Jasper National Park says one caribou herd gone, two others on the brink of local extinction

Jasper National Park says one caribou herd gone, two others on the brink of local extinction

SOURCE: CBC DATE: September 16 SNIP: Caribou populations in Jasper National Park are in deep trouble. Of three southern mountain woodland caribou herds managed by Parks Canada, one — the Maligne herd — is now considered extirpated, or locally extinct, while the other two are dangerously small, according to the Jasper National Park’s Species at Risk report. Worse, neither of those herds has enough breeding females to be able to grow the herds, a situation that has an Alberta wilderness society calling for swift action. “The Tonquin is estimated to have about 45 caribou left only, the Brazeau less than 15. And a key thing for caribou is the number of breeding females,” said Carolyn Campbell, a conservation specialist for the Calgary-based Alberta Wilderness Association. “In each case, unfortunately, these two populations have 10 or less breeding females. That means they cannot grow any bigger and they’re very vulnerable to sudden disasters or setbacks.” Caribou have one calf per season. Three aerial surveys of the Maligne Valley conducted in 2018 and 2019 failed to locate caribou tracks or animals, the annual report stated. It says the Tonquin and Brazeau herds are “too small to recover on their...
Wildlife in ‘catastrophic decline’ due to human destruction, scientists warn

Wildlife in ‘catastrophic decline’ due to human destruction, scientists warn

SOURCE: BBC and The Guardian DATE: September 10, 2020 SNIP: Wildlife populations have fallen by more than two-thirds in less than 50 years, according to a major report by the conservation group WWF. The report says this “catastrophic decline” shows no sign of slowing. And it warns that nature is being destroyed by humans at a rate never seen before. Wildlife is “in freefall” as we burn forests, over-fish our seas and destroy wild areas, says Tanya Steele, chief executive at WWF. “We are wrecking our world – the one place we call home – risking our health, security and survival here on Earth. Now nature is sending us a desperate SOS and time is running out.” The report looked at thousands of different wildlife species monitored by conservation scientists in habitats across the world. They recorded an average 68% fall in more than 20,000 populations of mammals, birds, amphibians, reptiles and fish since 1970. The decline was clear evidence of the damage human activity is doing to the natural world, said Dr Andrew Terry, director of conservation at the Zoological Society of London (ZSL), which provides the data. “If nothing changes, populations will undoubtedly continue to fall, driving wildlife to extinction and threatening the integrity of the ecosystems on which we depend,” he added. Taken together, they provide evidence that biodiversity is being destroyed at a rate unprecedented in human history. This particular report uses an index of whether populations of wildlife are going up or down. It does not tell us the number of species lost, or extinctions. The largest declines are in tropical areas. The drop...
‘This land is all we have left’: tribes on edge over giant dam proposal near Grand Canyon

‘This land is all we have left’: tribes on edge over giant dam proposal near Grand Canyon

SOURCE: The Guardian DATE: August 12, 2020 SNIP: Phoenix-based Pumped Hydro Storage LLC has received a preliminary permit from federal regulators for its Big Canyon Pumped Storage Project – a string of four huge dams near the Little Colorado River, along with reservoirs and a power-generation facility. The preliminary permit does not allow construction, but it gives Pumped Hydro priority in getting a license to build. The project is the third Pumped Hydro has proposed in the Big Canyon region – the two previous ones received major pushback from tribes and environmentalists. If built, it would function as both a battery and station for generating up to 7,900 gigawatt-hours of electricity. It would pump groundwater up into four reservoirs, one of which would flood Big Canyon. That water would be stored as potential power, ready to be unleashed down canyons, through generators and toward the Little Colorado River when electricity is needed [sic… electricity is never “needed” only “wanted”]. The environmental and cultural costs of this proposal would be major. Tribal members and environmentalists say the project would flood several miles of canyons sacred to the Navajo; risk damaging cultural sites for several tribes; draw vast amounts of critical groundwater; potentially harm habitats for plants and animals, including some endangered species; and risk adverse effects for waterways leading into the Grand Canyon. Any electricity the Big Canyon project generates would go off the reservation, probably to the bigger cities in southern Arizona. Opposition from tribal and environmental organizations is fierce. “This land is all we have left. And yeah, we’re gonna fight. I’m gonna fight,” said Rita Bilagody, a...
Revealed Scale Of Habitat Loss For Endangered Birds

Revealed Scale Of Habitat Loss For Endangered Birds

SOURCE: Eurasia Review DATE: July 10, 2020 SNIP: A new study warns that the last remaining habitat for several endangered bird species in Europe could reduce by up to 50 per cent in the next century as farmers convert land to more profitable crops and meet increased demand for products such as olive oil and wine. Low intensive agricultural practices created semi-natural agro-steppes that hold important populations of great bustards, little bustards, lesser kestrels, rollers and other at risk bird species. In the early 2000s several of these sites were designated as Special Protection Areas (SPAs) for bird conservation and are part of the EU Natura 2000 network of priority areas for conservation. Researchers at the University of East Anglia (UEA) and University of Lisbon assessed the effectiveness of Natura 2000, the world’s largest protected area network, at conserving Western Europe’s agro-steppes over a 10-year period. The regions in Iberia studied hold approximately a third – or 14-15,000 – of the world’s population of great bustards, Otis tarda. Agro-steppes are characterised by the cultivation of cereal in a low-intensity rotating system. These low yield farmlands are being converted predominately to permanent and irrigated crops, which dramatically changes the open landscapes that provide resources for important bird populations. Traditional olive groves and vineyards are occasionally used for feeding or resting by great bustards, little bustards or sandgrouses, but the modern versions of these and other permanent crops are intensively managed and inadequate for such birds. If the current market pressure on agro-steppe habitat conversion is maintained, it may decline 20 per cent by 2050 and 40 per cent by 2110....
North Atlantic right whales nearing extinction, international nature body says

North Atlantic right whales nearing extinction, international nature body says

SOURCE: The Province DATE: July 9, 2020 SNIP: North Atlantic right whales are now considered one step away from complete eradication. The International Union for Conservation of Nature is moving the whales from “endangered” to “critically endangered” on its red list of global species facing threats to their survival. The only step beyond “critically endangered” is extinction. Fewer than 250 mature whales were known to exist at the end of 2018, in a total population of only about 400. More than 30 whales have been killed by ships or fishing gear entanglements in the last three years, two-thirds of them in Canadian waters. The conservation group classified right whales as endangered in 2008, and since then the population has declined more than 15 per cent. Sean Brillant, a senior conservation biologist with the Canadian Wildlife Federation in Halifax, says the change in status is not surprising and should put even more pressure on governments in Canada and the United States to do more to stop these whales from being wiped out. “We are an affluent country with an incredible amount of knowledge and resources, we have good controls over our oceans industry,” he said. “And we can’t figure this out? How embarrassing. We need to step up and solve this problem.” The whales, which migrate along the eastern coast of North America, spend winters off Florida and Georgia before migrating north to New England and Atlantic Canada in the summer. The whales are threatened by a combination of factors, including climate change, which appears to be driving them further north in the summer months to find food. Brillant said...