Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Senator and General Honored for Endangered Species Protection

Last week, the Endangered Species Coalition honored Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) and Major General Michael Lehnert of the U.S. Marine Corps for their leadership in the protection and restoration of America’s endangered wildlife, fish and plants. Awards were given to Major General Lehnert and a staff representative for Senator Feinstein at a reception in Georgetown.

Senator Feinstein – Champion Award for Public Service
The Endangered Species Coalition chose Senator Feinstein for its Champion Award for Public Service to recognize her commitment to celebrating Endangered Species Day by leading a Senate resolution each year since its inception four years ago and for her efforts to restore science in endangered species protections earlier this year. “Senator Feinstein has demonstrated commitment to educating Americans about the benefits of protecting our nation’s endangered wildlife, fish and plants and has been a leader in ensuring their protection,” said Leda Huta, executive director of the Endangered Species Coalition.

Major General Lehnert – Champion Award for Habitat Protection
Major General Lehnert was most recently the Commanding General of Marine Corps Installations West, the regional command for seven Marine Corps installations in Southern California and Arizona. Prior to that, he was the Commanding Officer of Marine Corps base Camp Pendleton. Camp Pendleton has 18 threatened or endangered species, including the California least tern, least Bell's vireo, Pacific pocket mouse, and arroyo toad. “Major General Lehnert has been a champion of environmental stewardship within the Marine Corps, believing that it is possible to get the Marines combat-ready while still being a good steward,” stated Huta. “The restoration activities under Major General Lehnert to benefit at-risk species on Camp Pendleton are a great example of that ideal put into action.”

Friday, November 20, 2009

Climate change will leave Edith's checkerspot butterflies out of sync

By Steve Toub

As part of our continuing series examining the impacts of climate change on endangered species, we'll now address how the rapid, disruptive climate change impacts the Edith's checkerspot butterfly. The butterfly is so sensitive to climate that the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) study on the Ecological Impacts of Climate Change says it acts as an "early warning indicator of climate change in North America."

Bay checkerspot butterfly - T.W.Davies (c) California Academy of Sciences
Two subspecies of the Edith's checkerspot butterfly are listed under the Endangered Species Act, the Bay checkerspot in the San Francisco Bay area, which was listed as threatened in 1987 and recommended to be “uplisted” to endangered last month, and southern California's Quino checkerspot, listed as endangered in 1997. Habitat destruction due to human development is the primary cause in declining populations of both subspecies, but the NAS reports that the Quino "is the first endangered species for which climate change is officially listed as both a current threat and a factor to be considered in the plan for its recovery" since the habitat in Baja California that is least developed is becoming too warm and arid to support the population.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Remaining Montana Wolves Get Reprieve

By Derek Goldman, ESC Northern Rockies Representative

We’ll, it seems as though wolves will get a reprieve from Montana hunters for the remainder of the year. As of one half hour past sunset on Monday, state wildlife managers in Montana officially closed the inaugural wolf hunting season when it appeared the hunting quota would be reached. Here’s a quick recap:
  • The statewide quota was set at 75; 72 wolves were legally killed, plus at least 2 illegally.
  • 15,600 wolf licenses were sold in Montana, which includes 89 to out-of-state hunters.
  • The sale of these licenses brought in $325,859 to Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks coffers.
  • Before the hunting season opened, Montana’s wolf population was estimated at 497 animals.
One interesting note is that demand for wolf licenses was below what we may have expected, given all the anti-wolf hoopla we’ve been hearing. Montana leads the nation in hunters-per-capita, with about 19 percent of residents engaged in some sort of hunting. That means our hunting population is about 150,000. Thus, it appears that only about one in ten Montana hunters decided to go wolf hunting this year. This seems to confirm what I’ve been thinking all along: that the most rabid, anti-wolf, hunter contingent probably represents only a tiny, but vocal minority within the larger hunting community. I suspect vast majority of hunters (like me) are simply out hunting in pursuit of animals you can actually eat (mostly deer, elk and birds) in order to provide their households with some nutritious, locally-grown, natural food for the winter.

On a related note, a poll released this week by Montana State University—Billings shows a solid majority of Montana voters support the wolf hunting season. According to the poll, 75 percent of respondents agreed that wolf hunting should be allowed in Montana. So, apparently, even the non-hunting public in Montana supports at least a limited wolf hunting season.

Although Idaho is currently considering extending its wolf hunting season, the remaining wolves in Montana can kick back and take rest of the winter off.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Hopenhagen: Habitat for Endangered Species

This is a guest post by Leda Huta, Executive Director of the Endangered Species Coalition, for the Hopenhagen blog, a grassroots movement to build public support for a strong international climate agreement at the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen in December. It is also posted at the Take Part website, a cause-related site that is a project of Participant Media.

The world’s attention is finally focused on the harm climate change presents and serious actions are being taken. While we will all feel the heat soon, some of us are already being impacted. Communities living in low-lying coastal areas know the threat is here now. The same holds true for wildlife. While all wildlife will likely be impacted, some are particularly vulnerable—those species already on the brink of extinction: endangered species.

Climate change has begun threatening these endangered wildlife, birds, fish and plants. Melting sea ice, warming oceans, shifting life cycles and migration are impacting polar bears, penguins, coral, salmon and migratory birds. According to a White House report, Global Climate Change Impacts in the United States, there could be no wild polar bears United States by the end of the century. Animals that live in the mountains, like the pika and the wolverine, are being forced into smaller islands of high elevation habitat as temperatures rise. The Audubon Society recently published a study showing that North American migratory birds were increasingly moving northward and inland in an attempt to find suitable habitat. According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), 20 to 30 percent of the world's species will be at an increased risk of extinction if global temperature rises above 1.5 to 2.5° C above pre-industrial levels.

Currently, the U.S. Congress is considering a climate change bill. To truly protect wildlife, the bill needs the following three pillars: 1) funding to help wildlife adapt to climate change, 2) CO2 emissions targets based on what the best available science indicates is needed to avoid the worst impacts of global warming to humans and wildlife alike, and 3) existing environmental protections, such as the Clean Air Act to remain in place.

Senators Baucus, Bingaman, T. Udall and Whitehouse have also introduced separate legislation to protect wildlife and wild places from climate change. The Natural Resources Climate Adaptation Act addresses the impacts of climate change on natural resources such as forests, coastlines and wildlife habitats, and on the people and economies that depend on those resources. The programs outlined in the bill will help manage forest health, restore watersheds to ensure abundant clean water supplies, and restore wetlands to protect coastal communities.

The bill is designed to show support for these critical programs to protect natural resources from climate change. We need to ask our Senators to support the Natural Resources Climate Adaptation Act and support all efforts to protect wildlife and wild places from the impacts of climate change before it is too late.

To find out more about saving species in a warming world, please visit the Endangered Species Coalition website.