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It has been over a month since the Western Pond Turtles (Actinemys pallida) rescued from Elizabeth lake have been in our care, and we are happy to say they are doing well. However we need your support to help us continue to feed and care for these turtles. Please visit our website and donate today. 

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School’s almost out for the summer and so are these endangered Hood Canal steelhead at Quilcene National Fish Hatchery in Washington state. Steelhead are Washington’s state fish and for 100 years they have been declining to alarming numbers. It has been estimated that between 300,000 to 800,000 steelhead returned to the Puget Sound region annually just a century ago, only a fraction of them are returning today. Learn how federal agencies in the Pacific Northwest are recovering salmon and steelhead

Photo credit: Florian Graner

The Mexican gray wolf; a keystone species, an essential part of the wild landscape. By regulating prey populations, they enable many plants and animals to flourish.

USFWS calls Mexican gray wolves (only 75 remain) as a “nonessential, experimental” population. Tell USFWS here that Mexican gray wolves are an essential part of a healthy ecosystem and the recovery of their rare species. 

Picture: Mexican gray wolf (Canis lupus baileyi) by Wildlife Science Center

Huzzah!

The United States Fish and Wildlife Service just updated their info page on eagles, and asked to use of my photos from that time I found a golden eagle nest in Redmond for educational purposes on their site. The site has now launched, and the images can be found HERE

Mine’s the one with the two eagles sitting at the edge of their giant freakin’ nest on a cliffside. You can view video of the nest (and the climb I took to get to it!) here! 

Picture by Don Bartletti

DNA INDICATES LONG-AGO SOUTHLAND WOLF WAS ACTUALLY A MEXICAN GRAY

The only wolf ever documented in Southern California may have been a victim of mistaken identity nearly a century ago.

The 100-pound male wolf was pursuing a bighorn sheep in the Mojave Desert’s rugged Providence Mountains in 1922 when a steel-jaw trap clamped onto one of its legs.

Based on measurements of its skull, biologists at the time determined that it was a lone Southern Rocky Mountain gray wolf that had wandered out of a population in southern Nevada.

But a different story is emerging from a study of that skull at UCLA, where researchers have identified DNA markers indicating it was actually a Mexican gray wolf, the “lobo” of Southwestern lore.

Bob Wayne, an evolutionary biologist at the university, said the finding could help extend the historic range of the federally endangered Mexican gray wolf, which the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service contends ranged over parts of central and northern Mexico, western Texas, southern New Mexico and southeastern and central Arizona.

Broadening the species’ historical range to include Southern California would allow for an assessment of additional habitats for Mexican wolf reintroduction programs,” Wayne said. That, in turn, could enhance its chances of survival

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Poaching The Titans

By: Claire Hood/USFWS

This blog post represents the first post in a series on the illegal poaching of native species in the United States. Stay tuned over the next couple of weeks for more stories highlighting this important conservation issue.

In northern California, there exists a collection of trees referred to as the Grove of Titans. Within it are some of the largest redwood trees in the world, trees so large they have earned monikers like the Lost Monarch and Del Norte Titan.

Photo: Redwood stand (Justin Brown/Creative Commons)

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Something to be Thankful for...Wisdom's Back!

Photo by: B.Wolfe/USFWS 

Today there is something to be thankful for at Midway Atoll National Wildlife Refuge - Wisdom, the world’s oldest living, banded, wild bird has returned! In the picture above, she can be seen (on the left) preening her mate. Wisdom’s mate has been waiting within a few feet of the pair’s former nest site since Wednesday, November 19. Wisdom was first spotted on November 22. we can celebrate by knowing she survived another year at sea and maybe returning very soon.

This isn’t the first time these two have readied their nest. Laysan albatrosses mate for life and Wisdom has raised between 30 to 35 chicks since being banded in 1956 at an estimated age of 5.  Laying only one egg per year, a breeding albatross will spend a tiring 365 days incubating and raising a chick.  

Albatross face many threats. Chicks can’t fly away from invasive predators like rats or escape weather-related risks like flooding and hot spells.  If they make it to adulthood, they face different threats.  Manmade problems like marine debris and pollution are dangers faced by all albatross. Although the population of Laysan albatross has strengthened to roughly 2.5 million, 19 out of the 22 species of albatross are threatened or endangered.

