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  • A man with a beard looks closely at an insect with a magnifying glass

    Protecting the rare

    September 18, 2018 | 5 minute readSequatchie Cave State Natural Area, Tennessee — A royal snail is about the size of a match head. You could be standing in a few inches of water with lots of royal snails at your feet, look down, and not even see them. The royal snail, found only in one county in Tennessee, was declared in endangered in 1994. Photo by David Withers, Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation. “If it looks like a caterpillar turd but it starts moving, that’s a royal snail,” cracks David Withers, a zoologist with the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation. Learn more...

    Zoologist David Withers of the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation examines a Sequatchie caddisfly, an insect that lives in only a very few spots in Tennessee. Photo by Phil Kloer, USFWS.

  • A prescribed fire burns vegetation just outside of a housing development.

    Safe and sound burning

    September 10, 2018 | 9 minute readHobe Sound, Florida — The well-to-do on Jupiter Island wanted the wildlife refuge burned and who was to say no? Not the federal biologists at the refuge across the Intracoastal Waterway. They were eager to accommodate their neighbors and restore the pine scrub habitat. But the stakes — and potential dangers — were high. A prescribed fire, by its nature, is carefully planned and executed to minimize mishaps. Yet, winds shift. Learn more...

    Prime example of wildland urban interface on Sanibel Island, J.N. “Ding” Darling NWR. Photo by USFWS.

  • Service uses weevils to control invasive salvinia that threatens Louisiana coast

    September 6, 2018 | 4 minute readGiant salvinia is an invasive floating fern from Brazil that can double its surface acreage in less than one week in optimal conditions. It has been spreading and causing problems in coastal Louisiana since 1989. Once it covers the water’s surface, this floating plant will begin to stack up upon itself, and can extend 12 inches or more above the water surface. Under such conditions, oxygen recharge of underlying waters is greatly reduced. Learn more...

  • A man wearing an orange Tennessee NWR shirt releases a brownish grey bird, which takes flight.

    Banded together

    September 4, 2018 | 8 minute readNew Johnsonville, Tennessee — They gathered in a large group, more than 100. They didn’t know it yet, but they were about to help science. That began when Clayton Ferrell into their midst and selected one Aix sponsa ­– a wood duck. He held her with his left hand. His right grasped a set of needle-nose pliers. Something flashed in the sun — a small piece of aluminum, slightly curved, with a number engraved on it. Learn more...

    A wood duck heads skyward after banding as Bill Ross watches. Photo by Mark Davis, USFWS.

  • Water runs through a rocky stream at the edge of a gravel road.

    Go with the flow

    August 31, 2018 | 4 minute readLike all freshwater mussels, the brook floater and Savannah lilliput that live in Densons Creek are dependent on the kindness of strangers. The strangers in this case are fish like minnows and sunfish. The mussels produce tiny offspring, no bigger than a pin head, which attach to the fish’s gills. When the fish swims away with the young mussels attached, the mussels are carried to new locations where they drop off the fish and begin their life in the stream bottom. Learn more...

    On the site of the obsolete old bridge, a new wet ford allows timber trucks to drive across, and fish to swim freely. Photo by Laura Fogo, USFWS.

  • An airboat operator sits back and watches the marsh burn.

    Fire as tool, and as friend

    August 24, 2018 | 8 minute readFire -- prescribed and carefully managed -- can be a wildlands’ best friend. Wildlife officials tout its ecological benefits. Hunters, fishermen and birders laud its cattail-clearing, nutrient-adding attributes. Hydrologists praise unimpeded water flows. Photo by USFWS. Learn more...

    Prescribed fire at Arthur R. Marshall Loxahatchee National Wildlife Refuge.

  • A hillside with debris and trees snapped in half like twigs.

    Aid in the shade

    August 9, 2018 | 4 minute readIn September 2017, Puerto Rico was already reeling from Hurricane Irma, which had doused it with torrential rains and caused widespread damage. Then, two weeks later, Hurricane Maria roared through, killing hundreds of residents, wiping out buildings, entire landscapes of vegetation, and practically the entire electrical grid. It was the worst natural disaster on record for the U.S. commonwealth island, which is still recovering from the Category 4 storm. Learn more...

    A portion of Jose Roig’s coffee plantation immediately after Hurricane Maria struck. Photo by USFWS.

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