Category: Wildlife


WHALES AHOY


by Staff Writers
Tokyo (AFP) April 18, 2014

Japan said Friday it would redesign its controversial Antarctic whaling mission in a bid to make it more scientific, after a United Nations court ruled it was a commercial hunt masquerading as research.

The bullish response, which could see harpoon ships back in the Southern Ocean next year, sets Tokyo back on a collision course with environmentalists.

Campaigners had hailed the decision by the International Court of Justice, with hopes that it might herald the end of a practice they view as barbaric.

“We will carry out extensive studies in cooperation with ministries concerned to submit a new research programme by this autumn to the International Whaling Commission (IWC), reflecting the criteria laid out in the verdict,” said Yoshimasa Hayashi, minister of agriculture, forestry and fisheries.

Japan, a member of the IWC, has hunted whales under a loophole allowing for lethal research. It has always maintained that it was intending to prove the whale population was large enough to sustain commercial hunting.

But it never hid the fact that the by-product of whale meat made its way onto menus.

“The verdict confirmed that the (IWC moratorium) is partly aimed at sustainable use of whale resources.

“Following this, our country will firmly maintain its basic policy of conducting whaling for research, on the basis of international law and scientific foundations, to collect scientific data necessary for the regulation of whale resources, and aim for resumption of commercial whaling.”

Hayashi, who had met with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe earlier in the day, confirmed a previous announcement that the 2014-15 hunt in the Southern Ocean would not go ahead.

Last month’s court ruling does not apply to Japan’s two other whaling programmes: a “research” hunt in coastal waters and in the northwestern Pacific, and a much smaller programme that operates along the coast, which is not subject to the international ban.

 

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SBS News

  • null

    (AP)
   
Hundreds of Japanese officials and pro-whaling lobbyists have eaten whale in defiance of a international court ruling that ordered the country to stop its Antarctic whaling program.
By

SBS with AAP
UPDATED 2:05 PM – 16 Apr 2014

The 26th whale meat tasting event in Tokyo was hosted near the nation’s parliament and was attended by lawmakers, officials and pro-whaling lobbyists.

Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Minister Yoshimasa Hayashi told attendees that the country must protect its whale-eating culture.

“[Japan] has a policy of harvesting and sustainably using the protein source from the ocean, and that is unshakable,” Associated Press quoted Mr Hayashi as saying.

Meanwhile, a lower house MP criticised the arguments against whaling as emotional and not based on reason.

“Japan’s whaling is based on scientific reasons, while counterarguments by anti-whaling groups are emotional, saying they are against the hunts because whales are cute or smart,” the Japan Times reported Shunichi Suzuki of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party as saying.

 

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Japan ‘will continue whaling in Pacific’

Updated: 15:21, Friday April 18, 2014

Japan 'will continue whaling in Pacific'

Japan has decided to continue its whaling program in the Pacific Ocean, reports say, despite losing a United Nations court case on its other “research” hunt in the Antarctic.

If confirmed, the move will likely spark anger among environmentalists who hailed a ruling in March by the UN’s International Court of Justice (ICJ) that Tokyo’s hunt in the Southern Ocean was a commercial activity disguised as science.

Japan has exploited a loophole in a 1986 moratorium that allowed it to conduct lethal research on the mammals, but has openly admitted their meat makes its way onto dinner tables.

Campaigners urged Tokyo to follow the spirit of the ruling, and not just its letter, which specifically referred to Japan’s hunt in the Antarctic, not its other research scheme in the northwest Pacific or its smaller coastal program.

But after the ICJ verdict, a government review has said the Pacific hunt should press ahead, public broadcaster NHK and Kyodo News Agency reported on Friday.

The review suggests the Pacific mission should reduce its catch and focus more on carrying out research that does not involve catching whales.

A spokesman for the fisheries agency said he was unable to comment.

 

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A photo of a fishmonger peeling the spine from a tuna.

A worker peels the spine from a tuna at New York’s Fulton Fish Market—the world’s largest after the Tsukiji Market in Tokyo, Japan—on March 29, 2013.

PHOTOGRAPH BY JOHN MINCHILLO, AP

Brian Clark Howard

Published April 9, 2014

Do you know if the fish on your plate is legal? A new study estimates that 20 to 32 percent of wild-caught seafood imported into the U.S. comes from illegal or “pirate” fishing. That’s a problem, scientists say, because it erodes the ability of governments to limit overfishing and the ability of consumers to know where their food comes from.

The estimated illegal catch is valued at $1.3 billion to $2.1 billion annually and represents between 15 and 26 percent of the total value of wild-caught seafood imported into the U.S., report scientists in a new study in the journal Marine Policy.

