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World Wildlife News!

 

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: Occasionally, this non-profit site, PelicanLife.org, will edit, with edits marked by ... or :::snip:::, and will provide links or URLs to the original sources. PelicanLife's Wildlife News section's sole purpose is educational, to contribute to greater understanding and appreciation of wildlife, to willdlife 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.

 

IBRRC good news

spring, 2007

Click here for recent news about pelicans


2004-5 Archives | 2006 Archives | Jan. to June 2007 | albatross and new hook design | Arizona - California condor report | Arizona Kofa NWR cougar| Audubon study: bird species decline | Blue whales hit by ships | California Condor dies | China - rare ibises returned to wild | CITES underway | "Extinct" storm petrel | Fire - after effects on wildlife | Godwit migration | Lead Poisoning and the California Condor | Marbled Murrelet diet | Rats wipe out seabirds | Red Tide, Santa Cruz area | Santa Barbara Channel, blue whales | Shearwaters, So. Carolina | Snowy Plover - extinction plan? | Tern deaths in Long Beach prosecution?Update5/30-Arraignment | Tern Rescue | Texas whoopers link to video | US F&W to reverse McDonald decisions |


'Extinct' seabirds captured

5:00AM Monday December 03, 2007

The ornithologist who helped re-discover a native seabird thought for 150 years to be extinct has shot two of them - with a net-gun.

Brent Stephenson, who rediscovered the storm petrel, with Sav Saville, off the coast of Whitianga in January 2003, captured two of the birds with a net fired out of a custom-made gun. "It's not every day you get to hold a seabird that for 150 years was thought to be extinct, let alone hold two," he said.

Altogether three of the "extinct" New Zealand storm petrels were captured in the Hauraki Gulf by Department of Conservation (DoC) staff and scientists.

The expedition, funded jointly by DoC and a grant from National Geographic's committee for research and exploration, was part of an effort to discover where the birds are breeding. It lives and feeds at sea, returning to land only to breed.

If the captured birds had showed signs of breeding, they would have had tracking beacons attached before being released, Dr Stephenson said.

None of them were breeding, so their island home is still a mystery.

DoC officer Karen Baird said it was thought the petrels might be breeding where rodents had been eradicated, such as the Mokohinau islands in the outer Hauraki Gulf.

"One of the theories is that the birds survived in very low numbers on an island where rats were present and once the rats were removed, the birds have been quietly building up in numbers until they began to be noticed several years ago."

Last year, three storm petrels were caught and fitted with transmitters, but extensive searches around islands in the Hauraki Gulf failed to reveal any of the birds on land.

This story was found at: http://www.nzherald.co.nz/topic/story.cfm?c_id=332&objectid=10479680

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November 28, 2007
Santa Cruz County seabird die-off linked to red tide, state officials say
SANTA CRUZ -- Another wave of dead and sick seabirds washed up on Monterey Bay beaches this week, and state officials believe the birds' mysterious illness comes from the red tide.

Nearly 500 birds have been rescued since early November, according to state Department of Fish and Game senior veterinarian Dave Jessup.

State officials were initially baffled by the sick birds, which began washing up on area beaches just after an oil spill in the San Francisco Bay and the state's aerial spraying of Santa Cruz County to combat the light brown apple moth. They dubbed the die-off the Moss Landing Mystery Spill.

"At this point we believe it's related to the algal blooms," Jessup said Tuesday evening, referring to the recent red tide. "We have made considerable progress. It turns out it's not a fish oil or vegetable oil product, as well as not being a petroleum oil or the light brown apple moth spray."

Dead and sick surf scoters, loons and other near-shore birds began appearing on Watsonville-area beaches Nov. 10. A second die-off that started Saturday had killed or sickened about 130 birds by Tuesday afternoon, Jessup said. About 60 birds were rescued from local beaches on Tuesday alone.

"It's the worst in 10 years, easily," Jessup said of the die-off.

Red tides are an algae bloom that occur regularly on the Monterey Bay, but their severity and length varies. :::snip::: Jennifer Squires, Sentinel staff writer http://www.santacruzsentinel.com/story.php?storySection=Local&sid=51080

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Rats Wipe Out Seabirds on Alaska Island

By MARY PEMBERTON – November 27, 2007

ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) — More than 200 years ago, rats jumped ship for Rat Island. The muscular Norway rat climbed ashore on the rugged, uninhabited island in far southwestern Alaska in 1780 after a rodent-infested Japanese ship ran aground. It was the first time rats had made it to Alaska.

