Tag Archive: United States Fish and Wildlife Service


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African lions to join the endangered species list: Five months after Cecil was slain, the animals are to be given special protection

  • Lions in central and west Africa will be listed as endangered
  • While lions found across south and east Africa will be listed as threatened
  • It is hoped the move will make it harder for hunters to bring ‘trophies’ to US
  • Fish and Wildlife Service said its move is not the result of Cecil outcry 

African lions are to be placed under the protection of the Endangered Species Act, just five months after a famous lion named Cecil was killed in Zimbabwe by an American dentist.

It is hoped the move will better regulate hunting and make it trickier for hunters to bring lion trophies into the US.

Lions in central and west Africa will be listed as endangered, according to the Fish and Wildlife Service, while a second subspecies found across southern and eastern Africa will be listed as threatened.

African lions are to be placed under the protection of the Endangered Species Act, five months after a famous lion named Cecil (pictured) was killed in Zimbabwe by an American dentist. Lions in central and west Africa will be listed as endangered while a second subspecies in southern and eastern Africa will be listed as threatened

African lions are to be placed under the protection of the Endangered Species Act, five months after a famous lion named Cecil (pictured) was killed in Zimbabwe by an American dentist. Lions in central and west Africa will be listed as endangered while a second subspecies in southern and eastern Africa will be listed as threatened

Both changes will make it harder for hunters to import lion parts.

In particular, importing skins and trophies from countries where the animals are endangered will be ‘generally prohibited,’ the agency told The New York Times.

The order states the Fish and Wildlife Service will deny a permit to import a sport-hunted lion to anyone who has been convicted or pleaded guilty to violating federal or state wildlife laws.

If this rule had been implemented sooner, it could have potentially prevented the death of Cecil.

In 2008, Walter Palmer, the Minnesota dentist who shot the lion with a bow and arrow earlier this year, pleaded guilty to making false statements to the Fish and Wildlife Service about a black bear fatally shot in western Wisconsin outside an authorised hunting zone.

Under the changes, this would have prevented him getting a permit to travel to Africa and hunt Cecil.

The order states the Fish and Wildlife Service will deny a permit to import a sport-hunted lion to anyone who has been convicted or pleaded guilty to violating federal or state wildlife laws. The move has been made in response to a large decline in the numbers of lions in Africa, rather than in direct response to Cecil's demise

The order states the Fish and Wildlife Service will deny a permit to import a sport-hunted lion to anyone who has been convicted or pleaded guilty to violating federal or state wildlife laws. The move has been made in response to a large decline in the numbers of lions in Africa, rather than in direct response to Cecil’s demise

The move has been made in response to a large decline in the numbers of lions in Africa over the past two decades, rather than in direct response to Cecil’s demise.

But some claim the creature’s very public death was the driving force for many such changes.

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EarthSky

Worst recorded years for U.S. wildfires are 2005, 2006, 2007, 2011 and 2012. This year has already joined that list, and wildfire season is still going strong.

Trees engulfed in flames at the Tetlin National Wildlife Refuge in Alaska. Image Credit: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

The ongoing drought in the U.S. West is not helping the wildfire situation in 2015. Current info about 2015's drought in the U.S. here

The 2015 wildfire season in the United States has already broken records. So far this year, more acres of land have burned as of mid-September than the total annual amount in 2011, which was the 4th worst year for wildfires at least since the 1960s. So will this year be the new fourth worst, third worst, second worst, or worst wildfire year since then? Read on, and take a guess.

The National Interagency Fire Center in Boise, Idaho, publishes a ton of useful statistics on wildfires that are critical for helping state and federal agencies manage the flames. These records date back to the 1960s.

The chart below, created with the National Interagency Fire Center data, shows that the worst years for wildfires in the U.S., since these records began being kept, were 2006 (9,873,745 acres burned), 2007 (9,328,045 acres burned), 2012 (9,326,238 acres burned), 2011 (8,711,367 acres burned), and 2005 (8,689,389 acres burned).

Already as of September 18, 2015, 8,821,040 acres of land have burned across the U.S., and this number exceeds the total number of acres burned for 2011. Hence, 2015 has already earned a spot as the 4th worst year on record, and the 2015 wildfire season is still going strong.

