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Conserving the Nature of America


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Draft Recovery Plan for Endangered Golden Sedge Available

June 18, 2013

The Golden Sedge plant.


Photo Credit: Dale Suiter, USFWS

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service invites public comment on the Draft Recovery Plan for the Golden Sedge, a federally listed, endangered plant.

All eight known populations, which incorporate 21 currently known sites, of this plant are in the Northeast Cape Fear River watershed in Pender and Onslow Counties, North Carolina. The golden sedge is a perennial, lasting for more than two growing seasons. It is found in wet pine savanna habitat (equivalent to longleaf pine forest), in the transition zones between wet savannahs and hardwood forests and in wet soils near or in shallow drainage ditches. Open to sparse canopy, patchy shrub layer, and dense herb cover are characteristics of the habitat where this endangered plant is found.

Management and monitoring of the sedge’s known sites are essential to this plant’s survival. Threats to the golden sedge include habitat changes caused by fire suppression, conversion of limited habitat for residential, commercial, or industrial development, highway and utility expansion, and wetland drainage activities associated with forestry, agricultural, and development projects. In addition, roadside and utility right of way populations can be wiped out by herbicide treatments.

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U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and Partners in the Imperiled Butterfly Working Group Conclude Florida Zestos and Rockland Grass Skipper Butterflies are Likely Extinct

June 13, 2013

Two brown and yellow butterflies

Zestos skipper. Photo: Marc C. and Maria Minno

Atlanta, GA – Following six years of comprehensive survey efforts in southern Florida, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) and its partners in the Imperiled Butterflies of Florida Working Group (IBWG) believe that two butterflies, the Zestos (Epargyreus zestos oberon) and rockland grass (Hesperia meskei pinocayo) skippers, are likely extinct.

These butterflies were historically found only in south Florida. In recent years, butterfly scientists and volunteers have surveyed extensively to determine the status of the Zestos and rockland grass skippers, and other imperiled butterflies. Surveys included areas they were previously found, as well as new areas, primarily public conservation lands throughout southern Florida and the Florida Keys.

The Zestos skipper was last observed at the Key West Tropical Forest and Botanical Garden on Stock Island on January 24, 2004. This butterfly had not been observed on mainland Florida in several decades.  The rockland grass skipper was last observed at Everglades National Park in 2000, with an additional population occurring on Big Pine Key until 1999.  

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Fewer Red Wolf Litters Reported for 2013 Whelping Season

June 12, 2013

Red wolf pup

Photo: A. Beyer, USFWS

The final red wolf pup count for the 2013 whelping season has been tallied.  Thirty-four pups in seven litters were found in the restored red wolf population in eastern North Carolina.  These numbers are down slightly from recent years’ pup counts.  The Red Wolf Recovery Program reported 39 pups from nine litters born in the wild in 2012, 40 pups from 10 litters in 2011, and 43 pups from nine litters in 2010.  The Red Wolf Recovery Program also reported 23 pups from 4 litters born in zoos and nature centers participating in the Species Survival Plan captive breeding program.  In addition, as part of our efforts to increase the genetic diversity of the wild population, a captive-born pup was fostered into a wild-born litter to be raised as a wild wolf.  Reasons for the decline in the number of pups born in the wild this year are not apparent. 

The red wolf (Canis rufus) is one of the world’s most endangered wild canids.  Once common throughout the southeastern United States, red wolf populations were decimated by the 1960’s due to intensive predator control programs and loss of habitat.  A remnant population of red wolves was found along the Gulf Coast of Texas and Louisiana.  After being declared an endangered species in 1967, efforts were initiated to locate and capture as many wild red wolves as possible.  Of the 17 remaining wolves captured by biologists, 14 became the founders of a successful captive breeding program.  Consequently, the United States Fish and Wildlife Service declared red wolves extinct in the wild in 1980.

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Migratory Bird Conservation Commission Approves Acquisition of 9,000 Acres of Wetlands for National Wildlife Refuge System

Other projects in the Southeast include Florida, Kentucky, Louisiana, North Carolina, Tennessee

June 5, 2013

Ducks at Upper Ouachita


Photo credit: Joseph McGowan, USFWS

The Migratory Bird Conservation Commission today approved $28 million in funding to conserve, restore, and enhance vital wetlands, including acquisition of more than 9,000 acres of waterfowl habitat in the National Wildlife Refuge System.