Since then, Rat Island, as the piece of rock was dubbed by a sea captain in the 1800s, has gone eerily silent. The sounds of birds are missing.

That is because the rats feed on eggs, chicks and adult seabirds, which come to the mostly treeless island to nest on the ground or in crevices in the volcanic rock.

"As far as bird life, it is a dead zone," said Steve Ebbert, a biologist at the Alaska Maritime National Wildlife Refuge, whose 2,500 mostly uninhabited islands include the Aleutian chain, of which Rat Island is a part.

State and federal wildlife biologists are gearing up for an assault on the rats of still-uninhabited Rat Island, hoping to exterminate them with rat poison dropped from helicopters. ...

Once the rats are gone from Rat Island, wildlife biologists expect the return of birds to be dramatic.

After black rats were wiped out in November and December 2002 on Anacapa Island off the California coast, murrelets were back in force by the following April, and Cassin's auklets were nesting there for the first time.

"Over time, you see an incredible response," Howald said.
On the Net:

    * http://www.StopRats.org
    * http://www.adfg.state.ak.us/special/invasive/invasive.php.
    * http://alaskamaritime.fws.gov

:::snip::: http://ap.google.com/article/ALeqM5jt_vMaXClQ1hqGbMd9TtI7fkau1AD8T68VAO2

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Animal orphans of drought and fire
NEEDY ANIMALS BROUGHT TO WILDLIFE CENTER


By Connie Skipitares, Mercury News
San Jose Mercury News, Article Launched:10/03/2007 01:34:39 AM PDT
Hurt and starving animals whose habitat was scorched in last month's massive Henry W. Coe State Park fire are scrambling out of the wilderness and into the arms of wildlife care workers in Morgan Hill who have taken them under their wing.

At least one peregrine falcon and a screech owl have made their way out of the charred timberland south of San Jose and have landed at the Wildlife Education and Rehabilitation Center in Morgan Hill. Residents just outside the park's eastern edge nearest the blaze also are reporting that raccoons from the fire area are foraging through yards looking for food.
:::snip:::
"The wildlife in the biggest trouble are the youngsters," Howell said. "The adults are able to fight to survive, but the kids have a tougher time."

The falcon and screech owl were found at the edges of the huge state park near Morgan Hill and brought to the wildlife center. The falcon, which had a broken wing and was dehydrated, was found next to a horse stable in rural Gilroy.
The owl, which wildlife workers have affectionately named "Little Henry," had a head injury after apparently being hit by a car on Dunne Avenue in Morgan Hill. He was taken to the center by a construction worker. Both animals were starving.
"The owl was bruised on the top of his head and his head was shaking, which is consistent with a brain injury," Howell said. "The falcon was not burned, but he was starving. His breast bone was protruding badly because he was so dehydrated. We are giving him fluid therapy to build him up."

With the special care and handling of wildlife care workers, Little Henry's shaking has subsided and he's now back to eating his normal daily meals of two small mice. The falcon is also growing stronger and is eating close to his daily diet of two quail a day.
Howell said the fire orphans are scrambling to find refuge as well as nourishment.
"With the loss of the great habitat in the fire area, the birds and other animals are lost in their normal environment, so they're moving closer to civilization to try to find shelter and food," she said.
The food they normally eat, like rodents, small birds and bugs, probably died in the fire. And a large part of the dense forest and thick chaparral that was their home is gone. :::snip:::

Anyone interested in donating to the Wildlife Education and Rehabilitation Center may send donations to WERC, P.O. Box 1105, Morgan Hill, Calif., 95038-1105, or log on to www.werc-ca.org. Call (408) 779-9372. http://www.mercurynews.com/news/ci_7069545

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Endangered whooping cranes can be mistaken for other birds
Updated: 10/29/2005 12:00 PM
By: Staff and wire reports

It's a familiar sound, heralding the arrival of some star attractions here on the Texas coast. But since the late 1930s, these whooping cranes have held center stage in a real life fight for survival.

“It travels 2,500 miles between the nesting grounds in Canada and the wintering grounds in Texas, and along that way it passes through a lot of hazards. That's when we lose most of the birds. Perhaps late season hurricanes or barge spills along the intracoastal canal,” Lee Ann Linam of Texas Parks and Wildlife said.

It's particularly important for hunters to be observant. Except for its black wingtips, whoopers look a lot like sandhill cranes, a legal game bird.

“It's grayish in color although it can look white in some light. You can also listen for the calls. They kind of have a high bugling call, a little bit stronger than the kind of purr of the sandhill crane,” Linam said.

