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Director's Corner

Meet Service Director Dan Ashe.

Coalition Helping New England Cottontail Recover

I was privileged to join Secretary Jewell, New Hampshire Senator Jeanne Shaheen, and people and organizations from across New England as we came together today to celebrate a remarkable conservation success. Once headed toward extinction, the New England cottontail is now coming back – thanks to the efforts of this broad coalition.

The effort to conserve the cottontail relies on landowners like Rick and Donna Ambrose who hosted us today in New Hampshire. The Ambroses have cleared about 10 acres, removed invasive plants and planted shrubs to support the cottontail effort on their land. Rick has also helped other landowners with habitat restoration through his excavation business.

Today, Rick and Donna and their neighbors became the first ever landowners to have captive-raised rabbits released on their property.

The cottontail’s remarkable rebound is also a testament to the benefits provided by the Endangered Species Act to both listed and non-listed species, as well as the people and communities sharing the landscape with them, since its passage in 1973.


More Help for Monarchs

Director Dan Ashe watches Hallie tag a monarch. Photo by Joanna Gilkeson/USFWS

I spent much of this morning at beautiful Minnesota Valley National Wildlife Refuge with Senator Amy Klobuchar working on monarch butterfly conservation.  Life is good!

Senator Klobuchar is an exceptional advocate for monarchs in Congress, and it is stirring to hear the passion she has for them.

And as a bonus: We had plenty of kids with us, ready to become monarch scientists and add to our data on the butterfly.

From our Midwest Region: U.S. Senator Amy Klobuchar, Service Director Dan Ashe Boost Monarch Conservation

We’ve been making a lot of noise about it, so by now, I think a lot of people know that time is running out to secure the future of the monarch butterfly, one of North America’s most recognizable wildlife species.

As recently as 1996, the estimated population of monarchs wintering in Mexico topped 1 billion.  This year, the Mexican overwintering population numbered only about 56.5 million butterflies.

Some of the problem has been blamed on timber harvesting in Mexico, climate change and disease – and we must address those factors –  but the accelerating conversion of native prairie habitat in Midwestern states to crop production and livestock grazing has hurt the monarch and other pollinators.


ā€˜Eā€™ is for Elephant, Not Extinction

dog team
Dog Ruger and some of the team. Photo by Michelle Gadd/USFWS

As our children learn to read, we teach them that “E is for elephant.”

It’s hard to believe that one of the world’s most well-known and beloved animals, a staple of children’s alphabet books and stories, is fighting for its very existence. But these magnificent creatures are, and there is no better time than today – World Elephant Day – to remember African and Asian elephants and continue our hard work to help both of these species that are threatened with extinction. 

In Africa, poaching for ivory poses the biggest threat to elephants. We lost 95 percent of elephants there during the 20th century, and now we risk losing the remaining 5 percent.  The thriving illegal trade in ivory makes every elephant a target for ruthless, well-armed criminal organizations that are driven by greed. 

We have raised awareness here at home about the plight of the elephants with our two Ivory Crushes. We also support on-the-ground conservation in countries across Africa through our African Elephant Conservation Fund, including efforts with the South Luangwa Conservation Society to launch a wildlife detector dog program in Zambia. 

Three teams of dogs and handlers are at work and Zambia is already seeing results! (Related: We have detector dogs in the United States |  Read about detection dogs in Kenya.) 


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