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Wildlife news stories are gathered from around the world from online sources. There's emphasis on endangered or threatened bird species in North America, other than pelicans for which see this site's pelican news. There are also links to interesting stories about various wildlife — and wildland habitat — protection measures, including threats to the Endangered Species Act.

NB: In general, for longer stories, only a paragraph or several will be posted, with urls; occasionally, this non-profit site, PelicanLife.org, will edit, with edits marked by ... or :::snip:::, and will provide active links to the original sources. PelicanLife's Wildlife News section's sole purpose is educational, to contribute to education and research. Citations and references should always be to those original sources. Most pieces require permission for copying for other than "fair use" purposes such as here; please contact the original sources for permission.


SUMMER, 2005

| American forests | Avian flu | Avian flu and handling wild birds | Avian flu and risks from wild birds | Arizona California Condor, 2, 3 - space age technology , 4 - Baby Condor takes flight | Chile fuel oil spill | China, biking for wildlife | changing mind — fish ladders | Cruelty in Colorado | Elephants - rewilding | Condor treatment facility | Endangered E.S.A. | farming and wildlife || Ivory-billed woodpecker | Ivory-billed woodpecker: vindication! | Kenya wildlife - Thai food, 2 | Kenya blocks Thai wildlife deal | marine extinctions | natural gas drilling | | Passing lane for wildlife | |Right Whales face extinction | Santa Barbara's Snowy Plover chicks | Spotted Owl recovery plan | Thailand zoo | Ventura, CA. Snowy Plover protection | wildlife and global warming | Wildlife Center to Close - donations slow

Court halts Thailand wildlife deal
By Judy Ogutu   Monday December 19, 2005             
The High Court has suspended a deal in which Kenya had agreed to donate 175 wild animals to zoos in Thailand.
Justice Joseph Nyamu issued a temporary order suspending the deal, which was signed on November 9. The then Foreign Affairs minister Ali Chirau Mwakwere signed the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on behalf of Kenya while his Thailand counterpart Dr Kantathi Suphamongkhon did so on behalf of his country.
Animals which were to be relocated to the Asian country included giraffes, flamingoes, hippos, zebras, warthogs, dik-diks, impalas, buffaloes, gazelles, hyenas and jackals.
In his ruling, Nyamu said the order would only be operational for sixty days, but the court reserved the discretion to extend the period.
He also gave the Kenya Society for the Protection and Care of Animals and two lobby groups the go-ahead to seek orders prohibiting the Minister of Tourism and Wildlife from shipping the animals to Thailand.
Nairobi CBO Consortium and Thomas Ondiba Aosa were also given the green light to seek orders quashing the decision to export the animals. When the matter first came up, the judge was of the view that the MoU signed between the two countries was a treaty.
Agreement not binding
He postponed the hearing to give all parties an opportunity to ascertain to the court if the MoU was a treaty. The minister and the interested party, Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) did not attend the hearing, forcing the court to proceed without them.
The applicants, through lawyer Mbugua Mureithi, argued that the MoU was not a treaty. A treaty, Mureithi said, was an international agreement between states and was governed by International Law.
“ The object of the treaty is to create binding relations between the parties to it. The MoU is non-binding,” he said.
He urged Justice Nyamu to look at the words contained in the MoU as it excluded use of International Law.
“The scope of co-operation is subjected to laws of respective countries in accordance with regulations in force in their countries,” Mureithi said.
The deal, he added, was an arrangement for mutual development assistance.
In his ruling, Justice Nyamu said the applicants had satisfied the court that the agreement between the two nations might not be a treaty.
The lobby groups filed the suit on December 14, saying the minister had commenced steps to identify, capture and move the assorted wildlife animals pursuant to the MoU. The judge also directed them to file and serve the application as prescribed. Failure to do so, he warned, the order would lapse.


Grant to help protect county seabirds
By Zeke Barlow, zbarlow@VenturaCountyStar.com, December 9, 2005
Come springtime, when Western snowy plovers hollow out dimples in the sand along Ventura County's beaches to hatch their chicks, a volunteer will be sitting nearby, giving mini-lectures on habitat destruction and the value of keeping dogs on leashes.
And maybe, with gentle reminders of the birds' status, along with signs and fences keeping the curious away from nesting grounds, the plover as well as the California least tern will return to the beaches en masse, as they were long before the fate of the birds was in jeopardy.

On Thursday, the California Coastal Conservancy approved a first-of-a-kind grant to coordinate efforts in Ventura County to help protect the plover and tern, a federally endangered bird. Though a handful of groups has been doing similar work in in the area for years, this would be the first time a countywide, orchestrated effort would be made to protect the birds that were once thick along the Pacific Coast. The new program must work with existing groups already doing similar work.
The conservancy voted to give the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service $150,000 to hire a project coordinator, who will organize volunteers to monitor sensitive habitat on all of the county's publicly owned beaches.
A similar program at Santa Barbara's Coal Oil Point Reserve resulted in a sharp increase in the number of birds on the beach, as well as an increased public awareness of the birds. The project was funded by a patchwork of donations and grants.

The Ventura County program, which officials are hoping will start as soon as the spring nesting season, will have docents posted at public beaches, where they will monitor nesting sites, keep people from stepping on eggs and educate the public. Predator cages will be placed over nests, temporary fencing put up, and information signs posted.

After Santa Barbara's program for plovers started on a single beach, populations in the winter went from 100 in 2000 to 400 last year, said Cristina Sandoval, director of the reserve. An added benefit came when the number of terns, which were not part of the project, also increased, she said. When the program started, only 2 percent of beachgoers knew what a plover is; now 98 percent know, she said.

"The idea for a coordinator for Ventura County would be great," Sandoval said. "I wish we had one in Santa Barbara as well."
Reed Smith, science chairman for the Ventura Audubon Society, said that, although local efforts by individual groups are good, a coordinator is needed. The person will help make sure the most sensitive areas in the region are getting the most attention.
"There is not enough of a unified effort," said Smith, a retired game warden. "We need a position to coordinate the efforts to get the landowners on board."

Habitat for Hollywood Beach, a conservation group, wrote a letter of support for the new program, saying, "there is a great need for increased on-the-ground education and habitat restoration and protection efforts."
The efforts to protect the coastal birds have not been without controversy. Environmentalists successfully fought to have paragliders banned from Ormond Beach because they contended the flights harmed birds. In October, the Oxnard City Council unanimously approved a ban prohibiting ultralight flying vehicles from taking off from anywhere but local airports.
Residents near Channel Islands Harbor protested the location of a proposed boating and safety center in part because of the plover habitat, but that site was ultimately selected.

The grant will last three years, at which time the project coordinator will be responsible for finding additional money to keep the project going, said Chris Dellith, senior biologist with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
"I think this is extremely important," Dellith said. "It'll benefit the species and be able to give more attention to the species and lead to its recovery."

Note: snowy plovers are shorebirds, not seabirds....