 

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Earth Watch Report  –  Biological Hazards

https://i1.wp.com/upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/8/83/10-0002-F1.gif

 

 

A) Greater mouse-eared bat (Myotis myotis) with white fungal growth around its muzzle, ears, and wing membranes (photograph provided by Tamás Görföl). B) Scanning electron micrograph of a bat hair colonized by Geomyces destructans. Scale bar = 10 µm.

http://www.cdc.gov/eid/content/16/8/1237-F1.htm

Authors  :  Gudrun Wibbelt, Andreas Kurth, David Hellmann, Manfred Weishaar, Alex Barlow, Michael Veith, Julia Prüger, Tamás Görföl, Lena Grosche, Fabio Bontadina, Ulrich Zöphel, Hans-Peter Seidl, Paul M. Cryan, and David S. Blehert

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Biological Hazard USA State of North Carolina, [Rutherford and Henderson counties] Damage level Details

 

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RSOE EDIS

Biological Hazard in USA on Thursday, 10 April, 2014 at 10:38 (10:38 AM) UTC.

Description
A fungal disease of unknown origin that is killing hibernating bats in eastern North America appears to be spreading in Western North Carolina, according to biologists monitoring the epidemic. White-nose syndrome has been confirmed in at least seven mountain counties, but Biologist Gabrielle Graeter of the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission said this week, “I think it’s all over Western North Carolina at this point.” Last year, the fungal disease – named for the white growths covering the muzzles of affected bats – was found to have killed a tri-colored bat at the Nature Conservancy’s 186-acre Bat Cave Preserve in Rutherford and Henderson counties. But Graeter said the fungus that causes the disease is now more widespread than those seven counties that had confirmed cases as of 2013 – Avery, Buncombe, McDowell, Haywood, Yancey, Transylvania and Rutherford. “To confirm that it’s in a county, we have to find the fungus has invaded the skin tissue of a bat,” she said. “We’re largely depending on someone in the public finding a freshly dead bat and they have to know to call us and submit it for testing. So we have gaps on our maps just because of the testing methodology.” The Wildlife Resources Commission and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service have been monitoring caves and mines throughout the state that are known as bat hibernating sites. Last winter, the partners found bat numbers in some hibernacula had declined by 95 percent. In North Carolina, the fungal disease has taken its biggest toll on species such as the little brown bat, northern long-eared bat (which has been proposed for endangered species status) and the tri-colored bat, Graeter said. “Before white-nose syndrome, tri-colored and little brown bats were considered the most abundant species we have and now we’re seeing these really precipitous declines,” she said. To slow the spread of the disease, wildlife officials have been working with the caving community to restrict spelunking during the bat’s winter hibernation, and to decontaminate their clothing and equipment to prevent transmitting the fungus between sites. “The professional cavers have been very cooperative and willing to take measures to minimize disturbance to bats,” Graeter said. “It’s more a problem on the recreational side of things. I think people just aren’t aware of the situation.” The occurrence of the same fungus in healthy bats in Europe suggests it may have originated in Europe, and was accidently transmitted to bats in North America that lack immunity. In the U.S., white-nose syndrome was first documented in New York in 2006 and has spread throughout the East and as far west at Oklahoma. Bats affected with white-nose syndrome don’t always have obvious fungal growth, but they may display abnormal behavior within and outside of their hibernacula. Scientists speculate the fungus may awaken the bats from their winter slumber, burning precious fat reserves. Although the outlook for cave-hibernating bats is dire, Graeter said there are some hopeful signs. The fungus has been detected on two species of big-eared bats, she said, “but we do not have any evidence of these two species getting the disease or any kind of die-off from this.” Biologists are also studying a variety of biological controls to see if the bat species that are faring better might have oils, bacteria or other fungi on their bodies that may be inhibiting the white-nose fungus.
Biohazard name: White-noise Syndrome (bat)
Biohazard level: 2/4 Medium
Biohazard desc.: Bacteria and viruses that cause only mild disease to humans, or are difficult to contract via aerosol in a lab setting, such as hepatitis A, B, and C, influenza A, Lyme disease, salmonella, mumps, measles, scrapie, dengue fever, and HIV. “Routine diagnostic work with clinical specimens can be done safely at Biosafety Level 2, using Biosafety Level 2 practices and procedures. Research work (including co-cultivation, virus replication studies, or manipulations involving concentrated virus) can be done in a BSL-2 (P2) facility, using BSL-3 practices and procedures. Virus production activities, including virus concentrations, require a BSL-3 (P3) facility and use of BSL-3 practices and procedures”, see Recommended Biosafety Levels for Infectious Agents.
Symptoms:
Status: confirmed

 

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ECO Watch

Devastating Bat-Killing Disease Spreads From Eastern U.S. to Midwest States

Center for Biological Diversity | April 12, 2014 10:00 am

The devastating bat-killing disease that has already killed more than 7 million bats across the Eastern U.S. has spread to Wisconsin and Michigan, state wildlife officials announced this week. During routine surveys of bat hibernating areas late this winter, biologists discovered signs of the malady known as white-nose syndrome that was first documented in upstate New York in 2006. Subsequent lab testing confirmed the presence of the disease in the two upper Midwest states, bringing to 25 the total number of states where the disease is present. White-nose syndrome has also spread to five Canadian provinces.

