters illegally killed a grizzly bear. Credit: Steve Hillebrand / USFWS
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