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A Talk on the Wild Side.

Strengthening our Conservation of North American Bats

Signing
Conservation leaders from Canada, Mexico and the United States sign the historic bat conservation Letter of Intent. Photo by Chris Tollefson/USFWS

 We share hundreds of species with Mexico and Canada, and coordinate conservation activities with these neighboring partners on many of them, including monarch butterflies, migratory birds, and many more. But until now, comprehensive coordination for  one group of animals has fallen noticeably short: bats. For the first time in history, with the signing of a  “Letter of Intent” at this week’s Canada/Mexico/US Trilateral Committee for Wildlife and Ecosystem Conservation and Management, we have official coordination on the conservation of North America’s bats.

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California Condor and its 9.5-foot Wingspan Spread to Mexico

California condor
One of the male California condors at Mexico's Chapultepec Zoo. Photo by San Diego Zoo Global

Don’t let the name fool you. California condors used to call many areas of the United States home. During the Pleistocene Era, ending 10,000 years ago, the condor's range even extended across much of North America. When the European settlers arrived, California condors ranged all along the Pacific Coast, from British Columbia, Canada in the north to Baja California, Mexico in the south.  Now, some California condors are moving back to Mexico.

The California condor population fell as people spread over North America. By 1982, only 22 condors survived in the wild, and all were limited to the mountainous areas of southern California. A captive breeding program helped the condor survive -- the population now totals 425 California condors and more than half of them live in the wild -- and begin its slow road to recovery. In 2014, a total of 15 captive bred California condors were released in the wild.

In addition to our work, we have some tremendous partners helping the condor, such as the California State Fish and Game Commission and the San Diego and Los Angeles Zoos. And last year, we strengthened our partnership with a longtime member in the condor recovery community: Mexico.

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Celebrating 10 Years of Cooperation on the Lower Colorado River

 Laguna Division Conservation Area
Partners also dedicated the newly created Laguna Division Conservation Area (LDCA), a conservation area of more than 1,110 acres downstream of Imperial Dam. Photo by Bureau of Reclamation

Last week, we gathered with the Bureau of Reclamation and other federal, state and local partners in Yuma, Arizona, to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the Lower Colorado River Multi-Species Conservation Program. The program helps balance the use of Colorado River water resources with conservation of native species and their habitats.

Holy Toledo! Partnerships Span the Continent and the Oceans to Conserve Native Species

Our Pacific Region has a nice blog about the benefits of the Wildlife and Sport Fish Restoration Program (WSFR).

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True Story: A Bobcat Catches a Shark

A Bobcat was caught on camera catching a shark.

The Backstory: On a stroll while at Sebastian Inlet State Park, John Bailey noticed what he thought was a dog staring into the water. Upon closer inspection he realized it was a bobcat, transfixed on a shark feeding on some smaller fish. All of a sudden, the bobcat leapt into the water atop the shark and dragged it ashore! After Bailey took the photo the cat dropped its catch and ran into the woods. So what can we learn about this bobcat fishing for one of the ocean’s top predators?

As blogs and news stations pick up the story and it’s deemed “viral” online, we wanted to take a closer look at the situation.

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Service Grantees Shine in Mexico

Conservation in Mexico
People get instructions on a conservation project. Photo courtesy Samuel Levy

Wildlife don’t politely turn around when they reach a national border, so conservation must be a global responsibility. Recognizing that, we have, since 1989, provided more than 2,700 grants for international conservation totaling more than $100 million and raising more than $200 million in additional leveraged funds.

The Service's Mexico Program works with our neighbor to the south. We share hundreds of species with Mexico, and for a country that makes up just 1 percent of the Earth’s land mass, Mexico contains a staggering amount of wildlife: It’s home to one-tenth of all species known to science. We have provided 351 grants in Mexico totaling more than $11 million. Better yet, that original funding has brought in 26 million in leveraged dollars. 

As preparations continue for next week's annual meeting of the Canada/Mexico/US Trilateral Committee for Wildlife and Ecosystem Conservation and Management, we celebrate three standout partners of our Mexico Program.

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Deep Waters: The Search for Lake Michigan’s Elusive Cisco

bloater
A male bloater, a type of deepwater cisco, collected from Lake Michigan. Photo by Katie Steiger-Meister/USFWS

A type of deepwater cisco, the bloater is an important part of the Great Lakes food web providing important nutrients to native predator fish such as lake trout.  Yet their populations are low, if not completely extinguished, in much of the Great Lakes due to over-fishing, invasive species and habitat degradation. An effort by the Service at the request of the state of New York and the province of Ontario aims to restore bloater populations in Lake Ontario, which will help to support growing populations of lake trout and Atlantic salmon. The lessons learned as part of this effort will help to guide cisco restoration efforts in other parts of the Great Lakes.

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Detroit Tigers Root, Root, Root for Endangered Tigers

envelope
Detroit Post Offices are selling these canceled Tiger Stamps for Opening Day. If interested, email USPS' Dan Lesperance. Visit Tigerstamp.com to order stamps.

As Major League Baseball returns for another season, we’re thinking about tigers.

Not just the ones in Detroit, the endangered wild tigers of Asia, too.

The Detroit Tigers have taken a leading role in helping the conservation of wild tigers – making donations, raising awareness and filming public service announcements.

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There’ll Be Days Like This ... And We're Ready!

A  forklift was used to move frozen slabs of river sediment
A forklift operator moves frozen slabs of river sediment into a heated garage to thaw. Photo by USFWS

The lyrics of a song made popular in the 1960s by the Shirelles state “There’ll be days like this.” However, after almost three decades with the Service and the last two spent at the La Crosse Fish & Wildlife Conservation Office, fisheries biologist Mark Steingraeber had never had a day like February 9 before. Yes, he’d previously handled large volumes of river sediment … at times requiring chain-of-custody protocols … but never in the form of frozen slabs requiring a fork lift to safely move them!

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And the Winner is ... Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge

bison
Bison call Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge home. Photo by USFWS

Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge took an early lead and never looked back in winning a USA TODAY Reader’s Choice poll to pick the Best National Wildlife Refuge. Visitors from all over the country enjoy the Oklahoma refuge's diversity of wildlife, including bison, elk and deer, and of habitats, such as open mixed grass prairie, forest and rock outcroppings.

Congrats to Wichita Mountains, the other “10 Best” refuges and the other nominees.

None of the winners near you? Find a refuge close by at http://www.fws.gov/refuges/refugeLocatorMaps/index.html

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