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A Talk on the Wild Side.

The Birth (and Afterbirth) of a Harbor Seal Draws Quite the Crowd

These incredible photos depict the pivotal moments immediately following a recent harbor seal birth on the Oregon coast. They were taken by photographer Roy Lowe, whose eye-witness account follows. 

Placental warning! These photos aren't for the faint of heart or for everyone, but they capture an amazing event that you definitely won't see every day.

1. Pup 3 minutes old. This was the first observation of the pup. Note that juvenile gull already moving in to feed.

Harbor Seal 3 Minutes after birth



Conservation Genetics Steers Gila Trout Management

Gila trout
Gila trout. Photo by Craig Springer/USFWS

Craig Springer tells how a trout that once stared at extinction offers wilderness angling opportunities.

The trout stole its color from a southern New Mexico summer sunset.

Gila trout sport a painter’s pallet of pink and olive, rose, yellow and copper and a few tones in between. Beneath the black pepper flakes that fleck its side lies a lexis—a language carried forward from another time. It’s an ancient language coded in molecules of proteins written by the press of time and experience in a land turned arid.

Gila trout, native only to headwater streams that vein over the Mogollon Rim of New Mexico and Arizona, have expressed in their genetic makeup a mapping of how to survive in the vestiges of what surely was a large and contiguous range. Their genetics equip them to face what nature may hurl at them in an already harsh environment.

It’s those innate characteristics coiled in the double-helix of DNA that Service biologists strive to preserve in the fish. Conservation genetics is at its heart an investment in the future with an eye on the past. Dr. Wade Wilson with the Service’s Southwestern Native Aquatic Resources and Recovery Center in Dexter, New Mexico, knows Gila trout like few others can; he’s a geneticist who can de-code the language. It’s his charge in the conservation of Gila trout to help ensure that the diversity of genetic characters unique in this fish stay in the fish going forward.


Have You Heard The Buzz?

Pollinator gardens


Local high school students and volunteers work on the East End Nature Garden in Houston. Photo by Nancy Brown/USFWS

Beth Ullenberg tells us about the pollinator gardens sprouting in Houston, Texas.

Great things are happening deep in the heart of Texas. The Houston Urban Wildlife Refuge Partnership is attracting a lot of interest in the nation's fourth-largest city from diverse local partners who are helping the Service connect with urban communities and create opportunities for urban residents to “find, value and care for nature.”

“Not only are local citizens benefiting from these new partnerships but pollinators are as well, such as honey bees and specifically monarch butterflies,” says Nancy Brown, Southwest Region Urban Refuge coordinator.

A great way to engage urban audiences in conservation is to begin with small habitat restoration projects right in their own neighborhoods. The five national wildlife refuges within 60 miles of downtown Houston are pulling together partners to create and construct pollinator gardens around the city.


15 Underdog Endangered and Threatened Species

We've all heard of the bald eagle, gray wolf and grizzly bear, but there are many lesser-known endangered and threatened species that are integral parts of the landscape and ecosystem. The Ozark hellbender, prairie bush clover, akepa or purple cat's paw pearlymussel all have something in common: They're worth getting to know if you've never heard of them!

Here's a list of interesting species that we're working to protect. 

1.Ozark Hellbender: This strictly acquatic salamander feeds almost entirely on crayfish, but will also eat small fish, invertebrates and other hellbenders. See where this species occurs

Ozark hellbender (Cryptobranchus alleganiensis bishopi) 


America’s Smallest Refuge Turns 100!

Hennepin Island
Hennepin Island is managed as a nesting colony for the state-listed threatened common tern. Photo by USFWS.

President Woodrow Wilson established Mille Lacs National Wildlife Refuge on this day in 1915 when he set aside Spirit Island to protect breeding habitat for native birds. Hennepin Island was later added to the refuge, increasing the National Wildlife Refuge System’s smallest refuge to just over half of an acre. These small patches of rock in Minnesota’s Mille Lacs Lake may not seem like much, but they are an important place for common terns, as well as other colonial nesting species like ring-billed gulls, herring gulls, and double-crested cormorants.

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For Senator, Monarch Conservation Starts with Mom

Senator Amy Klobuchar, with her mother, Rose; daughter, Abigail; and a monarch
Senator Amy Klobuchar, with her mother, Rose; daughter, Abigail; and a monarch

U.S. Senator Amy Klobuchar from Minnesota is one of the leading voices for monarch conservation in Congress. She wrote this column for the spring issue of Fish & Wildlife News.

