Agencies Announce Funding Agreement for Federal Trout Hatchery Operation, Tennessee Valley Stocking
May 16, 2013
NASHVILLE, Tenn. – U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander and representatives from the Tennessee Valley Authority, the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency and Georgia Department of Natural Resources announced Friday a new agreement that will continue popular trout stocking programs in reservoirs and tailwaters of certain TVA dams across the region.
TVA will provide more than $900,000 per year for the next three years to support federal fish hatchery operations that provide the trout for stocking. During the three-year timeframe, per an agreement signed by the four agencies, a working group will be formed with key stakeholders who benefit from the recreation-based trout stocking to identify a long-term funding source.
Currently, non-native trout stocked near some of TVA’s dams are raised at three federal fish hatcheries operated by the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service: Erwin National Fish Hatchery in Erwin, Tenn.; Dale Hollow National Fish Hatchery in Celina, Tenn.; and Chattahoochee Forest National Fish Hatchery in Suches, Ga.
“Closing Dale Hollow and Erwin would have been a disaster for 900,000 Tennesseans and visitors who bought fishing licenses last year,” Alexander said. “Dale Hollow helps make Tennessee’s rivers and lakes among the most prized trout fisheries in our country. And the Erwin hatchery provides brood stocks for fishing waters across the country.”
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Announces Endangered Species Recovery Champion Award Winners
Experts from Arkansas, Florida, and Tennessee Honored
May 16, 2013
The story of endangered species conservation in the United States over the past 40 years involves many heroes.
Today, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service honored 61 of these heroes for their outstanding efforts to conserve and protect endangered and threatened fish, wildlife and plants by designating them 2012 National Recovery Champions. Among the award winners were a team and a university that helped the Service remove the Magazine Mountain Shagreen, a snail only found on Magazine Mountain in Arkansas, from the Endangered Species list.
At the same time, two Service biologists from Florida were honored for their work to prevent the extinction of the rare Florida grasshopper sparrow.
“Recovery Champion awards acknowledge individuals and groups who have excelled in their efforts to protect and recover our most imperiled species,” said Service Director Dan Ashe. “They exemplify the dedication and determination that has helped save countless animals and plants from extinction and that continues to raise the bar in the field of endangered species conservation.”
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Delists Magazine Mountain Shagreen – First Invertebrate Recovered under the ESA
May 14, 2013
In the highest parts of Arkansas’ Ozarks, the slow-moving Magazine Mountain shagreen snail won the race to become the first invertebrate to be delisted under the Endangered Species Act.
“Today we are excited to announce that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is delisting the Magazine Mountain shagreen,” said Cindy Dohner, Southeast Regional Director. “The recovery of this species was made possible through collaborative efforts of our partners at the U.S. Forest Service, the Arkansas Department of Parks and Tourism, and the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission to remove threats and protect the habitat of the Magazine Mountain shagreen. The delisting of this snail is another Endangered Species Act success story.”
When the Endangered Species Act was enacted in 1973, this landmark legislation allowed for the protection of wildlife, both vertebrates and invertebrates (including snails, mussels, crustaceans, etc), and plants. In the South, the Service is working to recover more than 340 federally listed species – more than 100 of these are invertebrates. Nationally, the Service is working to recover about 600 listed animals. More than a third of them are invertebrates.
When Push Comes to Shove
The Florida manatee is thriving in Kings Bay, and so is tourism. Therein lies the problem.
May 9, 2013
The welcome sign on the outskirts of Crystal River isn’t the kind you see every day: “Manatee Information: Tune to 1610 AM,” it reads. Then, too, not many towns have a red-white-and-blue statue of an endangered marine mammal in front of City Hall.
Stop to ask where you can see these aquatic celebrities, and you learn that a couple dozen local dive shops offer snorkeling tours in Kings Bay. Or you can rent a kayak and paddle to one of the warm springs where manatees hang out in winter. Or if you want to watch from dry land, you can head over to the canal west of Three Sisters Springs.
