Nevada court fights raise caution flags on green energy push
Opposition from friends, not foes, is creating potential roadblocks to President Joe Biden’s green energy agenda on federal lands in the blue-leaning, Western swing state of Nevada. Two lithium mines and a geothermal power plant in the works in the biggest U.S. gold-mining state are under attack from conservationists, tribes and others who otherwise generally support Biden's efforts to expedite the transition from fossil fuels to renewables. The conflicts put a spotlight on an emerging reality as the Biden administration tries to meet its goal of having the U.S. power grid run on clean energy by 2035.news.yahoo.com
Duck artists: The Hautman brothers
For his paintings of waterfowl, artist Jim Hautman has won the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's annual duck stamp contest a record six times. Close behind are his brothers, Joe Hautman (five-time winner) and Robert Hautman (three-time winner). Correspondent Conor Knighton talked to the self-taught artists about the siblings' artistic rivalry.news.yahoo.com
Janitor corrals mountain lion in empty California classroom
A quick-thinking custodian safely confined a mountain lion in an empty classroom after it entered a Northern California high school Wednesday morning, authorities said. The custodian was opening Pescadero High for the school day when the juvenile cougar was spotted, said Detective Javier Acosta with the San Mateo County Sheriff’s Office. “The mountain lion casually walked through campus and decided to go into an English classroom,” he said.news.yahoo.com
USFWS report details SpaceX impacts
A U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service report sent to the Federal Aviation Administration for the FAA’s ongoing Programmatic Environmental Assessment (PEA) of SpaceX’s expansion plans for Boca Chica predicts the impact on endangered species in the surrounding area, though the report concludes that mitigation measures can help counter the impact.myrgv.com
Judge: Trump administration illegally withdrew bird listing
A federal judge has ruled the Trump administration acted illegally in 2020 when it withdrew an earlier proposal to list as threatened a hen-sized bird found only in the high desert along the California-Nevada line. Greater sage grouse live in sagebrush habitat in 12 western states, including California and Nevada, while bi-state grouse exist only along the Sierra’s eastern front.news.yahoo.com
Feds: Human remains belonged to homeless man
Human remains found on Highway 48 between Brownsville and Port Isabel are believed to be that of a homeless man, federal officials said. The remains were found Wednesday afternoon by workers putting up a billboard in the area, said Aubry Buzek, public affairs specialist for U.S. The land on which the remains were found belongs to the federal government. Buzek said authorities believe the remains belong to a homeless man who had been camping in the area. The investigation is still ongoing, Buzek said.myrgv.com
Wildlife officials mark rare Florida panther for death
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the agency formed to protect wildlife, has taken an unprecedented step and marked for death a rare Florida panther known as FP 260.FP 260 is still alive, but has been targeted for capture and euthanasia, Craig Pittman reports for the Florida Phoenix.Get market news worthy of your time with Axios Markets. Subscribe for free.Driving the news: Because of an Immokalee rancher's persistent complaints that FP 260 was killing her calves, the federal agency decided thnews.yahoo.com
Feds seek to protect rare Texas plant in the path of border wall construction
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service proposed a rule earlier this week to list the prostrate milkweed, which lives along the Texas-Mexico border, as an endangered species. The rare plant is threatened in part by border security activities, scientists say.