The monarch butterfly is one of America’s most iconic species, but it might not be around for future generations to enjoy if we do not come together to protect it. 

With the monarch butterfly population having decreased an estimated 90 percent since the 1990s, and the milkweed plant that monarch caterpillars depend upon for food suffering similar declines, now is the time for action. 

I recently joined Republican Senator Susan Collins of Maine in calling on the Departments of Interior, Transportation and Agriculture to build on and strengthen public-private partnerships to preserve the monarch butterfly. 


Remembering the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill

Recovery efforts
Workers feed an injured bird. Photo by USFWS

Denise Rowell
, the public affairs specialist in our Panama City Field Office, and our Panama City biologists remember the Deepwater Horizon oil spill.

On April 20, 2010, the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig exploded 41 miles off the coast of Louisiana.  Eleven people lost their lives in the explosion, and life along the coast changed dramatically.  As oil from the damaged well began flowing into the Gulf of Mexico, Service biologists were on high alert.  The Gulf Coast region is a globally unique ecosystem that supports a high number of beach-nesting birds, such as sandwich terns, brown pelicans and Wilson’s plovers.  At the time of the spill, these species were on the verge of nesting season, and oil would be detrimental to the birds.  Nesting sea turtles were also in grave danger, and the embattled species was at risk of losing an entire nesting season. 


Public Service Recognition Week: Helping Others in their Time of Need

Friends and family gather to celebrate the life of Steve Cobb. Photo by Catherine J. Hibbard/USFWS

As we celebrate Public Service Recognition Week, Catherine J. Hibbard, a public affairs specialist at our Northeast Regional Office and the lead public information officer for the Southern Area Red Team, remembers the sacrifices of three public servants involved in a helicopter crash during a controlled burn in March on the De Soto National Forest in Mississippi.

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The Deepwater Horizon oil spill at five years – it’s far from over

An oiled gannet is cleaned at the Theodore Oiled Wildlife Rehabilitation Center June 17, 2010. Photo by Colin White/USFWS

Nanciann Regalado, of the Deepwater Horizon Natural Resource Damage Assessment office, and Nadine Siak, of the Gulf Restoration Program, recount the Service's steady involvement in the spill recovery. 

Five years ago last month we heard the devastating news  –  BP’s Deepwater Horizon (DWH) oil rig had exploded and was spewing oil into the Gulf of Mexico. As our personnel were lining up to support the immense response effort, the evening news was delivering an unending stream of gut-wrenching reports. 

CNN’s Sanjay Gupta made this report April 29, 2010:

First up tonight, the breaking news: In fact, it's heartbreaking news for anyone who counts on the Gulf Coast for a living or simply loves the natural beauty of it; it is murder for the animals that call it home. The first fingers of the massive oil spill… [are] just a few miles off shore. The slick is enormous - 120 miles wide… The doomed well is … dumping 210,000 gallons of oil a day into the Gulf. Making things even worse, there is no indication that crews can cap the flow any time soon .... This spill is already America’s second worst environmental disaster on record after the 1990 Exxon Valdez spill. At the rate it’s going, it could be on track to be the worst.

 To our horror, the Deepwater Horizon well gushed oil for 87 days and did surpass the Exxon Valdez by a factor of 10.


Grow, Little Acorns, Grow

 Jocee shows off her treasure.
Jocee shows off her treasures. Photo by Ryan Hagerty

Kathy Sholl at our National Conservation Training Center (NCTC) tells us about a project connecting kids and nature.

A new generation of oak trees is growing at the Children’s Tree House Child Development Center at NCTC.

It all began when the land manager at NCTC, Phil Pannill, asked volunteers to collect acorns so he could grow oak trees for the campus. The Children’s Tree House Child Development Center eagerly took advantage of this opportunity to connect children with nature.

One fall morning, despite the blustery winds and light rain, six preschoolers trotted out to nearby woods. The land manager waited for the children under a huge, 150-year-old red oak tree. Pannill showed the wide-eyed students a three-foot tree he had grown from one small acorn. He explained that the small chinkapin acorns were the best ones to plant because they germinate quickly.

The children then went on a treasure hunt gathering large red oak and small chinkapin acorns, hickory nuts, black walnuts and colorful leaves, filling their small tin buckets to overflowing with items from the forest floor.


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