No order yet on relocation of animals to Thailand
By Steven Mkawale
The controversy surrounding the export of 175 wild animals to a zoo in Thailand took a new twist on Tuesday when the Kenya Wildlife Service said it does not consider it a priority.
KWS director Dr Julius Kipng’etich disclosed that they were yet to receive any official communication from the Government over the intended relocation of the wild animals to Thailand.
"Our main concern is to keep the animals for Kenyans as a national heritage and continue with our conservation efforts," he said.
He was speaking at the Kenya Police Anti-Stock Theft Unit Training Centre in Gilgil, where he presided over the graduation of 10 rangers who underwent an eight-month horse training course.
Kipng’etich said it was in the interest of KWS to conserve the wildlife and continue to improve the management of national parks and game reserves, to keep the country a preferred tourist destination.
Sources at KWS Headquarters told The Standard that the relocation was delayed by lack of a Cabinet that was supposed to give direction on the matter.
"Senior officers here appear to be in the dark over the Thai animals deal. There is no communication over where the animals to be relocated will come from," said the source.
However, Kipng’etich maintained that the animals in national parks and game reserves were a national heritage and those willing to see them would have to fly into the country and pay a fee for viewing them. He was reacting to last month’s signing of a pact between the Thailand and Kenyan governments for the relocation of 175 different animal species to a zoo in Thailand.


Wildlife Center To Close Due To Drop In Donations

(AP) KEENESBURG, Colo., Dec 5, 2005 With donations plummeting, officials at the Rocky Mountain Wildlife Conservation Center predict they will have to close their shelter for more than 150 animals, including baby tigers, lions, bears, wolves and leopards.
"None of us like to say the word euthanasia around here, but nobody realizes how terrible things are for an animal that's going hungry," owner Pat Craig said. Craig has stopped taking calls from zoos and others looking for homes for big cats.
The center faces an estimated $150,000 deficit, Craig said. That means he may not be able to feed the animals, many of which eat up to 40 pounds of meat a day.
The WOLF sanctuary in Laporte has also seen donations drop, sanctuary founder Frank Wendland said.
Donations have dripped since a devastating tsunami hit Southeast Asia and hurricanes hit the Gulf Coast. It comes even as aid to domestic-pet rescue organizations have increased.
Craig said he hoped a TV segment on Animal Planet, focusing on the sanctuary's 1-year-old black leopard named Eddy, would help ease the cash crunch but the segment has not aired.
When Craig walks by Eddy's enclosure, the leopard makes a chirping noise -- a sound Craig says animals raised in the wild reserve for their mothers. He said he will try to find a way to spare Eddy as long as he can.
"That's something I ask myself, `Oh my God, how do I choose who goes first?"' Craig said.
(© 2005 The Associated Press. http://cbs4denver.com/pets/local_story_339170918.html


Baby condor takes flight
Mike Clancy, The Arizona Republic. Dec. 3, 2005 12:00 AM
A baby California condor took wing in Arizona on Wednesday, only the fifth wild-born condor to fledge from a nest.
The condor, hatched this spring at Vermilion Cliffs National Monument, north of the Grand Canyon, took wing apparently by accident, said Vince Frary, a biologist with the Peregrine Fund who watched. It was hopping around the nest, then hopped once too far and found itself gliding downhill.
"The flight was only somewhat controlled," Frary said, "and the bird experienced a difficult landing about 50 yards below the nest cave."


Scientists flock to defend wild birds over flu fears

Taiwan, 29.11.05- Fears that migratory wild birds will spread a deadly strain of bird flu across the world have little, if any, scientific proof and chances of them infecting humans are even more remote, according to some experts.
Scientists who attended a meeting of the International Waterbird Society in Taiwan said the biggest threat of the H5N1 strain of highly pathogenic bird flu comes from domestic poultry, not wild birds.

"Wild birds are implicated in spreading the disease because they travel a long distance. There is no absolute proof of that yet," Professor Ron Ydenberg said.
"The real issue is where the highly pathogenic strain of the virus comes from. That's not in wild birds. It's almost certain it comes from poultry populations," said Professor Ydenberg, who heads the Centre for Wildlife Ecology at Simon Fraser University in Canada.
Scientists have warned for months that the virus, which has killed 68 people in Asia, could trigger a pandemic and kill millions once it mutates into a form that is easily transmissible among people.
The World Health Organisation says there are more than 120 documented cases of people contracting bird flu, most of whom were infected directly from poultry.

While acknowledging the risk of the lethal H5N1 virus, experts attending the meeting said there was no need to panic and adopt draconian measures such as killing migratory birds.
"I think bird flu fear has been over-emphasised," said Leslie Dierauf, director of the National Wildlife Health Centre in Wisconsin.
"It's a very complex virus. In order to be highly pathogenic you have to mix and match with other viruses and mutate. There is no predictability to that. We don't know when it's going to mix, when it's going to match, or when it's going to mutate, or where," she said.
Rather than discouraging bird watching or calls for culling wild birds, it is more efficient to reduce contact between domestic fowls and wild birds and to improve biosecurity in the poultry industry.

"Concentrating on wild birds as the main suspect is wrong and dangerous," said Marco Lambertini, of BirdLife International, based in Britain. "The cull of wild birds in order to prevent the disease is unreasonable and impractical."
See also: <http://www.navhindtimes.com/stories.php?part=news&Story_ID=112826>


WHO: Culling wild birds ineffective against avian flu
The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) today issued a media release that warned against culling wild birds in cities in countries affected by bird flu. WHO said this could distract attention from the campaign to contain the disease among poultry in the battle against the virus that could spark a potentially lethal human pandemic.

“This is unlikely to make any significant contribution to the protection of humans against avian influenza,” FAO senior officer responsible for infectious animal diseases Juan Lubroth said of reports that wild birds were being killed in Ho Chi Minh City in Viet Nam as a precautionary measure.
“There are other, much more important measures to be considered that deserve priority attention. Fighting the disease in poultry must remain the main focus of attention,” he added. “Wild bird species found in and around cities are different from the wetland waterfowl that have been identified as carriers of the avian influenza virus.”
The Agency has previously warned that the H5N1 strain that has hit several Asian countries is likely to be carried over long distances along the flyways of wild water birds to the Middle East, Europe, South Asia and Africa, with the potential to trigger a global human pandemic.
“Controlling the virus in poultry is the most effective way by which the likelihood of the bird flu virus acquiring human-to-human transmissibility can be reduced,” Mr. Lubroth said.

Ever since the first human case of H5N1, linked to widespread poultry outbreaks in Viet Nam and Thailand, was reported in January last year, UN health officials have warned that the virus could evolve into a human pandemic if it mutates into a form which could transmit easily between people.
The so-called Spanish flu pandemic of 1918-1920 is estimated to have killed from 20 million to 40 million people worldwide. Overall, there have been 132 reported human H5N1 cases, 68 of them fatal, all in South-East and East Asia. Some 150 million domestic birds have died or been culled in an effort to curb the spread.
FAO, along with the UN World Health Organization (WHO) and the inter-governmental World Organization for Animal Health (OIE), has recommend a series of measures to fight the virus, including improved veterinary services, emergency preparedness plans, and control campaigns such as culling infected animals, vaccination and compensation for farmers to encourage them to report outbreaks.



Fuel spill off Chile's coast October 30, reported in Bird Life International on November 21.
Africa Kenya's wildlife goes on the menu at Thai zoo

By Meera Selva in Nairobi Published: 19 November 2005
Kenyan conservationists are furious after the government agreed to ship wild animals to a Thai zoo that is offering its visitors a chance to eat giraffe, zebra and crocodile.

Kenya recently agreed to send 175 wild animals including giraffes, buffalos, flamingos and gazelles to the newly-built Chiang Mai Night Safari in northern Thailand. This week, the zoo announced that it would celebrate its official opening on New Year's Day with an "exotic buffet", where guests can pay 4,500 bhat (£64) to sample anything from dog to lion meat. The director of the zoo project, Plodprasop Suraswadi, said the animals would be legally imported and killed for the feast.