In addition, whooping cranes usually fly in small flocks of two to six. Other birds look similar to the whooping crane, which is nearly five feet tall with a wing span of about seven feet. White pelicans and great egrets are both big white birds, but have different flying styles.

“Pelicans often glide and soar up into the sky, whereas whooping cranes you'll usually see them flapping as they go along. The great egret, it has no black on the wingtips and it tucks its neck in close to its body when it flies,” Linam said.

Cranes fly with a long neck extended in front and long legs trailing behind. Wood storks fly in a similar manner, but have more black on the wing edges and on the head. Because Texas is the wintering grounds for the last remaining wild population of whooping cranes, Texans play an important part in preserving the birds. Public wildlife refuges and private land owners maintain habitats along the coast.

“Texans can also watch for whooping cranes as they pass through Texas during migration - that's usually between mid-Octobers to late November [from the Texas panhandle to the coast near Victoria]. It can help us understand what habitats they're using and also keep an eye on them to make them sure they're not subject to dangers,” Linam said.

Last year 194 whooping cranes made it to Texas, and biologists hope they will break the 200 mark this year.

“We had a record number of chicks. Sixty-six were born and 41 were still surviving in August, so we're really hopeful,” Linam said.

Even though the whooping crane is still endangered, its progress is good. In the 1940s, the numbers were as low as 15.

“They sort of represent the ultimate success story for conservation of a species that was on the verge of extinction,” Linam said.

Now, those flocking to the coast for a glimpse of the whooping crane can hear the sound of triumph. VIDEO and sounds of whoopers; http://www.news8austin.com/content/headlines/?ArID=122777&SecID=2


 

Santa Barbara Channel: Whales' deaths spur questions on ship speeds

By Zeke Barlow (Contact)
Sunday, September 30, 2007
John Calambokidis, Cascadia Research / Courtesy photo A blue whale surfaces in the Santa Barbara Channel shipping lanes. As research biologist John Calambokidis was monitoring the whale, a massive cargo ship headed straight for his 18-foot skiff and the whale.

John Calambokidis was tracking a blue whale through the Santa Barbara Channel shipping lanes two weeks ago when he experienced a problem similar to one the world's largest creatures are facing.

As the research biologist was monitoring the whale, a massive cargo ship headed straight for Calambokidis, his 18-foot skiff and the whale.

"We had to move because we were on a collision course with the ship," he said, mindful that he had to give right of way.

He wonders about what happened to the whale he was watching, as well as all the others in the channel this time of year. :::snip::: http://www.venturacountystar.com/news/2007/sep/30/whales-deaths-spur-questions-on-ship-speeds/

 

See also:

Necropsy Rules Out Domoic Acid Poisoning

Third Blue Whale Death Ruled Unusual Mortality Event
Monday, October 1, 2007, by Chris Meagher

A necropsy conducted on a blue whale carcass at Pt. Mugu showed the animal didn’t have any detectable levels of domoic acid in its system, contrary to scientific speculation last week.

The blue whale — the third killed by a ship strike off the Southern California coast in September — was first spotted floating in the Santa Barbara Channel off of Platform Gail on Thursday, September 20. A storm then moved the body to an eddy, where it circled between Platform Gail and Platform Grace. The whale had not been dead long, scientists determined, because the skin was still intact and blue, and there were no major external injuries. :::snip::: http://independent.com/news/2007/oct/01/necropsy-rules-out-domoic-acid-poisoning/

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Plan details delisting of endangered shorebird
Plover backers unhappy with 2047 proposal

By Zeke Barlow
Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Local Western snowy plover advocates expressed mixed emotions over the recently released plan for removing the tiny bird from the Endangered Species Act by 2047.

The document lays out population targets for six coastal areas in California, Oregon and Washington and other criteria that would have to be met for such a delisting to take place.

Among the criteria, it calls for an average population of 3,000 breeding adults to be maintained for 10 years.

More than 1,900 adult snowy plovers, which were listed as threatened in 1993, were estimated to be living along the bird's three-state coastal range last year, according to Fish and Wildlife Service. This year, 184 birds were counted in Ventura County, compared to 221 last summer.

Fish and Wildlife officials said in the plan that because the snowy plover lives in areas with close human contact, nonprofit groups, beach users, landowners and other nongovernment entities should be involved in "a collaborative stewardship approach" for monitoring and protecting the birds and their nests. :::snip:::
The Center for Biological Diversity, a wildlife protection group, criticized the plan Monday for setting population targets it thinks are too low.

"This is an extinction plan, not a recovery plan," said Kieran Suckling, the center's policy director.

