U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to revisit northern long-eared bat listing

By Laura Bies Posted on February 13, 2020

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service must reconsider its decision to list the northern long-eared bat as threatened rather than endangered under the Endangered Species Act. ©USFWS

A federal judge last week ruled on a lawsuit over the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s 2015 decision to list the northern long-eared bat (Myotis septentrionalis) as threatened rather than endangered under the Endangered Species Act. In 2016, Defenders of Wildlife and the Center for Biological Diversity, along with several other environmental organizations, sued the Service in two separate cases — later consolidated into and ruled on as one — arguing that the northern-long eared bat needs full protection under the ESA as an endangered species. Continue reading

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Bats, Coronaviruses, and Zoonotic Disease

Published on January 30, 2020 Written by Admin Bat Conservation International’s FAQ on Bats, Coronaviruses, and Zoonotic Disease

Bat Conservation International is monitoring the news and information about the spreading novel coronavirus (nCoV-2019) that was first detected in Wuhan, China. As bats have become intertwined in the coverage, we are providing this FAQ to help our community and members interpret and navigate the evolving information and understand why bats are mentioned. What caused the nCoV-2019 outbreak? A live wildlife market (sometimes called a ‘wet’ market) in Wuhan, China is believed to be the source of the current nCoV-2019 outbreak. Live wildlife markets are places where live animals, including wildlife harvested both illegally and legally, are stacked closely together in cages and slaughtered and sold for food. Continue reading

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Michigan Governor Vetoes of Bad Deer Management Bill

December 23, 2019 | by National Deer Alliance

Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer vetoed House Bill 4687, which would have removed the Natural Resources Commission’s authority to regulate deer baiting and feeding. More specifically, baiting and feeding bans in the state’s Lower and Upper Peninsulas core chronic wasting disease (CWD) areas will remain in effect. Governor Whitmer stated, “I remain fully committed to protecting Michigan’s wildlife, public health, and agriculture jobs,” and added, “This legislation would’ve increased the chance of spreading wildlife disease within wildlife populations and the beef and dairy industries, which are vital to Michigan’s economy. That’s not a risk we can afford to take.” Continue reading

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DNR study seeks farm chemical levels in wild deer