Study co-author Tony Pitcher says those results surprised his team. “We didn’t think it would be as big as that. To think that one in three fish you eat in the U.S. could be illegal, that’s a bit scary,” says Pitcher, who is a professor at the fisheries center of the University of British Columbia in Vancouver.

To get those numbers, Pitcher and three other scientists analyzed data on seafood imported into the U.S. in 2011. They combed through government and academic reports, conducted fieldwork, and interviewed stakeholders.

The scientists report that tuna from Thailand had the highest volume of illegal products, 32,000 to 50,000 metric tons, representing 25 to 40 percent of tuna imports from that country. That was followed by pollack from China, salmon from China, and tuna from the Philippines, Vietnam, and Indonesia. Other high volumes were seen with octopus from India, snappers from Indonesia, crabs from Indonesia, and shrimp from Mexico, Indonesia, and Ecuador.

Imports from Canada all had levels of illegal catches below 10 percent. So did imports of clams from Vietnam and toothfish from Chile.

Graphic showing percent of seafood imported into the U.S. that is illegal and unreported.

NG STAFF. SOURCE: P. GANAPATHIRAJU, ET AL., MARINE POLICY

In response to the study, Connie Barclay, a spokesperson for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association (NOAA) Fisheries, said, “We agree that [pirate] fishing is a global problem, but we do not agree with the statistics that are being highlighted in the report.” Barclay says data are too scarce to make the conclusions verifiable.

But, she adds, “NOAA is working to stop [pirate] fishing and the import of these products into the U.S. market.” She points to recent increased collaboration with other law enforcement agencies and improved electronic tracking of trade data.

Pirate Fishing

The U.S. is important to consider when it comes to fishing because it is tied with Japan as the largest single importer of seafood, with each nation responsible for about 13 to 14 percent of the global total, says Pitcher. Americans spent $85.9 billion on seafood in 2011, with about $57.7 billion of that spent at restaurants, $27.6 billion at retail, and $625 million on industrial fish products.

However, what few Americans realize, says Pitcher, is that roughly 90 percent of all seafood consumed in the United States is imported, and about half of that is wild caught, according to NOAA.

Pirate fishing is fishing that is unreported to authorities or done in ways that circumvent fishery quotas and laws. In their paper, the authors write that pirate fishing “distorts competition, harms honest fishermen, weakens coastal communities, promotes tax evasion, and is frequently associated with transnational crime such as narcotraffic and slavery at sea.” (See: “West Africans Fight Pirate Fishing With Cell Phones.”)

Scientists estimate that between 13 and 31 percent of all seafood catches around the world are illegal, worth $10 billion to $23.5 billion per year. That illegal activity puts additional stress on the world’s fish stocks, 85 percent of which are already fished to their biological limit or beyond, says Tony Long, the U.K.-based director of the Pew Charitable Trust’s Ending Illegal Fishing Project.

“The ocean is vast, so it is very difficult for countries to control what goes on out there,” says Long. He explains that pirate fishers are often crafty, going to remote areas where enforcement is lax. They may leave a port with a certain name on the boat and the flag of a particular country, engage in illegal fishing, then switch the name and flag and unload their catch at a different port.

 

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The oceans are vast and humans are small — as the monthlong hunt for a vanished Malaysian jetliner demonstrates. Think of the challenge, then, for law enforcement and fisheries managers in going after fleets of shady boats that engage in illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing. These criminals ply the seas and sell their catches with impunity, making off with an estimated 11 million to 26 million metric tons of stolen fish each year, a worldwide haul worth about $10 billion to $23.5 billion. Many use banned gear like floating gillnets, miles long, that indiscriminately slaughter countless unwanted fish along with seabirds, marine mammals, turtles and other creatures.

The danger that illegal fishing poses to vulnerable ocean ecosystems is self-evident, but the harm goes beyond that. Illegal competition hurts legitimate commercial fleets. And lawless fishermen are prone to other crimes, like forced labor and drug smuggling. The convergence of illegal fishing with other criminal enterprises makes it in every country’s interest to devise an effective response.

That’s the job of the Port State Measures Agreement. It is a treaty adopted by the United Nations in 2009 that seeks to thwart the poachers in ports when they try to unload their ill-gotten catches. Many countries have been unable or unwilling to enforce their own laws to crack down on poachers flying their flags.

 

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Oceana Report Sheds Light On Staggering By-Catch Problem In U.S. Fisheries

 

Posted: 03/20/2014 5:37 pm EDT Updated: 03/20/2014 5:59 pm EDT

 

 

 

 

 

That fish dish at your favorite neighborhood bistro may be hiding a gruesome secret.