The announcement has dismayed wildlife groups in Kenya, who already had misgivings about sending wild animals to a zoo in Thailand. No endangered animals are being sent, but Richard Leakey, former head of Kenya Wildlife Services, said the plans went against the ethos of modern conservation. He added: "Some of the larger zoos do serve a useful role in education but for Kenyan animals to be sent there as a curtain-raiser for an institution that is probably serving endangered species from south-east Asia is appalling.
"What this zoo is doing is serving bushmeat - and bushmeat is one of the greatest conservation challenges of the 21st century."

Thailand already has a reputation for being a trading centre for the illegal trafficking of endangered species, and Thai wildlife groups have said the menu will confuse visitors about the real objectives of the zoo.

Surapol Duangkae, secretary of the Wildlife Fund of Thailand, said: "The idea will set the country's image back a century because, nowadays, zoos around the world aim to educate and conserve wildlife, as well as campaign to stop the killing of animals." Kenya's president, Mwai Kibabki, and several cabinet members confirmed the deal to send the animals to Thailand last week, during a three-day official visit to Kenya by the Thai prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra. The deal was done over the head of Kenya's leading conservation groups, who demonstrated during Mr Shinawatra's visit with placards saying: "Wild animals need freedom" and "Conservation not exploitation".

A spokesman for the Kenyan government, Alfred Matua, said the government of Thailand had not paid anything for the animals, but had agreed instead to provide Kenya with technical help and training on wildlife management as part of the exchange deal.

He added that the deal should boost tourism, saying: "We expect the number of tourists from Thailand will double or triple if they see the animals. They will want to see them in their natural settings."
Independent Online Edition > Africa http://news.independent.co.uk/world/africa/article327925.ece 20 November 2005 15:28 Home > News > World >


Guidelines for people handling wild birds
Possible spread of avian influenza into India

NEW DELHI: Union Environment and Forests Ministry on Tuesday issued guidelines for the people handling wild birds, both migratory and resident, in and around the protected areas in view of the possible spread of H5N1 virus into India.
All Chief Wildlife Wardens have been directed to report any death of birds to the Ministry and asked to extend full assistance to district veterinary authority in the collection of serum and blood samples of dead birds, particularly from the protected areas.

Bird watchers, too, have been asked to report any sighting of a dead bird to the nearest forest or animal husbandry office.
Sample collectors should ensure that wild birds are not harmed during trapping and collection of serum samples. Preference should be given to the leg vein instead of the wing vein as collection from wing vein often results in haemorrhage affecting the normal flight and making birds vulnerable to predators.
Collection of samples, packing and transportation is to be done in collaboration with trained animal husbandry and veterinary staff.
The guidelines point out that the affected birds show symptoms such as tremors, diarrhoea, head tilt, staggering and paralysis. The virus generally affects poultry but lately there have been instances of virus transmission from poultry to human beings and vice-versa.
The Ministry has instructed those handling wild and migratory birds to wear rubber gloves, eyewear and protective clothing that can be disinfected or disposed of. Similarly, work areas and equipment will have to be disinfected regularly and extra precautions taken not to eat, drink or smoke while handling animals.
© Copyright 2000 - 2005 The Hindu


Wild birds apparently poisoned
By Trevor Hughes, Publish Date: 10/27/2005, The Daily Times-Call

LONGMONT, CO — About two dozen wild birds died Wednesday near the Countryside Village mobile home park in Longmont, victims of what public health and animal control officers said was a potent poison.
Indiscriminately killing birds is illegal in Longmont. The birds all appeared to be grackles, an all-black species known for large flocks.
A Daily Times-Call reporter watched as apparently healthy birds quickly lost their ability to fly, crashed to the ground, then flapped helplessly, began convulsing and died.
Officials stressed that the birds appear to have been poisoned and were not stricken by anything exotic, such as Asian bird flu or West Nile virus.

“It’s a darn shame, I tell you,” said Countryside manager Rich Miller. “I can’t believe people.”
Several government agencies, including the Longmont Fire Department, Longmont Animal Control and Boulder County Public Health, responded to the area where the birds died, the intersection of Quebec Avenue and South Collyer Street.
The concerted response was intended to quickly determine whether there was a public health risk from either a gas leak, a downed electric line or a transmissible disease.
“This is not bird flu,” said Michael Richen, an environmental health specialist with Boulder County Public Health. “It acted just like a poison.”
Because all symptoms appeared to point toward poison, Richen and Longmont Animal Control officers were unable to persuade the state to conduct a necropsy on one of the dead birds after they conferred at around noon.
Earlier, however, the situation worried officials.
“I’ve got a bunch of dead birds, a lot of dead birds,” Longmont Fire Battalion Chief Lynn Huff told county health officials by phone. “They’re falling out of the sky.”
Animal control officer Robin Breffle said it was likely the birds consumed the poison nearby, but she said the source was not immediately apparent.
She said she planned to continue investigating the die-off into Wednesday night.
Trevor Hughes can be reached at 303-684-5220, or by e-mail at thughes@times-call.com.


New condor treatment facility will help endangered birds

With less than 300 California condors left in the world, it's important to
offer the best possible health care to these endangered birds. The Arizona
Game and Fish Department and The Peregrine Fund recently worked together to
create an advanced, new condor treatment facility in the area of Arizona
where dozens of condors live, near the Vermilion Cliffs National Monument.

"Until now, condors had to be transported to Page, or even as far as the
Phoenix area for emergency care," says Kathy Sullivan, a condor biologist
with the Arizona Game and Fish Department. "At this new facility, we can
develop X-rays, do exams and provide rehabilitation to the birds right in
the area of Arizona where they live."

Biologists from The Peregrine Fund, who monitor the condors on a daily
basis, designed and constructed the new climate-controlled treatment
facility at Marble Canyon. Their design features an X-ray machine, a
laboratory, isolation chambers and a rehabilitation area. A veterinarian
from The Phoenix Zoo, Dr. Kathy Orr, has already trained biologists to carry
out basic medical procedures and will continue to be involved in the
evaluation of condor cases that come into the facility.

The $20,000 worth of upgrades and equipment to outfit the new condor
treatment facility were paid for by the Arizona Game and Fish Department
Heritage Fund.
For the rest of the story on the condor treatment facility, click here


Bird Experts Warn Against Culling Wild Birds to Control Flu
CAMBRIDGE, UK, October 20, 2005 (ENS) - The world's top bird conservation organization warned today that attempts to control the avian influenza virus by culling wild birds could spread the virus even more widely.
BirdLife International said that "hasty responses to the spread of bird flu based on incomplete or unsound data could do great damage to birds and other biodiversity," while raising the risk to people and to the economically important poultry industry.
Recent outbreaks of the highly pathogenic H5N1 strain of avian influenza in Europe have occurred along migratory flyways, including the Danube delta, a great gathering place for migratory waterbirds, during the autumn migration.
There is no concrete evidence that migratory birds have helped transmit the disease between countries or regions, BirdLife said, but the possibility cannot be ruled out.
"Any such attempts could spread the virus more widely, as survivors disperse to new places, and healthy birds become stressed and more prone to infection," the organization warned.
The World Health Organization, the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and the World Organization for Animal Health also say that control of avian influenza in wild birds by culling is not feasible, and should not be attempted.

