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.
Secretary Jewell Praises Major Milestone in Gulf Coast Recovery and Restoration during Visit to Louisiana
December 6, 2013 MARRERO, LA – In a visit to the Gulf region today, Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell helped announce the third and largest phase of early restoration projects proposed by the Deepwater Horizon oil spill Natural Resource Trustees. The Trustees today released a draft plan for public review that dedicates $627 million to 44 early restoration projects across Louisiana, Alabama, Mississippi, Florida and Texas - including restoration efforts at Breton Island National Wildlife Refuge and Gulf Island National Seashore.
Jewell made the announcement at the end of a two-day visit to Louisiana, where she took an aerial tour of the Gulf of Mexico and visited two national wildlife refuges - Breton Island and Big Branch – to see first-hand efforts underway to recover from the 2010 oil spill and to strengthen coastal resilience, a priority in the President's Climate Action Plan. During her visit, Jewell also held a stakeholder meeting with the many partner organizations who are involved in conservation efforts in the Gulf region.
New Report Reveals Continuing Coastal Wetlands Losses in U.S.
November 21, 2013 - The United States is losing wetlands in coastal watersheds at a significant rate, according to a new report released today by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). These wetlands are vital to the survival of diverse fish and wildlife species. Wetlands also help sustain the country's multi-billion-dollar coastal fisheries and outdoor recreation industries, improve water quality and protect coastal communities from the effects of severe storms.
The report, Status and Trends of Wetlands in the Coastal Watersheds of the Conterminous United States 2004 to 2009, which was also funded in part by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, tracked wetland loss on the Pacific, Atlantic, and Gulf coasts, as well as the Great Lakes shorelines. It concludes that more than 80,000 acres of coastal wetlands are being lost on average each year, up from 60,000 acres lost per year during the previous study.
Landmark Study Reveals Low Average Rate of Frog Abnormalities on National Wildlife Refuges
Gray Tree Frog
November 19, 2013 - An unprecedented 10-year study by the Service finds on average fewer than 2 percent of frogs and toads sampled from 152 national wildlife refuges had major physical abnormalities – a rate lower than expected based on earlier reports. The study also identifies regional "hotspot clusters" where there are concentrations of higher abnormality rates.
"Frogs and toads are strong indicators of wetland and environmental quality. What affects them affects a broad range of other species," said Service Director Dan Ashe. "This research significantly advances our understanding of amphibian abnormalities while amassing one of the world's largest datasets on the issue."
Fish & Wildlife News Celebrates 40th Anniversary of Endangered Species Act
FWS News - Fall 2013 Edition
With the 40th anniversary of the signing of the Endangered Species Act, Fish & Wildlife News takes a look at the Act, its history and milestones, success stories from around the nation and more.
While recovery is the ultimate goal, a more complete measure of Endangered Species Act success includes the number of species that are no longer declining, have stable populations, or have gained a solid foothold on the path toward recovery and are improving in status. The Devil's Hole pupfish and Puerto Rican parrot represent ESA success in preventing extinction; the black-footed ferret and the karner blue butterflies represent the success of improving and stabilizing populations; and the American alligator and gray wolves represent those species who made a full recovery under the ESA.
Service Releases Annual List of Candidates for Endangered Species Act Protection
Yadkin River Goldenrod
November 22, 2013 - The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service today released the Candidate Notice of Review, a yearly status appraisal of plants and animals that are candidates for Endangered Species Act (ESA) protection. Three species have been removed from candidate status and three have a change in priority from the last review conducted in November 2012. There are now 146 species recognized by the Service as candidates for ESA protection.
"Protecting America's most at-risk wildlife one of our highest priorities," said Service Director Dan Ashe. "We are currently working with landowners and partners across the nation to implement voluntary conservation agreements on some 5 million acres of habitat for more than 130 candidate species, helping address some of the threats they face before they are ever listed under the ESA."
Economic Impact of Wildlife-Associated Recreation in Louisiana: 2011
Louisiana: Alligator on Levee
In an effort to highlight the contributions of southeastern hunters, anglers, and wildlife watchers, we are featuring findings from the 2011 National Survey of Fishing, Hunting, and Wildlife-Associated Recreation report. This report is the result of interviews conducted by the Census Bureau with U.S. residents about their fishing, hunting, and wildlife watching. It focuses on 2011 participation and expenditures of persons 16 years of age and older.
Wildlife-related recreation is fishing, hunting, and wildlife-watching activities. These categories are not mutually exclusive because many individuals participated in more than one activity. Wildlife-related recreation is reported in two major categories: (1) fishing and hunting, and (2) wildlife watching, which includes observing, photographing, and feeding fish or wildlife.