He said that because the target populations are close to being reached in some areas, "the low bar" set by federal wildlife officials provided fewer safeguards for the birds.

For the snowy plover to be considered no longer threatened, the 10-year average census would have to reach 1,200 for the region from San Luis Obispo to Ventura counties.

http://www.venturacountystar.com/news/2007/sep/26/plan-details-delisting-of-endangered-shorebird/

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Is it the end of the line for the albatross?

September 16, 2007 THE ocean-roaming albatross, once believed to carry the souls of dead sailors, is sliding towards extinction.

The United Nations estimates 300,000 seabirds a year drown on the end of longline fishing hooks, with 16 species of albatross accounting for up to a third of the carnage.

But The Sunday Age has learnt that a secret Australian project — involving scientists and international fisheries — is poised to help save the most elegant of birds and its near relatives.

A former Queensland tuna fisherman, Hans Jusseit, has invented a "smart hook" that does not snare diving seabirds or critically endangered turtles. :::snip::: <http://www.theage.com.au/news/national/is-it-the-end-of-the-line-for-the-albatross/2007/09/15/1189277050406.html#>

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To Alaska and back - the epic, record-breaking trip of Thames bird
The Bar Tailed Godwit covers amazing distances
.
by Angela Gregory, Tuesday September 11, 2007

A record-breaking godwit known as E7 is refuelling in the Firth of Thames after having made it all the way to Alaska and back wearing a surgically implanted satellite transmitter.

The female bird was the first of 16 bar-tailed godwits tagged in February by ecologist Dr Phil Battley, from Massey University, to return to New Zealand.

Data provided by the transmitter meant that Dr Battley could confirm her route, with her entire migratory journey clocking in at close to 30,000 km, and the southern return leg at more than 11,500km.

Dr Battley said E7 set the record for the longest flight of the tagged birds on the journey north and then broke her own record on the way back south.

E7 first went to the Yellow Sea, flying 10200 km direct from Miranda in the Firth of Thames, where she was banded up, to Yalu Jiang Nature reserve in China.

She spent five weeks refuelling there and then at the start of May flew to the breeding grounds in Alaska, another 7300 km.

Dr Battley said E7 went to the Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta and spent the next two months there where she was almost certainly breeding.

"She left there about mid-July and went to the mudflats on the edge of the Yukon Delta where she refuelled again, getting nice and fat until the end of August."

Dr Battley said the southward migration of the godwit from Alaska to New Zealand was thought to be the longest non-stop migration of any bird.

"She had the option to fly down to the Alaskan peninsula and take off from about 500 km further south but she didn't do that - this indicates the long journey is not such a problem to her or that she's needing to find a shorter route."

Dr Battley said E7 was back at her favourite spot at Miranda after becoming the first godwit to have her migration monitored by satellite, but had confounded attempts to photograph her after her epic journey.

"Unfortunately it's a muddy spot with no access so while it would be nice to have pictures we just haven't been able to photograph her."

Dr Battley said E7 probably arrived late on Friday night.

Her transmitter was on for six hours every 36 hours and on Friday afternoon she was south-west of Ninety Mile Beach in Northland.

By 3am on Sunday morning E7 was recorded as being back at Miranda.

She was expected to rest in the Firth of Thames until about March, when she would make her way back to Alaska to have her chicks.

E7 would have a complete feather moult before starting out all over again. "She'll moult into breeding plumage, fuel up again, and take the same route back to the Yellow Sea and Alaska.

"What's really amazing is that once her chicks have fledged they'll be left to their own devices and will have to migrate to New Zealand without parental guidance."

Dr Battley was now awaiting the arrival of four other birds with transmitters that were still working. Eight birds fitted with backpack tracking devices had not been monitored because the devices appear to have fallen off.

The transmitters on three of the eight birds which had the devices surgically implanted also appeared to have stopped working.

Godwits arrived in New Zealand in September each year and the adults left in mid-March, with adolescent birds staying until they were up to three or four years old.

The largest populations in New Zealand were found in the Kaipara Harbour, Manukau Harbour and Farewell Spit.

Dr Battley's next project was to undertake similar work with a sub-population of the bar-tailed godwit in northwest Australia, allowing comparison of the migratory habits of the two populations.

The project would provide crucial information about the migratory behaviour of declining species.

The satellite track of the godwits' travels can be viewed at:
http://alaska.usgs.gov/science/biology/shorebirds/pacific-migration.html
http://www.nzherald.co.nz/topic/story.cfm?c_id=332&objectid=10462874

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Endangered California condor dies of lead poisoning
August 18, 2007 7:44 AM ET

LOS ANGELES (AP) - An endangered California condor that was being treated at the Los Angeles Zoo for lead poisoning has died.

