Facebook icon Twitter icon Flicker icon You Tube icon

Open Spaces

A Talk on the Wild Side.

Service, Partners Help Put Sea Turtles out to Sea

release
A sea turtle strides off into the ocean. Photo by James Primrose/NOAA

On May 27, biologists from our Texas Coastal Ecological Services Field Office in Houston assisted NOAA, Moody Gardens and the Houston Zoo with the release 51 endangered sea turtles at Stewart Beach in Galveston, Texas. Forty-nine of the sea turtles had been rescued last December in the Cape Cod area after suffering from the cold. Fifty of turtles released were Kemp’s ridleys and one was a loggerhead sea turtle. Despite the rainy, muddy weather, it was a well-attended community event centered on sea turtle outreach and endangered species education.

 

Safe Harbors: 20 Years Later

red-cockaded woodpecker
Red-cockaded woodpeckers have been big beneficiaries of Safe Harbor Agreements. Photo by Eric Spadgenske/USFWS

Red-cockaded woodpeckers are just one of many species protected as endangered or threatened under the Endangered Species Act (ESA) helped by a Safe Harbor Agreement (SHA), an innovative conservation tool to encourage voluntary conservation actions  for listed species  by private property owners.  The cooperation of property owners is essential to help these species recover, because more than two-thirds of the habitat for listed species in the United States is found on privately owned and managed properties. 

With an SHA, which marks its 20th anniversary this year, we can ease a big concern some property owners have about supporting or attracting listed species on their properties: potential property-use restrictions related to the ESA in the future. 

But under an SHA, participating property owners can contribute to the recovery of listed species on non-federal lands without fear. They receive formal assurances from the Service that if they fulfill the conditions of the SHA, we will not require any additional or different management activities by the participants without their consent.

[More]

Trash Dump Leads to Prison Sentence

Law enforcement

Tina Shaw in our Mideast Region tells us about a law-enforcement case that showcases how our officers do much more than conservation-focused law enforcement. They also keep people safe on federal lands through through what would best be classified as traditional police work.

Read More

Federal Wildlife Officer Kurt Campbell with meth lab evidence. Photo by USFWS.

 

Fishing with Veterans Teaches Life Lessons

Nineteen-year-old Josie Cicia, a longtime Service volunteer at Richard Cronin National Salmon Station in Sunderland, Massachusetts, reflects on her favorite event: The Wounded Veterans Fishing Program.

Working with veterans is an honor, she writes. They fought to keep our country safe, and now I get to help them have fun and enjoy time outside fishing, socializing and having a cook out. One of my favorite parts of spending time with the veterans is when they share their stories with me. Their stories have actually influenced some of the choices I’ve made for my own life.

Read More

veterans
  Volunteers help out with the Veterans Fishing Program at the Richard Cronin National Salmon Station. Photo by USFWS

 

Go Fish During National Fishing and Boating Week; Excitement Awaits

fishing
An afternoon of fishing. Photo by Carl Zitman/USFWS
Is that fish you just landed your #FirstCatch of the day? The season? Even your lifetime? Let RBFF’s Take Me Fishing know.


You see and hear jokes about how boring fishing is, which always leads us to ask if the “joker” has ever been fishing? Perhaps they are confusing boring with relaxing, but even relaxing goes out the window when the fish are biting. 

[More]

Acushnet River Becomes Fish-Friendly Once More

Since 1992, 40 restoration projects have been funded in and around New Bedford Harbor, a major commercial fishing port and industrial center in southeastern Massachusetts.

Electrical parts manufacturers polluted New Bedford Harbor with highly toxic PCBs (polychlorinated biphenyls) and metals from the 1940s to the 1970s. The contamination limited breeding and killed marine life throughout hundreds of acres of the estuary. Some species disappeared completely from areas of high contamination. The economic impact was severe, including long-term fishing closures, the loss of beach use, diminished property values and reduced opportunities for coastal development.

When hazardous substances enter the environment, fish, wildlife and other natural resources can be injured. The Service, other Department of the Interior agencies, and state, tribal and federal partners, act as “trustees” for these resources. The trustees identify the natural resources injured, determine the extent of the injuries, recover damages from the responsible parties and lead restoration of the area.

[More]

Conserving Our Home and Theirs

saltmarsh sparrows
As high tide flows into a Connecticut coastal marsh, young saltmarsh sparrows keep their heads above water. Photo by Jeanna Mielcarek/UConn SHARP

From Maine down to Virginia, salt marshes provide a home to species like the saltmarsh and seaside sparrow, as described in a recent PBS documentary. Several Hurricane Sandy-funded science projects led by the Service are studying coastal habitats, identifying areas for restoration where wildlife and people are most vulnerable to the forces of future storms.

Read More

Win One for the Birds

bluebird
A mountain bluebird at Seedskadee National Wildlife Refuge in Wyoming. Where does the bird end and the sky begin? Photo by Tom Koerner/USFWS

At the mention of the word hacking, a lot of people probably think  “ugh, hacking,” because  they associate the term with the perils of identity theft and other illegal activities.

But on Saturday June 6th, we’ll be rooting for tech savvy people hacking to help our fine feathered friends – migratory birds.

Saturday is the National Day of Civic Hacking – when people interested in making government and their community better work on innovative solutions to a series of challenges.

[More]

Fishing before Thunderstorms

Family & Youth Casting Call
Photo by Kim Lambert/USFWS

Thunderstorms were predicted for late in the evening Saturday, May 16, but that forecast didn’t stop about 500 people from arriving at Fletcher’s Cove in Washington, DC, bright and early for the free, annual Family & Youth Casting Call fishing event on the C&O Canal.

The event, now in its ninth year, encourages DC-area families and youth to try their hand at fishing. The Service joined the District Department of the Environment (DDOE), local businesses and organizations to provide free bait, loaner fishing gear and expert instruction. 

[More]

Study Finds Amphibians at Risk from Pollution and Warming Environments

Back in 2013, we announced the results of an unprecedented 10-year-study, published in PLOS ONE, on amphibian abnormalities on national wildlife refuges. We found that on average, less than 2 percent of frogs and toads sampled on 152 national wildlife refuges had physical abnormalities involving the skeleton and eyes—a much lower rate than experts first feared based on earlier reports. This indicated that the severe malformations such as missing or extra limbs repeatedly reported in the media during the mid-1990s were actually quite rare on national wildlife refuges. However, there were a few hot-spot clusters that had higher rates of abnormalities. One of these hot spots was at Kenai National Wildlife Refuge in Alaska.

As part of the follow-up research on this hot spot, we worked with researchers from Alaska Pacific University and the University of California at Davis to understand how and why there were higher rates of abnormalities. We found that wood frog tadpoles were attacked by dragonfly larvae 30 minutes sooner and three times more often in warm, slightly polluted water treatments, than in cooler, pollution-free treatments. The experiments simulated the effects of degraded water quality due to road runoff and climate change.

The researchers studied the interactions of the tadpoles and dragonfly larvae under various water temperature and copper exposure treatments to watch how the animals’ behavior affected their interactions. The tadpoles in the experiment spent more time at the surface of the water making it easier for dragonfly larvae to see and attack them. The dragonfly larvae exerted the least amount of energy to capture more tadpoles in the warm, polluted water treatment. The increased predation observed in this study supports previous research and could also help explain the prevalence of malformed frogs in some refuge hotspots. 

 

More Entries