Successful Conservation Efforts Along Florida, Pacific Coasts Recognized in Revised ESA Listing of the Green Sea Turtle
Green Sea Turtle
March 20, 2015 - Today NOAA Fisheries and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service proposed reclassifying the green sea turtle under the Endangered Species Act.The proposal involves reclassifying green sea turtles into 11 Distinct Population Segments globally. This will ensure continued protections for all green sea turtles, while providing a more tailored approach for managers in addressing the specific threats that face each population. Following years of coordinated efforts in Florida and along the Pacific Coast in Mexico, nesting green sea turtle numbers have increased, leading to a recommended threatened status instead of endangered for those populations.
Endangered Species Day – May 15, 2015
ES Day Logo
On May 15, 2015 the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service will observe Endangered Species Day in order to recognize the national conservation effort to protect our nation's endangered species and their habitats.
In partnership with the Endangered Species Coalition and the Association of Zoos and Aquariums, events will be scheduled throughout the country.
Service Proposes Special Rule Focusing Protection for Northern Long-Eared Bat
Northern Long-eared Bat
Credit: Ann Forschauer
January 15, 2015 – The rapid and severe decline of the northern long-eared bat – a species important for crop pest control – prompted today's announcement proposing a special rule under the Endangered Species Act that would benefit the species while limiting the regulatory burden on the public. If finalized, the rule would apply only if the Service lists the bat as "threatened." The proposal opens a 60-day public comment period.
Service Protects Red Knot as Threatened Under the Endangered Species Act
A tagged rufa red knot in Mispillion Harbor, DE
December 9, 2014 – The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service today announced federal protection for the rufa subspecies of the red knot, a robin-sized shorebird, designating it as threatened under the Endangered Species Act. A "threatened" designation means a species is at risk of becoming endangered throughout all or a significant portion of its range.
"The red knot is a remarkable and resilient bird known to migrate thousands of miles a year from the Canadian Arctic to the southern tip of South America," said Service Director Dan Ashe. "Unfortunately, this hearty shorebird is no match for the widespread effects of emerging challenges like climate change and coastal development, coupled with the historic impacts of horseshoe crab overharvesting, which have sharply reduced its population in recent decades."
14 Juvenile Whooping Cranes Added to Louisiana's Experimental Population
December 5, 2014 – Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries (LDWF) biologists have received a fifth cohort of juvenile whooping cranes at White Lake Wetlands Conservation Area (WCA) in Gueydan. The 14 young cranes received Dec. 4 add to the state's resident population established through an LDWF species restoration project.
"As we prepare to enter year five of this project, I encourage the public to continue to support our biologists in this effort by observing these birds from a distance and reporting any sightings of injured birds or anyone attempting to harm them in any way," said LDWF Secretary Robert Barham. "We are fortunate to have a number of private landowners who have assisted us by working with our staff when the cranes roost on their property and I thank them for their participation."
Population Viability and Connectivity of the Louisiana Black Bear (Ursus americanus luteolus)
La Black Bear
November 19, 2014 – In 1992, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) granted Ursus americanus luteolus (Louisiana black bear) threatened status under the U.S. Endangered Species Act of 1973, listing loss and fragmentation of habitat as the primary threats. A study was developed by the U.S. Geological Survey in cooperation with the University of Tennessee, the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries, and the USFWS to estimate demographic rates and genetic structure of Louisiana black bear populations; evaluate relations between environmental and anthropogenic factors and demographic, genetic, and movement characteristics of Louisiana black bear populations; and develop data-driven stochastic population projection models to assess long-term persistence of individual subpopulations and the overall black bear population in Louisiana.
Data were collected with non-invasive DNA sampling, live capture, winter den visits, and radio monitoring from 2002 to 2012 in the four areas supporting breeding subpopulations in Louisiana: Tensas River Basin (TRB), Upper Atchafalaya River Basin (UARB), Lower Atchafalaya River Basin (LARB), and Three Rivers Complex (TRC). Bears were live trapped and radio collared in the TRB and TRC to estimate survival and reproductive rates, deterministic matrix models were used to estimate asymptotic growth rates, and stochastic population models were used to estimate long-term viability. DNA extracted from hair collected at baited, barbed-wire enclosures in the TRB, UARB, and LARB and capture-mark-recapture (CMR) analysis based on Bayesian hierarchical modeling methods were used to estimate apparent survival (φ), per capita recruitment (γ), abundance (N), realized growth rate (λ), and long-term viability.
