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A Talk on the Wild Side.

Jill-of-All-Conservation-Trades in the Making

  Emily Greene andpartner Nekton samplingEmily Greene does some nekton sampling.

Emily Greene, an AmeriCorps and Maine Conservation Corps Environmental Steward, tackles pretty much everything … and that’s the way she likes it!

I have always been in awe of the many things my father can do. He used to be a carpenter; built houses, furniture and my bookshelves. He understands electrical circuits, how to put together a catapult and is the ultimate grill master. He can also makeshift a floating dock, diagnose a sick car engine, fix broken machines, and above all he takes pride in his ability to tease his kids. Being a Jack-of-all-trades is pretty impressive.

  crew to cut invasive phragmitesEmily Greene (second from left) joins a crew to cut invasive phragmites.

So is being a Jill-of-all-trades. And what better way to start my career than as an AmeriCorps and Maine Conservation Corps (MCC) Environmental Steward (ES) with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service?

 Emily Greene with pack, hardhat and axechainsaw training
Chainsaw training involves an axe.

Being an ES is a unique and well-rounded position that gives me the opportunity to observe and participate in the various conservation efforts that are carried out at Rachel Carson National Wildlife Refuge. How many people can say with pride that they have been able to do New England cottontail surveys in the dead of winter, nekton sampling in the heat of summer, fill in pot holes by hand, run a chainsaw, interact with visitors from around the world, manage a greenhouse with thousands of plants, coordinate volunteer events, protect endangered shorebirds, and so much more?

My position allows me to excel at adapting to the different environments that the work requires, and I would not have it any other way. The skills and experience that I receive as an ES are not only transferable to other jobs, but are good for life.

AmeriCorps members come in all shapes and sizes, and thousands are deployed across the nation – doing the same type of work that I get to do every day – to serve the American people. Serving an 11-month term with AmeriCorps and MCC is not just a position of volunteerism with FWS; it is a position of national service.

  job fairEmily Greene at the Unity College job fair.

Looking back to the start of my term, I sincerely appreciate the connections I have made with people, organizations, peers, and elders. I am young in my field – a rising conservationist, a striving academic – and I am looking forward to the day when I become a fully trained Jill-of-all-trades.

Sea Turtle Recovery on the Atlantic Coast

  LoggerheadThe loggerhead turtle is the most abundant nesting sea turtle in the southeastern United States. Archie Carr National Wildlife Refuge in Florida is the most significant area for loggerhead nesting in the Western Hemisphere. (Brian Gratwicke /Creative Commons)

The seven species of sea turtles found on Earth today have been around since the time of the dinosaurs. This week we look at how some national wildlife refuges work to ensure that sea turtles will survive hundreds more years. Read the story. 

Consider the life cycle of just one species: A green sea turtle has to survive 20 to 50 years before reaching maturity. Then, she returns to the beach where she hatched to lay about 140 eggs – and she does that several times during a nesting season. Yet, only one hatchling in a thousand is likely to survive to adulthood. 

Refuges in Florida and the Carolinas are working to protect sea turtles, even as beaches erode in the face of sea level rise and sea turtle eggs are exposed to heat and sun, affecting the gender of the hatchlings.  

Are national wildlife refuges making progress? The barrier island beaches of Cape Romain National Wildlife Refuge in South Carolina are the most significant loggerhead nesting areas north of Florida.  In 2015, a record 1,930 nests were counted there.  

Florida’s Archie Carr National Wildlife Refuge manager Anibal Vasquez also believes the work is making a huge difference for green sea turtles. “For the last 10 years, there has been almost exponential growth in (turtle) nesting numbers,” he says. 

The sea turtle recovery story – told in an array of arresting photos – is part of the Refuge System’s series of weekly online stories that use photos to highlight the conservation work and visitor opportunities at national wildlife refuges, wetland management districts and marine national monuments. A new story is posted on the Refuge System homepage each Wednesday.

'A Lot More Than Fish'

  Inks Dam NFHInks Dam National Fish Hatchery in Texas. Photo by USFWS

Inks Dam National Fish Hatchery in Texas has plenty of tasks critical to the fulfilling the mission of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. The Highland Lakes Hill Country Picayune talks about them but also describes the many other activities you can enjoy at hatchery. As Paul Dorman, project leader at the hatchery, tells the newspaper: “We have hiking, bird watching, fishing, outdoor education … We do a lot more than fish.”

  pollinators at Leavenworth National Fish HatcheryThe same can be said most about any of the National Fish Hatcheries. For instance, Leavenworth National Fish Hatchery in Washington recently won an award for its 2,400-square foot pollinator garden.

Find a hatchery near you.