Midway Atoll NWR is home to the largest albatross colony in the world and 70% of the world’s Laysan albatross population

For more information on this amazing long-lived matriarch of the seabird world go to:http://www.fws.gov/refuge/Midway_Atoll/Whats_New_Wisdom.html

Read about Wisdom’s return last year

WATCH Wisdom lay her egg!!

Read more about Wisdom

See more photos of Wisdom

Learn more about Laysan albatross on Midway 

Learn more about the Pacific Region

Court: Great Lakes wolf hunt must stop

A federal court on Friday ordered a stop to gray wolf hunting in Minnesota, Wisconsin and Michigan, saying the animal still requires protection. The ruling overturns a 2011 U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service decision that opened up hunting and trapping of wolves for the first time in 40 years.

The court’s ruling was cheered by the Humane Society of the United States, which was among a group of wildlife protection groups that sued the U.S.F.W.S. for its decision to remove the gray wolf from the list of animals deserving of protection under the Endangered Species Act.

"In the short time since federal protections have been removed, trophy hunters and trappers have killed more than 1,500 Great Lakes wolves under hostile state management programs that encourage dramatic reductions in wolf populations," said Jonathan Lovvorn, senior vice president and chief counsel for animal protection litigation at the Humane Society.

Minnesota hunters shot or trapped 272 wolves this year, more than the state’s target quota of 250. Some 15,000 people had applied for 3,800 available licenses this year. Last year, 13,000 applied for 3,300 licenses.

A Minnesota DNR survey last winter estimated the wolf population at 2,423 — up about 200 or 10 percent from 2013. Officials say the population peaked at 3,020 in 2004 — 17 percent higher than it is now.

Source

With the 40th anniversary of the Endangered Species Act just a month away, we are gearing up all our efforts to get the word out so our partners can celebrate this monumental law and let people know about all the plants and animals it protects. Our most recent issues of Fish & Wildlife News takes a look at the Act, its history and milestones, success stories from around the nation and more. Check it out! http://1.usa.gov/1dy3DXr

(Artwork: Meredith Graf)

Plover Lovers, Bird Nerds, and Wildlife Fans Celebrate: Little Plover Making a Big Comeback

By Dan Elbert/USFWS Biologist

With the chill of fall in the air and the cheer of sports fans in the air, there is one more reason to celebrate this season – the tiny Western snowy plover is smashing population records in a big way.  

Photo: Wester Snowy Plover chicks with eggshells on sand, Credit: Credit:  B. Casler/USFWS

Records crumble

Records began to crumble in January when 232 snowy plovers were counted on the Oregon coast during the annual Winter Window Survey; an increase of approximately 17 percent over the previous high count of 199 the previous year. 

Plover monitors from the Oregon Biodiversity Information Center observed the earliest hatch date (April 17) and fledging date (May 21) ever for the Oregon coast.  History has shown that when nests and broods are successful early in the breeding period, adults are able to attempt secondary and tertiary nests during the lengthy 6-month breeding period and rear multiple broods.  Consequently, productivity rates can sky-rocket under ideal conditions. 

Preliminary data indicate that more than 300 adult snowy plovers were present on the Oregon coast in 2014, approximately 350 nests were monitored, of which about 210 hatched (60% nest success rate).  Only 93 of 381 snowy plover nests hatched last year  (24% nest success rate).  Even more impressive than 210 nests hatching (another Oregon coast first by the way), were the 270 or more chicks that successfully fledged in 2014- shattering the previous record of 180 chicks that fledged in 2012.

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The pictures above show Macho B, a male jaguar that was first sighted in the Baboquivari mountains by houndsman Jack Childs and was found years later in a wire snare in the Santa Rita Mountains (February 18th, 2009). 

The trap was set up by a biologist from the Arizona Game and Fish Department (AZGFD) named Emil McCain as part of a bear-lion study. When Macho B was found in the wire snare, the AZGFD biologists considered this a ”happy accident”. Despite many conservationists having warned against potential risks years ago, they had instantly tranquilized and radio collared Macho B while jaguars weren’t even part of the plan (note: the trap was set up originally for mountain lions and bears, or so they claimed).