At the canal it takes only a few minutes before the first manatees cruise below, pale ghosts in the jade green canal. They pass alone, or with a single calf, or occasionally in groups of three or four. There’s a constant flow of people coming and going too.
Service Estimates Economic Impacts and Releases Draft Environmental Assessment of Critical Habitat Designation for Neosho Mucket and Rabbitsfoot
May 8, 2013
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is releasing the estimated cost and economic impacts and draft environmental assessment of the proposed critical habitat designation of two freshwater mussels, and is seeking public comment.
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 channel in Alabama, Arkansas, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Mississippi, Missouri, Oklahoma, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Tennessee.
Secretary Jewell Tours Everglades, Affirms Administration’s Unprecedented Commitment to Restoration Efforts in South Florida
Meets with Stakeholders and Employees; Briefed on Projects to Restore Quality, Quantity, Timing and Distribution of Water and Efforts to Combat Invasive Species
May 1, 2013
EVERGLADES NATIONAL PARK, Fl. – In one of her first trips as Secretary of the Interior, and as part of the Obama Administration’s unprecedented commitment to the restoration of the Everglades, Sally Jewell today toured Arthur R. Marshall Loxahatchee National Wildlife Refuge and Everglades National Park, pledging continued strong support for the restoration efforts that have picked up speed during the past four years under the Obama Administration.
“President Obama has kept his commitment to the people of Florida to make the Everglades restoration a high priority in his administration and together we have made great strides in getting the water right and reducing the threats to this great ecosystem,” said Jewell. “We still have much work to do, from addressing invasive species to developing new water projects, and we will work with the state, Native American Tribes, local governments and all the stakeholders to get the job done.”
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Invites Public to Provide Input to Environmental Assessment to Review Use of Genetically Modified Crops
April 29, 2013
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is seeking public input as it evaluates the future use of genetically modified crops on national wildlife refuges that use farming in the Southeast Region. These refuges use farming as a wildlife management tool to help meet refuge specific conservation objectives for waterfowl and other species.
Genetically modified crops (GMCs, GM crops, or biotech crops) are plants that have had their DNA modified by using genetic engineering techniques to improve growth and resist pests and other harmful agents. These crops have been used since their de-regulation by the U. S. Department of Agriculture, Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) in the mid 1990s. Since then, GMCs have become a widespread feature of American agriculture.
The public is encouraged to review information or attend public meetings that will be held in June. Comments will be considered and a determination will be made after addressing those comments and any new information that is accumulated during this environmental assessment. The 90-day comment period will end on July 28, 2013.
Fish and Wildlife Service Invites Public Comment on Spring Pygmy Sunfish Status, Critical Habitat Designation, and Draft Economic Analysis
April 26, 2013
A spring pygmy sunfish. Credit: Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources.
Current evidence still suggests that the spring pygmy sunfish may become threatened with extinction in the foreseeable future. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has re-opened the comment period on the October 2, 2012, proposal to protect this sunfish under the Endangered Species Act (ESA), and designate critical habitat, until May 29, 2013. In addition, the public can also review and comment on the draft economic analysis estimating the potential fiscal impacts of the critical habitat designation.
The spring pygmy sunfish is a spring-associated fish which is currently only found in a single spring system (Beaverdam Spring/Creek) in the Tennessee River drainage in Limestone County, Alabama. Historically, this sunfish was known to occur at two other sites in northern Alabama. The species’ decline has been attributed to water pollution, a reduction of water quantity, and impoundments. Threats to the fish and its habitat include proposed urban and industrial development, increased groundwater and surface water usage, and excessive stormwater runoff containing pesticides, herbicides, and suspended sediment.
Service Estimates Economic Impact of Critical Habitat Designation for Fluted Kidneyshell and Slabside Pearlymussel
April 26, 2013
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announces the availability of a draft economic analysis considering the impact of a proposal to designate critical habitat for two freshwater mussels proposed for listing as endangered.
