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A Talk on the Wild Side.

Trout Anglers in Southeast Have Addition to List of ‘Must-Fish Streams’

anglers
A gloomy day in May can't keep the anglers away from Hatchery Creek. Photo by USFWS


If you catch a trout in Kentucky, it almost always has some tie to Wolf Creek National Fish Hatchery. The hatchery raises rainbow trout, brown trout and brook trout, and it produces all the trout stocked in Kentucky. So anyone who fishes for trout in Kentucky has nearly a million reasons (the number of all fish stocked annually) to give thanks to Wolf Creek. 

Now, anglers have another reason to cheer the hatchery – a dazzling new trout stream.

The man-made Hatchery Creek replaces a 380-foot creek and meanders more than a mile through created riffles, runs, glides and pools, all providing different habitat for fish and wildlife. A series of step pools allow trout to move between the Cumberland River and the newly created stream.  

Stream designers also added special touches to encourage natural reproduction of trout. No, not Barry White on an underwater stereo. Think pools and tree stumps for small fish to hide out and special gravel to make egg-laying possible.

All this is awesome news for trout anglers. The Kentucky state records for rainbow trout, lake trout, brown trout and brook trout are all in the Cumberland River/Lake Cumberland Tailwaters. So maybe some record-setters will be among the trout testing out the new stream.

We worked together with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources to make the new Hatchery Creek happen. It’s your nature; get out there and take advantage of it!

-- Matt Trott, External Affairs

Monarch Science Still has a Few Mysteries

 monarch caterpillar The Monarch Science Partnership is developing tools and information so we can better help monarchs, like this caterpillar, right here, right now. Photo by Joanna Gilkeson/USFWS

Until 1975, scientists were bewildered by the flocks of butterflies migrating each fall and returning each spring. No one knew where they spent the winter months. There are still modern-day monarch mysteries - or partial mysteries at least. For example, we still don’t know exactly how and why monarchs know when to migrate.

We do know, though, that monarchs are in trouble.

Using the best available science is the Monarch Conservation Science Partnership, which is exploring some of the remaining monarch mysteries, so we can better manage habitat for monarchs and other pollinators, with a focus on providing immediate relief from some threats, particularly habitat loss.

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Fire Over Ice: Beating Back Monocultures

 Winter prescribed burn. Winter prescribed burn. Photo by Sean Sallmann/USFWS

As summer heats up, winter might be the farthest thing from your mind, but not for us! We’re already planning for next winter.

Horicon Marsh in Wisconsin is one of the largest freshwater native cattail marshes in the United States and has the largest breeding population of redhead ducks east of the Mississippi River. But like many wetlands in the Midwest, the marsh is threatened by invasive cattails and winter is one of the best times to fight them.

Cattails may seem benign, but they can quickly take over a wetland. Early growth along the water's edge advances and chokes out native plants. This growth fills in open areas with what becomes a dense monoculture. And simply put, monocultures are bad for people and wildlife.

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16-Year-Old Puts her (Junior Duck) Stamp on Conservation

 Stacy Shen“It’s great knowing that I get to pursue my passion while raising awareness and funds for waterfowl and habitat conservation,”  says Stacy Shen, 2016 national Junior Duck Stamp winning artist. Photo by USFWS

Stacy Shen’s artwork appears on the 2016-17 Federal Junior Duck Stamp, chosen first from more than 27,000 national entries.

Stacy, along with the National Duck Stamp winner Joe Hautman were recently honored by the Fish and Wildlife Service, U.S. Postal Service and Bass Pro Shops at the first day of sale ceremony held earlier this month in Springfield, Missouri. All funds from Duck Stamp sales go to environmental education programs, and increase the opportunities for wildlife education and habitat conservation across the United States.

Read Stacy’s Story

Anglers Enable Restoration of the Rio Grande Cutthroat Trout

Restoration of the Rio Grande cutthroat trout by the New Mexico Department of Game and Fish is possible through Wildlife and Sport Fish Restoration Program dollars, money that comes from excise taxes paid on hunting, boating and fishing gear. Watch how anglers pay for native trout conservation.

Endangered Red-cockaded Woodpecker Makes its Presence Known in Longleaf Pine Forest

 NRCS State Conservationist for South Carolina Ann English and FWS staff Joshua Winchell in the field at the Aiken Preserve, South Carolina. Credit Wayne Hubbard/UAOTV
Joshua Winchell and NRCS State Conservationist for South Carolina Ann English in the field at the Aiken Preserve in South Carolina. Photo by Wayne Hubbard/UAOTV


Joshua Winchell
, Designated Federal Officer and Coordinator for the Wildlife and Hunting Heritage Conservation Council, recounts a recent visit along the Georgia and South Carolina border highlighting longleaf pine habitat restoration efforts.  