The Biggest Marine Protected Area in the World

uhu uliuli, or spectacled parrotfishUhu uliuli, or spectacled parrotfish. Photo by Lindsay Kramer/USFWS

For many years, we have worked to protect and promote the natural and cultural history of the National Wildlife Refuges that form the backbone of the Papahanaumokuakea Marine National MonumentMidway Atoll National Wildlife Refuge and Battle of Midway National Memorial and Hawaiian Islands National Wildlife Refuge.  On Friday, President Obama announced the expansion of the monument to become the world’s largest protected area. More than 582,000 square miles of coral reefs, seamounts and undersea ridges will now be safeguarded, an area greater than the size of Texas, California and Montana combined. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is now responsible for administering or co-administering nearly 1 billion acres of lands and waters for wildlife, more than any other entity on the planet.

Read More 

The Fight Against Wildlife Trafficking

 rhinoRhino populations have been decimated by poaching. Photo by Cyndi Perry

Wildlife trafficking—the illegal taking and trade in protected species and their parts—continues to grow, with expected and sometimes unexpected consequences.

It threatens the future of many species of wildlife, from some of the most treasured, such as elephants and tigers, to mostly unknown species such as pangolins, the most heavily trafficked mammal in the world, and cone-producing cycad plants, often called “living fossils” because of how long they have been around.

Once a small-scale crime of opportunity, wildlife trafficking has now been taken over by criminal syndicates with plenty of guns and a deadly, organized structure, threatening the security and stability of places such as Central Africa.

The United States plays a key role in wildlife trafficking, as both consumer and transit country and a source of organized criminal networks. Species such as ginseng are also poached right here in the United States.

But it is also in the vanguard of efforts to end wildlife trafficking. The Service takes a leadership role combating wildlife trafficking both here and abroad. Read on to find out how.

From the Summer 2016 issue of Fish & Wildlife News.

Matt Trott, External Affairs

Using Social Media to Pilot an Anti-Wildlife Trafficking Campaign in Peru

 Campaign image“They kill the moms, so they can sell their young.” WCS image

Peru is a country on the rise. In addition to a growing economy and increased influence in South America, in recent years Peru has become better known as a culinary powerhouse and a tourist destination. Featuring a variety of fascinating cities, cultures, delicious foods and such well-known archaeological sites as Machu Picchu, Peru has much to recommend itself. It is also a biodiversity hotspot, with coastal, mountain and Amazon Rainforest ecosystems that are home to a vast diversity and number of plant and animal species. But many are under threat.

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MENTOR Grad Fights for Wildlife

Vincent Opyene is a Ugandan lawyer who started his career as a state prosecutor with the Director of Public Prosecution in 1999 and as an attorney and specialized wildlife crime prosecutor with the Uganda Wildlife Authority in 2006. In 2008 and 2009, he formed part of the Service’s first MENTOR (Mentoring for ENvironmental Training in Outreach and Resource conservation) Program, focused on bushmeat in East Africa.

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Lessons of the Feather Trade can Help Service Combat Wildlife Trafficking

  egretsDemand for their showy plumes drove some egrets to the brink of extinction. Photo by Mike Carlo/USFWS

For Asia’s fashionable rising middle class, few things project wealth and status like “white gold”—elephant ivory. Those who buy ivory, considered a symbol of status and good luck, are often unaware that ivory comes from elephants. If they do know, many don’t realize an elephant must be killed before its tusks can be extracted and carved into chess pieces, bracelets and sculptures. They may have been told that elephants shed ivory naturally and it’s scavenged from the ground, causing no harm to the elephants themselves.

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EAGLE Spreads Its Wings with Bravery and Commitment across Africa

 PangolinFour men, including a police officer (second from left) were arrested with two live pangolins. Photo by Natural Resource Conservation Network 

Large-scale poaching and trafficking of wildlife and wildlife products is threatening the very existence of elephants, rhinos, great apes, pangolins and other imperiled species across large parts of Africa. Everywhere these animals occur, laws and treaties are in place to protect them. In reality, however, enforcement is often weak and provides few deterrents to those engaged in wildlife crimes.

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Wildlife Traffickers are Finding that U.S. Laws Have Bite

For the Service, law enforcement is another means of conservation, with special agents, wildlife inspectors and forensic scientists working to combat wildlife trafficking internationally and domestically.

“Stopping wildlife trafficking continues to be a huge conservation priority,” says Service Deputy Chief of the Office of Law Enforcement Edward Grace. “It takes all of us to protect endangered species, here and around the world. Service wildlife inspectors, special agents and the support staff work tirelessly to stop criminals who financially thrive at the expense of the world’s natural resources.”

Service special agent attachés are stationed in U.S. embassies around the world in countries that are both abundant in wildlife and in wildlife crime. They build capacity in their host country by coordinating investigations, providing training, and sharing resources needed to result in successful arrests and prosecutions.

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