Decline of Greater Sage-Grouse in the American West

Release Date: MARCH 30, 2021 USGS

RESTON, Va. – Greater sage-grouse populations have declined significantly over the last six decades, with an 80% rangewide decline since 1965 and a nearly 40% decline since 2002, according to a new report by the U.S. Geological Survey. Although the overall trend clearly shows continued population declines over the entire range of the species, rates of change vary regionally. 

The report represents the most comprehensive analysis of greater sage-grouse population trends ever produced and lays out a monitoring framework to assess those trends moving forward. The study can also be used to evaluate the effectiveness of greater sage-grouse conservation efforts and analyze factors that contribute to habitat loss and population change — all critical information for resource managers.

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Invasive species cost humans billions a year

Posted on April 5, 2021 TWS

Invasive species have been on the rise around the world over the last decade, and so has the amount of money lost to them. In addition to the ecological problems they cause in the ecosystem, invasive species can lead to economic losses in agriculture, tourism and public health as managers have to deal with the damage they cause. Researchers recently looked at biological invasions around the world and estimated that invasive species have cost humans at least $1.288 trillion from 1970 to 2017. In 2017 alone, the money spent on invasives reached $162.7 billion. That was 20 times the budget of the World Health Organization and the United Nations Secretariat that year. Mosquitos were the most damaging, followed by rats and cats. Researchers say more money is needed to prevent, monitor and combat the spread of these species.

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Beyond Bees, Neonics Damage Ecosystems—and a Push for Policy Change Is Coming

Scientists point to the long-term negative impacts of neonicotinoids, and advocates hope a regulatory overhaul will help.

BY LISA HELD, Civil Eats

FEBRUARY 2, 2021

Honeybee pollinating a cherry orchard. (Photo CC-licensed by the Oregon Department of Agriculture)

Europe’s Neonic Ban is a Big Step—But it Won’t Be a Cure-all for Bees

Last June, a national partnership that tracks honey bee population declines released the results of its annual survey. Between April 2019 and April 2020, beekeepers reported losing nearly 44 percent of their colonies, the second highest rate since the first survey in 2010.

For people paying attention to the many studies that have been piling up over the last decade documenting the devastating effects of neonicotinoids on the powerful pollinators, the news was far from surprising. Neonicotinoids—or neonics—are now the most widely used insecticides in the world, and nearly all conventional corn and soy farmers in the U.S. plant seeds coated with the chemicals. As the evidence that neonics kill pollinators by attacking their nerve cells has grown stronger (with industry-funded studies also confirming harm), multiple publications have warned of an “insect apocalypse.”

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Noem orders agriculture, natural resource department merger

Published: Wednesday, January 20, 2021

South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem yesterday issued an executive order to merge two departments overseeing the state’s agriculture industry and natural resources.

The Republican governor’s order created the Department of Agriculture and Natural Resources that she billed as a “one-stop” shop for farmers and ranchers that would save the state about $450,000 by eliminating five positions. While the influential South Dakota Farm Bureau praised the move, other farmers’ groups focused on conservation opposed the merger, saying it affected the protection of resources including water, oil and soil.

Hunter Roberts, the current secretary of environment and natural resources, will head the new department.

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Iowa DNR officer dies of COVID-19

 January 9, 2021 11:51 pmTravis Breese

DES MOINES, Iowa (KWWL) – The Iowa Department of Natural Resources confirms one of its conservation officers has died of complications from COVID-19.

Steve Reighard died of COVID complications on Friday, according to Iowa DNR Director of Communications Alex Murphy. Reighard had been in the hospital for “a few weeks”, Murphy said.

Reighard was a conservation officer in Dickinson County in Northwestern Iowa since 2012. He is the first DNR employee to die of the virus.

Iowa DNR officers held a ceremonial car parade to honor Reighard on Saturday, which was shared on the Iowa Fish and Game Conservation Officers Association’s facebook page.

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