Rob laughed when I asked him if I’d be adding a red-cockaded woodpecker to my birding life list. “Josh, you know that when something is listed as endangered that means there’s not a whole lot of them around. So I wouldn’t count on seeing one today!” he said. I smiled along with others on the bus, but was just a wee bit disappointed at his answer. I’ve been an avid bird-watcher since high school, and the possibility of adding a new bird – and a famous one at that – to my life list was exciting. But Rob had just deflated my hopes. 

 FWS Wildlife Biologist Nancy Jordan, FWS Longleaf Coordinator Clay Ware (back to camera), and FWS Southeast Region Director Cynthia Dohner (in red-shirt and sunglasses) discuss red-cockaded woodpecker nest monitoring.  Credit Joshua Winchell/USFWS
FWS Wildlife Biologist Nancy Jordan, FWS Longleaf Coordinator Clay Ware (back to camera), and Southeast Region Director Cynthia Dohner (in red-shirt and sunglasses) discuss red-cockaded woodpecker nest monitoring. Photo by Joshua Winchell/USFWS


Rob was Robert Abernathy, president of the Longleaf Alliance, and he was helping lead a field trip along the Georgia and South Carolina border highlighting longleaf pine habitat restoration efforts. The field trip was organized by Rob, and longleaf pine recovery/restoration coordinators Clay Ware and Kyle Jones from the Fish and Wildlife Service and U.S. Forest Service, respectively. Fish and Wildlife Service Southeast Region Director Cynthia Dohner was with us as well, and was providing insights on the habitat, associated wildlife species, the remarkable collection of federal, state, local and nongovernmental organization collaborators, and the private individuals who own land where much of the longleaf pine restoration was occurring. 

  Mature longleaf pine habitat, Aiken Gopher Tortoise Preserve South Carolina. Credit Joshua Winchell/USFWS
Mature longleaf pine habitat, Aiken Gopher Tortoise Preserve in South Carolina. Photo by Joshua Winchell/USFWS

Before European settlement, more than 90 million acres of longleaf pine forest blanketed the southeastern United States, but by the early 20th century, almost all of these forests had disappeared due to overexploitation, urbanization, or conversion to other forest types or land uses. Longleaf pine forests contain a stunning diversity of plants and animals, with more than 900 plant species that are found nowhere else in the world. It is also home to the red-cockaded woodpecker, bobwhite quail, indigo snake, gopher tortoise and many other imperiled species. In addition to providing quality habitat and recovery opportunities for these species, longleaf pine has a rich cultural history as an integral part of the southern landscape, is prized for its high quality wood, and is more resistant to insect infestation, disease and heavy winds. The native open-canopied longleaf pine forested systems, properly maintained with frequent, low-intensity fires, have also been shown to be very efficient water-users, which not only makes the system more resilient in the face of climate change, but also serves to improve both the water quantity and quality of the rivers and streams that meander through them.

The field trip was put together for members of the Wildlife and Hunting Heritage Conservation Council, a federal advisory group established by the Interior and Agriculture Secretaries to provide them guidance on a range of wildlife, habitat and outdoor recreation topics. The council was meeting in nearby Edgefield, South Carolina, later that week.The private landowners we visited on the field trip spoke with excitement about longleaf habitat on their properties, and appreciation of the support they’ve received from federal and state conservation bureau staff. One of the landowners, recently retired from the military, talked about his pride in restoring longleaf to his property and improving the land for his children and grandchildren. 

Along the way we also visited Aiken Gopher Tortoise Heritage Preserve, a South Carolina Wildlife Management Area that we were told encompassed more mature longleaf pine habitat. And, as its name implies, is home to a population of gopher tortoises (a species of conservation concern) and a range of other plants and animals associated with longleaf pine. 

At the preserve we were met by Nancy Jordan, a Service biologist from Carolina Sandhills National Wildlife Refuge. Nancy led the group on a walk around the preserve, and spoke about the tortoise and the endangered red-cockaded woodpecker.  Nancy spoke enthusiastically about the new wireless cameras attached to long poles that allowed for safer and more efficient monitoring of nest cavities, with only a slight acknowledgement that the old days of clambering up trees and peering into the nest might have been a bit more exciting. Nancy shifted the conversation to the use of artificial nest cavities in the trees to encourage the return of the red-cockaded woodpecker when, right on cue, one flew overhead and landed on the trunk of a mature longleaf pine not 30 feet away from us.

woodpecker
A red-cockaded woodpecker (NOT the one they saw at Aiken) with an insect perches near a nest in a tree cavity. Photo by USFWS


I saw the bird close up. I turned to Rob and laughed, mostly with delight and just a hint of something else. He smiled and started laughing along with joy, and the rest of the group joined right in.