Within Southeast Asia, movements of poultry and poultry products are known to have been involved in the virus’s spread among flocks and between countries, BirdLife says, pointing out that outbreaks in China, Kazakhstan and southern Russia are connected by major road and rail routes.

The transmission routes between outbreaks in Asia do not follow migratory flyways, BirdLife said, and outbreaks occurred in summer, when birds are moulting and do not fly far.

After the confirmed outbreaks of avian influenza in Romania and Turkey, the risk of bird flu spreading to the Middle East and African countries has increased, the FAO warned Wednesday.

"The detection of bird flu in Romania and Turkey, following outbreaks in Russia, Kazakhstan and Mongolia, confirms FAO's recent warning that the virus is spreading along the pathways of migratory birds outside southeast Asia," said Joseph Domenech, FAO's Chief Veterinary Officer.
"Wild birds seem to be one of the main avian influenza carriers, but more research is urgently needed to fully understand their role in spreading the virus," Domenech said.
"One of our major concerns is now the potential spread of avian influenza through migratory birds to northern and eastern Africa," Domenech warned. "There is serious risk that this scenario may become a reality."

"The Middle East and northern African countries should be able to build up a line of defense against avian influenza. FAO is more concerned about the situation in eastern Africa, where veterinary services, due to various constraints, should have more difficulties to run efficient bird flu campaigns based on slaughtering infected animals and vaccination," Domenech said.
"The countries concerned and the international community have to make every effort to ensure that bird flu does not become endemic in Africa."

FAO will assist countries in Africa to strengthen the surveillance on wild and domestic birds and improve laboratory capacities in order to detect any bird flu outbreak early.

Some Asian and Middle Eastern governments are reported to be drafting proposals to drain wetlands so they will not attract waterbirds that might carry the avian flu virus, but BirdLife says that is a tactic that will not work.
"Attempts to drain wetlands to keep waterbirds away are also likely to be counterproductive, as well as disastrous for the environment, the conservation of threatened species, and for vital ecosystem services such as flood control and water cleansing," BirdLife said.

BirdLife does support the newly required biosecurity measures on European farms introduced by the European Commission, that are intended to reduce the likelihood of contact between poultry and wild birds or infected water sources.

These measures should be adopted worldwide, BirdLife advises, along with stricter controls or even bans on movements of domestic poultry, and on wild bird markets. Countries should also ban imports of wild-caught birds from infected areas.
BirdLife International is a partnership of national non-governmental conservation organizations and local networks, a network of experts that governments can utilize to define policies and practices that will be effective in limiting the spread of avian flu, the organization says.
The risk is particularly urgent in eastern Africa, said the FAO's Domenech. "If the virus were to become endemic in eastern Africa," he said, "it could increase the risk of the virus to evolve through mutation or reassortment into a strain that could be transmitted to and between humans."
"The close proximity between people and animals and insufficient surveillance and disease control capacities in eastern African countries create an ideal breeding ground for the virus," he warned. "The countries urgently need international assistance to build up basic surveillance and control systems."
All 25 EU member states now either have national preparedness plans for a flu pandemic in place or are rapidly developing them.
Questions or Comments: news@ens-news.com


October 21, 2005
Extinction's Big Pay Off
Richard Pombo: Tom DeLay in Cowboy Boots
Cattle rancher, dairy farmer and Chairman of the House Resources Committee, 42-year-old Rep. Richard Pombo (R-CA) recently accomplished one of the top priorities of the nation's resource extraction industries. On September 29, Pombo, along with co-sponsor Rep. Dennis Cardoza (D-CA) and considerable help from Rep. Greg Walden (R-OR), was able to push a gutting of the 1973 Endangered Species Act (ESA) called the Threatened and Endangered Species Recovery Act (TESRA) through the House on a 229-193 vote.

Here is what TESRA accomplishes:
* Full compensation for "takings" which has often meant merely denying landowners the ability to pollute or threaten species. Under TESRA, any disputes over value of such "takings" "are to be resolved in the favor of the property owner" (Of course, if a government entity actually does take your property to build a Wal-Mart or some other economic development scheme, as allowed by the recent Supreme Court Kelo v. New London decision, no such resolution in favor of the homeowner is available.)
* No more Critical Habitat designations. Instead, calling habitat designation "irrelevant to recovery," Pombo gained a switch to required "recovery plans" when a species is listed as threatened or endangered;
* Much more power will be vested in the states in determining such "Recovery Plans";
* "No surprises protection." Property owners are protected against any future changes to "Recovery Plans" forever, no matter what changed conditions may require;
* Invasive Species (a huge problem with cattle ranching) are not addressed at all.

Clearly the ESA has not been working. Out of almost 1300 species listed, only 10 have recovered and been de-listed. Obviously, with a less than 1% recovery rate, the protection provisions have not been tough enough! Yet, Pombo has achieved this extraction wet dream of lessening those meager protections, while selling it as protection for private property owners.

Rep. Dennis Cardoza notes: "I am confident that this bi-partisan bill will strengthen the ability of ESA to recover species, while reducing the burden on local economies and landowners."
TESRA supporter Rep. Joe Baca (D-CA) adds: "Passing the new legislation will remove burdens that have hampered job creation, community development and other improvements for the Inland Empire."
However, when one looks past the veneer of property rights, economic development and, of course, species recovery (wink, wink), it doesn't take much to find corporate fingerprints all over TESRA.
Industry's main ally in this is something called the International Foundation for the Conservation of Natural Resources (IFCNR). This Mother of all Astroturf groups claims in its website that "IFCNR takes a holistic view of protecting wildlife and wild places that includes preserving human cultures. Conservation & preservation of wild resources requires a measured degree of sustainable use." ("Holistic" and "Sustainable" now top of the list of weasel words that mean, well, just about whatever one wants them to mean.)

The shadowy foundation, complete with phantom directors, and Pombo have recently been the subject of an expose conducted by the Center for Public Integrity and Marketplace Radio.
These groups found that Pombo broke the law when he accepted overseas trips paid for by IFCNR. Pombo took at least two trips costing more than $23,000 paid for by IFNCR, in clear violation of tax laws. Neither Pombo nor IFNCR paid taxes on the trips. In fact, IFNCR even indicated on all of its 2000 - 2004 tax forms that it did not "provide a grant to an individual for travel, study, or other similar purposes."
While taking the 2000 trip to Nelson, New Zealand and a 2002 one to Shimonoseki, Japan, Pombo also was serving as the chairman of a subsidiary of IFCNR called the Sustainable Use Parliamentarians Union (SUPU).
"I really have no idea what is going on with that foundation. Obviously I will have my accountant check into this," the disingenuous Pombo told the Center for Public Integrity.
Just so Mr. Pombo's informed of "what is going on," the Center for Public Integrity thoughtfully provides this list of donors to IFNCR.
The lowlights are topped by the Darden Restaurant chain, which is the parent company of Red Lobster and Olive Garden. Darden contributed over a third of the foundation's total support this millennium --- a total of $574,000.
It all started when the Humane Society angered Darden by launching an effort to get snow crab dropped from the firm's menu as snow crabs being eaten by seals rather than American diners has been a justification for continued Canadian seal hunts.
Humane Society executive vice president for external affairs Michael Markarian said, "As far as we can tell, they are committed to coming out against any sort of humane treatment of animals. They are for commercial whaling. They are for trapping. They include cock fighters as a resource management group."
Other top contributors since 2000 are Monsanto ($115,000); the National Trappers Association ($143,890); the International Fur Trade Association ($120,000) Caspian Star Caviar ($25,000) and the Japan Whaling Association ($11,000). (Now there's a pack of "holistic and sustainable" industries.)
Marketplace's Steve Henn talked with IFNCR president emeritus Stephen Boynton about the illegal trips. Boynton claimed, "I talked to the House Committee on Ethics and they told me at that time-and so did Congressman Pombo-that was not a problem. I acted on that advice."
Pombo claims he has not even spoken with anyone from IFCNR or the Sustainable Use Parliamentarians Union for over four years, even though he was SUPU chairman until July of last year.
He also claims to have no plans to contact the groups again, even with the new info and law-breaking. "I really don't have any reason to talk to them on anything right now," said Pombo.
Really? That may be, Mr. Chairman. But, perhaps your attorney should give them a call.
MICHAEL DONNELLY of Salem, OR has fought long for Endangered Species protection. He's never eaten a snow crab.
He can be reached at pahtoo@aol.com