Twelve days later, the department noticed that Macho B wasn’t moving as far or as frequently as they had expected him to, and after they also noticed that he was showing signs of ailments, AZGFD had recaptured Macho B and brought him to the Phoenix Zoo on March 2th. The jaguar was then there diagnosed as terminally ill from kidney failure, and government officials and veterinarians concluded that he should be euthanized.

However, it didn’t stop there. The Center for Biological Diversity called for an independent medical examination, which revealed that the jaguar’s death was at least in part due to agency mismanagement (read more about this here). While most of the information was lost for investigation due to a faulty necropsy on USFWS’ behalf, some of Macho B’s organs remained intact. A veterinary pathologist who examined the jaguar’s kidneys, but whose report was never released, told the Arizona Daily Star that the organs appeared healthy and that Macho B ”may have just suffered from dehydration”.

Investigating Macho B’s death, the Interior Department’s inspector general concluded that AZGFD did not have a permit for the capture. Moreover, the investigation also concluded that the capture was in fact intentional (view the full report here). And if that weren’t enough evidence to prove the criminal wrongdoing within the AZGFD…

In May, 2010, Emil McCain admitted in federal court that he deliberately and without a permit captured Macho B by baiting a snare set in a canyon that he knew Macho B traversed and pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor crime: illegal take of an endangered species. (McCain had convinced a female co-worker named Janary Brun to plant the bait, and she was sentenced as well.) McCain said he knew there had been recent evidence a jaguar had appeared in the area of the snares as photographs of the cat had been taken near the capture site months earlier. He was sentenced to five years’ probation and fined $1,000.

Source: Border Cats

And it goes deeper than that. According to this blog run by Janary Brun, Emil McCain is claiming victimhood while at the same time admitting to ”whoring out the truth” and federal laws in exchange for being wined and dined and promised a future employment by former AZGFD biologist and current University of Arizona jaguar researcher Ron Thompson. 

When McCain directed me to place jaguar scat at the BJDP cameras and near the AZGFD snare on February 4, 2009 I believed he was a legit researcher whom had permission from AZGFD, USFWS, & BJDP to attempt to capture and collar Macho B. After Macho B was collared and McCain and Childs did not correct AZGFD’s statements that Macho B’s capture was “accidental” I became suspicious. Then after I contacted Tony Davis of the AZ Daily Star to tell him Macho B’s capture was definitely not accidental and McCain’s reaction was to attack and defame my character with his words supplemented by a script his father provided, I thought I had been duped by someone I trusted. It was at this point I considered him to be some evil, master-mind. When I read the discovery of my case while preparing for trial it became clear that McCain had intent to capture and collar Macho B all on his own and this intent was encouraged and fostered directly by Thompson (AZGFD), Johnson (AZGFD), Smith (AZGFD), Childs (BJDP), and indirectly by Van Pelt (AZGFD), O’Brien (AZGFD) and Fernandez (USFWS). Now, I just view McCain as a sociopath; adamant about taking zero responsibility for his actions (he has a history of breaking laws, maiming and killing jaguars) and even incapable of viewing any wrongdoing he has done as wrong. He always chooses the victim card as his defense and his new version of that is curious as he waited years to shift blame from me as a liar to Ron Thompson as his pimp. Since he suspiciously leaves Childs out of the equation I am wondering if Childs is still of some use to McCain? Perhaps Childs is dusting off a seat at the “jaguar conservation” table for McCain when his probation is over in two years?

Source: Wrapping up

Whatever the conspiracies are about however, fact remains that twelve years after it was created, and with little else to show for its efforts, the Jaguar Conservation Team and its powerbroker the Arizona Game and Fish, had killed, for scientific purposes but absent the rigor of real science and outside the constraints of federal law, the last known wild jaguar in the United States.

Our Southeast Region just had a rare winter visitor!

A snowy owl has been spotted flying around Louisville, KY.

These owls spend their summers far north of Arctic Circle and breed in the arctic tundra. They are the only owls that are diurnal, and will hunt at all hours during the continuous daylight of an Arctic Summer. Get more info here: http://cjky.it/1bXIXoY 

(Photo: John Schwegma, USFWS)