 

Milkweed - For More Than Monarch Butterflies

Planting milkweed is a one of the many ways you can help the monarch butterfly. Milkweed is the sole host plant to the monarch butterfly's caterpillar, but keeping milkweed as part of our landscape is important to more than just monarch butterflies. Here some species that also use milkweed in various ways. 

What Feeds on Milkweed Nectar? 

Bees

  • Bumblebees (Bombus spp.)  - these are one of the few native social bees, although their colonies are much smaller than those of the non-native honeybee; and only the queen overwinters.
  • Carpenter bees - Carpenter bees resemble bumble bees, but the upper surface of their abdomen is bare and shiny black
  • Yellow-faced beesHylaeus sp.
  • Plasterer bees, Colletes sp.
  • Sweat or Halictid (family name) bees – these are often bright metallic colors (e.g., iridescent green)
  • Leaf-cutting bees (Family name: Megachildae) – so called because they cut pieces of leaves to use in their nests

     

Bees on Common MilkweedBees on common milkweed by Courtney Celley, USFWS

Moths:

  • White-lined sphinx moth (Hyles lineata) – they hover while collecting nectar
  • Milkweed tiger or tussock moth (Euchaetias egle); their young also eat the leaves of milkweed plants

Butterflies:

  • Eastern tiger swallowtail ( Pterourus glaucus)
  • Pipevine swallowtail (Battus philenor
  • Red Admiral (Vanessa atalanta)
  • Great spangled fritillary (Speyeria cybele)
  • American copper (Lycaena phloeas american)
  • Edward’s hairstreak (Satyrium edwardsii)

Great spangled fritillary on milkweed.Great spangled fritillary on milkweed by Dani Tinker 

Skippers:
Delaware skipper (Atrytone delaware)

Flies:
Syrphid or hover flies – they often look like bees or wasps and feed on the nectar. 

Beetles:
Long-horned beetles in the genus Typocerus  - these beetles have long antennae and an elongate body. 

Fly on MilkweedFly on milkweed by Dani Tinker


Feasting on Milkweed: 

In addition to feeding on nectar, the brightly colored large milkweed bug, Oncopeltus fasciatus eats milkweed plant parts, including the seeds.

Young of the Queen butterfly, Danaus gilippus, which is closely related to the monarch, also eat milkweed plant parts.

Finally, you even find predatory insects, like assassin bugs (Zelus sp.), can be found looking for their next meal on milkweed plants.   

Marvelous Milkweed
As you can see, milkweed species serve as an important food source for a number of different animals. Plus, by letting milkweed grow, we can welcome these insects to the neighborhood. What insects do you see on your milkweed?

Night Fishing for Bass and Membership to “The Sundowner’s Club”

bass

For Dan Magneson, the assistant hatchery manager at Quilcene National Fish Hatchery on Washington State’s Olympic Peninsula, Jim Stafford’s 1973 hit “Swamp Witch” takes him back through the years to night fishing for largemouth bass in the farm ponds of southwest Iowa.

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Picky Eaters of the Animal Kingdom

You think your kids or friends are picky eaters? Wait until you read about the specialized diets of these species. Wild animal specialists rely on a particular food or habitat for survival. This strategy is wonderful when the food or habitat is abundant, but can be detrimental if those resources become scarce. This is why we do our best to ensure vulnerable species have the food and habitat they need to survive.

Everglade Snail Kite

The endangered Everglade snail kite's diet is almost exclusively made up of apple snails. As you can imagine, this makes the management of apple snail populations critical to the recovery efforts of snail kites in Florida.

Snail Kite A snail kite with an apple snail in his mouth. This photo, "Snail Kite" is copyright (c) 2016 Andy Morffew and made available under a CC BY-ND 2.0 license.

Red Tree Vole

These highly specialized critters live in tops of old growth Douglas-fir trees. Their only source of food is Douglas-fir needles. The needles also provide water (in the form of dew) to the tiny critters. As a result, Douglas-fir trees play a major role in sustaining red tree vole populations.

Red Tree Vole A young (31 day old) red tree vole (Arborimus longicaudus) eating a Douglas fir needle. This photo, "Red Tree vole (Arborimus longicaudus)" is copyright (c) 2014 Michael Durham and made available with special permission.

Valley Elderberry Longhorned Beetle

Adult valley elderberry longhorned beetles eat the nectar, flowers, and leaves of elderberry bushes. Eggs are laid on elderberries, and larvae live inside the stems before emerging as adults.

Valley Elderberry Longhorned BeetleA male valley elderberry longhorned beetle on elderberry. Photo courtesy of Jon Katz and Joe Silveira, USFWS.