“White-nose syndrome has now reached the last strongholds of the once-abundant little brown bat and several other species,” said Mollie Matteson, a senior scientist at the Center for Biological Diversity. “Given the rapid spread and devastating consequences of this disease, it’s incredibly urgent that we put more resources into finding a cure and saving our bats.”

White-nose syndrome is the worst wildlife health crisis in recent memory, killing up to 100 percent of bats in affected caves. There is no known cure for the disease, which has afflicted seven bat species so far and has pushed several to the brink of regional extinction. Last year the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service proposed Endangered Species Act protection for the northern long-eared bat, one of the species hardest hit by the disease. The other bat species hit by the disease are the little brown bat, tricolored bat, eastern small-footed bat, federally endangered Indiana bat, federally endangered gray bat and the big brown bat.

 

 

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North Carolina riverbed coated by toxic coal ash, officials say

Fish and other aquatic life at risk in Dan river, about 70 miles from where massive Duke Energy spill occurred two weeks ago

  • theguardian.com, Tuesday 18 February 2014 15.37 EST
Duke ash spill
Officials said the coal ash is burying aquatic animals and their food. Photograph: Gerry Broome/AP

Federal officials said Tuesday that toxic coal ash has coated the bottom of a North Carolina river as many as 70 miles downstream of a Duke Energy dump where a massive spill occurred two weeks ago.

The US Fish and Wildlife Service advised that a massive pile of coal ash about 75ft long and as much as 5ft deep has been detected on the bottom of the Dan river near the site of the February 2 spill. Deposits varying from 5in deep to less than 1in coated the river bottom across the state line into Virginia and to Kerr Lake, a major reservoir.

Federal authorities expressed concern for what long-term effect the contaminants will have on fish, mussels and other aquatic life. Public health officials have advised people to avoid contact with the water and not eat the fish.

“The deposits vary with the river characteristics, but the short- and long-term physical and chemical impacts from the ash will need to be investigated more thoroughly, especially with regard to mussels and fish associated with the stream bottom and wildlife that feed on benthic invertebrates,” said Tom Augspurger, a contaminants specialist at the federal wildlife agency. Benthic invertebrates are small animals that live in the sediments of rivers and lakes, such as clams, worms and crustaceans.

 

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SFGate

Toxins leaking from 2nd pipe at NC coal ash dump

Updated 6:33 pm, Tuesday, February 18, 2014

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — North Carolina officials said Tuesday that groundwater containing unsafe levels of arsenic apparently leaching from a Duke Energy coal ash dump is still pouring into the Dan River, which is already contaminated from a massive Feb. 2 spill.

The state Department of Environment and Natural Resources ordered Duke to stop the flow of contaminated water coming out a pipe that runs under a huge coal ash dump at its Eden power plant. A nearby pipe at the same dump collapsed without warning two weeks ago, coating the bottom of the Dan River with toxic ash as far as 70 miles downstream.

State regulators expressed concern five days ago that the second pipe could fail, triggering a new spill. The water coming out of that pipe contains poisonous arsenic at 14 times the level considered safe for human contact, according to test results released by the state on Tuesday.

“We are ordering Duke Energy to eliminate this unauthorized discharge immediately,” said Tom Reeder, director of the N.C. Division of Water Resources.

Video taken last week by a robot sent inside the 36-inch-wide concrete pipe showed wide gaps between seams through which groundwater is gushing in, likely from the toxic dump above.

Tests on water from the pipe before it goes under the dump showed none of the dangerous contamination detected at the other end. The concrete inside the pipe is heavily stained around the numerous leaks, suggesting the contamination is likely not new.

A state inspector received the video recorded by Duke during a Feb. 11 visit to the site, but did not review it until Thursday. On Friday night, the state agency went public with concerns about the pipe’s structural integrity.

Duke spokeswoman Paige Sheehan quickly issued a statement, downplaying the risk.

“After reviewing the videotape, we determined that no immediate action was necessary,” it said.