“Conserving wetlands is one of most important things we can do to ensure our land and wildlife remain healthy,” said Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell, who attended her first meeting in her role as chair of the commission. “These key investments will help strengthen the wetlands that provide vital habitat for ducks, herons, warblers and hundreds of other species as well as give us clean water to drink, boost local economies, and provide us all a place to enjoy the great outdoors.”

The commission approved close to $4 million in projects for land purchases and leases on three refuges with funds raised largely through the sale of Federal Duck Stamps.

In addition, the panel approved $23.7 million in grants through the North American Wetlands Conservation Act to protect, restore or enhance nearly 89,000 acres of habitat for migratory birds in the United States and Canada, leveraging $28.5 million in matching funds.

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Great Outdoors Month, 2013



May 31, 2013

A beautiful waterfall.


Photo credit: Todd Crabtree, Walls of Jericho waterfall at the proposed Paint Rock River National River National Wildlife Refuge.

The United States is blessed with a wealth of natural diversity that remains at the heart of who we are as a people. From breathtaking seascapes to the limitless stretch of the Great Plains, our natural surroundings animate the American spirit, fuel discovery and innovation, and offer unparalleled opportunities for recreation and learning. During Great Outdoors Month, we celebrate the land entrusted to us by our forebears and resolve to pass it on safely to future generations.

We owe our heritage to the work of visionary citizens who believed that our obligations as Americans are not just to ourselves, but to all posterity. It is up to all of us to carry that legacy forward in the 21st century -- which is why I was proud to launch the America's Great Outdoors Initiative to bring innovative strategies to today's conservation challenges. Alongside leaders in government and the private sector, we are taking action to expand outdoor opportunities in urban areas, promote outdoor recreation, protect our landscapes, and connect the next generation to our natural treasures. And by tapping into the wisdom of concerned citizens from every corner of our country, we are finding new solutions that respond to the priorities of the American people.

At a time when too many of our young people find themselves in sedentary routines, we need to do more to help all Americans reconnect with the outdoors. To lead the way, First Lady Michelle Obama's Let's Move Outside! initiative encourages families to get out and enjoy our beautiful country, whether at a National Park or just outside their doorstep. And through the 21st Century Conservation Service Corps, young men and women will get hands-on experience restoring our public lands and protecting our cultural heritage.

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Eagle Shooter Still At Large, Reward Offered

May 29, 2013

An American Bald Eagle.


Photo: Wildlife Care and Rescue Center

JACKSON – The gunman who shot a bald eagle near Wiggins, Mississippi, in January is still on the loose, while the injured bird remains confined in rehab. A reward of up to $2,500 is being offered for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the person or persons responsible for the shooting.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) and the Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries, and Parks (MDWFP) continue to investigate this case, but need the public’s assistance. Anyone with information concerning this eagle is asked to contact the USFWS’s Jackson Office of Law Enforcement at 601-965-4469 or call the MDWFP Law Enforcement Bureau at 601-432-2074.

The bald eagle was discovered in the Big Level community near O’Neal Road and King Bee Road, southeast of Wiggins, in Stone County, Mississippi. The investigation revealed the eagle was shot between the dates of January 9 - 19, 2013. Due to its injuries, the eagle could not have flown far from where it was shot.

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Fish and Wildlife Service Proposes to List Kentucky Glade Cress and Designate Critical Habitat

May 23, 2013

The Kentucky Glade Cress in bloom.


Photo Credit: James Gruhala, USFWS

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service proposes to list the Kentucky glade cress as threatened throughout its narrow range under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). The mustard plant is only found in Bullitt and Jefferson Counties, where the Service also is proposing to designate about 2,053 acres as the plant's critical habitat.

“The Kentucky glade cress is one of Kentucky's rarest plants, and it exists on the outskirts of the rapidly growing metro Louisville area,” said Lee Andrews, supervisor of the Service’s Kentucky Field Office. “We hope that landowners and local governments will help us conserve this plant and its habitat through improved management and land protection efforts.”

A small, winter annual with a white to lilac colored flower, the glade cress grows in areas with flat, thin soil, such as cedar glades. It needs sunny areas with green, leafy vegetation that are wet in late winter to early spring, but then dry quickly. Natural areas surrounding the glades that are protected from disturbance are critical to maintaining the plant’s habitat.

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Last updated: June 18, 2013