According to the report, in 2011 1.7 million people participated in wildlife-related recreation in the state of Louisiana, generating $2.2 billion for our economy.
November is Manatee Awareness Month
Deceased Manatee From Cold Stress
November is Manatee Awareness Month, and it couldn't come at a better time for Alabama's official state marine mammal. November is the time of year when manatees begin the seasonal migration to warmer waters for refuge during the cold winter months. Manatees are protected under the Marine Mammal Protection Act and listed as "Endangered" under the Endangered Species Act; cold weather means manatees are at greater risk of stranding.
Researchers with the Dauphin Island Sea Lab's Mobile Manatees Sighting Network (MMSN) and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Alabama Field Office are closely monitoring the movements of manatees in Alabama and Mississippi. Most manatees begin their migration when water temperatures drop below 68°F. Manatees begin to experience a condition called cold stress, similar to frost bite in humans, at prolonged exposure to water temperatures less than 68 degrees Fahrenheit.
Typically manatee sighting reports west of Florida drop off in October each year, however, this year, several manatees were reported through the first week of November from locations in Alabama such as: Mobile Bay, Mobile Bay-Tensaw Delta, Dog River, Fairhope; and Pascagoula River, MS. We hope these animals will begin their migration east to warmer waters in Florida soon.
Report any manatee sightings or strandings in our area, especially during winter, to Dauphin Island's Manatee Sighting Network on-line at manatee.disl.org, or call toll free 1-866-493-5803, or email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Endangered Species Act: 40 Years at the Forefront of Wildlife Conservation
The Endangered Species Act of 1973 is by far the most significant piece of endangered species legislation and is considered one of the world's most important conservation laws. The bald eagle now soars the sky in every state across the nation. The black-footed ferret, once teetered on the brink of extinction, but now has hundreds of ferrets bred in captivity and more than 1000 in the wild. And the Tennesse purple coneflower now blooms its beautiful purple petals in its historic range after 32 years of federal protection.
Today the Endangered Species Act protects more than 1400 U.S. species and 600 foreign species. It provides a critical safety net for fish, wildlife and plants and has prevented the extinction of hundreds of imperiled species, helped the recovery of many others, and conserved the habitats upon which they depend.
Forty years later, we can look back at the successes we've shared, and look ahead to the work that still needs to be done. Habitat degradation, climate change, invasive species and many other issues threaten our nation's threatened and endangered species. It is under the Endangered Species Act that we protect the animals, plants and habitats that make up the fabric of our nation's natural tapestry. And we can all celebrate that by conserving them, we help ensure the benefits that accrue from them—healthy air, land, and water—on which we depend.
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Proposes Endangered Status for the Northern Long-eared Bat
Credit: Steve Taylor; Univ. of Illinois
October 17, 2013 -- The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service proposes to list the northern long-eared bat as endangered under the Endangered Species Act. The Service also determined that the eastern small-footed bat does not warrant listing.
The northern long-eared bat is found across much of the eastern and north central United States, and all Canadian provinces from the Atlantic Ocean west to the southern Yukon Territory and eastern British Columbia.
Service Proposes to List Red Knot as a Threatened Species Under the Endangered Species Act
September 27, 2013 -- The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service today released a proposal to list the rufa red knot (Calidris canutus rufa), a robin-sized shorebird that annually migrates from the Canadian Arctic to southern Argentina, as a threatened species under the Endangered Species Act. The proposed rule will be available for 60 days of public comment.
"The rufa red knot is an extraordinary bird that each year migrates thousands of miles from the Arctic to the tip of South America and back, but – like many shorebirds – it is vulnerable to climate and other environmental changes," said Service Director Dan Ashe. "In some areas, knot populations have declined by about 75 percent since the 1980s, with the steepest declines happening after 2000. We look forward to hearing from the public with any new scientific information as we consider the proposal."
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Offers a Vision for a Healthy Gulf of Mexico Watershed
September 24, 2013 -- Restoring the Gulf of Mexico following years of degradation and in the wake of the nation's largest oil spill will require a large-scale, long-term, multi-partner effort.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service released its Vision for a Healthy Gulf of Mexico Watershed, intended to catalyze conversation across borders with many state, federal, non-governmental and private partners to help focus our collective restoration efforts.
New Conservation Agreement Signed for the Louisiana Pine Snake
September 17, 2013 -- The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and six partners in Louisiana and Texas recently signed an updated candidate conservation agreement for the Louisiana pine snake, one of the rarest snakes in North America.
