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UCF to Establish Permanent Sea Turtle Research Field Station on Archie Carr National Wildlife Refuge

July 27, 2016

A tiny sea turtle the size of a thumb waves it's scaly arm.
A rescued baby loggerhead sea turtle waves hello to the camera. Credit: Keith Fuller, USFWS.

ORLANDO, FL — The University of Central Florida and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service have reached a historic agreement that will establish a permanent conservation research facility along the Brevard County coastline.

UCF has run a sea turtle monitoring and research program on the beaches of the Archie Carr National Wildlife Refuge in southern Brevard County for more than 30 years. UCF findings about sea turtle behavior are among the reasons the refuge was created in 1990. In recent years, UCF biologists and their students have used facilities at the refuge as a base from which they do most of their work, which includes early morning and overnight beach surveys.

The new agreement gives the university more control and responsibility for the existing structures onsite, establishes a protocol that will allow UCF to build research facilities and a plan that will give UCF oversight of the facilities for 40 years or more.

“This agreement cements a decades-old partnership between the University of Central Florida and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service,” said College of Sciences Dean Michael Johnson, who worked with a team from the college to make the agreement happen. “I am thrilled at the opportunity that this gives us to shape the future science of marine turtle conservation.”

Corps and Service Agree On Actions for Conserving Cape Sable Seaside Sparrow and Restoring Balance to Everglades Ecosystem
Restoration efforts already underway must happen faster to protect water, wildlife habitat and other natural resources

July 22, 2016

A Cape Sable seaside sparrow perched on grass.
By David A. La Puma (Own work) [CC BY 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (Corps) and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) are taking additional steps under the Endangered Species Act (ESA) to restore balance to the Florida Everglades ecosystem and help reverse decades-long population declines of the endangered Cape Sable seaside sparrow.

These steps are outlined in a new biological opinion on the Corps’ Everglades Restoration Transition Plan (ERTP), which was implemented in 2012 to guide improved management of water flows in the Everglades. The new biological opinion will guide the Corps and partners in the Everglades restoration effort in better managing water in ways that improve habitat essential to the Cape Sable seaside sparrow.

Actions called for in the biological opinion include operational modifications and expediting restoration initiatives already planned for the southern portion of the Everglades ecosystem to aid in providing suitable nesting habitat for the sparrow. These measures will allow the movement of additional water southward under the Tamiami Trail One-Mile Bridge flowing through the Everglades and into Florida Bay in ways that avoid prolonged flooding of the sparrow’s habitat during the nesting season. They will also provide much-needed fresh water into the Everglades and Florida Bay, benefitting wildlife such as American crocodiles, West Indian manatees, sea turtles, dolphins, a variety of bird species and gamefish.

Service Proposes Expansion of Hunting and Fishing Opportunities on National Wildlife Refuges
Hunting and Sport Fishing Expansion Proposed for Atchafalaya, Black Bayou Lake and Waccamaw National Wildlife Refuges in the Southeast

July 13, 2016

Two shotguns emerge from a duck blind at Clarks River National Wildlife Refuge.
Two hunters at Clarks River National Wildlife Refuge. Photo: Michael Johnson, USFWS.

The value to Americans provided by national wildlife refuges was highlighted today when U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Director Dan Ashe announced the agency is proposing to expand hunting and fishing opportunities at 13 national wildlife refuges across the United States. This includes migratory bird, upland game, big game hunting and sport fishing.

Hunting for elk is proposed for the first time in designated areas of Baca National Wildlife Refuge in Colorado, as well as in expanded areas of Alamosa National Wildlife Refuge and Monte Vista National Wildlife Refuge, both in Colorado.

The proposed rule also includes opening sport fishing of state-regulated species for the first time at Lake Andes National Wildlife Refuge in South Dakota, and expanding areas available for sport fishing at Patoka River National Wildlife Refuge in Indiana. In addition, the proposal modifies existing refuge-specific regulations on more than 70 additional refuges and wetland management districts throughout the National Wildlife Refuge System.

