Author Topic: News: Species-at-Risk  (Read 161 times)

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Offline The Peregrine Chick

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News: Species-at-Risk
« on: August 12, 2019, 13:48 »
I'm sorry that this is the first post on this topic ... it would have been nicer to have a story that was more upbeat ... I'm going to look for a more hopeful one for balance ...

So why this is the US ESA important?  There were no such thing as an endangered (or extirpated, threatened, vulnerable) designation prior to the passage of the ESA.

Trump administration overhauls Endangered Species Act protections

Original act protected species regardless of economic interests, which is among the proposed changes
Thomson Reuters / CBC Science & Technology / 12 August 2019

The Trump administration on Monday finalized changes to provisions of the U.S. Endangered Species Act that it says will streamline the decades-old wildlife protection law, although conservation groups say it will threaten at-risk species.  The 1970s-era act is credited with bringing back from the brink of extinction species such as bald eagles, grey whales and grizzly bears.

However, the law has long been a source of frustration for drillers, miners and other industries because new listings can put vast swathes of land off limits to development.  The weakening of the act's protections is one of many moves by President Donald Trump, a Republican, to roll back existing regulations to hasten oil, gas and coal production, as well as grazing and logging on federal land.  The changes would end a practice that automatically conveys the same protections for threatened species as for endangered species, and would strike language that guides officials to ignore economic impacts of how animals should be safeguarded. The original act protected species regardless of the economics of the area protected.

The changes were announced by the Interior Department's U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the Commerce Department's National Marine Fisheries Service.  "The revisions finalized with this rulemaking fit squarely within the president's mandate of easing the regulatory burden on the American public, without sacrificing our species' protection and recovery goals," U.S. Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross said in a statement.

Legal challenges expected

Conservationists and environmentalists said they would challenge the revised law in court.  "These changes crash a bulldozer through the Endangered Species Act's lifesaving protections for America's most vulnerable wildlife," Noah Greenwald, director of endangered species with the Center for Biological Diversity, said in a statement. "For animals like wolverines and monarch butterflies, this could be the beginning of the end."  He said the group would go to court to block the rewritten regulations, "which only serves the oil industry and other polluters who see endangered species as pesky inconveniences."

Democratic Sen. Tom Udall of New Mexico also criticized the plans.  "At a time when one million species are at risk of extinction caused by humans, we should be strengthening the Endangered Species Act, not crippling it," said Udall. "This is wrong and dangerous."  The new rules will also prohibit designation of critical habitat for species threatened by climate change, the Center for Biological Diversity said. Trump rejects mainstream climate science.  Conservation groups and attorneys general of several states including California and Massachusetts had been critical of the changes first proposed last year, saying they were in violation of the purpose of the Endangered Species Act and the National Environmental Policy Act.


https://www.cbc.ca/news/technology/us-govt-endangered-species-act-1.5243971
« Last Edit: August 12, 2019, 13:54 by The Peregrine Chick »

Offline The Peregrine Chick

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Re: News: Species-at-Risk
« Reply #1 on: August 12, 2019, 13:48 »
... addendum to the previous post ...

History of the US ESA - https://www.fws.gov/endangered/laws-policies/esa-history.html
Timeline of the US EAS - https://www.fws.gov/endangered/esa-library/pdf/history_ESA.pdf