October 15, 2005
Most Endangered U.S. Forests Ranking Pinpoints Logging Pressure
MISSOULA, Montana, October 14, 2005 (ENS) - Oregon has more national forests at risk of commercial logging than any other state, according to the latest listing of the most endangered U.S. national forests released Wednesday by the nonprofit National Forest Protection Alliance.
Representing some of the nation’s most diverse old-growth forests remaining, these wooded lands in Oregon contain the region's largest roadless areas, which provide critical habitat for threatened and endangered species.
The National Forest Protection Alliance report, "America's Endangered National Forests: Lumber, Landfill or Living Legacy?" lists 12 most endangered forests, nine threatened forests and two deserving of special mention - the Black Hills National Forest in South Dakota, and the Nantahala National Forest in North Carolina.
Most of the forests featured in the report face threats to roadless areas from logging, roadbuilding, grazing, off-road vehicles and the Bush administration’s new roadless policy that gives state governors just 18 months to request protection for roadless areas in their state.
"Protecting roadless areas is no longer a priority of the Forest Service and many are now proposed for development," the NFPA warned.
America's Most Endangered National Forests:
* Malheur National Forest - Oregon
* Siskiyou National Forest - Oregon
* Oregon BLM Forests
* Allegheny National Forest - Pennsylvania
* Bighorn National Forest - Wyoming
* Daniel Boone National Forest - Kentucky
* Los Padres National Forest - California
* George Washington & Jefferson National Forest - Virginia
* Rio Grande National Forest - Colorado
* Tongass National Forest - Alaska
* National Forests in Mississippi
* Bitterroot National Forest - Montana

America's Most Threatened National Forests:
* Carson National Forest - New Mexico
* Wayne National Forest - Ohio
* Land Between the Lakes National Recreation Area - Kentucky
* Flathead National Forest - Montana
* Kaibab National Forest - Arizona
* Michigan National Forests
* Klamath National Forest - California
* Nez Perce National Forest - Idaho
* Umpqua National Forest - Oregon

The NFPA's Jeanette Russell said, "The National Forest Protection Alliance believes that the marketplace provides a new and effective avenue for protecting and restoring national forests. It's clear that citizens can no longer rely exclusively on Congress or the Bush administration to protect these public forests, as they are the very entities promoting more industrial logging and development."
"Given the disconnect between these bigger economic trends and the federal government's pro-logging policies," said Russell, "consumer demand and corporate responsibility will play increasingly important roles in changing how national forests are managed."
The report, "America's Endangered National Forests: Lumber, Landfill or Living Legacy?"is online at: http://www.forestadvocate.org/endangered/index.html

ENSCopyright Environment News Service (ENS) 2005.


Scientists Fear Oceans on the Cusp Of a Wave of Marine Extinctions
By Juliet Eilperin, Washington Post Staff Writer
Monday, August 22, 2005; A04
BIMINI, The Bahamas -- The bulldozers moved slowly at first. Picking up speed, they pressed forward into a patch of dense mangrove trees that buckled and splintered like twigs. As the machines moved on, the pieces drifted out to sea.
Sitting in a small motorboat a few hundred yards offshore on a mid-July afternoon, Samuel H. Gruber -- a University of Miami professor who has devoted more than two decades to studying the lemon sharks that breed here -- plunged into despondency. The mangroves being ripped up to build a new resort provide food and protection that the sharks can't get in the open ocean, and Gruber fears the worst.
Now, some suspect the world is on the cusp of what Ellen Pikitch, executive director of the Pew Institute for Ocean Science, calls "a gathering wave of ocean extinctions."

Dozens of biologists believe the seas have reached a tipping point, with scores of species of ocean-dwelling fish, birds and mammals edging towards extinction. In the past 300 years, researchers have documented the global extinction of just 21 marine species -- and 16 of those extinctions occurred since 1972. Since the 1700s, another 112 species have died out in particular regions, and that trend, too, has accelerated since the mid-1960s: Nearly two dozen shark species are on the brink of disappearing, according to the World Conservation Union, an international coalition of government and advocacy groups.
"It's been a slow-motion disaster," said Boris Worm, a professor at Canada's Dalhousie University who wrote a 2003 study that found that 90 percent of the top predator fish have vanished from the oceans. "It's silent and invisible.
People don't imagine this. It hasn't captured our imagination, like the rain forest."

Compared with the many activists who have focused on the plight of creatures such as the ivory-billed woodpecker and the grizzly bear, relatively few have taken up the cause of marine species. Ocean dwellers are harder to track, some produce so many offspring they can seem invulnerable, and, in the words of Ocean Conservancy shark fisheries expert Sonja Fordham, often "they're not very fuzzy."

Although a number of previous extinctions involved birds and marine mammals, it is the fate of many fish that now worries experts. The large-scale industrialization of the fishing industry after World War II, coupled with a global boom in ocean-front development and a rise in global temperatures, is causing fish populations to plummet.:::snip:::

Shark-fin soup, an Asian delicacy that sells for more than $100 a bowl, has spurred intensified shark hunting in recent years.
Despite the sturgeon's fecundity, a combination of overfishing and habitat destruction have caused that population to dive as well. Beluga sturgeon, the source of black caviar, release between 360,000 and 7 million eggs in a single year, Pikitch noted, but they have declined 90 percent in the past 20 years. Just this month, scientists in Kazakhstan reported that they failed to find a single wild, reproducing beluga female, leaving them with no eggs for hatcheries.

Croakers' large swim bladders, air-holding sacs that help them maintain buoyancy, account for their imminent demise. Traditional Chinese medicine prizes the bladders, and the sound they make when pressed against vibrating muscles can reveal croakers' location to fishermen through sonar.

"They've been survivors on an evolutionary scale, but they've met their match, and it is us," said Pikitch, who writes about sharks and sturgeon in an upcoming book, "State of the Wild 2006."
Despite scientists' warnings, American and international authorities have been slow to protect marine species. The first and only U.S. saltwater fish to make the protected list is a ray, the smalltooth sawfish, which was added in 2003.:::snip:::


As farming gets harder, ranchers embrace wildlife
Monday, August 22, 2005
By ALEXANDRA ZAVIS Associated Press writer
AMAKHALA GAME RESERVE, South Africa — Squinting into his binoculars, William Fowlds scans a vast, grassy plain where a busy dairy farm once stood.
The cattle have given way to herds of grazing antelope. Out of a knot of thorny bushes, a family of elephants emerges.
For well over a century, farmers like Fowlds — a noted storyteller known to all as Uncle Bill — have forged a living from the rugged and arid land of South Africa’s Eastern Cape. But years of drought, stock theft and low prices have taken a toll.
Now, a growing number are trading in their livestock for wildlife, hoping to cash in on a boom industry: game viewing.


