Tick, Tick, Tick, Moose

Moose-and-calves-USFWSFrom a New Hampshire Fish and Game press release:

New Hampshire Fish and Game is partnering with the University of New Hampshire in a major new research effort to learn more about the causes of moose mortality and how our changing weather patterns may be affecting both the causes and rates of mortality in our moose herd. Funded entirely by federal Wildlife Restoration dollars, this project updates and enhances the research we did from 2001-2006.


Over a two-year period, we will place radio collars on 80-90 adult moose cows and calves. A helicopter wildlife crew will capture and collar the animals. We will track the collared animals for four years, monitoring them for as long as the collars keep transmitting. We’ll be looking at how long the individuals live; and when they die, we’ll try to get there as soon as possible to determine cause of death. This research will help us determine what the mortality rate and causes are at this time. It seems to have increased since our last mortality research project. We want to know if mortality is being caused by winter tick or other factors. These answers will inform future management decisions.

Read the rest of the release, which mostly addresses the impact of winter tick mortality on New Hampshire’s moose population (the point being that the population has suffered, but it’s not about to disappear) here. It is in the form of a Q&A with award-winning moose biologist Kristine Rines.

NH Fish and Game winter tick press release/Q&A

Photo: A moose and calves from the NH Fish and Game press release, however, the name of the file indicates that it came from the US Fish and Wildlife Service.

Wild Pig Conference – April 2014

pig conferenceFrom the conference website:

Damage caused by wild pigs is one of the greatest concerns to wildlife biologists and managers today. Wild pigs have the potential to cause ecological and economical destruction far surpassing any other invasive exotic vertebrate. The International Wild Pig Conference provides federal, state, and private stakeholders a venue to discuss biological, financial, and social implications specific to wild pig subsistence in our ecosystems.

The conference will be held at the Embassy Suites Hotel and Conference Center on April 14 – 16, 2014.

For more information, including registration and a call for papers, visit the conference website, here.

Bears: Attacks and Responses

Black bearA black bear attack on a 12-year-old girl in Michigan made national news last week. However, a Michigan Department of Natural Resources press release says that a bear killed by DNR personnel shortly after the attack was not the bear in the attack. The bear was not killed because of any possible connection to the attack, but because it had been wounded by being shot by a home-owner who feared for his life.

The release says that DNA analysis shows that the bear that attacked the girl was female, while the bear that was killed was male.

Read the Michigan DNR press release here.
And if you haven’t seen the bear attack coverage, you can find some of it here.

NBC Nightly News notes that it was a busy week for bear attacks.

In Idaho, in a situation that closely echos the Michigan incident, the US Fish and Wildlife Service is investigating the shooting of a grizzly bear on private property to see if the bear is the same one that attacked two biologists earlier in the month, Reuters reports.

Read the Reuters story here.
Another Reuters story contains a single paragraph about the biologists, which is the most information I could find anywhere. Read the whole story in the Willmar, Minn. West Central Tribune:

Also on Thursday, Idaho wildlife officials reported that two biologists collecting grizzly habitat data in the eastern part of the state were knocked down by a charging grizzly after they startled it. Spray was used to scare off the bear, which bit one man on the backside and the other on the hands.


Photo: This is my generic black bear photo, courtesy US Fish and Wildlife Service. This bear has neither attacked a human nor been shot, to the best of my knowledge.

Birds Obey Speed Limits

How Did the Animal Cross the Road? The Shocking AnswerCanadian researchers found that European birds flee before an approaching car at an interval that is consistent with the road’s speed limit, but not with the actual speed of the approaching car. So birds on a highway fled sooner than birds on local, residential roads. The researchers studied roads in three speed categories.

There are conservation implications for this finding, as an article in AAAS’s ScienceShot says.

Read the ScienceShot article here.
Read the abstract in Biology Letters, here. (Full article requires subscription or fee.)

The Nation’s Strangest Wildlife Laws

In Georgia, you may not keep a garter snake as a pet, but you can own a rattlesnake, says Whit Gibbons, an ecologist and environmental educator with the University of Georgia’s Savannah River Ecology Laboratory, in a column in the Aiken (Georgia) Standard.

The poisonous snake exception to Georgia’s law prohibiting the ownership of native snakes and reptiles is probably the weirdest law in Gibbons’ round-up, which includes the fact that frogs are regulated as fish in Alaska and that you may hunt frogs with a dog in Kansas. (Frogs, you know, are both funny and hard to legislate, so lots of frog laws make the list.)

I appreciate Gibbons’ list for its intelligence and wit, but I suspect that the regs he lists are not the nation’s weirdest wildlife laws. Does your state have a weird wildlife law? Do you know of one in another state? I’d love to hear about it in the comments.