  • 1918 - USA & Canada - Migratory Birds Treaty - the only protection for birds (nothing similar for non-birds) for the next 60  years in Canada
  • 1966 - USA - Endangered Species Preservation Act passed.
  • 1969 - USA - 1966 Act expanded and became the Endangered Species Conservation Act; Canada - DDT banned.
  • 1970 - peregrine falcons designated as extirpated in the Eastern US and endangered in the Western US - one of the first, if not the first species to be designated.
  • 1972 - USA - DDT banned
  • 1973 - 80 nations sign onto the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) treaty; US - Endangered Species Act (ESA) supersedes earlier endangered species acts, broadens and strengthens protection for all plant as well as animal species listed by the U.S. as threatened or endangered, prohibits take and trade without a permit, requires Federal agencies to avoid jeopardizing their survival, and requires actions to promote species recovery. The ESA defines an “endangered species” as any species in danger of extinction throughout all or a significant portion of its range.” A “threatened” species is one likely to become endangered within the foreseeable future throughout all or a significant portion of its range.” The ESA has become one of the most effective tools in the continuing effort to protect imperiled species and their habitats in the U.S.
  • 1977 - The Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada (COSEWIC) was created in 1977 as a result of a decision made at the Conference of Federal-Provincial-Territorial Wildlife Directors held in 1976 in Fredericton, New Brunswick. It arose from the need for a single, official, scientifically sound, national classification of wildlife species at risk. COSEWIC made its first status designations in April 1978 and has met annually since then.  COSEWIC is an independent committee of wildlife experts and scientists.
  • 1978 - Canada - COSEWIC designates Anatum peregrine falcons as "endangered", tundrius peregrines as "threatened" and pealei as a species of "special concern". Recovery efforts for the Anatum peregrine falcon included captive breeding and reintroduction improved the subspecies’ status.
  • 1981 - first hack release of captive-bred chicks in Winnipeg (we are one of the oldest projects in North America)
  • 1992 - Canada - Tundrius peregrine designation changed to "special concern".
  • 1994 - USA - the Tundrius peregrine falcon is delisted due to recovery.
  • 1999 - USA - the Anatum peregrine falcon is delisted due to recovery.
  • 2000 - Canada - Anatum peregrine falcon designation changed to "threatened" federally, but still designated as "endangered" under Manitoba's Endangered Species Act.
  • 2002 - Canada - the Species-at-Risk Act (SARA) passes becomes a federal law & authorizes COSEWIC to identify threatened species and assess their conservation status. COSEWIC then issues a report to the government, and the Minister of the Environment evaluates the committee's recommendations when considering the addition of a species to the List of Wildlife Species at Risk.
  • 2017 - Canada - peregrine falcons - anatum, tundrius & pealei - are designated as species of "special concern" federally; still designated as endangered in Manitoba because of low numbers of breeding pairs in the prairie population (Manitoba & Saskatchewan) - federal designation includes Alberta as part of the prairie population so while the population numbers are high, they are very (very) heavily skewed to Alberta.  The 2010 national survey of Anatum peregrines found just over 600 nesting pairs - in Manitoba and Saskatchewan in those same years there were only 3 pairs nesting in Manitoba (Ivy & Princess, Beau & Jules & Brooklyn & Hurricane) and 1 in Saskatchewan (Chaos from the Brandon nestsite and her unidentified mate).  Should we lose all our breeding birds in Manitoba and Saskatchewan (and that did happen in 2003) then the entire prairie population of peregrines would be in Alberta and we have never had an Alberta (or Ontario/Quebec/Maritimes) peregrine turn up in Manitoba (not sure about SK) and we would be reliant on peregrines from the US Midwest to repopulate our province.  And who's to say they would stay, Manitoba peregrines have been turning up to nest in Alberta since the 1980s/90s albeit not in great numbers.

Offline The Peregrine Chick

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Re: News: Species-at-Risk
« Reply #2 on: August 12, 2019, 13:50 »
still looking for a happy story, in the meantime ....

Offline The Peregrine Chick

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Re: News: Species-at-Risk
« Reply #3 on: August 12, 2019, 13:54 »
Black footed ferret population in Sask. wiped out by drought, plague
Alex Soloducha / CBC News  / 8 Aug 2019



The black footed ferret population was reintroduced to Grasslands National Park in 2009, but none of the animals have been spotted there since 2014.  Stefano Liccioli, wildlife ecologist, and scientist for species at risk with Parks Canada, said consecutive droughts and a non-native disease contributed to the disappearance.  "No ferrets have been detected in the park so our best estimate is that at this moment we do not have ferrets in the park," Liccioli said. The animal once lived throughout North America's great plains. It was the only native ferret on the continent and was classified as an endangered animal. It was last seen in Canada 1937 and was later thought to be extinct.

The species was found in Wyoming in 1981 and recovery efforts began throughout North America. In 2000, a recovery strategy for the black footed ferret and a management plan for the black tailed prairie dog were both published. Parks Canada started its reintroduction effort at Grasslands National Park in 2009 by releasing 74 animals, with the goal to reestablish a wild population in Canada.  In 2010, wild-born ferrets were observed at the park. Liccioli said it was incredibly significant because it showed that captive-born animals were capable of eventually producing wild litters.

