As bird flu losses mount, USDA advises ‘plan for elevated risk’
For the first time, researchers have tracked the movements of a wild duck infected with bird flu, information that could help them come up with disease mitigation strategies against the viral disease, said the U.S. Geological Survey on Wednesday. More than 47.7 million birds in U.S. domestic flocks have died in outbreaks of highly pathogenic avian influenza since February.
Report: Biodiversity loss, climate change driving an ‘escalating nature crisis’
Wildlife populations plummeted 69 percent worldwide between 1970 and 2018, according to a report released Wednesday by the World Wildlife Fund. Food systems were a key driver of this biodiversity loss, responsible for 70 percent of the population decline of land animals and half of the decline in freshwater species. Conservation alone will not be enough to halt these declines, wrote the authors, who said that scaling up sustainable food production is crucial. (No paywall)
Neonicotinoid insecticides have broad reach, says EPA
Three widely used neonicotinoids are likely to adversely affect, in at least some way, most of the threatened and endangered species in the country, said the Environmental Protection Agency on Thursday.
‘Lord God Bird’ among 23 species declared extinct
The ivory-billed woodpecker, America's largest woodpecker, with a 31-inch wingspan, is extinct, said the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, ending years of lingering hopes that the "Lord God Bird" had survived deep in southern bottomland forests. The ivory-bill was one of 23 species declared extinct on Wednesday, 11 of them birds.
Wildlife group says ethanol mandate should be lowered
The Renewable Fuel Standard, which guarantees biofuels such as corn ethanol a share of the gasoline market, has prompted farmers to plow under wildlife habitat and has contributed to agricultural runoff, said the National Wildlife Federation on Thursday.
Senators warn ‘anti-environment’ riders may sink farm bill
If farm bill negotiators allow “anti-environment policy riders” into the bill’s final version, they can expect protracted debate and possible defeat of the panoramic legislation, said 38 Democratic senators on Thursday.
Administration would reduce protection of endangered species
The Interior and Commerce departments unveiled a proposed retrenchment of the Endangered Species Act that would remove key provisions, such as giving similar protection to species whether they are considered “endangered” or “threatened,” said the Washington Post.
In California, rice farms become a home for wildlife
In California's Sacramento Valley, farmers and conservationists are working together to create habitat for wildlife, trying to mimic wetlands that were once plentiful in the state but have shrunk to one-tenth of their historic size. The focus of their work is the rice industry, which ranks second in production after the Mississippi Delta. The effort is paying off. One farmer pointed out "egrets and herons, Sandhill Cranes, curlews, ibis, and countless ducks and geese filling whole sections of rice fields," reports Lisa Morehouse in her latest story for FERN, in collaboration with KQED's California Report. No paywall
Wildlife agency suspends use of ‘cyanide bombs’ on coyotes
Wildlife Services, the branch of the USDA that controls so-called problem wildlife, will no longer use “cyanide bombs” to kill coyotes on public lands in Colorado.
Insecticide a threat to migrating songbirds, says study
Research by the University of Saskatchewan provides “the first direct evidence that neonicotinoids can harm songbirds and their migration,” said the Guardian, by causing the birds to lose weight and their sense of direction.
Anti-terrorism law would let Trump build border wall through wildlife refuge
The U.S. Customs and Border Patrol says it could use a 2005 anti-terrorism law — the Real ID Act — to all President Trump’s border wall to be built through a national wildlife refuge in Texas, without having to conduct an environmental impact studies. The studies are usually mandated for any new construction on federal lands under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA).
Feds consider a formula for managing endangered species
The Trump administration is considering a different way to manage endangered species. The new approach is based on an algorithm that would channel funds toward plants and animals that have the greatest chance of survival—and away from others.
USDA tweaks Conservation Reserve to protect water, wildlife, wetlands
With enrollment in the land-idling Conservation Reserve nearing its statutory limit of 24 million acres, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced revisions in the program to protect water quality and to benefit wildlife, pollinators and wetlands. Under one of the changes, USDA will pay up to 90 percent of the cost of environmentally beneficial practices, such as bioreactors and saturated buffers that clean up run-off from drainage lines running beneath cropland.
Report: The world has lost more than half of its wildlife since 1970
“Worldwide populations of mammals, birds, fish, amphibians and reptiles have plunged by almost 60 percent since 1970 as human activities overwhelm the environment,” says Reuters, based on the 2016 Living Planet Report from the World Wildlife Fund (WWF).
Wild duck with avian influenza found in Utah
Utah wildlife officials reported a mallard duck was the third waterfowl in the state with avian influenza since December, said the Associated Press.
U.S. plan would improve 8 million acres for sage-grouse
The Agriculture Department announced a four-year plan to nearly double, to 8 million acres, conservation projects in 11 states in the West to improve habitat for the greater sage-grouse.
Antibiotic-resistant genes in bacteria on Australian wildlife
Researchers have found antibiotic-resistant genes are spreading to bacteria on Australian wildlife, says Macquarie University.
Drought deepens in Pacific Northwest, heat blamed in fish kill
Topsoil and subsoil moisture levels continue to decline in the Pacific Northwest, where streamflows have shriveled to record or near-record lows, says the weekly Drought Monitor.