Read the column here.

Troublesome Creatures

spotted owlEfforts around the country to remove troublesome creatures — whether invasive or otherwise — have been met with a variety of reactions. In all cases the creatures are being removed because they are harming an ecosystem.

No one seems to mind that California Fish and Wildlife Department is removing South African clawed frogs from Golden Gate Park. The frogs are not native to the area, they completely destroy the habitats they invade, and they carry a fungus that is deadly to native amphibians. Read about the recovery effort in Bay Nature.

In Michigan, the Department of Natural Resources would like there to be fewer invasive mute swans. Mute swans are aggressive and don’t allow the native trumpeter swans or loons to nest. (They also have it in for ducks and geese.) Plus, they eat so many wetland plants that they can destroy wetlands. Oiling eggs has been too costly and too slow, so the department will begin to kill mute swans. Michigan Live has published several articles on the subject.
Here’s Michigan Live on why.
Here’s the plan in one county.
And here the reaction to the plan in that county.

And then there are barred owls. They’ve long been identified as a threat to northern spotted owl recovery in the Pacific Northwest. Spotted owls rely on old-growth forests. Barred owls are not so picky, and have moved into the spotted owls’ turf as the habitat has become more variable, because the old-growth forests were cut. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has decided to start killing barred owls to try to improve matters for the spotted owl. The Oregonian did two stories on the situation. This one several years ago. And this one now that the program has begun.
There’s been no shortage of news coverage. See a lot of it here.

Photo: Spotted owl, courtesy US Fish and Wildlife Service

Burying Beetles and Goshawks Up

goshawk-259x300Here’s some good news for a Monday morning.

– Wildlife biologists with the Maryland Department of Natural Resources (DNR) have discovered Northern Goshawks successfully breeding in the State for the first time since 2006. Read the Maryland Department of Natural Resources press release, here.

– A second wild American burying beetle population now calls Nantucket, Massachusetts home, thanks to a successful captive breeding and reintroduction program, which began in 1996 at the Roger Williams Park Zoo in Providence, Rhode Island. Read this Endangered Species Act Success Story on the US Fish and Wildlife Service website, here. Lots of photos.

Photo: Can I tell you how lucky you are that I went with the goshawk and not the burying beetle grubs? Courtesy of the Maryland Dept. of Natural Resources.

August Citizen Science Round-up

pool_filter_photo– The Wyoming Game and Fish Department is asking people to report any dead sage grouse they find immediately so they can be tested for West Nile virus. Read more in the Billings Gazette.

– The North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission wants to document observations of nine-banded armadillos as they expand their range in the state. Read more in the Burlington Times-News.

– The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) second annual Asian long-horned beetle (ALB) Swimming Pool Survey. Pool owners are asked to check their filters for the destructive, invasive beetles. Read the NYS DEC press release here. Vermont is in on the survey too. Read its program release here. The release implies that New Hampshire is also doing a pool survey.

Photo: Beetles in a pool filter. Photo courtesy N.H. Division of Forests and Lands.



Southwestern Naturalist Round-up

southwesternnaturalistcoverHere are some papers from the most recent issue of the Southwestern Naturalist that may be of interest to others outside the region, or of particular interest locally:

Fine-Scale Selection of Habitat by the Lesser Prairie-Chicken. Temperature turns out to be very important.

Consumption of Seeds of Southwestern White Pine by Black Bear. Black bears steal from squirrel caches. Go figure.

Is False Spike (a freshwater mussel) Extinct? First Account of a Very Recently Deceased Individual in Over Thirty Years. This species may still be in Texas.

Horsehair worm: New to the Fauna of Oklahoma. A second species of horsehair worm is discovered in the state.

New Distributional Records for Four Rare Species of Freshwater Mussels in Southwestern Louisiana. It’s not easy being a mussel. These are hanging on.

Critical Habitat Assessment Tool for Lesser Prairie Chickens

lesser prairie chickenFrom a press release issued by the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation and the Kansas Biological Survey:

In cooperation with the five state fish and wildlife agencies that fall within the range of the Lesser Prairie-Chicken (LEPC), and the Western Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies (WAFWA), the KARS program has launched version 2.0 of the Southern Great Plains Crucial Habitat Assessment Tool (SGP CHAT). The online map viewer hosts the SGP CHAT, which is the spatial representation of the LEPC range-wide conservation plan, and a tool that prioritizes conservation actions while assisting with the siting of industry development.

For the press release, click here.
For the tool itself, go here.

Photo: courtesy of the NRCS USDA