But during the first four years of ferret releases, Grasslands National Park experienced two severe droughts that caused the prairie dog population to decline significantly.  The presence of sylvatic plague — the same bacteria that causes the bubonic and pneumonic plagues in humans — was also detected in the prairie dog population. Both prairie dogs and ferrets are highly susceptible.  The diet of the black footed ferret consists mostly of black tailed prairie dogs and with the decline of the prairie dog population, the ferrets were at risk.  In 2013 there were welfare concerns for both species and the decision was made to temporarily suspend any further release of ferrets.

Liccioli said since no ferrets have been detected, Parks Canada and Grasslands National Park are focusing efforts on better understanding prairie dog population dynamics and ecology in general, with contributions from the Calgary Zoo.  Liccioli said the prairie dog population at the park is on par with the long-term average over the past 25 years.  "We also learned that following drought the population will decline. But also, whenever there is good availability of food resources, prairie dogs breed. They have a lot of pups and the population bounces back," said Liccioli. "So we are in the process of seeing how again the population responds to all the different stressors." 

Liccioli said there are concerns that climate change will increase the frequency of both droughts and instances of sylvatic plague.  "We're gathering information on prairie dog ecology and population dynamics," said Liccioli. "We are trying to make informed decisions on both prairie dog and ferret recovery."


source: https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/saskatchewan/black-footed-ferret-population-in-sask-wiped-out-by-drought-plague-1.5239562

Offline carly

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Re: News: Species-at-Risk
« Reply #4 on: August 12, 2019, 13:57 »
Ford is looking to do the same here in Ontario.  It's all about big business and 'oil', to heck with the environment.

Offline The Peregrine Chick

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Re: News: Species-at-Risk
« Reply #5 on: August 12, 2019, 13:58 »
Grizzly Bears Back On Endangered Species List As Legal Battle Ensues
Henri Marius / Teton Gravity Research / 5 Aug 2019



Before 1800, approximately 50,000 Grizzly bears roamed the United States. The greater North American Grizzly population occupied a continuous range that stretched west to the coast of California, East to the Great Plains of Nebraska and Oklahoma, south to portions of Northwestern Mexico and as far north as the arctic reaches of Canada. In 1975 when the U.S. first listed the species as endangered, the population numbered only 1,000, and their range was a shattered skeleton of its former self. The Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem, an area that stretches into portions of Wyoming, Idaho and Montana, with Yellowstone as its center, had only 136 Grizzly bears at the time. This startlingly low number prompted the Fish and Wildlife Service to place the species as endangered, an act which afforded them substantial protections and helped grow the population to the 700 strong it is today.

In 2017 the Trump administration, citing the increased number of bears in the park and reviewing the "best available scientific and commercial data," removed protections for the animals within the Greater Yellowstone ecosystem. Soon, a slew of environmental groups and Native American coalitions took legal action to challenge the decision of the Fish and Wildlife Service. The groups argued that the FWS had failed to account for a series of factors that went beyond the argument that there are enough bears for the population to be healthy. The groups provided evidence that food sources for the bears are in rapid decline, there is a plateauing number of crucial female bears in the park, and worries regarding the health of the larger Grizzly population in the U.S.

Environmentalists argue that for the bears to be delisted as a threatened species, it is crucial for the six ecosystems they inhabit to be connected. Without this, inbreeding within the smallest populations, places like the North Cascades where there are only ten bears and the Selkirk Mountains where there are forty, will inevitably spell their disaster. Environmentalists also argued that delisting the bears would set a dangerous precedent for future regulators and provide groups hostile to bear conservation more leverage to dismantle protections.

In 2018 a Montana Judge ruled against the Fish and Wildlife Service, telling the regulatory group that the bears must be relisted as a threatened species. On August 4th, almost a year after that initial decision was made, the FWS relisted the species as threatened and renewed their protections. The decision is a major win for environmental groups, and a loss for big game hunters and the ranchers that live on the periphery of the Park. One prominent Congresswoman, Liz Cheney (R) of Wyoming, has introduced an act alongside Senator Mike Enzi, which seeks to once again de-list the species in Yellowstone, and “prohibit future judicial review of this decision”


source: https://www.tetongravity.com/story/news/grizzly-bears-back-on-endangered-species-list-as-legal-battle-ensues

Offline The Peregrine Chick

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Re: News: Species-at-Risk
« Reply #6 on: August 12, 2019, 14:13 »
Threats to endangered species more than doubled in past 40 years, study finds
Adrienne Berard / William & Mary University / 24 July 2019


