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Open Spaces

A Talk on the Wild Side.

A Special ESA Photo Essay, Just For You!

As you know, the Endangered Species Act is turning 40 this year.

As our gift to you, this week we present a glorious photo essay, highlighting some of the states and species we've featured on Open Spaces so far.


Protecting Our Waters: The mussels of Virginia's Clinch and Powell Rivers

(Photo: Gary Peeples/USFWS)


Delmarva Peninsula Fox Squirrel: Journey to Recovery

(Photo: USFWS)


Illinois's Unique Places and Species

(Photo: P. Burton/USFWS)


Whoopers Return to Louisiana After 60 Years

(Photo: Sara Zimorski, Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries)


A Rocky Mountain Success Story

(Photo: Colorado Division of Wildlife)

Each week, throughout this ruby anniversary year of the Endangered Species Act, we’ll highlight stories of conservation success in every state across the country. Stay tuned!

Whoa! Whooping Cranes Return

By Brynn Walling, USFWS

What a comeback!

There are now more than 600 Whooping cranes in North America.

These wonderful birds were almost wiped out, but thanks to the Endangered Species Act, their populations continue to climb – and their recovery stories continue to inspire.

mac_captureIn 1947, Mac was the only Whooping crane left in the entire state of Louisiana. (Photo: USFWS)

For instance, if you were near the Louisiana marshes in March 2011 you may have witnessed some amazing history in the making. Whooping Cranes were freely flying overhead for the first time in 60 years! Conservation efforts paid off and 10 “whoopers” that were raised in captivity were set free to fly the Louisiana Marshes. (Watch it here!)

At one time, the whooping crane population soared between 15,000 – 20,000 birds and their habitats ranged from Central Canada to Mexico and from Utah to the Atlantic coast.

But the birds began to vanish due to the transformation of wetlands and grasslands. Unregulated hunting and specimen collection negatively impacted the population, as well.


Delmarva Fox Squirrel Returning to Refuges

By Tylar Greene, USFWS

The endangered Delmarva fox squirrel is faring better today than it has been in half a century, thanks to national wildlife refuges along the Eastern seaboard.

Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge has been particularly instrumental in the squirrel’s revival.

“Delmarva fox squirrels were not at Chincoteague when the species was first listed” under the old Endangered Species Preservation Act in 1967, says Kevin Holcomb, a wildlife biologist at the Virginia refuge.

squirrelThe endangered Delmarva fox squirrel is larger than the common gray squirrel and has a full, fluffy tail. (Photo: USFWS)


That's One Big Leap for Such a Little Fish!

By Kendall Slee

For the Moapa dace - an endangered fish species found only in the thermal springs and streams feeding Nevada’s Muddy River - 2012 was a banner year.

Last August, a snorkeling survey of the Moapa dace habitat counted 1,181 fish - a 65 percent increase from 2011. The population jump indicates that Moapa Valley National Wildlife Refuge habitat restoration efforts are helping the species recover.

moapa_fishA snorkel survey last summer found a large increase in the species’ population. (Photo: Mark Hereford/USGS)

The minnow–size Moapa dace is adapted to thermal spring waters in the Mojave Desert that can reach 90 degrees and have low oxygen levels, but the species has been struggling for survival because of habitat destruction and non–native competitors.


Out of the Cube and Into the Field

What is it like to be an intern with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service? One student gives us her perspective ...

By Ashley Cotter, USFWS

First day on the job, I got a cubicle to work in, and a stack of papers to fill out. Yeah, I know, doesn’t sound too exciting -- but this was my summer plan: Go into the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Sacramento Office for work experience -- you know, the kind that every pre-college student looks for to fill up their applications.

You know? The first day wasn't too bad. I got introduced to some of the employees, took some online training, and then started on research to write stories just like this one. It felt pretty good to be working.

Getting out of the cube. (Photo: Sarah Swenty/USFWS)


Emergency Response to Elephant Poaching in Cameroon

Today's guest blogger, Dirck Byler, is a Program Officer for the Great Ape Conservation Fund with the Service's International Affairs office in Arlington, Virginia. Today, he shares a story about his recent trip to Cameroon.

In February, I was in Cameroon to meet with students attending the Garoua Wildlife College, a regional institution supported by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.  The College trains young professionals from French-speaking Africa in wildlife management.

community in CameroonCommunities in northern Cameroon surrounding Bouba Ndjida National Park. Photo: Dirck Byler/USFWS

While in Cameroon, reports filled my inbox on the slaughter of as many as 500 elephants in Bouba Ndjida National Park. However, the facts of these reports were disputed. Little detail was available on what interventions, if any, were being made to prevent further poaching.


5 Things you Need to Know About Wetlands

World Wetlands Day occurs each year on February 2 to highlight the importance of wetlands to animals and people around the globe.  It celebrates the day the Ramsar Wetlands Convention was signed in 1971 (the Convention celebrated its 40th Anniversary last year).  The Wetlands Convention promotes the conservation and wise use of wetlands through international cooperation. Today, 1,994 Ramsar sites covering more than 474 million acres have been designated as Wetlands of International Importance.

ChincoteagueChincoteague National Wildlife Refuge


Looking Back: Victor Scheffer

Every so often it's good to look into the past to revisit the people who got us where we are today. Looking Back is a series on the people who helped shape the National Wildlife Refuge System. The series is based on "A Look Back," a regular column written by Karen Leggett, from the Refuge System Branch of Communications, which appears in each issue of the Refuge Update newsletter.

“Long-lost Deer Found on West Coast by Service Naturalist”

This headline on a 1941 press release from the U.S. Department of the Interior identified Victor B. Scheffer as the naturalist who discovered a band of about 600 Columbia white-tailed deer along the Washington-Oregon border.  Lewis and Clark had described these deer, whose tails and antlers differ from other whitetails and whose habitat was largely destroyed by farmers and hunters. 


Stamp Out Extinction

The Save Vanishing Species Stamp is the first U.S. postage stamp issued in the 164-year history of the Postal Service to raise funds for international wildlife conservation. Proceeds from the sale of the stamp will directly benefit the Wildlife Without Borders Multinational Species Conservation Funds (MSCF), administered by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. 

The stamp features an Amur tiger cub and sells for 55 cents per stamp - just slightly above the cost of first-class postage. By purchasing the stamp,the public can directly contribute to the on-the-ground conservation programs of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Since 1989, the Wildlife Without Borders Program has saved tigers, rhinos,elephants, gorillas, chimpanzees, marine turtles and other endangered species. We have supported more than 1,800 projects working with more than 200 partners around the globe. 

Save Vanishing Species StampSave Vanishing Species © 2011 United States Postal Service. All Rights Reserved.


What We Do to Protect Endangered Species – the Road to Recovery

The past two years have seen a herculean response by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the National Park Service and other agencies working with the scientific community to save the last wild and growing Franciscan manzanita; a plant thought to be extinct in the wild.


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