“When you buy fish at a grocery store or restaurant, you might also be getting a side order of sea turtle or dolphin to go with it,” said Dominique Cano-Stocco, Oceana‘s campaign director of responsible fishing, referring to the large number of dead sea creatures tossed by fishermen each year.

According to a new Oceana report, United States fisheries discard about 17 percent to 22 percent of everything they catch every year. That amounts to a whopping 2 billion pounds of annual by-catch — injured and dead fish and other marine animals unintentionally caught by fishermen and then thrown overboard. This includes endangered creatures like whales and sharks, as well as commercially viable fish that may have been too young or too damaged to bring to port.

“By-catch is one of the biggest challenges facing the U.S. today,” Cano-Stocco said. “It’s one of the largest threats to the proper management of our fisheries and to the health of our oceans and marine ecosystems.” Due to underreporting, by-catch numbers are probably an underestimate, she explained.

Released Friday, Oceana’s report strives to highlight the need to document by-catch numbers and develop better management strategies to prevent the high level of unnecessary slaughter in our oceans.

shark

Bull shark trapped in fishing net

 

The report identifies nine of the worst by-catch fisheries in the nation. These fisheries — defined as groups of fishermen that target a certain kind of fish using a particular kind of fishing gear in a specific region — are reportedly responsible for more than half of all domestic by-catch; however, they’re only responsible for about 7 percent of the fish brought to land, the report notes.

Some of these fisheries reportedly discard more fish than they keep; others are said to throw out large amounts of the very fish species they aim to catch. California fishermen who use drift gillnets (walls of netting that drift in the water) to capture swordfish, for example, reportedly throw out about 63 percent of their total catch.

Between 2008 and 2012, about 39,000 common molas, 6,000 sharks, as well as hundreds of seals, sea lions and dolphins, were seriously injured or killed in the California drift gillnet fishery, Oceana notes.

bycatch

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MAN 

Steve Cutts Steve Cutts·

Published on Dec 21, 2012

Animation created in Flash and After Effects looking at mans relationship with the natural world.

Music: In the Hall of the Mountain King by Edvard Grieg.

facebook.com/SteveCuttsArt
twitter.com/#!/Steve_Cutts
http://www.stevecutts.com

Copyright © 2012 http://www.stevecutts.com

 

Acidic ocean deadly for Vancouver Island scallop industry

 

CBC News

Posted: Feb 25, 2014 8:58 PM PT Last Updated: Feb 26, 2014 7:04 PM PT

High acidity levels in B.C.'s oceans mean millions of the shellfish die before they reach full maturity.

High acidity levels in B.C.’s oceans mean millions of the shellfish die before they reach full maturity.

The deteriorating health of B.C.’s oceans is impacting not only the province’s marine life, but also its economy.

 

Millions of shellfish are dying off before they can be harvested at Island Scallops, near Parksville, B.C., due to increased acidity levels in the ocean.

 

One-third of the workforce at Island Scallops — 20 people — are being laid off because the business has lost more than 10 million scallops before they were able to reach maturity since 2009.

 

“It’s obviously kicked our feet out from underneath us,” said CEO Rob Saunders.

 

Island Scallops

Island Scallops, near Parksville, B.C., is laying off 20 employees because high acidity in the oceans has meant the loss of millions of scallops.

 

He said low pH levels in the water appear to be the root of the problem.

 

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“Acidic Waters Kill 10 Million Scallops Off Vancouver”

 
By Kiley Kroh on February 26, 2014 at 11:16 am
 

 

A worker harvests oysters for Taylor Shellfish in Washington, another company grappling with the effects of ocean acidification.

A worker harvests oysters for Taylor Shellfish in Washington, another company grappling with the effects of ocean acidification.

CREDIT: AP Photo/Ted S. Warren, File

 

A mass die-off of scallops near Qualicum Beach on Vancouver Island is being linked to the increasingly acidic waters that are threatening marine life and aquatic industries along the West Coast.

 

Rob Saunders, CEO of Island Scallops, estimates his company has lost three years worth of scallops and $10 million dollars — forcing him to lay off approximately one-third of his staff.

 

“I’m not sure we are going to stay alive and I’m not sure the oyster industry is going to stay alive,” Saunders told The Parksville Qualicum Beach NEWS. “It’s that dramatic.”

Ocean acidification, often referred to as global warming’s “evil twin,” threatens to upend the delicate balance of marine life across the globe.