The Columbia Basin pygmy rabbit (Brachylagus idahoensis)

The year was 1973, three days after Christmas. President Richard Nixon’s approval ratings were bottoming out. The Watergate scandal was intensifying and Nixon had just professed to the nation he was “not a crook.” In the midst of political turmoil, he made a decision that would affect millions of lives for decades to come. He signed the Endangered Species Act into law.  “This legislation provides the Federal Government with needed authority to protect an irreplaceable part of our national heritage — threatened wildlife,” Nixon said in a statement. “America will be more beautiful in the years ahead, thanks to the measure that I have the pleasure of signing into law today.” The primary goal of the legislation was to protect animal and plant life from extinction. To do so, the government tasked the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the National Marine Fisheries Service with listing endangered species and recording threats to their survival.  “The Endangered Species Act is unique,” said Matthias Leu, associate professor of biology and chair of data science at William & Mary. “We were actually at the forefront of conservation in terms of this act. People forget that about Nixon. Despite his political issues, he was actually an environmentalist.”

For the past six years, Leu and a team of 11 undergraduate students have been data-mining ESA records to determine its efficacy and assess threats to domestic species over time. [...] The team found that the number of threats per ESA listing decision increased more than twofold during that 42-year period. They also found that the number of native species impacted by habitat loss continues to increase. Threats due to invasive species and changes in the environment have increased exponentially in the past 30 years, as well.  “To our knowledge, this is the first evaluation of temporal changes in threat occurrence for U.S. species listed under the ESA as outlined in federal listing documents,” the paper states. “The increasing frequency of these threats over time point to the importance of federal protection for rare species.”  Since the passage of the ESA and its subsequent amendments, the number of U.S. species requiring federal protection has ballooned from 137 between 1967 and 1973 to 1,663 in 2019, with 43 species considered recovered during that period, the paper states.  The American bald eagle was one of the first species to be placed on the endangered list. The ESA regulations proved so successful that by 2007, the eagle population had recovered sufficiently to be removed from the list. Other success stories include the humpback whale, the Louisiana black bear, the Virginia northern flying squirrel and the Arctic peregrine falcon.

To analyze the species still included on the list, the researchers developed a giant database, scanning listing decision documents for 1,732 domestic species. They decided to divvy up the species based on student preference. For example, some students read documents for all 52 bird species on the list, others handled all 139 species of fish, yet others tackled all 40 reptile species, and so on.  “The vertebrates went first and then towards the end, the only species left were the ones that nobody wanted to look at, like the insects,” Leu said. “But we had to do them all, so somebody got the bugs.”  Ann Marie Rydberg decided she would analyze documents for flowering plants on the list. There were 910 plant species to analyze, so it required all hands on deck to finish the job. [...]  Ultimately, the team determined there were six overarching threat categories: habitat modification, overutilization, pollution, species–species interaction (aka invasive species), demographic stochasticity (aka inbreeding) and environmental stochasticity (aka environmental change, like erosion).  “Our major finding was that species are now listed with more threats, substantially more threats,” Leu said. “That’s going to make it harder to remove species from the list, because the threats are increasing.”  The team found habitat loss was, and continues to be, the top threat over time. As a result, most endangered species are found, at least in part, on private lands, the paper states. Leu asserts that more efforts are needed to work with private landowners to conserve species in the United States.  “What’s really scary is we have invested millions of dollars to save habitat, but there is no decrease in that threat trend. In fact, it’s slightly increasing,” Leu said. “It’s private landowners that own the really productive, high biodiversity land. The government needs incentives to engage private landowners in conservation strategies, because the federal government simply does not own enough land to protect all the species. That’s the depressing part. Recovery is going to have to happen one backyard at a time. “ 

Leu says his research team is now collaborating with the D.C.-based conservation organization Defenders of Wildlife. The advocacy group is using the team’s data to craft legislation to protect threatened species.  “They are better situated and trained to take science to the Hill,” Leu said. “I don’t really see that as our role, but we’re glad they’re promoting our paper. It’s a nice translation from science into potential policy, because what our data show is we need to maintain existing government policy. We have empirical evidence showing it works.”


source: https://www.wm.edu/news/stories/2019/extinction-by-the-numbers-threats-to-endangered-species-more-than-doubled-in-past-40-years,-study-finds.php