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A Talk on the Wild Side.

4 Creative Wildlife and Nature Contests That Need You

ES Art
Take a look at the Flickr page of last year's entries.

Endangered Species Youth Art Contest

Who Can Enter: Students in grades K - 12
Deadline: Entries must be postmarked by March 1.
What: This contest is open to K-12 grade students residing in the United States, including those  who are homeschooled or belong to a youth/art program. This contest brings out many talented young artists as they create passionate pieces for wildlife. The contest is an integral part of the 10th annual national Endangered Species Day on May 15.
Details and Rules: http://www.endangered.org/campaigns/endangered-species-day/2015-saving-endangered-species-youth-art-contest/


Burrowing Owls: Really Superb Owls

burrowing owl
To have a little wildlife fun during the Super Bowl, the Service and others tweet using the #Superb_Owl hashtag. This picture stirred up a Social Media storm. Photo Credit: Katie McVey/USFWS


You might have seen this awesome photo that Katie McVey, a wildlife refuge specialist at Bear River Migratory Bird Refuge in Utah posted on Social Media during the Superb Owl, er Super Bowl. The photo was featured on Good Morning America, The Huffington Post and elsewhere.

We wanted to know a little more about the ridiculously cute burrowing owls she photographed, so we talked with Katie. 


Private Landowners Help the Ocelot and the Aplomado Falcon

Ocelots require dense thornscrub habitat. Private landowners play an important role in ocelot
conservation by partnering with the Service through conservation easements that protect such habitat. Photo Credit: Seth Patterson

More than 70 percent of the land in this country is privately owned, and many of the species we  look after use private land. Fortunately for us and the wild things we care for, there are private landowners like the Frank Yturria family of southern Texas.

In November, the family conveyed a conservation easement on 7,428 acres of ranch land near Laguna Atascosa National Wildlife Refuge in Willacy County. The easement permanently protects the land, providing vital habitat for two endangered species, the ocelot and the aplomado falcon.


Jontie Aldrich Makes it a Point to ‘Hunt and Fish and Mess Around’ Outdoors

Meet Your Fish and Wildlife Service
Jonte Aldrich
Jontie Aldrich and his son went on a caribou hunt in northern Alaska.

Jontie Aldrich leads the Oklahoma Partners for Fish and Wildlife Program in our Southwest Region. Our Partners for Fish and Wildlife Program works with private landowners to enhance and restore fish and wildlife habitat on private lands, and with 95 percent of the land in Oklahoma privately owned,  the program is a key player in conservation. The Oklahoma Partners Program also helps connect kids to nature through its Outdoor Classroom project. Since 1994, it has established 139 Outdoor Classrooms across the state. The classrooms provide "hands on" and interactive ways to engage kids with our nation's natural resources.  Recently, Jontie has been working with the Choctaw tribe of Oklahoma to develop an Outdoor Classroom at a Native American residential learning center for students in grades 1 through 12. This outdoor learning program seeks to connect tribal youth with their cultural and natural heritage and provide educational and career-building experiences.

5 Questions for Jontie

1. Do you hunt/fish and if so what? 

Yes, I love to hunt and fish.  Archery elk- and deer-hunting and waterfowl hunting are my passion.  I have hunted moose and caribou in Alaska.  I enjoy fishing our farm ponds with my grandsons for bass and catfish.  


Paul Bakke Brings Magic of Moving Water Back to Seattle Neighborhood Where He Grew Up

With many partners, the Service's Paul Bakke is restoring a creek in Seattle. Photo Credit: Ann Froschauer/USFWS

When Service geomorphologist/hydrologist Paul Bakke was growing up in northwest Seattle, his parents told him to stay away from the neighborhood’s polluted Thornton Creek. “Nobody wanted their kids playing in that creek.”

So of course, he and his friends played in it.  “It was sort of this fascinating little universe of things going on,” he says, adding that he has “lots of fond memories of it even though it wasn't by any means a pristine water body.”

