Judge restores protections for gray wolves across much of US

by MATTHEW BROWN and JOHN FLESHER, Associated PressThursday, February 10th 2022

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Gray wolves (Wisconsin DNR photo/Herbert Lange)

Gray wolves (Wisconsin DNR photo/Herbert Lange)

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BILLINGS, Mont (AP) — A judge restored federal protections for gray wolves across much of the U.S. on Thursday, after their removal in the waning days of the Trump administration exposed the predators to hunting that critics said would undermine their rebound from widespread extermination early last century.

U.S. District Judge Jeffrey White in Oakland, California, said the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service had failed to show wolf populations could be sustained in the Midwest and portions of the West without protection under the Endangered Species Act. The service also didn’t adequately consider threats to wolves outside those core areas, White said.

Wildlife advocates had sued the agency last year, saying state-sponsored hunting threatened to reverse the gray wolf’s recovery over the past several decades. The ruling does not directly impact wolves in the northern Rocky Mountains of Idaho, Montana, Wyoming, and portions of several adjacent states that remain under state jurisdiction after protections in the region were lifted by Congress last decade.

Attorneys for the Biden administration had defended the Trump rule that removed protections, arguing wolves were resilient enough to bounce back even if their numbers dropped sharply due to intensive hunting.

At stake is the future of a species whose recovery from near-extinction has been heralded as a historic conservation success. That recovery has brought bitter blowback from hunters and farmers angered over wolf attacks on big game herds and livestock. They contend protections are no longer warranted.

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Monarch butterfly conservation efforts improve. Are they enough?

A cluster of butterflies perching on a pine tree at Monarch Grove Sanctuary in Pacific Grove, Calif., on Nov. 10. The number of western monarch butterflies wintering along California’s Central Coast is bouncing back from population lows in 2020. Nic Coury/AP Photo

By Michael Doyle | 01/06/2022 01:25 PM EST

Monarch butterflies are having a moment — in court, on Capitol Hill and across the countryside.

Some migrating populations are up from 2020’s devastating lows. Congress is kicking in more money. Endangered Species Act legal settlement talks are underway.

And over it all loom the far-flung consequences if the conservation efforts fall short and monarch butterflies end up, after all, requiring federal protections under the ESA.

“Imagine if the monarch is listed,” National Wildlife Federation President and CEO Collin O’Mara told a Senate panel in December. “The impact on farms across the country would be massive.”

An ESA listing, though, remains both a distinct possibility and, for some environmental groups, a goal.

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New Landscape Conservation Task Force is Established

ASSOCIATION OF FISH & WILDLIFE AGENCIES, Washington D.C.: December 8, 2021

Washington D.C. – A new Landscape Conservation Joint Task Force was established during a signing ceremony at the Association of Fish & Wildlife Agencies Executive Committee Meeting. The establishment of this Task Force is the next step in landscape conservation collaboration to foster even stronger relationships. Long-term collaboration between the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service and the states will provide the necessary durable foundation for working together more effectively with Tribes, other agencies, landowners, conservation organizations and other partners so essential for balancing and implementing landscape-scale conservation in a sustainable manner for the future. The Task Force outlined in the Charter will examine what is working and what is not and make recommendations to stitch together a collaborative approach.

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Researchers say it’s time to clean up the US Clean Water Act

December 7, 2021

University of Missouri-Columbia

In 1969, the Cuyahoga River near Cleveland was so polluted that it caught fire, helping to launch the modern environmental movement and prompting Congress to pass the Clean Water Act three years later. It was one of the first laws to safeguard waterways and set national water quality standards.

While the Clean Water Act successfully regulated many obvious causes of pollution, such as the dumping of wastewater, it’s done less to limit more diffuse types of pollution, such as “nonpoint source pollution” that includes agricultural runoff from fields and urban stormwater from buildings, paved surfaces and yards — says a new study from University of Missouri researchers.

Though hard to see, nonpoint source pollution has become one of the main environmental threats to drinking water across the country, said MU researchers who are offering strategies to address the problem.

“Large amounts of nitrates and nitrites, such as those found in fertilizer, can cause negative health effects such as blue baby syndrome,” said Robin Rotman, assistant professor in the MU School of Natural Resources, who led the study. Rotman also holds courtesy appointments in the MU School of Law and the MU College of Engineering. “Nonpoint source pollution can lead to toxic algae blooms; pesticides and herbicides also contain carcinogens that can threaten human health,” she said.

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Invasive Carp Removal Efforts In Mississippi River

Contact: DNR Office of Communications

a group of men netting fish in the mississippi river bank and putting them in tubs

The Wisconsin DNR will continue working with neighboring state and federal agencies to reduce the number of invasive carp in the Mississippi River. / Photo Credit: Minnesota DNR

LA CROSSE, Wis. – The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR) in partnership with neighboring state and federal agencies will take further action to reduce the number of invasive carp in the Mississippi River.

Additional actions include increasing commercial netting operations, tracking tagged carp and ongoing use of the innovative Modified Unified Method (MUM), a tactic that involves driving fish towards a series of smaller and smaller areas until they are netted out of the water.

Continued efforts follow a successful second invasive carp removal effort on Oct. 25-29 in Pool 8 of the Mississippi River near La Crosse in which the DNR, Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, U.S. Geological Survey, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Wild Rivers Conservancy and National Park Service sampled more than 100,000 pounds of fish.

Although seven silver carp were observed jumping out of the sampling area, no invasive carp were captured during the October removal using MUM. Thirty-four silver carp were captured during the first MUM operation in the same locations in April.

“This is potentially very good news about the current status of invasive carp in Pool 8,” said Jordan Weeks, DNR Mississippi River Fisheries Biologist. “Invasive carp captures decreased sharply. We’re hopeful this indicates a decrease in the actual invasive carp population.”

In addition, the October invasive carp removal produced hundreds of native fish in each of five locations along the river. These captures included a healthy number and diversity of native fish, including numerous paddlefish and sturgeon.

While native fish tend to hide and avoid being driven into the nets used during the MUM tactic, some do end up being netted. A subset of those fish are measured and weighed, then released back into the river. Any invasive carp are removed and further analyzed. Invasive carp compete with native species for food and habitat, so a healthy and diverse fishery is a positive sign.

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