Louisiana's Red River Gets Big Boost
Green-winged Teal at Red River NWR
Credit: Ronnie Maum
October 22, 2014 in Natchitoches Parish, La. – Young cypress, oak and hickory trees will welcome tens of thousands of migrating waterfowl and song birds this fall as they rest at the Red River National Wildlife Refuge (NWR) near Shreveport during their annual migration. Thanks to a multi-year partnership between the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) and The Conservation Fund, these critical lands along Refuge's Lower Cane River Unit have been protected and restored for the benefit of wildlife and nearby communities.
The recent transfer of 1,731 acres to USFWS caps a five-year effort to preserve nearly 4,500 acres at the Refuge. Red River NWR was established in 2000 with the goal of restoring the bottomlands associated with the Red River Valley in Louisiana to native hardwood forests, in support of over 40 species of mammals, 200 species of neotropical birds and over 14 species of waterfowl.
Ecological Services Program - U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service
Ecological Services Program
September 23, 2014 – The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's Ecological Services Program provides national leadership for the conservation of species and the habitats on which they depend, including species protected by the Endangered Species Act, the Fish and Wildlife Coordination Act, the Coastal Barrier Resources Protection Act, the Clean Water Act and more. Through leadership in conserving coastal areas and wetlands, restoring natural resources injured by hazardous substances, environmental reviews of federal projects, listing and recovery of candidate, threatened, and endangered species, and management of decision support and mapping tools, the Ecological Services Program works closely with our partners to conserve the nation's fish, wildlife, plans and habitat.
A Century Later, the Passenger Pigeon's Extinction Has Much to Teach Us
Credit: Bristol City Museum
One hundred years ago – September 1, 1914 – the planet's last passenger pigeon died in captivity in a Cincinnati zoo. By some estimates, the species accounted for one quarter of all land birds in the hemisphere.
We've made enormous progress in conserving our native species and the habitat that supports them. But the passenger pigeon is no less extinct. And for all eternity, the North American landscape will never be the same.
For millennia before European settlement, billions of passenger pigeons filled the skies of North America. Eyewitnesses described migrating flocks that stretched a mile wide, darkening the sky for days with their grayish-brown bodies as they flew overhead.
Fish and Wildlife Service Seeks Public Comment on Plan to Recover Endangered Frog
Dusky Gopher Frog
September 9, 2014 - The dusky gopher frog, a stocky frog with a loud, guttural call, is heard less often now in the longleaf pine forests of Mississippi. Once found in Louisiana and Alabama, as well as Mississippi, it's now only found in four locations in Harrison and Jackson counties in southern Mississippi.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is seeking public comment on a draft recovery plan for the dusky gopher frog.
"The dusky gopher frog is considered to be one of the 100 most endangered species in the world," said Cindy Dohner, the Service's Southeast Regional Director. "This recovery plan will help us improve the frog's precarious position and the longleaf pine habitat it and other rare plant and animal species like the threatened gopher tortoise depend upon."
Conservation Investments Pay Off but Some Bird Species Declining, Says 2014 State of the Birds Report
State of the Birds
Credit: Cornell Lab of Ornithology
September 9, 2014 - The 2014 State of the Birds report finds bird populations declining across several key habitats and includes a watch list of bird species in need of immediate conservation help. However, the report also reveals that in areas where a strong conservation investment has been made, bird populations are recovering.
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Expands Urban Conservation Program
Canoeing at Bayou Sauvage NWR
Credit: Steve Hillebrand
August 28, 2014 - The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) announced today it will partner with communities, corporations and nonprofits to help restore the natural environment and boost opportunities for residents in six cities to connect with nature. Together, the Service and partners expect to direct more than $1.7 million to community-led habitat restoration projects and engage thousands of volunteers in the efforts.
Six national wildlife refuges will play a key part in the Urban Wildlife Refuge Partnerships: Hopper Mountain Refuge in Ventura, CA; Bayou Sauvage Refuge in New Orleans, LA; Rocky Mountain Arsenal Refuge in Denver, CO; John Heinz Refuge at Tinicum in Philadelphia, PA; Wallkill River Refuge in Sussex, NJ; and Santa Ana Refuge in Alamo, TX. The partnerships will encourage participation in conservation and outdoor recreation in residents' local communities.
Great News - Identification of the Host Fish for A Threatened Freshwater Mussel Species in Louisiana!