Tests showed the bird had 10 times the safe amount of lead in its bloodstream after it was caught at the Bitter Creek National Wildlife Refuge last month. Only about 300 California condors remain in the world.

Researchers believe the condor, North America's largest flying bird, may have ingested lead paint or soil contaminated with lead bullet fragments.

Scientists at the zoo were not able to determine the source of the bird's lead poisoning.

The California Fish and Game Commission is set later this month to consider a ban on lead ammunition for hunting in condor habitat.

Copyright 2007 The Associated Press. http://ksby.com/Global/story.asp?S=6949934&nav=menu544_3

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U.S. Agency May Reverse 8 Decisions on Wildlife
By JOHN M. BRODER, Published: July 21, 2007

WASHINGTON, July 20 — The Interior Department said Friday that it would review and probably overturn eight decisions on wildlife and land-use issues made by a senior political appointee who has been found to have improperly favored industry and landowners over agency scientists.

The appointee, Julie A. MacDonald, resigned on May 1 as a deputy assistant secretary for fish and wildlife and parks, after an internal review found that she had violated federal rules by giving government documents to lobbyists for industry. The agency’s inspector general also found several instances in which Ms. MacDonald browbeat department biologists and habitat specialists and overruled their recommendations to protect a variety of rare and threatened species. :::snip:::

The species that could receive additional protection are the white-tailed prairie dog, Preble’s meadow jumping mouse, 12 species of Hawaiian picture-wing flies, the arroyo toad, the Southwestern willow flycatcher, the California red-legged frog and the Canada lynx. The extent of Rocky Mountain habitat protection for the jumping mouse is also under review.

:::snip:::

Environmental advocates said numerous cases of potential political interference by Ms. MacDonald or others in the department were left off the list of decisions to be reviewed. They cited as examples decisions affecting the status of the marbled murrelet, a small sea bird found in the Pacific Northwest; a plan to help speed the spotted owl’s recovery; and the habitat of the bull trout.

<http://www.nytimes.com/2007/07/21/washington/21interior.html>

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Dead seabirds found on coast
6/30/2007 7:30:16 PM
The Department of Natural Resources is trying to find out why seabirds are dying on South Carolina's coast. The DNR has received reports of more than 140 dead or sick Greater Shearwaters, a gull-like bird.

Biologists are examining the dead birds to find out what killed them.

If you see a sick or dying bird, don't touch it, but record the time and location and call the DNR. Call or send information to:
Dr. Al Segars 843-252-4244

Many more stories on the deaths of the Greater Shearwaters, including the most recent, July 3 <http://www.forbes.com/feeds/ap/2007/07/03/ap3883020.html> More than 1,000 have been found to date, from the Bahamas/Florida to S. Carolina.

"The birds, which feed on small fish, nest on islands off southern Africa and then migrate north during the summer to the ocean off Canada. Most of the dead birds are juveniles that were born this year.

"It does look like they are starving to death," Watson said. "They are extremely malnourished."

The winds on the ocean could be pushing the birds off course where they find less to eat, he said.

"The other thing is the forage fish they rely on may be unavailable to them for some reason," Watson said. "Is it because there is less out there? We don't know. We are hearing that off the coast of South Carolina it could be one of the worst years on record for forage fish."

Initial tests on the dead birds do not seem to indicate bird flu or some other disease. Al Segars, a state Department of Natural Resources veterinarian, said that dehydration also was a factor because seabirds get much of the water they need from the fish they eat....."

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Seabird Diet History Revealed Through Analyisis Of Museum Samples

Science Daily, Date: June 29, 2007 — Using feathers from museum collections all over the world, a University of Guelph integrative biology professor has tested a new hypothesis about what led to population decline of a species of seabirds in Canada.

Prof. Ryan Norris conducted a historical analysis of museum specimens of marbled murrelets going back more than a century to examine how dietary changes may have affected the seabirds’ numbers.
The study, which will be published in the August issue of Journal of Applied Ecology, also illustrates how scientists can use museum specimens to figure out what led to a species decline and to help focus conservation efforts.
“One of the biggest unknowns for endangered or threatened species is how their populations fluctuated naturally before human disturbances,” Norris said.
“But there are millions of specimens in museums across the country, many of which were collected before habitats started to decline and that can give you really important baseline information for designing plans to conserve species.”
For example, there is little historical information about marbled murrelets because the birds are highly secretive and difficult to study, he said. “The first murrelet nest wasn’t discovered until 1975 so gathering information about the causes of their decline has been extremely difficult.”
But Norris was able to reconstruct the diet of the seabirds by utilizing museum specimens dating back to 1889.