 

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Struggling shellfish farmers eye genomic research

Industry looks for answers to cope with rising carbon dioxide levels, increased acidity

 
 
 
Struggling shellfish farmers eye genomic research
 

High acidity is being blamed for a mass die-off of B.C. scallops.

Shellfish farmers are appealing to the federal and provincial governments to support genomic research in an effort identify oysters, mussels and scallops suited to withstand the west coast’s rapidly changing marine environment.

Oyster and scallop farmers from Oregon right up the coast of British Columbia are experiencing massive die-offs of animals associated with rising carbon dioxide levels and increasing acidity in local waters.

“We’ve been aware of these problems for quite a while and we just have to learn to operate our farms under new parameters,” said Roberta Stevenson, executive director of the B.C. Shellfish Growers Association. “Genomics offers us an opportunity to develop an animal that is more capable of adapting to this new pH level.”

Shellfish farms employ about 1,000 people in mostly rural parts of the coast and generate about $33 million in sales each year, Stevenson said.

 

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FILE - A Cheetah cub is examined by veterinary staff during a health check in its enclosure at Chester Zoo in northern England, July 31, 2013.

FILE – A Cheetah cub is examined by veterinary staff during a health check in its enclosure at Chester Zoo in northern England, July 31, 2013.

Lisa Bryant

The two-day old kitten Dr. Jean-Yves Routier is examining has a big bandage wrapped around its middle. It was injured at birth, but it will survive.

The fate is less certain for some of the bigger cats the French veterinarian treats. When he is not at his clinic in the Paris suburb of Noisy le Grand, Routier is in Africa. He uses groundbreaking reproductive techniques to boost the numbers of cheetahs, lions and other game animals – and to diversify their gene pool.

The challenge, Routier said, is how to manage what he calls micro-populations – small populations of wild animals that are threatened, some to the verge of extinction. Zoos use artificial insemination and other techniques to induce pregnancy in captive animals. But that, he says, it does not save threatened species in the wild.

In 2002, Routier founded a nongovernmental organization called CRESAM. That stands for Conservation and Reproduction of Endangered Wild Species. He and his international team of highly specialized vets work with about 20 different species of carnivores in France and overseas. Many are big cats like cheetahs, living in private game parks. CRESAM is one of the rare organizations using artificial reproduction techniques outside of zoos.

A video on CRESAM’s website shows Routier shooting a cheetah with a tranquillizer gun. Once down, the vets take blood samples of the animal. They have to work quickly. Within a few minutes, it will be back on its feet.

Cheetahs once roamed large chunks of Africa and Asia. But their numbers have plummeted from about 100,000 a century ago, to only about 7,000 to 15,000 today. The International Union for the Conservation of Nature lists cheetahs in general as a vulnerable species. Some subspecies are considered critically endangered.  Luke Hunter, president of the global wildcat conservation organization Panthera, said big cats face a basic threat: competing with humans for space.

“The issue becomes the whole suite of threats that humans bring into landscapes in which large cats exist, which includes direct hunting of large cats for their furs or their bones or other things that are considered valuable for certain cultures. [Also] hunting and persecution of cats because they’re considered dangerous, and just wiping out habitats and prey that big cats need,” Hunter stated.

 

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Left Side Male, Right Side Female: Extremely Strange Creatures

By , Epoch Times | February 23, 2014

 

This lobster is half female, half male—split right down the middle, as seen by the two-toned coloring. It was caught by a fisherman off the coast of Newfoundland, Canada, last year and the photo was posted on Reddit by his nephew.

The chances of catching such a two-toned lobster are 1 in 50 million to 100 million, staff at the Mount Desert Oceanarium said when a similar lobster was caught in Bar Harbor, Maine, in 2006.

It may be rare to catch such a lobster, but this phenomenon is found not only in lobsters. It is also found in butterflies and numerous other organisms.

According to ancient Taoist beliefs, the human body is divided into two genders corresponding to yin and yang. The left side is male, associated with yang chi, and the right side is female, associated with yin chi.

Not all two-toned lobsters are part male and part female (gynandromorphs).

 

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Mankind  in their journey to  control and  develop as far as  the eye can see have played a  significant  role  in the changes  that  have  taken place in our  environment.  The construction and restructuring  of  forests  and  natural habitats.  The  eradication  of  native wildlife species  in the never  ending  expansion of  commercial food  production and land development.

  These  pursuits have endangered  many  species having been labeled  as  pests in their  eyes.  Some  have  been  eradicated  to the  brink of  extinction.  Others  have  required protection as  endangered.   Others still have had t heir  populations  explode for lack of  natural  predators.  Forcing culls  to  be organized to  keep  their  numbers in  check.