A fascinating idea to save wildlife!

Lions and Cheetahs and Elephants, Oh My!
Let them run wild. In North America.

By C. Josh Donlan
Posted Thursday, Aug. 18, 2005, at 2:27 PM PT
As the first Americans strolled onto their open real estate 13,000 years ago, at the end of the Pleistocene epoch, their continent quickly lost much of its grandeur. More than 60 North American species weighing over 100 pounds went extinct, including the continent's own elephants, lions, camels, and cheetahs. The cause was likely overhunting; the result was elephants trotting in the circus ring rather than roaming the land. Meanwhile, most of the Earth's remaining large wild animals in Africa and Asia are threatened with extinction in the coming century.

"Rewilding"—bringing elephants, cheetahs, and lions out of captivity to run free in parts of North America—could help save these megafauna from global extinction. More important, it would restore to the continent biological functions lost millenniums ago. The big guys would help stop the march of the pests and weeds—rats and dandelions—that will otherwise take over the landscape. And they would promote the natural processes that generate biodiversity. For example, for more than 4 million years before its extinction, the American cheetah preyed on the deerlike pronghorn, a relationship that helped engender the pronghorn's astonishing speed. Rewilding would also give environmentalists, often caricatured as purveyors of doom and gloom, something sunny to strive for. And it would bring more tourists back to the U.S. national parks, where the number of annual visits has been declining since 1987.

C. Josh Donlan is a Ph.D. candidate in the department of ecology and evolutionary biology at Cornell University. He is also an Environmental Leadership Program and Switzer Foundation fellow.
Article URL: http://www.slate.com/id/2124714/


Better late than never:

Biologist says ladders won't save salmon

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

McCALL, Idaho -- An Idaho biologist who argued for a quarter-century that fish ladders were good enough to prevent salmon from dying out now says four dams on the Snake River in Washington ought to be removed to help the endangered fish.
Don Chapman, 74, wants to get rid of the Ice Harbor, Little Goose, Lower Monumental and Lower Granite dams between the Idaho border and where the Snake River flows into the Columbia River. They produce 1,239 average megawatts of power, enough to light Seattle, and have allowed barge shipping of grain and other goods from Lewiston to Portland since they were built, starting in 1962.
Chapman for years worked as a consultant for electric utilities, arguing that constructed fish bypass systems on the dams such as ladders and barges were enough to keep salmon populations viable. He said he now believes that warming of the Columbia River and its tributaries along with changes in the Pacific Ocean that may be caused by global warming necessitate breaching the barriers to help fish migrate upstream.
Chapman said his change of heart has scientific and political origins: He believes President Bush's salmon recovery plan, which characterizes dams as an insignificant factor in the survival of salmon on the ground that they were there at the time the fish were listed under the Endangered Species Act, is flawed.
"It's so contrary to logic and common sense that I feel offended
," Chapman said.
In May, U.S. District Judge James Redden in Portland rejected the Bush administration's plan for protecting salmon from federal dams. To help the fish, Redden ordered federal dam operators to spill water over the dams, at a cost of $67 million to Bonneville Power Administration ratepayers this summer.
© 1998-2005 Seattle Post-Intelligencer


Tacoma, WA - August 10, 2005
Details scant on federal plan for spotted owl
SUSAN GORDON; The News Tribune
The northern spotted owl population is falling, at least one study shows.
The shy northern spotted owl – last decade’s symbol of the Pacific Northwest logging wars – once again finds itself at the center of the dispute.
The U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service has agreed to develop a recovery plan for the rare bird, which has been listed as threatened with extinction since 1990.
It’s too early to say whether it would further restrict logging in forests where the owl lives.
“We are in the very early stages of developing a process for doing this,” said Joan Jewett, a U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service spokeswoman in Portland.
The move comes about nine months after the service reaffirmed its decision to extend Endangered Species Act protection to the creature.
And it’s been more than a year since a demographic study showed steep drops in Washington’s owl population.
The law requires federal officials to figure out ways to revive listed species and define habitat critical to their survival.
The promise of an official recovery plan is part of a modified settlement of a timber industry lawsuit filed against the federal government nearly three years ago.
According to an agreement approved July 28 by U.S. District Court Judge Ann Aiken in Eugene, Ore., the Fish & Wildlife Service will prepare an owl plan before the end of 2007.

At the same time, the service promised to review previously designated owl habitat. While the species act prohibits the destruction of nesting areas regardless of who owns them, the only forests officially recognized by the service as owl habitat are federal.


Wildlife seeks cooler climes in warmer world
By Alister Doyle; Independent Online, August 09 2005
Oslo - Salmon swim north into Arctic seas, locusts plague northern Italy and two heat-loving bee-eater birds nest in a hedge in Britain.
Signs of global warming fed by greenhouse gases produced by human activity, or just summertime oddities?
In the United States, some warblers are flying north to Canada. In Costa Rica, toucans are moving higher up into the mountains, apparently because of rising temperatures.


In the United States, birds such as the Cape May warbler and Blackburnian warbler are moving north into Canada, causing a headache for forest rangers.
If the birds leave, spruce forests in the United States could be vulnerable to attacks by spruce budworm caterpillars, normally eaten by the birds. If the caterpillars are left to thrive they will eat, and dry out, the trees.
"The trees could be more stressed which could lead to more fires," said Terry Root, a professor at Stanford University in the United States. "We could really have a difficult situation."
In Costa Rica's Monteverde cloud forest, toucans, with their brightly-coloured, banana-shaped bills, are threatening another species, the spectacular green quetzal, by moving to higher altitudes where the quetzals nest, she said.


Space Age technology helps rescue endangered condor in Arizona

An endangered California condor is alive and thriving today, after it was rescued with the Space Age help of a satellite transmitter. The bird, one of less than 300 condors in the entire world, was apparently attacked by another animal last month at the Vermilion Cliffs National Monument in Arizona. Biologist rescuers were able to determine that something was wrong and track down the condor with the help of the transmitter attached to its wings.

"Biologists noticed that this bird had not been seen in two days, so they used data downloaded from its satellite transmitter to determine its location and then found the bird hiding in a crack along a rocky slope," says Kathy Sullivan, a condor biologist with the Arizona Game and Fish Department. "The condor was dehydrated and had puncture wounds on its body. It appeared to be the victim of a golden eagle or coyote attack."

The condor was taken to The Phoenix Zoo, where it received antibiotic treatment and started recovering from its wounds. The bird has now fully recovered and will soon be released back into the wild.

"This is the perfect example of the value of cooperation between all the individuals and agencies involved in the California condor reintroduction project," says Thom Lord, condor field manager for The Peregrine Fund. "If it hadn't been for the transmitters supplied to us by the Arizona Game and Fish Department, The Peregrine Fund's biologists on the ground, or the zoo's timely diagnosis and treatment, there is no doubt this bird would have died."