Paul still finds Thornton Creek fascinating, but now he is helping restore a part of the creek right near where he went to high school into a salmon-spawning stream … in the middle of Seattle, among the largest metro areas in the nation.

It hasn’t been easy.


Where Do You Find Refuge?

Enjoying family time on a national wildlife refuge. Photo Credit: Steve Hillebrand/USFWS

More and more our lives are filled with computers, social media, smart phones, and other electronic devices that seem to dictate our daily activities.  We are so “plugged in” that we are often out of touch.  How do we refuel our souls and reconnect with the world around us?  Here is one journey that begins, and continues, on a national wildlife refuge.

Saving Species with Art

Last year’s grand prize winner, Southern Sea Otter by Amy Feng.
Last year’s grand prize winner, Southern Sea Otter by Amy Feng.

Today, we are announcing the 2015 Saving Endangered Species Youth Art Contest, which invites  school children to put their creative skills to work for wildlife. This story about the young woman who created the trophy for the contest is adapted from the original, which appeared in the fall 2013 edition of Fish & Wildlife News.

Artist Meredith Graf puts talent to work for conservation

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 an 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.  


Married or Proposed to on Public Lands? You Ought to be in Pictures

The Valentine’s Day video from the Department of the Interior featuring proposals and weddings on America’s public lands has become so popular that it has become an annual tradition. Your help will make it even better this year! Email your videos and photos of your weddings or proposals in Wildlife Refuges,National Parks and other public lands to newmedia@ios.doi.gov by February 7 to be in this year's video. (Last year's video is above. We dare you not to say "Aww.")

Bob Snow is Ensuring Ginseng, Other Wildlife Resources are Here for Future Generations

Meet Your Fish and Wildlife Service
Mature American ginseng plant with berries. No photos of Bob because of his undercover work. Photo Credit: Gary Kauffman/U.S. Forest Service

Bob Snow is a Senior Special Agent assigned to Louisville, Kentucky, and has been with the Service for over 21 years.  While in college he interned for the Chesapeake Bay Estuary Program in Maryland, worked as a Refuge Law Enforcement Officer in Virginia, Washington, Oregon and Florida, and has served as a Special Agent with the Office of Law Enforcement since 1998 when he was assigned to San Francisco.  In recent years SA Snow has tackled wild ginseng poaching in Kentucky. 

5 Questions for Bob 

1. What inspired you to work on this issue?

Ginseng has long been used for medicine, originally harvested by many different Native American tribes and used in Asian medicinal products. Photo Credit: Andrea Ottesen

One could argue that wild ginseng is one of the most valuable natural resources found in deep Appalachia and other rural areas of Kentucky. Harvesters bring in an estimated cash income of $8 million to $10 million annually. The root has been sought in Southeast Asia for centuries and was even harvested by Daniel Boone to supplement his income after he discovered passage to Kentucky through the Cumberland Gap (now a National Park with a ginseng poaching problem).  This history as well as the lack of regulatory enforcement inspired me to ensure the trafficking of this rare plant does not result in its extinction. 

Because the export of wild ginseng is regulated through the Convention of International Trade of Endangered Species (CITES), states with ginseng populations are required to implement harvest and certification programs before the state’s ginseng can be exported from the United States.  These programs are meant to ensure that the harvest remains sustainable.  Seasons are established to ensure that a ginseng plant has matured and produced seeds before its harvest.  As a result, if regulations are complied with there should always be a sustainable source of this valuable root in Kentucky and elsewhere.


Service Wildlife Inspectors, Wildlife Repository Featured on NPR Morning Edition

Naimah Aziz inspects a legal shipment of wildlife products. Photo Credit: Catherine J. Hibbard/USFWS

In December, National Public Radio foreign affairs correspondent Jackie Northam visited Service Law Enforcement Operations as part of a story she was covering on the Trans-Pacific Partnership international trade agreement. She shadowed supervisory wildlife inspector Naimah Aziz on a visit to the international mail facility at John F. Kennedy Airport and visited the National Wildlife Property Repository on the outskirts of Denver. The story aired today on Morning Edition.

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