Tony Brady from the Natchitoches National Fish Hatchery (NNFH) has identified the host fish, or shall we say fishes, for the federally threatened Louisiana pearlshell mussel! In collaboration with personnel from the Louisiana Ecological Services Office (LESO), the US Forest Service, the University of New Orleans (UNO) and the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries (LDWF) -Natural Heritage Program, Tony has finally answered the 23-year-old host fish question, first posed in the 1990 Louisiana Pearlshell Mussel Recovery Plan. Since 2011, Tony has been infesting potential host fish species with larval mussels (glochidia) from Louisiana pearlshell females at the NNFH. In partnership with LDWF's Hatcheries Department, he moved the host fish trials to the state-owned Booker Fowler Fish Hatchery in 2014 because the hatchery's water source closely matches that of the mussel's home streams. In March 2014, Tony and personnel from the LESO and UNO gathered potential host fish from Louisiana pearlshell mussel streams and transported them to Booker Fowler, where fish were separated into tanks by species and cared for by hatchery staff. Later that month, Tony returned to the streams and collected four gravid Louisiana pearlshell mussels, which were held for four days at Booker Fowler until the mussels naturally released their glochidia. The glochidia were then used to infest 13 different fish species, and the adult mussels were returned to their natural streams. In April 2014, success was realized when the newly metamorphosed Louisiana pearlshell mussels (transformers) dropped off their host fishes and were collected from the tanks! In this study, the redspot darter was found to be the primary host fish for the species. Redfin shiners, striped shiners, creek chubsuckers, and bluegill and long-ear sunfish all served as successful secondary host fishes for the Louisiana pearlshell mussel. In discovering this information, we have met an important recovery goal that will allow for the pursuit and realization of future recovery goals that are contingent upon knowing the host fish species. Thanks to the successful research and collaboration among many partners, we are truly making great strides in the recovery of the threatened Louisiana pearlshell mussel!
New Policy Proposed to Benefit At-Risk Wildlife, Provide Credits to Landowners Taking Voluntary Conservation Actions Promotes Preemptive Conservation Efforts for Species That May One Day Be Listed Under ESA
Southern Idaho Ground Squirrel
Credit: Dennis Mackey, USFWS
July 17, 2014 - The U.S Fish and Wildlife Service announces a draft policy on crediting voluntary conservation actions taken for species prior to their listing under the Endangered Species Act. The proposed policy seeks to give landowners, government agencies, and others incentives to carry out voluntary conservation actions for nonlisted species by allowing the benefits to the species from a voluntary conservation action undertaken prior to listing under the Act to be used – either by the person who undertook such action or by a third party – to mitigate or to serve as a compensatory measure for the detrimental effects of another action undertaken after listing. This policy will help us further our efforts to protect native species and conserve the ecosystems on which they depend.
NOAA, FWS Establish Critical Habitat for Loggerhead Sea Turtles in Northwest Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico
Loggerhead Sea Turtle
Credit: Molly Martin, USFWS
July 9, 2014 - The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's National Marine Fisheries Service (NOAA Fisheries) and the Department of Interior's U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) today announced two final rules to designate critical habitat for the threatened loggerhead sea turtle (Caretta caretta) in the Atlantic Ocean and on coastal beach habitat along the Atlantic and Gulf coasts.
The NOAA-designated marine critical habitat includes some nearshore reproductive areas directly off of nesting beaches from North Carolina through Mississippi, winter habitat in North Carolina, breeding habitat in Florida, constricted migratory corridors in North Carolina and Florida, and Sargassum habitat, which is home to the majority of juvenile turtles, in the western Gulf of Mexico and in U.S. waters within the Gulf Stream in the Atlantic Ocean.
Service Reopens Comment Period on Proposal to List the Northern Long-eared Bat as an Endangered Species
Northern Long-eared Bat
Credit: Steven Thomas, NPS
June 30, 2014 - The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has reopened the comment period for 60 days, through August 29, 2014, on a proposal to list the northern long-eared bat as an endangered species under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). The Service has also extended the agency's deadline to April 2, 2015, to make its final decision on whether to list the species.
The Service proposed to list the bat as endangered on October 2, 2013, citing white-nose syndrome, a disease that has killed millions of bats, as the greatest threat to the species.
Young Louisiana Artist Puts Talent to Work for Conservation
Painting by Meredith Graf
Each year thousands of young students descend on the nation's capital to visit the monuments and museums and learn how their government works. In 2009, among those thousands was a eighth-grader from New Orleans, Louisiana, who came to town intent on helping endangered wildlife through the use of her artistic talent. Since that visit, her singular efforts have proved a giant boost to educational efforts for endangered species. And she graciously provided the cover and other original art for this edition of Fish & Wildlife News.
This fall, 18-year-old Meredith Graff headed off to college as an accomplished artist and has more than realized her desire to help wildlife. Since that brief visit to Washington, she has been helping to promote and expand the national youth art contest associated with the annual celebration of Endangered Species Day. The contest is a cooperative effort involving the Service, the Endangered Species Coalition, the International Child Art Foundation and the Association of Zoos and Aquariums.
The story actually begins locally at the Service's Ecological Services field office in Louisiana where Meredith first inquired about how she might help the cause of wildlife conservation. Debra Fuller responded to her questions and thoughtfully provided some suggested contacts for her upcoming trip to Washington, DC.