Mankind knew  what they  wanted  to  achieve  However, they  had  no understanding  of  what changes  and  perils  they were manifesting  on the natural balance  of  our world.  One  such  member  of  the  animal  kingdom are  wolves.  Hunted  and  repudiated  as  a dangerous  nuisance.  They  have helped  mankind understand  that they are so much  more  than  that.

                           Joel Sartore/National Geographic     A portrait of the Yellowstone gray wolf.

After  70 years  these  beautiful creatures  were re-introduced  to the  Yellowstone National Park area and the  changes  that  have  taken  place since   then  have been  amazing.  The  wolves have shown their  true  worth as  well as  the  complicated web  of  life  that we  had  not been able to  see in  our  quest to  tame a natural habitat .  They  have  taught  us  that the intricacies of the  natural web of  life  requires a  balance  that  man  should not  tamper with.  We as  human  beings consider  ourselves  superior to the  other  members  of  the  animal  kingdom.  However, we  must  understand  that  we  are  simply a  link in the  chain  of  the  intricate  web  of  life that exists on our  planet.

Providing  balance  where  none  had  been.  Creating  diversity to provide  a balanced habitat  for all  wildlife.  The  wolves  have  proven themselves  to  be the  “Ultimate Eco-Engineers”.

(C)   ~Desert Rose~

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World News How wolves can alter the course of rivers

worldnews422 worldnews422

Published on Feb 20, 2014

When wolves were reintroduced to Yellowstone National Park in the United States after being absent nearly 70 years, the most remarkable trophic cascade occurred. What is a trophic cascade and how exactly do wolves change rivers? George Monbiot explains in this movie remix titled, How Wolves Change Rivers.When wolves were reintroduced to Yellowstone National Park in the United States after being absent nearly 70 years, the most remarkable trophic cascade occurred. What is a trophic cascade and how exactly do wolves change rivers? George Monbiot explains in this movie remix titled, How Wolves Change Rivers.When wolves were reintroduced to Yellowstone National Park in the United States after being absent nearly 70 years, the most remarkable trophic cascade occurred. What is a trophic cascade and how exactly do wolves change rivers? George Monbiot explains in this movie remix titled, How Wolves Change Rivers.When wolves were reintroduced to Yellowstone National Park in the United States after being absent nearly 70 years, the most remarkable trophic cascade occurred. What is a trophic cascade and how exactly do wolves change rivers? George Monbiot explains in this movie remix titled, How Wolves Change Rivers. How wolves can alter the course of rivers How wolves can alter the course of rivers How wolves can alter the course of rivers
When wolves were reintroduced to Yellowstone National Park in the United States after being absent nearly 70 years, the most remarkable trophic cascade occurred. What is a trophic cascade and how exactly do wolves change rivers? George Monbiot explains in this movie remix titled, How Wolves Change Rivers.When wolves were reintroduced to Yellowstone National Park in the United States after being absent nearly 70 years, the most remarkable trophic cascade occurred. What is a trophic cascade and how exactly do wolves change rivers? George Monbiot explains in this movie remix titled, How Wolves Change Rivers.When wolves were reintroduced to Yellowstone National Park in the United States after being absent nearly 70 years, the most remarkable trophic cascade occurred. What is a trophic cascade and how exactly do wolves change rivers? George Monbiot explains in this movie remix titled, How Wolves Change Rivers. How wolves can alter the course of rivers How wolves can alter the course of rivers How wolves can alter the course of rivers
When wolves were reintroduced to Yellowstone National Park in the United States after being absent nearly 70 years, the most remarkable trophic cascade occurred. What is a trophic cascade and how exactly do wolves change rivers? George Monbiot explains in this movie remix titled, How Wolves Change Rivers.When wolves were reintroduced to Yellowstone National Park in the United States after being absent nearly 70 years, the most remarkable trophic cascade occurred. What is a trophic cascade and how exactly do wolves change rivers? George Monbiot explains in this movie remix titled, How Wolves Change Rivers.When wolves were reintroduced to Yellowstone National Park in the United States after being absent nearly 70 years, the most remarkable trophic cascade occurred. What is a trophic cascade and how exactly do wolves change rivers? George Monbiot explains in this movie remix titled, How Wolves Change Rivers. How wolves can alter the course of rivers How wolves can alter the course of rivers How wolves can alter the course of rivers How wolves can alter the course of rivers How wolves can alter the course of rivers How wolves can alter the course of riversWhen wolves were reintroduced to Yellowstone National Park in the United States after being absent nearly 70 years, the most remarkable trophic cascade occurred. What is a trophic cascade and how exactly do wolves change rivers? George Monbiot explains in this movie remix titled, How Wolves Change Rivers.When wolves were reintroduced to Yellowstone National Park in the United States after being absent nearly 70 years, the most remarkable trophic cascade occurred. What is a trophic cascade and how exactly do wolves change rivers? George Monbiot explains in this movie remix titled, How Wolves Change Rivers.When wolves were reintroduced to Yellowstone National Park in the United States after being absent nearly 70 years, the most remarkable trophic cascade occurred. What is a trophic cascade and how exactly do wolves change rivers? George Monbiot explains in this movie remix titled, How Wolves Change Rivers.When wolves were reintroduced to Yellowstone National Park in the United States after being absent nearly 70 years, the most remarkable trophic cascade occurred. What is a trophic cascade and how exactly do wolves change rivers? George Monbiot explains in this movie remix titled, How Wolves Change Rivers.When wolves were reintroduced to Yellowstone National Park in the United States after being absent nearly 70 years, the most remarkable trophic cascade occurred