Black-footed Ferret

Black-footed ferrets are predators that depend on prairie dogs for more than 90% of the their diet. Loss of habitat and prey are two threats that have led black-footed ferrets to the endangered species list. 

Black-footed Ferret Chasing Prairie DogBlack-footed ferret chasing a prairie dog, which is the majority of the diet for a wild black-footed ferret. Photo by USFWS.

Graham's Crayfish Snake

As you may have guessed by their name, Graham's crayfish snakes feed primarily on freshly molted crayfish.  

Graham's Crayfish SnakeThis photo, "Regina grahamii : Graham's Crayfish Snake" is copyright (c) 2015 Douglas Mills and made available under a CC BY-NC-ND 2.0 license.

Osprey

While most fish-eating birds of prey skim the surface, plucking fish from the water, osprey can submerge themselves completely to catch a fish. They will eat other foods, but fish make up about 99% of their diet.

Osprey with FishOsprey with rainbow trout at Seedskadee National Wildlife Refuge by Tom Koerner, USFWS.

Monarch Butterfly Larvae

Monarch butterflies lay their eggs on milkweed plants. Why is that? As it turns out, monarch larvae (caterpillars) feed exclusively on the leaves of milkweed plants. Therefore, to save the monarch butterfly, we need to work together to plant milkweed!

MonarchMonarch caterpillar chomping on milkweed leaves in Minnesota by Brett Whaley.

Lepidophages

This is a group of fish species specialized to feed on scales they pluck from other fishes. Though it takes a great deal of energy to attack for scales, they're a nutritional food source.

Cyprinodon Desquamator

By Anthony Terceira (Seriously Fishy) [CC BY-SA 4.0], via Wikimedia Commons.

Red Crossbill

The unusual shape of a red crossbill's bill is adapted to get at seeds protected under the scales of pinecones (its primary food source). Crossbills are able to reach seeds that are not accessible to other species.

Red CrossbillThis photo, Red Crossbill is copyright (c) 2014 Jason Crotty and made available under a CC BY 2.0 license.

Migratory Bird Conservation and #BirdYear a Focus at Recent North American Summit

State of the Birds Report Illustration by Misaki Ouchida


In May, conservation officials met in Ottawa, Canada for the 2016 Annual Meeting of the Canada/Mexico/US Trilateral Committee for Wildlife and Ecosystem Conservation and Management. The Trilateral Committee serves as a method for collaboration between all three countries to conserve wildlife and landscapes together.

This year, the spotlight of the meeting shined on migratory birds. At a press event, the new State of North America's Birds Report 2016 was released. The report is the first-of-its-kind to take a look at the 1,154 bird species that live throughout North America and their conservation status. On the downside, the research indicated that one out of every three North American bird species faces a significant conservation threat. On the upside, however, the report does provide inspirational bird conservation success stories that show what can be accomplished to protect birds when threatened.

An official Letter of Intent was also signed by the three countries, which formalized the desire to continue collaborating and finding ways to protect migratory birds and their habitat. This year marks the 100th anniversary of the Convention between the United States and Great Britain for the Protection of Migratory Birds. Likewise, this year is also the 80th anniversary of the Convention between the United States of America and the United Mexican States for the Protection of Migratory Birds and Game Mammals. For these reasons, 2016 has been deemed the #BirdYear.


D. Ashe, Director-USFWS , Dr. Y. Aurora Alaniz Pasani, Advisor to the Undersecretary-SEMARNAT , and S. Milburn-Hopwood,  Acting Assistant Deputy Minister-CWS signing the Letter of Intent.
D. Ashe, Director-USFWS , Dr. Y. Aurora Alaniz Pasani, Advisor to the Undersecretary-SEMARNAT , and S. Milburn-Hopwood,  Acting Assistant Deputy Minister-CWS signing the Letter of Intent.  Photo: J. Duberstein / USFWS

Beyond migratory birds, a non-exhaustive list of some of the topics discussed throughout the four day annual meeting included:

  • Continuing efforts to protect Monarch butterflies, which were the focal point of last year’s Trilateral Committee Annual Meeting.

  • The plight of the vaquita (a small porpoise), considered to be the most endangered cetacean species in the world. Their population has declined rapidly because of bycatch and related illegal fishing for totoaba, a large fish. Totoaba are also threatened, and are sometimes caught solely for their swim bladders, which are illegally sold as an exclusive food item in parts of Asia. More broadly, law enforcement officials from all three countries discussed the broader challenge posed by wildlife trafficking, and what they are doing to combat its negative impacts.

  • Continuing efforts to build on the success stories and tackle the current challenges of California condor and Black-footed ferret population recoveries.

  • Initiatives to control and eliminate invasive alien species as they pose a critical threat to ecosystems and species conservation.

For more information about the Trilateral Committee please visit their website.

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