Working with Peter Arcese of the University of British Columbia’s department of forest sciences, he visited dozens of museums across North America collecting feathers from marbled murrelets gathered from the Georgia Strait — the waters between Vancouver Island and British Columbia’s mainland.
The seabirds spend more than 90 per cent of their time on the sea, but they travel up to 100 km inland to nest in old growth forests. The species numbers have been dwindling in Canada over the past 100 years, a drop that scientists previously attributed to a loss of coastal old growth forests.

Norris decided to examine how marine diet over the last 100 years might have influenced the birds’ populations by analyzing the stable carbon and stable nitrogen isotopes, chemical signatures that become fixed into the marbled murrelets feathers when they’re grown.
Their isotope analysis showed that prior to 1900, the birds were feeding most on fish, but that by the 1970s, 80s and 90s, their diet consisted of marine invertebrates, which are much less energetically rich than fish.
“Murrelets have to catch around 80 to 100 marine invertebrates to get the same nutritional value as in one forage fish,” Norris said.
The researchers concluded that the seabirds’ population changes in Canada after 1950 were likely influenced by a decline in the amount of fish in their diet. It’s an important finding because it suggests that to save the species, conservation efforts should be refocused.

“Instead of spending all their time and money on the murrelet’s nesting habitat, conservationists and managers may have to take a step back and evaluate how to optimally allocate resources to conserve this species,” said Norris.
“If we keep pouring all of our money into the current plan, it’s possible this amazing seabird will continue to decline anyway.”
Note: This story has been adapted from a news release issued by University Of Guelph. http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/06/070627140414.htm

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Tourists witness a good turn for a baby tern
Boat passengers applaud as lifeguards rescue the drowning seabird next to a barge in Long Beach Harbor.
By Louis Sahagun, Times Staff Writer
June 17, 2007

Tour boat captain Dan Salas radioed for help Saturday as soon as he noticed a drowning baby seabird in the rolling swell beside a barge anchored in Long Beach Harbor.

Three minutes later, Long Beach lifeguards arrived in a patrol boat and set to work, providing the 20 tourists aboard Salas' 80-foot vessel, Kristina, with a rare view of an avian rescue operation half a mile offshore.

The passengers applauded and whistled when lifeguard John Virack carefully scooped the baby Caspian tern out of the water with two hands, then wrapped it in a towel for transport to a local bird rescue center.

Back on the barge, a raucous colony of Caspian terns had transformed mounds of coiled rope into shady camouflage for pale yellow hatchlings. Adult terns swooped in every few minutes with tiny silver fish in their beaks and promptly fed newly hatched birds. Others chased intruding brown pelicans, double-crested cormorants and Heermann's gulls away from their nests on the flat deck. :::snip::: LATimes

 

To everything there is a season ...
A year after mass deaths, terns return to the harbor to nest on a barge.

By Kristopher Hanson, Staff writer Long Beach Press Telegram

LONG BEACH - A group of migrating Caspian terns has established a nesting colony on a barge in Long Beach harbor nearly a year after hundreds of other hatchlings were allegedly wiped out by barge operators. The new colony, which is smaller and reportedly includes other bird species, was established in March, with hatchlings arriving in mid-May, according to witnesses.

The nests are situated atop the Arctic Challenger, an ice-breaker barge anchored just off Alamitos Beach near Oil Island White.

Dan Salas, who charters harbor tours with Long Beach-based Harbor Breeze Cruises, said the colony is about one-third the size of last year's and includes brown pelicans and cormorants.

In April, the Long Beach city prosecutor's office filed criminal charges against a tugboat owner and two employees accused of causing at least 400 baby Caspian and elegant terns to drown last summer.

Point Loma Maritime Services owner Ralph Botticelli, 40, and his employees - Alan Schlange, 38, and Scott Caslin, 32 - were charged last month with seven misdemeanor counts, including animal cruelty, in connection with the incident.

The three allegedly forced the colony from two rock barges in late June as they cleared the surfaces for a fireworks show outside the city.

Between June 29 and July 1, 2006, hundreds of dead chicks washed up on local beaches, prompting widespread outrage and a lengthy investigation by local, state and federal authorities.

Caspian terns are a protected species with only five known nesting sites in the world. The Long Beach Harbor colony is the northernmost nesting site known to biologists.

Earlier this year, authorities promised to protect any future colonies, but it was unclear Wednesday if wildlife personnel were aware of the new site.