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The New York Times

Hunting Habits of Wolves Change Ecological Balance in Yellowstone

Anne Sherwood for The New York Times

CHANGES IN THE WILD Douglas W. Smith using radio tracking equipment, above, to try to find the Leopold Wolf Pack along Blacktail Deer Creek in Yellowstone in September.

YELLOWSTONE NATIONAL PARK, Wyo. – Hiking along the small, purling Blacktail Deer Creek, Douglas W. Smith, a wolf biologist, makes his way through a lush curtain of willows.

Forum: Wildlife

Joel Sartore/National Geographic

A portrait of the Yellowstone gray wolf.

Nearly absent for decades, willows have roared back to life in Yellowstone, and the reason, Mr. Smith believes, is that 10 years after wolves were introduced to Yellowstone, the park is full of them, dispersed across 13 packs.

He says the wolves have changed the park’s ecology in many ways; for one, they have scared the elk to high ground and away from browsing on every willow shoot by rivers and streams.

“Wolves have caused a trophic cascade,” he said.

“Wolves are at the top of it all here. They change the conditions for everyone else, including willows.”

The last 10 years in Yellowstone have re-written the book on wolf biology. Wildlife biologists and ecologists are stunned by the changes they have seen.

It is a rare chance to understand in detail how the effects of an “apex predator” ripple through an ecosystem. Much of what has taken place is recounted in the recently released book “Decade of the Wolf: Returning the Wild to Yellowstone,” by Mr. Smith and Gary Ferguson. (Mr. Smith will discuss the effects at 7 tonight in the Linder Theater at the American Museum of Natural History. Admission is $15.)

In 1995, 14 wolves from Canada were brought into the park by truck and sleigh in the dead of winter, held in a cage for 10 weeks and released. Seventeen were added in 1996. Now, about 130 wolves in 13 packs roam the park.

Yellowstone, says Mr. Smith, is full.

Over the next 10 years, elk numbers dropped considerably. One of the world’s largest elk herds, which feeds on rich grasses on the northern range of the park, dropped from 19,000 in 1994 to about 11,000. Wolf reintroduction has been cited as the culprit by hunters, but Mr. Smith says the cause is more complex.

Data recently released after three years of study by the Park Service, the United States Geological Survey and the University of Minnesota found that 53 percent of elk deaths were caused by grizzly bears that eat calves. Just 13 percent were linked to wolves and 11 percent to coyotes. Drought also playing a role. The study is continuing.

Scientists do say that wolf predation has been significant enough to redistribute the elk. That has in turn affected vegetation and a variety of wildlife.

The elk had not seen wolves since the 1920′s when they disappeared from the park. Over the last 10 years, as they have been hunted by wolf packs, they have grown more vigilant.

They move more than they used to, and spend most of their time in places that afford a 360-degree view, said Mr. Smith. They do not spend time in places where they do not feel secure – near a rise or a bluff, places that could conceal wolves.

In those places willow thickets, and cottonwoods have bounced back. Aspen stands are also being rejuvenated. Until recently the only cottonwood trees in the park were 70 to 100 years old. Now large numbers of saplings are sprouting.

William Ripple, a professor of botany at Oregon State University, calls the process the “ecology of fear,” which has allowed the vegetation to thrive as a result of behavioral changes in the newly skittish and peripatetic elk.

Though the changes now are on a fairly small scale, the effects of the wolves will spread, and in 30 years, according to Mr. Smith, Yellowstone will look very different.