Yellowstone bison species decision questioned by US judge
A federal judge has ordered the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to revisit part of its decision not to protect Yellowstone National Park’s bison as an endangered species. The Buffalo Field Campaign and Western Watersheds Project groups have been fighting since 2014 to have Yellowstone’s bison declared endangered or threatened under the Endangered Species Act. The Fish and Wildlife Service, citing a different study, has argued that the herds are not genetically distinct and rejected the listing petition in 2019, the Billings Gazette reported.news.yahoo.com
Wyoming tries again to remove Yellowstone grizzly protection
Wyoming has asked the federal government to remove grizzly bears in and around Yellowstone National Park from protection under the Endangered Species Act, a request which if approved could allow the animals to be hunted. The bears' recovery from as few as 136 animals when they were first protected as a threatened species in 1975 to more than 1,000 today is a success story, the state argued in its petition Monday. Wyoming filed the petition with the formal support of Idaho and Montana officials.news.yahoo.com
Invasive spider species appearing in Georgia
The Joro spider species population -- native to east Asia -- has skyrocketed in Georgia. It’s not clear exactly how and when the first Joro spider arrived in the U.S. Experts say Joros are not a threat to humans or dogs and cats and won’t bite them unless they are feeling very threatened.news.yahoo.com
Toxic foam covers India's sacred Yamuna river
One of India's holiest rivers - the Yamuna - is coated with toxic foam, adding to the woes of New Delhi residents already enduring a blanket of thick smog over the capital. The city government has blamed the blight on "heavy sewage and industrial waste" discharged into the river from further upstream last week. But it didn't stop several Hindu worshippers from taking a dip in the river to mark Chhath Puja, a four-day festival to offer prayers to the sun.news.yahoo.com
Feds propose threatened status for alligator snapping turtle
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service said Monday that it is proposing threatened status for alligator snapping turtles -- huge, spike-shelled reptiles that lurk at the bottom of lakes and slow waterways, luring prey to their mouths by sticking out a wormlike lure. Every state in their range now protects them, but the long-lasting effects of catching the reptiles for turtle soup are among reasons their numbers are now so low, the agency said. “Alligator snappers are some of the fiercest, wildest creatures in the Southeast, but overexploitation and habitat destruction have put their lives on the line,” Elise Bennett, an attorney for the Center for Biological Diversity, said in a news release.news.yahoo.com
Louisiana gators thrive, so farmers' return quota may drop
Once-endangered alligators are thriving in the wild, so Louisiana authorities are proposing a deep cut in the percentage that farmers must return to marshes where their eggs were laid. “Over the past 50 years, alligator nest surveys have increased from an estimate of less than 10,000 in the 1970s and 1980s to well over 60,000 nests in recent years," the Louisiana Wildlife and Fisheries Commission said in a notice published Wednesday. "This increase in nesting has produced a population that can now be sustained with a much lower farm return rate.”news.yahoo.com
Edinburg man found guilty in bird feather case
An Edinburg man has been found guilty of violating the National Wildlife Refuge System Act for attempting to take bird feathers, salt crystals and other items from Sal del Rey, a federally protected part of the Lower Rio Grande Valley National Wildlife Refuge System. U.S. Magistrate Judge J. Scott Hacker handed down the guilty verdict against Eduardo Leal, 52, in a 14-page memorandum Monday. However, when he appeared in court the following month to formally plead guilty, Leal again changed his mind and decided to exercise his right to a trial. It is sufficient for a person to possess an enumerated item within the boundary of a refuge,” Hacker wrote of his analysis of the statute. Instead, the statute criminalizes the mere possession of these items in the Refuge,” Hacker wrote.myrgv.com
San Marcos Gambusia faces extinction
Twenty-three species from the Endangered Species Act (ESA) have been proposed to be delisted by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, including a fish native to the San Marcos River — the San Marcos Gambusia.[San Marcos, TX] [Hays County news] News San Marcos News, San Marcos Record [Texas State]sanmarcosrecord.com
Endangered status proposed for Nevada flower at lithium mine
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is proposing endangered species listing for a desert wildflower that’s only known to exist on a remote ridge in western Nevada where an Australian company plans a lithium mine at the center of a legal battle.
Biden aims to restore species protections weakened by Trump
The Biden administration says it is canceling or reviewing a host of actions by the Trump administration to roll back protections for endangered or threatened species, with a goal of strengthening a landmark law while addressing climate change.
Scientists: Grizzlies expand turf but still need protection
Fish and Wildlife Service is a grizzly bear (Ursus arctos horribilis) in Grand Teton National Park, Wyo. Grizzly bears are slowly expanding in the northern Rocky Mountains but scientists say they need continued protections and have concluded no other areas of the country would be suitable for the fearsome animals. The Fish and Wildlife Service on Wednesday released its first assessment in almost a decade about the status of grizzly bears in the contiguous U.S. Conservationists and some university scientists have pushed to return bears to areas including Colorado’s San Juan Mountains and California’s Sierra Nevada. Grizzly bears have been protected as a threatened species in the contiguous U.S. since 1975, allowing a slow recovery in a handful of areas.