The agreement improves on the 2003 candidate conservation agreement, or CCA, with current habitat threats, implemented management actions and significant new information derived from research, threats assessments, and habitat modeling not available a decade ago. The snake has been a candidate for listing under the Endangered Species Act since 1999.
CCAs are agreements that outline proactive conservation actions partners will take to hopefully preclude the need to list a species under the ESA.
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Lists Neosho Mucket as Endangered and Rabbitsfoot as Threatened
September 16, 2013 -- The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is listing the Neosho mucket as endangered and the Rabbitsfoot as threatened under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). Both species are freshwater mussels found in river systems in the eastern half of the United States.
The Neosho mucket has been eliminated from about 62 percent of its historic range with only nine of 16 historic populations remaining. Only one of these populations is known to be reproducing. The Neosho mucket is currently found in Arkansas, Kansas, Oklahoma, and Missouri.
The Rabbitsfoot has disappeared from about 64 percent of its historic range. While 51 of the 140 historic populations remain, only 11 populations (22 percent of its existing populations or eight percent of the historic populations) are viable; 23 populations (45 percent of the existing populations) are at risk of elimination; and 17 populations (33 percent of the current populations) show limited reproduction with little evidence of sustainability. The Rabbitsfoot is currently found in Alabama, Arkansas, Kansas, Kentucky, Illinois, Indiana, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Oklahoma, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Tennessee. The Rabbitsfoot is no longer found in Georgia and West Virginia.
Service Re-opens Review of Draft Economic Analysis for the Proposed Critical Habitat Designation for Two Freshwater Mussels
August 26, 2013 -- The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is re-opening the public comment period on the draft environmental assessment for the proposed designation of critical habitat for the Neosho Mucket and Rabbitsfoot mussels. The assessment discusses the estimated costs and economic impacts of the proposed designation.
Last year, the Service proposed to list the Neosho mucket as endangered, and the rabbitsfoot as threatened under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). The Service also proposed to designate critical habitat for these two mussels in 43 critical habitat units encompassing 2,138 river miles of stream channels in Alabama, Arkansas, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Mississippi, Missouri, Oklahoma, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Tennessee.
2013 Duck Breeding Population Estimates Released
July 12, 2013 -- Most duck populations are strong, according to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service 2013 Report on Trends in Duck Breeding Populations. The preliminary estimate of total duck populations from the traditional survey area (north-central United States, south-central and northern Canada, and Alaska) was 45.5 million birds. This estimate represents a 6 percent decrease from last year's estimate of 48.6 million birds but is still 33 percent above the long-term average. The total duck estimate excludes scoters, eiders, long-tailed ducks, mergansers and wood ducks.
Southeast Region Launches Inventory & Monitoring Website
July 18, 2013 -- Great news! We are excited and proud to launch the Southeast Region Inventory & Monitoring (I&M) Network website. This website features information about the Southeast Region I&M Network including current abiotic, biotic, and data management efforts; staff locations and contact information; recent accomplishments; and reports and publications about inventory and monitoring projects.
Water resource inventory and assessments, hydrogeomorphic analyses, and marsh elevation monitoring are a few of the current abiotic monitoring efforts highlighted on the site, while amphibian inventory pilots, aquatic invasive species monitoring, mobile acoustical bat monitoring, and vegetation assessments are examples of our biotic efforts.
LDWF Gopher Tortoise Research Underway
June 20, 2013 -- The Louisiana Natural Heritage Program (LNHP), within the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries, is currently partaking in habitat restoration and population distribution surveys for gopher tortoises (Gopherus polyphemus) within eastern Louisiana.
The multi-year research project is targeting habitat in Washington, St. Tammany and Tangipahoa parishes.
Service Begins Commemoration of 40th Anniversary of the Endangered Species Act
Photo Credit: USFWS
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. A new dedicated web site spotlights the history and accomplishments of efforts to protect and recover America's threatened and endangered species under the Endangered Species Act.
Endangered Species Success Stories
Endangered,Threatened and Candidate Species of LA
Photo Credit: USFWS
The Endangered Species Act (ESA) delivers remarkable successes. Looking back on the ESA's 40-year history, we recognize that it has helped stabilize populations of species at risk, prevent the extinction of many others, and conserve the habitats upon which they depend. All Americans can take pride in the fact that, under the ESA, California condor, grizzly bear, Okaloosa darter, whooping crane, and black-footed ferret have all been brought back from the brink of extinction. We can also celebrate that many other species no longer need the ESA's protection and have been removed from the list of endangered and threatened species, including the bald eagle—the very symbol of our nation's strength.