 By Tony Kennedy Star Tribune OCTOBER 29, 2019 —  DAVID JOLES – STAR TRIBUNE

Are white-tailed deer susceptible to carrying a common farmland chemical in their systems? Research says it’s possible. Minnesota deer hunters will be tapped as volunteers next month in a wildlife research project to assess levels of neonicotinoid insecticides in free-ranging deer. The pilot study by the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) was inspired by a university research project in South Dakota that found bad effects when captive whitetails were exposed to the widely used farm chemicals. Decreased fawn survival, reduced physical activity, smaller reproductive organs and jaw abnormalities were recorded in deer that were given significantly higher concentrations of “neonics” than other deer in the South Dakota State University study. Minnesota’s inquiry is meant to measure the relative prevalence of the chemicals inside deer and will focus on deer harvested all around the state in conjunction with the firearms season that opens Nov. 9. “We are looking for help from anybody and everybody who wants to be involved,’’ said Eric Michel, DNR’s newly hired deer biologist for the farmland region. The DNR’s goal is to obtain at least 800 spleens from hunter-harvested deer, equally divided in deer permit areas with low, medium, and high row crop density. The agency is supplying a sampling kit and video instructions to participating hunters. They’ll learn how to recognize and remove the spleen — a large, flat, dark red stomach organ shaped like a cat’s tongue. Michel, who worked on the recent South Dakota study as a postdoctoral researcher, said the initial phase in Minnesota will be to map baseline levels of neonicotinoids in the wild herd. The toxic insect killer, widely applied to corn and soybean seeds as a coating, has become so pervasive in the environment that it might even show up in Minnesota’s forested deer, Michel said. “We’re expecting to find it, but we don’t know at what levels,’’ he said. In South Dakota, captive female whitetails and fawns that were given increased levels of the pesticide did not feed or move as often as other deer. Concentrations of the chemical were “significantly higher” in fawns that died versus fawns that survived. Chemically exposed fawns that lived, were smaller and less healthy than fawns in the control group, “As concentrations increased, we saw decreased activity,’’ researchers wrote. Michel said the captive animal test facility in Brookings, where the research was conducted, was adjacent to corn and soybean fields. Even members of the control group of deer — those who weren’t dosed with the chemicals — were found to have neonics in their systems, Michel said. Deformities found in dosed whitetails included overbites and smaller than normal reproductive organs, the study found. The study was published earlier this year in the journal Scientific Reports. Co-author Jonathan Jenks, a professor and wildlife ecologist at SDSU, is helping out on the Minnesota study. Neonicotinoids have received lots of scientific attention in relation to the decline of bees and other pollinators. And in Minnesota, DNR wildlife researcher Charlotte Roy recently published trail camera observations of pheasants, other birds, raccoons and other mammals eating crop seeds dropped on farm fields in simulated spills or in simulated plantings where the seeds weren’t completely covered by dirt. Her report said ingestion of a small number of coated corn or soybean seeds can be lethal to small birds. She observed over a dozen species of birds and mammals feeding on the spills. She wrote that the presence of seeds on soil surfaces should be considered in pesticide risk assessments. For the neonic study on Minnesota deer, volunteers are urged to sign up before the hunting season by using the following online address: https://forms.gle/qE4FaxxJwo4oqkuU8 Michel said participants can also collect a tooth from their deer. The DNR will pay to have the tooth tested to detail its age and the results will be reported back to the hunter along with the level of neonicotinoid exposure that was found.

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Endangered Species Overreach A new rule won’t put more fish and wildlife at risk

 By The Wall Street Journal Editorial Board Aug. 16, 2019 6:51 pm ET

A polar bear keeps close to her young along the Beaufort Sea coast in Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, Alaska. PHOTO: HANDOUT ./REUTERS

Perhaps you’ve been reading that the Trump Administration wants to make it easier to eliminate polar bears, spotted owls and other species from the face of the earth. As ever in Donald Trump ’s Washington, the reality is different, so allow us to explain. The uproar concerns a proposed new rule to revise some practices under the 1973 Endangered Species Act. For all the praise liberals shower on that law, it has achieved far less than advertised. A 2018 report from the Heritage Foundation’s Robert Gordon found that since 1973 the ESA has helped to recover only 40 species, and nearly half of those were mistakenly listed in the first place. Meanwhile, the law has become a legal weapon to strip property rights and block millions of acres from private development. Congress ought to rewrite the ESA but can’t break a partisan impasse. So this week Interior Secretary David Bernhardt tried to clarify regulation under the law to prevent abuses. The new rule restores Congress’s original two-tiered approach, killing the Fish and Wildlife Service’s “blanket rule” that treated “endangered” and “threatened” species alike. This will devote scarce government dollars—and landowner attention—to the species most at risk. It will also provide states more flexibility to assist species that are struggling though not seriously endangered. The new rules clarify vague terms such as “the foreseeable future” to mean only as far as the government can “reasonably determine” a danger of extinction. This will make it harder for activists to use claims of vague future climate damage to declare many more species endangered. And the rules remind regulators they must use the same five criteria in deciding whether to delist a species as they did when listing one—destruction of habitat or range; overutilization; disease; inadequate regulation; or other natural or manmade factors. This will guard against special interests that move the goalposts every time a recovered population is proposed to be cleared. Another reform would limit the use of “critical habitat” designations that tie up tens of millions of acres of U.S. land. The rules reinstate a requirement that agencies first evaluate acreage that contain the at-risk species before considering new, unoccupied areas. Agencies also must prove that unoccupied critical habitat contains “one or more of the physical or biological features essential to the species’ conservation.”

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