Not everyone is convinced. “Wolves have a role to play,” said Robert Crabtree, a canid biologist who has researched wolves and coyotes in the park since the late 1980′s. “But the research has ignored climate change and flooding, which have also had an effect on vegetation. Their work isn’t wrong, but it’s incomplete.”

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Minnesota’s wolves needed for ecological balance

  • Article by: MAUREEN HACKETT
  • Updated: September 8, 2013 – 9:27 PM

A recreational hunt doesn’t follow the DNR’s stated management plans.

The recent article, “Despite wins, Minnesota’s endangered species list up by 180” (Aug. 20, 2013) quotes the Department of Natural Resources’ (DNR) endangered species coordinator as stating, “We’ve got to learn how to manage species on a larger scale.”

The state’s list of species that have gone extinct and of those that are endangered and threatening to go extinct has grown tremendously.

One of the first steps in the large-scale management referred to by the DNR is to keep in place the vital assets already provided by nature. This is particularly relevant to the Minnesota wolf population.

A Romanian proverb says, “Where wolves roam, forests grow.” Having wolves on our landscapes and ecologically active is vital to maintaining the natural balance for all wildlife.

There is ample science and thinking that supports this management strategy, and innovative new ways to reduce wolf conflicts with livestock, including nonlethal methods (only 2 percent of the Minnesota farms in wolf country have experienced wolf problems with livestock).

As far back as the 1920s and ’30s, University of Wisconsin scientist, ecologist, forester and environmentalist Aldo Leopold established visionary wildlife management theories that rightfully viewed wildlife issues within the greater ecological system of nature.

In 1949, he proposed that a natural predator such as the wolf has a major residual impact on plants; river and stream bank erosion; fish and fowl; water quality; and on other animals. In other words, the wolf is a keystone species.

Leopold’s trophic cascade concept articulated emphatically that killing a predator wolf carries serious implications for the rest of the ecosystem. Later, that concept was endorsed by former Secretary of the Interior Bruce Babbitt.

The natural benefits of wolves to our complex landscapes is still not fully understood. What is known is that:

• The presence of wolves helps plants and tree growth by affecting the browsing behavior of deer, especially along stream and river banks.

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Bloomberg

Murder of Yellowstone Wolves Threatens Area Renaissance

Photographer: Marc Cooke/Wolves of the Rockies via Bloomberg

Two wolves passing through Lamar Valley at Yellowstone National Park. According to Marc Cooke, president of Wolves in… Read More

By Mike Di Paola Sep 2, 2013 11:01 PM CT

The air in Yellowstone National Park is chilly at the crack of dawn, even in August. If you want to see a wolf, you get up early and shiver.

“It’s more difficult right now to spot a wolf,” says Marc Cooke, president of Wolves of the Rockies. He means both the time of year — wolves are less active in summer — and the recent decline in wolf numbers, which he attributes to “the devastating impact from the needless trapping and hunting season.”

At last count there were 95 wolves in the park, traveling in 11 packs. A few years ago there were almost twice as many. Part of the decline is due to the natural ebb and flow of ecological systems, but hunters can legally shoot wolves when they stray outside the park into Wyoming, Montana or Idaho, even if they’re wearing radio collars.

Just last week, a collar-wearing female wolf that had killed a chicken was shot by a resident of Jardine, Montana.

As tenuous as the population is, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has proposed to delist the species, which is currently designated as “endangered” or “threatened” in most of the lower 48 states. The wolf would still be protected in Yellowstone, but would be at the mercy of bloodthirsty types just outside the park when the hunting season opens in September.

After a couple days, I finally catch the briefest glimpse of a pair of black wolves, loping over a rise and out of sight in the park’s stunning Lamar Valley. Though I’m looking through a spotting scope and the wolves are more than a mile off, the scene takes my breath away.

Wolf Renaissance

As an apex predator, wolves are essential to an ecosystem’s health. Soon after reintroduction to Yellowstone in 1995, wolves helped cull the overpopulated elk herds. This led to a rejuvenation of verdant ground cover that the elk had been mowing down, which in turn attracted animals that rely on low foliage for cover and food.

Yellowstone wolves are undoubtedly responsible for a renaissance of songbird and beaver populations and a lot more.

“You could argue that they’ve affected everything through the system,” says wolf biologist Doug Smith, Yellowstone’s longtime wolf project leader. “Wolves have been good for fish, reptiles, amphibians and invertebrates.”

Wolves are even good for another top predator, the grizzly bear, which feeds on berries that bounced back with the reappearance of wolves.