In the wake of the initial spill, public health officials issued advisories telling people to avoid contact with the river water and not eat the fish.

Authorities said public drinking water in Danville, Va., and other communities downstream of the Duke plant remain safe. Heavy metals detected in the river at levels exceeding state and federal safety standards — including arsenic, lead and selenium — are being successfully filtered out of water drawn from the river at municipal treatment plants, they said.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service said Tuesday a massive pile of coal ash about 75 feet long and as much as 5 feet deep has been detected in the river by the site of the Feb. 2 spill. Deposits varying from 5 inches deep to less than 1 inch coated the river bottom across the state line into Virginia and to Kerr Lake, a major reservoir.

Federal authorities expressed concern for what long-term effect the contaminants will have on fish, mussels and other aquatic life.

“The deposits vary with the river characteristics, but the short- and long-term physical and chemical impacts from the ash will need to be investigated more thoroughly, especially with regard to mussels and fish associated with the stream bottom and wildlife that feed on benthic invertebrates,” said Tom Augspurger, a contaminants specialist at the federal wildlife agency.

 

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Scott Walker is at it again.

The governor of Wisconsin, who has previously publicly stated his intention to resist Obamacare, had his state’s Department of Natural Resources reject federal requests to close portions of parks in the wake of the federal government’s shutdown.  The Wisconsin DNR also reopened a boat launch that the federal government had closed down on Tuesday.

As reported by the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel:

“The park service ordered state officials to close (portions of national parks), but state authorities rebuffed the request because the lion’s share of the funding came from state, not federal coffers.”  The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service had also closed down a boat launch, but “in a sign of defiance, the DNR removed the barricades at the landing, saying it had the legal authority to operate the launch under a 1961 agreement with the federal government.”

Let’s ignore for a moment the idiocy of closing park land because of Congress can’t decide exactly how much it should add to the ballooning national debt.  What Wisconsin has done is quite heroic.  In the face of childish federal “take my ball and go home” tactics, Wisconsin has told the feds to go away, that they can handle the expenses of maintaining these parks without federal “help.”

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Polar bearsA polar bear rests with her cubs on the pack ice in the Beaufort Sea in northern Alaska. (Steve Amstrup / Associated Press)
By Kim MurphyMarch 1, 2013, 12:20 p.m.

SEATTLE — The federal law listing polar bears as a threatened species was upheld Friday by a federal appeals court, which rejected arguments that it is wrong to impose far-ranging and possibly costly protections for a species that remains fairly abundant in many regions of the Arctic.

Concluding that attacks on the listing “amount to nothing more than competing views on policy and science,” the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Washington, D.C., upheld the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s 2008 decision to protect the animals because the dramatic loss of sea ice leaves them likely to become in danger of extinction.

There are still about 25,000 polar bears around the world, many of them in relatively healthy populations, but scientists fear that climate change is rapidly affecting their ability to sustain those numbers after the next half-century.

Polar bears depend on sea ice as a platform for hunting and often use it for denning. Its loss near the productive, shallow waters close to shore could soon leave the animals in danger of steep decline, federal authorities concluded in their listing decision, which was upheld by the court.

The issue has been highly controversial, particularly in Alaska, where polar bears live side by side with the state’s powerful oil and gas industry. The animal’s protection under the Endangered Species Act means much more formidable hurdles for obtaining oil drilling permits, especially as offshore operations expand into the Beaufort and Chukchi seas.

 

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Obama Administration Finalizes Polar Bear Extinction Plan

Earth First ! Newswire

 

by the Center for Biological DiversityWhat-Do-Polar-Bears-Eat

WASHINGTON— After months of high-profile statements about climate change, the Obama administration today finalized a special rule that fails to protect polar bears from greenhouse gas pollution under the Endangered Species Act. The new regulation is modeled on a previous Bush-administration measure excluding activities occurring outside the polar bear’s habitat — such as carbon emissions from coal plants — from regulations that could slow Arctic warming to prevent the bear’s extinction.

“The president’s failure to protect the polar bear is part of a deeply troubling pattern,” said Brendan Cummings of the Center for Biological Diversity, which authored the original scientific petition to give polar bears federal protection. “The Obama administration has repeatedly acknowledged climate change’s threat to endangered species — from polar bears and ice seals in the Arctic to wolverines in continental United States. But time and again, the administration has refused to use the Endangered Species Act to protect these animals from carbon pollution. It’s like pulling the fire alarm and then sending the firefighters home.”

 

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