By R. SCOTT RAPPOLD, The Gazette
CHAFFEE COUNTY, Colo. (AP) — Number 146227157A struggled and chirped, clearly unhappy about being plucked from the bushes to be swabbed and scanned.
This mountain beaver pond, below Cottonwood Pass in Chaffee County, is the last stronghold for its kind in Colorado, the only place where the boreal toad has what is considered a viable population. The Colorado Division of Wildlife is concerned enough about the future of the species that experts implanted a microchip in the toad’s back to track its health and movements.
“He’s a natural part of our environment and we don’t want to lose him in this state,” DOW aquatic/herptile coordinator Tina Jackson said Friday, cradling the toad in her latex-gloved hands.
But we are losing them. Over the past 30 years, boreal toads have disappeared from 90 percent of breeding sites in Colorado, victims of an imported parasitic fungus that has devastated amphibian populations worldwide. Read more
The Internet has informed me that it’s Endangered Species Day. Never heard of it? Well, neither had I, and it might have something to do with the fact that I (and presumably others) got a press release about it today, as opposed to well ahead of time when people could actually do something with it. But let’s not let that take away from a campaign with a simple and legitimate cause — making folks aware of the endangered animals in their midst. Read more
In Colorado and across the country land managers spend millions of dollars and hours battling invasive species: bugs, weeds, little critters.
And at the same time, land managers dump millions (literally) of rainbow trout into rivers and lakes across the country.
In his new book, “An Entirely Synthetic Fish,” CU professor Anders Halverson describes how we got here (to this place where one trout is stocked for every three people in the United States) and what that means for aquatic ecology, especially other fish.
Halverson has fished his entire life. While growing up in Denver in the 70s, the rainbow trout was the state fish. The irony of honoring a non-native fish as a state symbol, and the contradiction of getting out into the wild to catch a farmed fish, both became a central consideration in Halverson’s book.
“There’s a fascinating paradox about fishing. A lot of anglers I see fishing as an escape of civilization and industrialization or a spiritual escape from society,” Halverson said. “Yet you have a paradox of most of the fish they catch are the product of industrialization.” Read more
The federal government is re-evaluating a whole pack of animals and plants that were once rejected for protection under the Endangered Species Act by officials in the Bush administration.
In Colorado that means wolverines (one of which was spotted in Colorado this summer for the first time in 90 years), mountain plovers, white-tailed prairie dogs and two kinds of sage grouse are being re-evaluated. And the feds are also looking into a half-dozen other Colorado species for the first time, including two animals (American pikas and black-tailed prairie dogs), three plants (Parachute penstemons, DeBeque Pachelias and Pagosa skyrockets) and an insect (Susan’s purse-making caddisfly).
From wolverines to black-tailed prairie dogs, dozens of species here and across the nation are being re-evaluated for possible threatened or endangered status.
The Obama administration is taking a fresh look, in many cases under court order, at Bush administration rejections of special status. A move to prevent extinction of more plants and animals could limit housing construction and energy development. Read more
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is studying whether pikas — fuzzy little cousins of the rabbit that prefer chilly temps and high altitudes — need protection under the Endangered Species Act.
Environmentalists are concerned that warming global temperatures will push pikas higher and higher, eventually eliminating their habitats altogether. (Temperatures above 78 degrees can kill the squeaky little critters.)
In Colorado, pikas are easy to find on the slopes of the state’s many fourteeners, but scientists are concerned about their futures. Rsearchers have recently been studying the pika populations in Rocky Mountain National Park, trying to figure out how many of the animals live there now so they can better understand how those populations are affected as the climate changes.
Historical baseline data for number of pikas in the park don’t exist.
“The way it was, there were so many pikas no one thought to count them,” said Judy Visty, park ecologist.
Scientists in the North Cascades National Park are starting a one-year study that is also aimed at establishing a baseline count of pika populations. Read more
Following the federal government’s announcement that gray wolves in Idaho and Montana would be removed from protection under the federal Endangered Species Act, officials from both states said they planned to host wolf hunts this fall to cull the animals.
Now, Idaho has announced plans to reduce its wolf population to almost half its size:
BOISE, Idaho (AP) — Idaho Department of Fish and Game commissioners may phase in state hunting quotas for wolves as part of efforts to reduce their numbers to 518, about half the estimated 1,000 predators now roaming the state.
Jim Unsworth, the agency’s deputy director, said Wednesday the population goal set a year ago remains “biologically and socially” responsible.