If the two species are listed, and if critical habitat is finalized as it is proposed, the draft economic analysis suggests a range of economic impacts that are possible as a result.
In addition to opening a public comment period on the draft economic analysis, the Service is re-opening a public comment period on the proposal to designate critical habitat for these mussels under the Endangered Species Act (ESA) for 30 days by May 29, 2013, in order to allow comments on the draft analysis and the proposed critical habitat designation. The Service first released the proposed critical habitat designation for public comment in October 2012.
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Partners Starting Captive Breeding Program In Race Against Time to Prevent Extinction of Florida Grasshopper Sparrows
April 18, 2013
Florida grasshopper sparrow signing. Photo: © Christina Evans, Chroma Graphics Studios.
Vero Beach, Fla. -- In an effort to prevent extinction of the Florida grasshopper sparrow, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) and many partners are establishing a captive breeding program for this species. Many believe that if current population trends continue the species could go extinct in three to five years.
The Rare Species Conservatory Foundation and the Service will be collaborative leaders of this captive breeding effort.
The captive breeding program will consist of trained volunteers and staff from the Service, Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) and the Department of Environmental Protection going into the field during April, May and June at specified locations looking for eggs in nests. When and if eggs are found, some of them will be collected and taken to the Rare Species Conservatory Foundation in Loxahatchee, Fla. There, they will be placed in incubators, where the hope is hatchlings will emerge in 11-13 days, after which around-the-clock care will be provided to facilitate their survival. Ultimately, the hatchlings will be kept in captivity in the hopes that they will mate and breed.
“Captive breeding is labor intensive and challenging. It is generally done as a last resort and there are no guarantees. But we have to try,” said Larry Williams, the Service’s Florida State Supervisor of Ecological Services. “This is an emergency and the situation for this species is dire. This is literally a race against time.”
To Sniff out Illegal Wildlife Trade: Follow their Noses
April 5, 2013
By Ed Grace, Deputy Chief of Law Enforcement
Wildlife Inspector Amir Lawal and his canine partner, Viper, check packages on a conveyor belt during training. Photo: Tom MacKenzie, USFWS.
Dogs never cease to amaze me – whether they are sniffing out bombs, providing eyes or extra hands for their partners, flushing out pheasant or retrieving waterfowl for hunters, or providing that 24-7 friendship only dogs can. I recently saw that our Southwest Region had used dogs trained to sniff out Jemez salamanders.
That’s why I am so excited to welcome the newest employees of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service: Wildlife Detector Dogs Viper, Butter, Lancer and Locket.
They are part of our latest effort to fight the rising international black market in endangered animal parts – a callous and brutal trade that drives its victims closer to extinction. Much of the illegal wildlife trade passes across U.S. borders and we do stop much of it.
In 2012 alone, we inspected more than 180,000 shipments of wildlife and wildlife products, and successfully executed one of the largest investigative operations ever mounted by the Service – Operation Crash – which broke a global rhino horn smuggling ring.
2013 Georgia Junior Duck Stamp Student Art Competition Winners
April 4, 2013
Best of Show artwork featuring a pair of mallards by Euna Oh. See full size.
Euna Oh, a 15-year-old artist from Marietta, Georgia, has been announced as the winner of the annual 2013 Georgia Junior Duck Stamp Art Competition held April 3, 2013, in Atlanta, Georgia. Five judges unanimously selected Euna’s acrylic rendition of a pair of mallards out of 619 total entries as the Georgia Best of Show.
Oh will receive a $175 scholarship from Georgia Power, a long-time sponsor of the Georgia Junior Duck Stamp Program, as well as additional prizes. As Georgia’s Best of Show, her original artwork will be sent to compete in the national Junior Duck Stamp Competition being held Friday, April 19, at the National Conservation Training Center in West Virginia. The Junior Duck Stamp Contest is sponsored by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS).
“I’m so excited,” Euna Oh said. “My art teacher encouraged me to participate in the Georgia Junior Duck Stamp completion.”
Last updated: May 17, 2013