Rat Poison Found in 85 Percent of Tested Mountain Lions, Bobcats, Fishers

Rat Poison Found in 85 Percent of Tested Mountain Lions, Bobcats, Fishers

SOURCE: Center for Biological Diversity DATE: December 12, 2018 SNIP: A new state analysis has documented super-toxic rat poisons in more than 85 percent of tested mountain lions, bobcats and protected Pacific fishers, prompting state regulators to open a new evaluation of whether to further restrict or ban the powerful toxins. The California Department of Pesticide Regulation’s analysis of 11 different wildlife studies indicates non-target animals continue to be poisoned in large numbers despite state restrictions on the sale and use of the deadliest rodenticides since 2014. The long-lasting super toxins often poison non-target animals that eat poisoned rodents. “This alarming new evidence should spur the state to ban these dangerous poisons,” said Jonathan Evans, legal director of the Center for Biological Diversity’s environmental health program. “There are safer, cheaper alternatives that greatly reduce risks to wildlife, pets and children. Pesticide regulators have no excuse for continuing to allow California’s wildlife to die slow, excruciating deaths.” The new state analysis documented super-toxic rat poisons in more than 90 percent of tested mountain lions, 88 percent of tested bobcats and 85 percent of protected Pacific fishers tested. Along with the high percentage of poisoning among tested mountain lions, fishers and bobcats, the re-evaluation analysis documented the potent rat toxins in seven out of ten endangered northern spotted owls tested and 40 percent of tested barred owls. The harm caused by the super-toxic second generation anticoagulant rodenticides in California is well documented. More than 70 percent of wildlife tested in California in recent years has been exposed to dangerous rodenticides. Officials have found poisonings in more than 25 different species of...
The Insect Apocalypse Is Here

The Insect Apocalypse Is Here

SOURCE: The New York Times DATE: November 27, 2018 SNIP: By one measure, bugs are the wildlife we know best, the nondomesticated animals whose lives intersect most intimately with our own: spiders in the shower, ants at the picnic, ticks buried in the skin. We sometimes feel that we know them rather too well. In another sense, though, they are one of our planet’s greatest mysteries, a reminder of how little we know about what’s happening in the world around us. We’ve named and described a million species of insects, a stupefying array of thrips and firebrats and antlions and caddis flies and froghoppers and other enormous families of bugs that most of us can’t even name. And yet entomologists estimate that all this amazing, absurd and understudied variety represents perhaps only 20 percent of the actual diversity of insects on our planet — that there are millions and millions of species that are entirely unknown to science. But extinction is not the only tragedy through which we’re living. What about the species that still exist, but as a shadow of what they once were? In “The Once and Future World,” the journalist J.B. MacKinnon cites records from recent centuries that hint at what has only just been lost: “In the North Atlantic, a school of cod stalls a tall ship in midocean; off Sydney, Australia, a ship’s captain sails from noon until sunset through pods of sperm whales as far as the eye can see. … Pacific pioneers complain to the authorities that splashing salmon threaten to swamp their canoes.” There were reports of lions in the south...
Drying Canadian wetland drives muskrat decline

Drying Canadian wetland drives muskrat decline

SOURCE: Stanford University EARTH DATE: November 26, 2018 SNIP: 46 years of satellite imagery show the Peace-Athabasca Delta has been drying since the 1970s, significantly reducing muskrat habitat. “The ecological impacts are not limited to muskrat – they extend far beyond that,” said lead author Ellen Ward, a doctoral candidate in Stanford’s School of Earth, Energy & Environmental Sciences (Stanford Earth). “These results suggest that maybe the widespread continental‑scale decline in this animal is actually being driven by a large‑scale loss in wetland and aquatic habitat.” Located in northeast Alberta, the Peace-Athabasca Delta is a Ramsar Wetland of International Importance and North America’s largest inland freshwater delta. The area comprises habitat for about 200 bird species as well as the threatened wood bison, which is among the largest land animals on the continent. The semi-aquatic muskrat is native to North America and an important ecological indicator since the species is highly sensitive to changing hydrologic conditions. The researchers constructed maps of the 46-year record of surface water with Landsat satellite imagery from 1972 to 2017. Those images revealed that suitable muskrat habitat dwindled by 32 percent over a time when muskrat numbers also plummeted. Muskrat serve as a convenient indicator for habitat loss because they construct easily counted “houses” for shelter. They rely on vegetation for food and to build their dwellings in lakes, small ponds, streams, rivers and wetlands – and within the delta, they reside in the areas that are most susceptible to drying out. If it continues, the decline of muskrat in the region will have impacts throughout the food chain, as muskrat are prey to...
Canada: locals angry after navy holds live fire exercises in orca habitat

Canada: locals angry after navy holds live fire exercises in orca habitat

SOURCE: The Guardian DATE: November 22, 2018 SNIP: Endangered killer whales off Canada’s west coast were forced to contend with machine gun fire and smoke bombs after the government allowed the country’s navy to conduct live fire exercises in a protected area. A strip of water roughly 45 nautical miles long and 6 nautical miles wide was temporarily closed to recreational and commercial fishing in June in an attempt to help the whales, also known as orcas, find more of their main food source, Chinook salmon. But according to residents on the south-west coast of Vancouver Island, the Canadian navy and the US coast guard continued to conduct live fire exercises in those same waters, which the government designated as a critical habitat area earlier in the summer. The area, in the Salish Sea between Vancouver Island and the US state of Washington, was re-opened in October. But with more fishing closures expected in the future, the decision to allow exercises to continue frustrated both local residents and marine biologists. “They closed down this area to recreational fishing to save the whales, and then the navy sets off phosphorus bombs and 50 caliber guns,” said Paul Pudwell, a whale-watching captain in Sooke. “They do it 20, 30 times a year. We can’t fish there, but you can go shoot it...
Habitat loss threatens all our futures, world leaders warned

Habitat loss threatens all our futures, world leaders warned

SOURCE: The Guardian DATE: November 17, 2018 SNIP: As a UN conference convenes to work out a new deal for protecting the planet’s biodiversity, the focus falls on the nations that are not attending. Amid the worst loss of life on Earth since the demise of the dinosaurs, the agenda at the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) in the Egyptian resort of Sharm el-Sheikh could hardly be more important, but the spirit of international collaboration appears to be as much at risk of extinction as the world’s endangered wildlife. The United States has never signed up and Brazil is among a growing group of countries where new nationalist leaders are shifting away from global cooperation. Media research suggests there is only one news story about UN biodiversity talks for every 20 about UN climate negotiations. Coverage tends to focus on a few totemic species, such as lions, chimpanzees and pandas, rather than the collapsing ecosystems on which we depend. Yet there is growing evidence that the crisis of the natural world has become as much of a threat to humankind and is amplifying the chaos in the world’s weather systems. Since 1970 humanity has wiped out 60% of mammals, birds, fish and reptiles, according to the latest Living Planet report by WWF, which warned that the loss of wildlife was now an emergency that is threatening our civilisation. This followed a report earlier this year that one in eight bird species is threatened with global...