The Arizona Game and Fish Department has purchased a dozen transmitters to monitor condors, and money was just set aside to buy nine more. Transmitters are already on 14 condors. The birds wear the transmitters on their wings, and the devices send messages to a satellite, so scientists can monitor condor movements within Arizona and as they begin to travel to other states, including the area around Zion National Park in Utah.

"The transmitters give us precise locations daily, without us having to physically track the birds," says Sullivan. "Because of this, we have been able to track 300- and 400-mile trips for a few condors."

Visitors to the Grand Canyon's South Rim and the Vermilion Cliffs area may see condors in flight. The transmitters also reveal rare appearances in other parts of Arizona as far east as the White Mountains and as far south as Sedona.
In 1982, only 22 California condors were left in the world. Biologists captured them in an effort to save and breed the species.

Experts now care for the birds and periodically release them in California, Mexico, and Arizona, as the population begins to rebound. Condors were reintroduced in Arizona in 1996. Now, 55 live in the wilds of our state. Only 121 condors live in the wild worldwide; 158 are being cared for in captivity.

California condors have been federally listed as endangered since 1967. The birds can weigh up to 26 pounds and have a wingspan of up to 9 1/2 feet. The condor reintroduction in Arizona is a joint project of several partners, including Arizona Game and Fish Department, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, The Peregrine Fund, Bureau of Land Management, National Park Service, Kaibab National Forest, and Utah Division of Wildlife Resources.

http://www.azgfd.gov/artman/publish/article_361.shtml; Wildlife News August 4, 2005


Showing the value of public input on wildlife issues...
Natural Gas Plan May Change to Aid Wildlife
To protect deer and elk, the BLM may decide to cluster drilling on the Roan Plateau project.
July 30, 2005

With the rugged front of the Roan Plateau as a backdrop, federal land managers Friday said they were reconsidering a key piece of their plan for natural gas drilling to protect wildlife.
The Bureau of Land Management said it might revise its original proposal to defer drilling on top of the mammoth landmark and opt for the uncommon practice of clustering drilling in big blocks.
Agency officials at a meeting with local and state government leaders said clustering could result in fewer pipelines, roads and less traffic, which would mean less disruption for the deer and elk herds that roam the area.

The bureau is writing a management plan for the area, which has some of the country's richest natural gas reserves and wildlife that draws visitors and hunters to northwestern Colorado.
In response to calls for no development atop the plateau, the federal agency had advanced the idea of delaying drilling on top until 80% of the wells below its rim were fully developed.
Jamie Connell, manager of the bureau's office in Glenwood Springs, said she was surprised by the negative response to that plan as thousands of people commented on the environmental impact statement for the plateau.
"We received a lot of comments that it's not a good thing from a wildlife perspective," Connell told state and Garfield County officials during a meeting here.
Friday's meeting was one of a series that the bureau is holding with state agencies and elected officials from communities affected by the energy development.
The Colorado Division of Wildlife has joined environmental organizations and hunting groups in criticizing the BLM's plan for managing drilling on the federal land.


Management practices must change for North Atlantic right whales: deaths outnumber births annually.

IMAGES: High quality images of rights whales available via e-mail and on-line, including images of entanglements and ship strike injuries. Contact csantiestevan@neaq.org or visit www.neaq.org/temp/rwpics/
BOSTON. Senior researchers within the marine science community have issued a challenge to the United States government to enforce the Endangered Species Act.
The North Atlantic right whale is at serious risk of extinction and is not receiving adequate protection under the Endangered Species Act, as reported in the Friday, July 22 issue of the journal Science by marine scientists from the New England Aquarium.
Despite protection under both the League of Nations (1935) and the Endangered Species Act (1973), right whales have not recovered from intensive whaling practices, and remain one of the most endangered whales in the world. Scientists estimate that less than 350 North Atlantic right whales remain alive today, and that populations are declining by at least two percent per year.
Today, the whales are most threatened by ship strikes and fishing gear entanglements.
Of the 50 dead right whales reported since 1986, at least half were killed by one of these human-induced causes. "These animals rarely get the chance to die a natural death," says Dr. Michael Moore, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution veterinarian and coauthor of the Science article.
The Endangered Species Act was created in 1973 to conserve the ecosystems upon which endangered and threatened species depend, and to conserve and recover listed species. The list currently contains more than 1,200 species, including mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians, fishes, mollusks, crustaceans, insects, arachnids and plants. Critics cite a low rate of success for the Endangered Species Act, pointing to the small number of species that have been removed from the list over the years. Proponents disagree, and note that very few of the listed species have actually gone extinct.
Right whale deaths exceed births annually



Senior citizens' bicycle ride highlights wildlife protection

URUMQI, July 27 (Xinhuanet) -- Fifteen senior citizens have just concluded a 5,700-kilometer bicycle ride to promote public awareness of wildlife protection.
The cyclists, 13 men and two women, are all retirees from northwest China's Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region, said a volunteer who accompanied them throughout the journey to provide logistic support.
The senior citizens, the oldest being 74 and the youngest 59, set out from Xinjiang's regional capital Urumqi on May 18 and traveled at least 100 kilometers a day during the past two months.
The ride also brought them to the northwestern provinces of Qinghai and Gansu before they came back to Urumqi this week.
Despite their age, the group spent 24 days in the Qinghai-TibetPlateau, at least 3,000 meters above sea level.
Wherever they went, they made speeches, sang songs and staged dramas to promote conservation of wild animals, Tibetan antelopes in particular. They also solicited signatures from animal protectors and by the end of their ride, more than 30,000 people had signed their names on banners that totaled 260 meters long.
The forestry bureau and wildlife preservation association in Xinjiang conferred on each cyclist a badge with a Tibetan antelopeon it as a keepsake of the ride. Enditem


August 2, 2005
Vindication for Ivory-Billed Woodpecker and Its Fans
The phoenix had nothing on the ivory-billed woodpecker.
It is hard to keep track of how many times this near-mythic bird, the largest American woodpecker and a poignant symbol of extinction and disappearing forests, has been lost and then found. Now it is found again.
Even the most skeptical ornithologists now agree. They say newly presented recordings show that at least two of the birds are living in Arkansas.
Richard O. Prum, an ornithologist at Yale University and one of several scientists who had challenged the most recently claimed rediscovery of the ivory bill, said Monday after listening to the tape recordings that he was now "strongly convinced that there is at least a pair of ivory bills out there."
Mark B. Robbins, an ornithologist at the University of Kansas, who had also been a skeptic, listened to the same recordings with a graduate student and said, "We were absolutely stunned."
Dr. Robbins said the recordings, provided by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, were "astounding." Of a paper questioning claims of the woodpecker's discovery that he, Dr. Prum and another scientist had submitted to the Public Library of Science, he said, "It's all moot at this point; the bird's here."


Listen to the story on NPR and the 1935 recording: <http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=4782699>


Mystery Woodpecker Upends a Bird Lover's Life
Published: July 24, 2005
HUNTSVILLE, Ala., July 23 - In the church of birds, where passions run high and prophets emerge from swamps and thickets with revelations, nothing can ruin a reputation like admitting that you have seen an ivory-billed woodpecker.



Designing a Passing Lane for Wildlife
Paths along Interstate 90 would let animals cross safely and keep their Cascades habitat intact.