Conservationists sue to save spotted owl logging protections
FILE - In this May 8, 2003, file photo, a northern spotted owl sits on a tree branch in the Deschutes National Forest near Camp Sherman, Ore. Environmental groups have filed a lawsuit seeking to preserve protections for 3.4 million acres of northern spotted owl habitat from the US-Canadian border to northern California. Fish and Wildlife Service removed protections for the old-growth forest in the last days of the Trump administration. Democratic lawmakers called the reduction in logging protections “potential scientific meddling” and called for an investigation. For decades, the federal government has been trying to save the northern spotted owl, a native bird that sparked an intense battle over logging across Washington, Oregon and California. AdThe Fish and Wildlife Service has since said the northern spotted owl warrants being moved up to the more robust “endangered” status because of continued population declines.
Endangered wolves sent from Arizona to Texas to aid species
In this photo provided by the Phoenix Zoo, Luna, left, and Scarlet, female Mexican gray wolves are seen at the zoo in Phoenix on Thursday, Feb. 4, 2021. PHOENIX – A pack of endangered Mexican gray wolves has become two. Two wolves and three of their pups were sent from the Phoenix Zoo to the El Paso Zoo in Texas last month in a bid to bolster the number of predators. The five wolves transferred to Texas were placed in quarantine at the El Paso Zoo until the first week of February. A subspecies of the Western gray wolf, the Mexican gray wolf was listed as endangered in 1976 after being pushed to the brink of extinction.
Biden plans temporary halt of oil activity in Arctic refuge
Fish and Wildlife Service shows a herd of caribou on the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge in northeast Alaska. President Joe Biden on Wednesday, Jan. 20, 2021, signaled plans to place a temporary moratorium on oil and gas lease activities in Alaska's Arctic National Wildlife Refuge after the Trump administration issued leases in a remote, rugged area considered sacred by the Indigenous Gwich'in. Fish and Wildlife Service via AP, File)JUNEAU, Alaska – President Joe Biden's administration announced plans Wednesday for a temporary moratorium on oil and gas leasing in Alaska's Arctic National Wildlife Refuge after the Trump administration issued leases in a part of the refuge considered sacred by the Indigenous Gwich'in. Details of his plans weren't immediately available, though Psaki told reporters in Washington that leases would be reviewed. “The Biden administration must faithfully implement the law and allow for that good progress to continue,” she said in a statement.
Trump administration slashes imperiled spotted owls' habitat
The Trump administration has slashed more than 3 million acres of protected habitat for the northern spotted owl in Oregon, Washington and northern California, much of it in prime timber locations in Oregon's coastal ranges. Fish and Wildlife Service under President Donald Trump of taking a "parting shot" at protections designed to help restore the threatened owl species. “This revision guts protected habitat for the northern spotted owl by more than a third. The Fish and Wildlife Service has since said the northern spotted owl warrants being moved up to the more robust “endangered” status because of continued population declines. It was updated on Jan. 14, 2021, to correct the amount of owl habitat devastated by Oregon wildfires last fall.
US holds first oil lease sale for Alaska's Arctic refuge
Fish and Wildlife Service, caribou from the Porcupine caribou herd migrate onto the coastal plain of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge in northeast Alaska. The U.S. government held its first-ever oil and gas lease sale Wednesday, Jan. 6, 2021 for Alaska's Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, an event critics labeled as a bust with major oil companies staying on the sidelines and a state corporation emerging as the main bidder. Fish and Wildlife Service via AP, File)JUNEAU, Alaska – The U.S. government held its first-ever oil and gas lease sale Wednesday for Alaska's Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, an event critics labeled as a bust with major oil companies staying on the sidelines and a state corporation emerging as the main bidder. Critics of the lease sale say the region is special, providing habitat for wildlife including caribou, polar bears, wolves and birds, and should be off limits to drilling. The land management agency has said under an “optimistic, aggressive hypothetical scenario" exploration could begin within two years after a lease sale, with production eight years after a sale.
