Almost all lemur species are now officially endangered

Almost all lemur species are now officially endangered

SOURCE: New Scientist DATE: July 9, 2020 SNIP: This lemur species was once common across the south of Madagascar, but is now listed as critically endangered, the last category before extinction. The fate of Verreaux’s sifaka (Propithecus verreauxi) is sadly shared by many of its cousins, with an update of the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List today finding more than half of African primates outside Madagascar are now endangered to some extent. Due to rampant deforestation and hunting in their heartland of Madagascar, lemurs have it particularly bad: 103 of the world’s 107 species of these animals are threatened by extinction. A growing lemur pet trade in the country has also emerged as a new pressure. “Everything seems to be stacked up against lemurs,” says Russ Mittermeier at the IUCN. Local taboos about hunting Verreaux’s sifaka had previously helped the species, but with new people moving to the forests they occupy as charcoal production booms, that protection has evaporated. “It’s a wonderful, beautiful animal,” says...
B.C. First Nations say sea lice spreading from fish farms to wild salmon

B.C. First Nations say sea lice spreading from fish farms to wild salmon

SOURCE: CTV News DATE: June 26, 2020 SNIP: The First Nations Leadership Council (FNLC), which represents First Nations from across the province, is calling for an end to open net-pen salmon farming in B.C. The FNLC says that among its chief concerns is that farmed salmon may be spreading sea lice to salmon stocks throughout B.C.’s waters, which is lethal to juvenile wild salmon. While the leadership council acknowledges that there are other contributing factors to a decline in salmon stocks over the past several years, the FNLC cites a study conducted by the Cohen Commission which recommends shutting down net-pen fish farms in the Discovery Islands if they pose a health risk to wild salmon. The DFO says that if net-pen salmon farms in the Discovery Islands are scientifically proven to “pose more than a minimal risk of serious harm” to wild fish stocks, then fish farms in the area will be required to close. The FNLC says that now is the time for the DFO to take action, as a recent report published by fish farm companies Mowi, Cermaq and Grieg suggest that sea lice is now appearing in farmed salmon at rates that exceed limits imposed by the government. “We have known for years that open net-pen salmon farming is one of the main contributors to the massive decline in wild salmon stocks in this province,” said BC Assembly of First Nations Regional Chief Terry Teegee. “The federal and provincial governments have been taking a piecemeal approach to this problem, with long timeframes for transition to closed containment pens, and only in a few places. We...
Closer and closer to the last dance: Sage grouse continue to struggle as feds try to roll back protections

Closer and closer to the last dance: Sage grouse continue to struggle as feds try to roll back protections

SOURCE: Magic Valley News DATE: June 17, 2020 SNIP: About a dozen birds fly in at about 4:30 a.m. from all directions, like a rag-tag squadron of chicken-sized helicopters. It takes a minute for all the male grouse to arrive at the small clearing in the sagebrush. Their wings whoosh loudly in the pitch black, fluth-uth-uth-uth-uth-uth-th-th-th-t-t-t-t. When the sage grouse land at the lek, their group breeding grounds, they start dancing. Until dawn, when the sun peaks over the snow-covered buttes and casts an orange glow over the sagebrush, you just hear this display, the bouncy, water-drop sound of the males inflating the air sacks on their chests, competing to attract females. The spring mating ritual of this stocky, flamboyant bird is becoming increasingly rare. For the past 60 years sage grouse numbers have been declining steadily, but in the last handful of years populations across the bird’s western range have nosedived. Sage grouse numbers have always fluctuated, cyclically, but experts say that doesn’t account for the recent drops. While leks like this one in southern Twin Falls County, accessible by rugged two-tracks and backdropped to the south by white mountains, are doing relatively well, even sage grouse in the Magic Valley have suffered big losses in the past few decades. Again and again, massive fires gobble up thousands of acres of critical sagebrush habitat. According to Idaho Fish and Game, the state population, much of which is in the Magic Valley, dropped 52% between 2016 and 2019 — Fish and Game is still analyzing the 2020 lek count data, but Magic Valley Regional Wildlife Manager Mike McDonald said...
Sixth mass extinction of wildlife accelerating, scientists warn

Sixth mass extinction of wildlife accelerating, scientists warn

SOURCE: The Guardian DATE: June 1, 2020 SNIP: The sixth mass extinction of wildlife on Earth is accelerating, according to an analysis by scientists who warn it may be a tipping point for the collapse of civilisation. More than 500 species of land animals were found to be on the brink of extinction and likely to be lost within 20 years. In comparison, the same number were lost over the whole of the last century. Without the human destruction of nature, even this rate of loss would have taken thousands of years, the scientists said. The land vertebrates on the verge of extinction, with fewer than 1,000 individuals left, include the Sumatran rhino, the Clarión wren, the Española giant tortoise and the harlequin frog. Historic data was available for 77 of the species and the scientists found these had lost 94% of their populations. The researchers also warned of a domino effect, with the loss of one species tipping others that depend on it over the edge. “Extinction breeds extinctions,” they said, noting that unlike other environmental problems extinction is irreversible. Humanity relies on biodiversity for its health and wellbeing, scientists said, with the coronavirus pandemic an extreme example of the dangers of ravaging the natural world. Rising human population, destruction of habitats, the wildlife trade, pollution and the climate crisis must all be urgently tackled, they said. The analysis, published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, examined data on 29,400 land vertebrate species compiled by the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species and BirdLife International. The researchers identified 515 species with populations below 1,000...
Wildlife Collapse From Climate Change Is Predicted to Hit Suddenly and Sooner

Wildlife Collapse From Climate Change Is Predicted to Hit Suddenly and Sooner

SOURCE: New York Times DATE: April 15, 2020 SNIP: Climate change could result in a more abrupt collapse of many animal species than previously thought, starting in the next decade if greenhouse gas emissions are not reduced, according to a study published this month in Nature. The study predicted that large swaths of ecosystems would falter in waves, creating sudden die-offs that would be catastrophic not only for wildlife, but for the humans who depend on it. “For a long time things can seem OK and then suddenly they’re not,” said Alex L. Pigot, a scientist at University College London and one of the study’s authors. “Then, it’s too late to do anything about it because you’ve already fallen over this cliff edge.” The latest research adds to an already bleak picture for the world’s wildlife unless urgent action is taken to preserve habitats and limit climate change. More than a million plant and animal species are at risk of extinction because of the myriad ways humans are changing the earth by farming, fishing, logging, mining, poaching and burning fossil fuels. When they examined the projections, the researchers were surprised that sudden collapses appeared across almost all species — fish, reptiles, amphibians, birds and mammals — and across almost all regions. If greenhouse gas emissions remain on current trajectories, the research showed that abrupt collapses in tropical oceans could begin in the next decade. Coral bleaching events over the last several years suggest that these losses have already started, the scientists said. Collapse in tropical forests, home to some of the most diverse ecosystems on earth, could follow by...