By Tomas Alex Tizon
Times Staff Writer
July 24, 2005
EASTON, Wash. —:::snip:::
The proposal calls for building a system of wildlife pathways that would allow animals to safely cross that section of I-90. The plan could cost as much as $100 million, making it one of the largest roadkill-prevention projects in the United States.
The project would be part of a larger plan to improve and widen that section of I-90, which is routinely congested. The freeway is the main artery connecting rural Eastern Washington to the heavily populated Puget Sound area. An average of 27,000 vehicles a day pass through this stretch, many of them long-haul trucks.
The state is still soliciting public comments, but the Legislature has already committed $387 million to the overall proposal, which could reach $980 million. If all goes according to plan, construction would begin in 2011 and last seven years.
"This is on the forefront of road ecology," said Huijser, who works at MSU's Western Transportation Institute, which is advising Washington state on the proposal. "There are not many projects in North America that approach this scale."




Biologists Say Condor Hatched in Ariz.
By Associated Press; July 7, 2005, 9:10 PM EDT
PHOENIX -- Biologists confirmed that a California condor chick has hatched in Arizona, the fourth to hatch in the wild in the state since the endangered birds were reintroduced here nearly 10 years ago, officials said Thursday.
The chick that hatched at the Vermilion Cliffs National Monument, near the Arizona-Utah state line, may be one of two to arrive this season. Biologists believe a second chick also hatched recently in a remote part of Grand Canyon National Park.
Eddie Feltes, a field biologist with The Peregrine Fund, said he saw the chick with its mother through a scope. "The female condor was looking down toward her feet at a commotion of feathers and debris," he said in release. "Soon after, a chick stood out, contrasted against its mother's dark plumage."
The nonprofit Peregrine Fund runs a breeding facility in Boise, Idaho, where the birds are hatched and prepared for release, and has overseen Arizona's condor program.
The birds' population was down to 22 in the 1980s before efforts began to capture them and breed them in captivity. The first California condors were reintroduced in Arizona in 1996.There are now 54 condors in the wild in Arizona and 274 in all, including captive and free-flying birds in California, Oregon, Idaho and Mexico.
Peregrine Fund: http://www.peregrinefund.org


Endangered condor hatchling in Arizona confirmed
Another nestling likely
PHOENIX - July 7, 2005    

Biologists - treated to the image of a whitish puffball of a chick - have confirmed a California condor hatching in Arizona. This is only the fourth condor to hatch in the wild in Arizona since the birds were reintroduced there in 1996. This marks a great success for the Condor Recovery Program that's working to bring these birds back from the brink of extinction.
"We're excited to see some consistency with three successful breeding seasons in a row," says Kathy Sullivan, project coordinator for the Arizona Game and Fish Department.
"It's quite an achievement," says Eddie Feltes, a field biologist with The Peregrine Fund. "Through a scope, I was able to confirm the new chick had hatched at the Vermilion Cliffs National Monument. I could see the chick's mother craning her head down towards the nestling at her feet.  The female condor was looking down toward her feet at a commotion of feathers and debris.  Soon after, a chick stood out, contrasted against its mother's dark plumage."
The chick at the monument, along the Arizona-Utah border, may be one of two to arrive this breeding season.  Biologists believe a second chick also recently hatched in a remote part the Grand Canyon National Park, although they have not yet seen the chick.
"The same pair that produced a chick at the Grand Canyon two years ago again act as if they hatched a chick in the same nest cave," says Chris Parish, project manager for The Peregrine Fund. "We think they're watching over a nestling that hatched about a month ago."



July 24
: On July 19, the Santa Barbara Waterfront Department opened the sandspit to public access (walkers, kayakers, powerboaters, but with dogs prohibited, as on all city beaches.) The father and his now flight-capable chick hung around together for several days, and then the father moved on. The chick has stayed, joined at times by up to 25 (as seen on 7/26, per Lark Chadwick) additional Snowy Plovers, including juveniles, and occasional visiting shorebirds: willets, curlews, turnstones (black and one ruddy), wandering tattlers, skimmers, sanderlings and sandpipers. Unfortunately, the flock of more than a 100 California Brown Pelicans, needing to loaf onshore, unable to be in the water for more than an hour at a time, could not stand the human disturbances, being chased, having sticks thrown, and left, along with most of the Heermann's gulls.

June 26: One, the youngest, the littlest, remains. Sometime between 8 PM and 8 AM today, its sibling disappeared.

June 24: The two small chicks continue to flourish under the watchful eyes of their father, pictured above with the older of his two and below, shading the youngest, the most active, against the hot midday sun. The three are overseen by watchful Santa Barbara plover docents, guarding against human trespassers who arrive by foot and kayak, sometimes accompanied by unleashed dogs, and against crows and other potential snackers. Today, oil arrived on the morning high tide, marking wave laps with thin black lines, barriers to be crossed for feeding in the surf zone. The heavy tar-like quality suggests it's probably from naturally-occurring offshore leakage — but whatever the source, it's another hazard the plovers must surmount.

June 21: And now there are two. At 7:10 last evening, a crow swooped in and picked off a chick. The speed of the taking was such that both the always attentive father and the watching plover docent, Lark, were powerless to help. (per e-mail from Lark Chadwick.)

GOOD NEWS!!! — Western Snowy Plover chicks at Santa Barbara harbor!
There is currently a wonderful story unfolding – a Western Snowy Plover pair established a nest on the Santa Barbara Harbor Sandspit.This is the first reported nesting in 72 years in the Santa Barbara municipal beach area.

The nest was discovered on May 7 by a sharp-eyed Santa Barbara Waterfront Department employee, Lark Chadwick.The handsome little pair produced three eggs, hatching three very active chicks.

As is Snowy Plover wont, the mother moved on, leaving the father to raise his family, which he does with vigor. It's a difficult job. The harbor sandspit is a very busy area. Not only is it a popular lazing area for Brown Pelicans, but it is frequented by very real threats from seagulls, an occasional Great Blue Heron, always hungry Black-crowned Night Herons, visiting crows, a multitude of rats inhabiting the Breakwater rocks — and, of course, our own species, landing kayaks, surfing and picnicing. The sandspit real estate is limited at best, and at the high tides almost no sand beach remains.

It's quite a miracle that any of the chicks have survived but all three are thriving, thanks in no small part to the attentions given by the city Waterfront Department. Working with the UCSB Coal Oil Point Reserve, the Snowy Plover Docent program, the City has rounded up volunteers to plover watch, to keep an eye out for threats and to warn human nest area trespassers away.

First flight—take off date should be around the first of July, just before the annual City waterfront fireworks display. Good timing, plovers! NB: first flight was more than a week later than anticipated, but, miraculously, the little plover chick survived the fireworks and was seen early July 5 nestled under the brooding father.

For a series of wonderful photos of many different species of birds and recent ones of the Santa Barbara sand spit Snowy Plover, visit:<http://mysite.verizon.net/res1u8vm/index.html> Birds and Wildlife of California and Virginia.

For more on Coal Oil Point Reserve and the Pacific population of the Western Snowy Plover and its Threatened (since 1993) status: <http://www.geocities.com/cjbowdish/SnowyPlover.htm> and click here for the Snowy Plover Program site.

Sharing the Beach, California State Parks Resource Area description of the Western Snowy Plover, with
photos: <http://www.parks.ca.gov/?page_id=22262> Although this is about the State Parks beaches, the section on the plovers is helpful for understanding the threatened status, under the Endangered Species Act, of the Western Snowy Plover.


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