“We’ve got the most predators, or carnivores, in Yellowstone in the park’s entire history,” says Smith. “Arguably, Yellowstone is as pristine as it’s been in its entire history.”

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NPR

Wolves At The Door

Can two top predators coexist in the American West?

This is a story about wolves and people

This is a story about wolves and people

It’s a story about what we have in common — we’re social, adaptable and fiercely territorial. It’s also a story about whether we can get along.

It's also a story about whether we can get along

People have been fascinated with wolves for millennia. They show up in our folklore and in our fairy tales. Today, in much of the American West, gray wolves also show up in our politics. I know this because I grew up in Montana, where wolves can be as important and divisive a topic as gun control or health care.

A few decades ago, wolves had been hunted, trapped and poisoned — down to a population of about 50 in the contiguous United States. Then, in the mid-1990s, the federal government decided to bring them back, introducing 66 Canadian gray wolves into Idaho and Yellowstone National Park. They became “the environmental movement poster animal,” says Doug Smith, head of the Yellowstone Wolf Project, a group that monitors and studies wolves in Yellowstone National Park.

See Full Presentation  Here

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democracynow democracynow

Published on Feb 21, 2014

http://www.democracynow.org – We speak with a University of California scientist Tyrone Hayes, who discovered a widely used herbicide may have harmful effects on the endocrine system. But when he tried to publish the results, the chemical’s manufacturer launched a campaign to discredit his work. Hayes was first hired in 1997 by a company, which later became agribusiness giant Syngenta, to study their product, Atrazine, a pesticide that is applied to more than half the corn crops in the United States, and widely used on golf courses and Christmas tree farms. When Hayes found results Syngenta did not expect — that Atrazine causes sexual abnormalities in frogs, and could cause the same problems for humans — it refused to allow him to publish his findings. A new article in The New Yorker magazine uses court documents from a class-action lawsuit against Syngenta to show how it sought to smear Hayes’ reputation and prevent the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency from banning the profitable chemical, which is already banned by the European Union.

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New maps show how habitats may shift with climate change

This map shows how marine habitat ranges will shift likely in a segment of the Northern Hemisphere. The length of the black arrows indicates the velocity of temperature change, and the color schemes correspond with the nature of the habitat migration, as follows. SINK: Migrations terminate due to some barrier, such as coastlines. SOURCE: Migrations do not terminate. CORRIDOR: Many migrations passing through. DIVERGENCE: Fewer migrations end than start. CONVERGENCE: More migrations start than end. Credit: Michael Burrows and Jorge Garcia Molinosor (Credit: Michael Burrows and Jorge Garcia Molinosor)

This map shows how marine habitat ranges will shift likely in a segment of the Northern Hemisphere. The length of the black arrows indicates the velocity of temperature change, and the color schemes correspond with the nature of the habitat migration, as follows. SINK: Migrations terminate due to some barrier, such as coastlines. SOURCE: Migrations do not terminate. CORRIDOR: Many migrations passing through. DIVERGENCE: Fewer migrations end than start. CONVERGENCE: More migrations start than end. Credit: Michael Burrows and Jorge Garcia Molinosor

As regional temperatures shift with climate change, many plants and animals will need to relocate to make sure they stay in the range of temperatures they’re used to.

For some species, this shift will mean a fairly direct adjustment toward higher latitudes to stay with cooler temperatures, but for many others, the path will take twists and turns due to differences in the rate at which temperatures change around the world, scientists say.

Now, a team of 21 international researchers has identified potential paths of these twists and turns by mapping out climate velocities— the speed and intensity with which climate change occurs in a given region — averaged from 50 years of satellite data from 1960 through 2009, and projected for the duration of the 21st century.

MSN Weather: What causes global warming?
MSN Weather: How global warming can make cold snaps even worse

“We are taking physical data that we have had for a long time and representing them in a way that is more relevant to other disciplines, like ecology,” said co-author Michael Burrows, a researcher at the Scottish Marine Institute. “This is a relatively simple approach to understanding how climate is going to influence ocean and land systems.”

Where species come and go

The resulting maps indicate regions likely to experience an influx or exodus of new species, or behave as a corridor or, conversely, a barrier, to migration. Barriers, such as coastlines or mountain ranges, could cause local extinctions if they prevent species from relocating, the team says.  [Maps: Habitat Shifts Due to Climate Change]

“For example, because those environments are not adjacent to or directly connected to a warmer place, those species from warmer places won’t be able to get there very easily,” Burrows told Live Science. “They might still get there in other ways, like on the bottoms of ships, but they won’t get there as easily.”

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