Reward Increased in Tennessee Bald Eagle Shooting Death
$7,500 for Information Leading to a Conviction

June 6, 2016

A bald eagle standing on a post
Bald eagle. Photo: USFWS

The Humane Society of the United States and Humane Society Wildlife Land Trust are adding a reward of up to $5,000 for information leading to the identification, arrest and conviction of the person or persons responsible for the shooting of a bald eagle found in Hamilton County, Tennessee. This reward comes following a $2,500 reward offered by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, which continues to investigate the case with the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency. Previous reward offerings have been unsuccessful in generating any leads.

The Case: On March 9, Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency officers discovered a bald eagle in the Lost Lake Subdivision area of Hamilton County. Investigators believe the eagle was shot sometime between March 1 and March 9.

Bald eagles are protected by the U.S. Migratory Bird Treaty Act and the Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act. Penalties for violation of these laws include civil penalties, criminal penalties and/or prison.

“This senseless shooting and the blatant disregard for the survival of our national icon is appalling,” said Eric Swafford, Tennessee state director for The Humane Society of the United States. “We are grateful to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency for their diligent efforts to bring the offender to justice.”

Longleaf Pine Forests and Ecosystems Across the Southeast Receive $4.3 Million in Funding for Restoration Activities
21 Projects in Eight States to Benefit from Longleaf Stewardship Fund

July 6, 2016

A small evergreen seedling with long needles
Longleaf pine seedling. Photo: USFWS

Washington, D.C. — The National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF) today announced that 21 projects across the historical longleaf pine range will receive $4.3 million in grants to support the restoration of the longleaf ecosystem and advance the objectives of the Range-Wide Conservation Plan for Longleaf Pine. These projects ultimately will restore more than 14,800 acres and enhance more than 230,000 additional acres of longleaf pine habitat, while leveraging more than $5.3 million in additional funds from grant partners.

The grants are administered by NFWF’s Longleaf Stewardship Fund, a landmark public-private partnership that includes the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) U.S. Forest Service and Natural Resources Conservation Service, the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD), the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS), and private funding from Southern Company, International Paper’s Forestland Stewards Initiative, and Altria Group. The fund, now in its fifth year, combines the financial and technical resources of the partnership to accelerate restoration of the longleaf pine ecosystem and implementation of the Range-Wide Conservation Plan for Longleaf Pine as part of America’s Longleaf Restoration Initiative.

“The $4.3 million in Longleaf Stewardship Fund grants announced today will build on the successes achieved through this powerful, longstanding public-private partnership,” said Jeff Trandahl, executive director and CEO at NFWF. “The grants will support a range of critical conservation actions, including longleaf plantings, invasive species control and the use of prescribed fire for longleaf restoration. These projects will benefit a wide array of wildlife, including rare species such as the red-cockaded woodpecker, gopher tortoise, indigo snake and dusky gopher frog.”

Federal protection of tiny snail not needed

July 5, 2016

A tiny yellow snail next to a ruler for scale
Ichetucknee siltsnail is often called the pepper snail due to its resemblance to coarse ground pepper. Here it's significantly magnified but it only measures 9/100ths of inch in size at adulthood. Credit: Erin Gawera, USFWS

The Ichetucknee siltsnail, a species whose shell is only nine one-hundredths of an inch in size, does not warrant listing under the Endangered Species Act (ESA) according to federal biologists. The snail is found in a single Florida spring in Ichetucknee River State Park.

This decision is in partial response to a 2010 petition to provide federal protection to 404 species in the southeastern United States. The petitioner identified water pollution, spring flows and recreational disturbance as threats to the continued survival of the snail.

Following a thorough review of the best available scientific information on the species, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service biologists found the park is not subject to development and is being managed, in part, to maintain and enhance existing habitat. In addition, the park’s management plan identifies specific actions to benefit Ichetucknee siltsnail.

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Last updated: July 27, 2016