Messages left with the California Department of Fish and Game were not immediately returned.

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Bye, Bye Birdies?
20 Common Bird Species Are In Dramatic Decline, According To Audubon Study

BOSTON, June 16, 2007

Christian Science Monitor) This article was written by Mark Clayton.
New data show the populations of some of America's well-known birds in a tailspin, thanks to the one-two punch of habitat fragmentation and, increasingly, global warming.

From the heartland's whippoorwills and meadowlarks to the Northern bobwhite and common terns of the nation's coasts, 20 common bird species tracked by the National Audubon Society have seen their numbers fall 54 percent overall since 1967, with some down about 80 percent, the group reported Thursday.

Most of the trouble lies with loss of bird habitat, and has for decades, due to expanding agriculture and suburban development. :::snip::: http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2007/06/15/national/main2933617.shtml http://www.csmonitor.com/2007/0615/p02s03-usgn.html?page=1

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Wildlife Officials Shoot Cougar

June 6th, 2007 @ 2:17pm; by Associated Press

State wildlife officials killed a mountain lion north of the Kofa National Wildlife Refuge that had been preying on endangered desert bighorn sheep for several months.

Arizona Game and Fish Department officials said the young male lion was found with two freshly killed bighorns and a mule deer when it was killed on Sunday.

The cougar was killed as part of an effort to prevent the further decline of the bighorn sheep population, which is at a historic low.

"When added to two other known bighorn sheep kills on the Kofa National Wildlife Refuge during the past three months, these dead sheep would equal the entire annual recruitment of yearling sheep that we would expect to be produced by 25 ewes," Larry Voyles, regional supervisor for Game and Fish, said in a statement.

Lions that kill more than two sheep in a six-month period are a significant threat to the already seriously declining bighorn sheep herd, according to Game and Fish.

A survey taken in November showed the bighorn sheep herd on the Kofa refuge had fallen to an estimated 390 animals, a drastic drop from estimated 812 sheep counted in 2000.

"Given the declining status of the bighorn population on the Kofa, it cannot withstand the level of predation that this particular lion was exerting on the herd," Voyles said.

Kofa refuge officials are considering allowing lion hunts but are under a court order to do an analysis of its effects before making a decision.

The lion killed Sunday had been tracked since February.

The Kofa herd once was one of the most robust in the nation and has been used to repopulate other areas of Arizona and southwestern United States mountain ranges for 50 years.

Sheep transplants from the Kofa National Wildlife Refuge were suspended this year due to the severe population decline. <http://ktar.com/?nid=6&sid=504761>; see also: <http://www.yumasun.com/news/sheep_34458___article.html/refuge_kofa.html>

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From AZ Game and Fish Dept: Southwest California condor program review completed
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service recently completed a review of the condor program in northern Arizona and southern Utah. The review is the second five-year assessment of the program and focuses on the 2002-2006 period. A team of wildlife officials, land managers and condor biologists recommend that the reintroduction program continue with several improvements.

The California condor reintroduction project began in 1996 with the release of six condors at the Vermilion Cliffs in Arizona. A total of 93 condors have been released since then, with 57 still remaining.

In 2001, a reintroduced condor produced the first confirmed egg laid in the wild since 1986. Five condors have hatched in the wild to date.

Implementation of a voluntary non-lead ammunition program in Arizona has reduced available toxic lead bullet fragments by an estimated 50 percent on the Kaibab and Paria plateaus.

Overall mortality has been reduced from 40 percent in the first five-year period to 27 percent in this reporting period. Improved field techniques have virtually eliminated predation of newly released condors. Better adaptive management in the field has been implemented to more effectively address condor behavior issues.

The review recognizes that lead toxicity is a major challenge facing condors and the primary inhibitor of a self-sustaining population. Studies have concluded that lead shot and bullet fragments found in game carcasses and gut piles are the main source of lead in condors. Condors are group feeders, so several birds can ingest lead fragments from one carcass or gut pile.

Cooperative efforts are underway to remediate lead contamination in condors. The Arizona Game and Fish Department offers a free non-lead ammunition program, started in 2005, in an attempt to reduce lead exposure for wild condors. Hunters have responded positively to using non-lead ammunition and are credited with helping lower lead toxicity in condors, although expanded adoption of the effort is needed to further reduce lead exposure and mortality in the population.

The review was conducted as a joint effort between the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Arizona Game and Fish Department, Utah Division of Wildlife Resources, The Peregrine Fund and Bureau of Land Management, with input from numerous agencies, local governments and open house participants.

For more information on the California condor, visit azgfd.gov/condor. 

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Survival at stake as nations debate trade in wildlife

Saturday, June 02, 2007, PARIS: With the fate of hundreds of endangered species hanging in the balance, representatives from 171 nations kick off a critical two-week meeting on Sunday in The Hague on how best to regulate the global commerce in wild animals and plants.

Some 2500 delegates of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora, or CITES, will vote on dozens of proposals seeking to strengthen or weaken trade protection for wildlife ranging from elephants and leopards to orchids and cactus threatened by over-exploitation.

The stakes are enormous, and often in conflict. Legal and illegal trade in wild fauna and flora — whether live specimens or by-products like tiger-bone medicines, ivory or coral jewellery and exotic-wood furniture — generates tens of billions of dollars (euros) in revenue every year, even after commercial fishing and the timber industry are set aside.

Finding a middle ground between safeguarding wildlife and the protecting the livelihood of local populations who exploit it economically is rarely easy, experts say. It is also the centrepiece of a new “strategic vision” proposed by CITES that some conservation groups fear will water down the convention’s original mission.

“While the primary goal of CITES is to conserve biodiversity, governments have recognized that there are linkages between conservation and the livelihoods of poor people,” CITES said in a communique. :::snip::: http://www.thenews.com.pk/daily_detail.asp?id=58835

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Rare ibises returned to nature

June 1, 2007: XI'AN: Twenty ibises that were bred in captivity were released into the wild yesterday in Ningshan County, Northwest China's Shaanxi Province, reflecting the progress that efforts to breed and protect the endangered species have made.

"If these birds can learn to live in their natural environment, then ibises can expect to bid farewell to their status as an endangered species," said Huang Zhixue, chief of the county's wild release training base.

Huang said the 20 birds were transferred from the artificial breeding centers in Yangxian and Zhouzhi counties to Ningshan in March for the last stage of adaptive training.

"These birds had been trained for one to three years in Yangxian and Zhouzhi counties, which greatly improved their flying and foraging abilities. The last bit of adaptive training here introduced them to the climate and surroundings here," Huang said.

As one of the world's most endangered species, ibises were once thought to have gone extinct. In 1981, seven ibises, considered the last of the species, were spotted in Yangxian County in southern Shaanxi, leading to the establishment of the Yangxian Ibis Breeding and Protection Center.

After 26 years of efforts to breed the birds in captivity, the ibis population has increased to about 1,000.

"In order to get ibises off the endangered list, artificially bred birds must be returned to their natural habitat. The area where they are released should be gradually expanded, and eventually they will start breeding in the wild," the expert said.

Source: China Daily; http://english.people.com.cn/200706/01/eng20070601_380031.html

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Three men to be arraigned in deaths of hundreds of seabirds

Associated Press - May 30, 2007 7:14 AM ET

LONG BEACH, Calif. (AP) - Three men are due in court today in connection with the deaths of hundreds of young seabirds that fell out of their nests on an abandoned barge and drowned in Long Beach.

Prosecutors say San Diego-based Point Loma Maritime Services owner Ralph Botticelli, tugboat captain Alan Schlange and crewmember Scott Caslin are set to be arraigned.

They are each charged with seven misdemeanor counts for illegally removing, harassing and causing the death of the terns. They also are charged with destroying several nests.

:::snip:::

Copyright 2007 The Associated Press.

See also: <http://www.presstelegram.com/ci_6025126>

Arraignment delayed - San Diego company owner, employees charged with birds' deaths; by: North County Times wire services -

LONG BEACH -- An arraignment was postponed Wednesday to June 28 for the owner of a San Diego-based maritime company and two employees charged in the deaths last summer of more than 400 fledgling terns that had nested on two barges in the Port of Long Beach.

Ralph Botticelli III, 40, who owns San Diego-based Point Loma Maritime Services, and employees Alan Schlange, 38, of Costa Mesa, and Scott Caslin, 32, of San Diego, are each charged with seven misdemeanor counts of illegally removing, harassing and causing the deaths of the terns on or about June 29, 2006.

The company also is charged with the same counts.

Before the charges were filed, Botticelli told the boating and fishing newspaper The Log that the birds' deaths were accidental.

The company, which did not own the two barges moored at Los Angeles-Long Beach port complex where the birds were housed, allegedly moved the vessels for commercial purposes, authorities said.

All the dead birds were babies "in the sense that they weren't flying yet," Long Beach City Prosecutor Tom Reeves has said. http://www.nctimes.com/articles/2007/05/31/news/sandiego/22_42_355_30_07.txt

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