Trump administration scales back wild bird protections
– The Trump administration on Tuesday finalized changes that weaken the government's enforcement powers under a century-old law protecting most American wild bird species, brushing aside warnings that billions of birds could die as a result. A U.S. District Court judge in August had blocked the administration's prior attempt to change how the Migratory Bird Treaty Act is enforced. The 1918 migratory bird law came after many U.S. bird populations had been decimated by hunting and poaching — much of it for feathers for women’s hats. Fish and Wildlife Service will not prosecute landowners, industry and other individuals for accidentally killing a migratory bird," Bernhardt said. An electric industry trade group said it expected its members would continue to take steps to reduce bird deaths.
Feds to delay seeking legal protection for monarch butterfly
FILE - In this June 2, 2019, file photo, a fresh monarch butterfly rests on a Swedish Ivy plant soon after emerging in Washington. Trump administration officials are expected to say this week whether the monarch butterfly, a colorful and familiar backyard visitor now caught in a global extinction crisis, should receive federal designation as a threatened species. Emergency action could be taken earlier, but plans now call for proposing to list the monarch under the Endangered Species Act in 2024 unless its situation improves enough to make the step unnecessary. Trump's team also has weakened protections for endangered and threatened species in its push for deregulation. “Protection for monarchs is needed — and warranted — now," said George Kimbrell, legal director for the Center for Food Safety.
Trump administration moves ahead on gutting bird protections
The Trump administration moved forward Friday on gutting a longstanding federal protection for the nation's birds, over objections from former federal officials and many scientists that billions more birds will likely perish as a result. Fish and Wildlife Service published its take on the proposed rollback in the Federal Register. The Trump administration maintains that the Act should apply only to birds killed or harmed intentionally, and is putting that “clarifying” change into regulation. The administration has continued to push the migratory bird regulation even after a federal judge in New York in August rejected the administration’s legal rationale. Steve Holmer with the American Bird Conservancy said the change would accelerate bird population declines that have swept North America since the 1970s.
Elusive eastern black rail threatened by rising sea levels
Nicknamed the “ feathered mouse,” the eastern black rail is about six inches long, with white-flecked dark feathers, a brown nape and brilliant red eyes. Populations have declined by more than 75% over the last 10 to 20 years, according to a wildlife service news release announcing Endangered Species Act protection. The Center for Biological Diversity first proposed protections for the eastern black rail 10 years ago and sued the government last year over its inaction. The wildlife service said that doing so would make it easier for bird lovers to find eastern black rails and potentially trample their habitat. Historically, the eastern black rail is known to exist in 35 states east of the Rocky Mountains as well as Puerto Rico, Canada, Brazil, and several countries in the Caribbean and Central America, according to the FWS.
Wildlife agency seeks to carve out areas from protections
U.S. wildlife officials on Friday proposed making it easier to carve out exemptions from habitat protections meant to save imperiled species, by placing greater weight on the potential economic benefits of development when making decisions. But wildlife advocates said it could open up areas that are crucial for endangered species survival to more drilling, mining, agriculture and logging. Its the latest move by the Trump administration in a years-long effort to repeal regulations across government that has broadly changed how the Endangered Species Act gets used. The new proposal would require federal officials to consider factors such as economic or employment losses when making habitat decisions. Those areas could be carved out from protections so long as the exclusion of a particular area does not cause extinction of a species," Fish and Wildlife officials wrote.
Governors want more say in habitat rule for at-risk wildlife
BOISE, Idaho Governors from 22 Western states and Pacific territories want a bigger say in how the Trump administration defines habitat for wildlife protected under the Endangered Species Act. The governors insist they are co-sovereigns with the federal government" and need an equal role in the decision. Once an imperiled species is listed under the act, federal officials designate critical habitat that it needs to survive. The U.S. Supreme Court called into question the definition of critical habitat in a 2018 ruling. Fish and Wildlife Service, for example, designated critical habitat earlier this year for slickspot peppergrass, a rare desert flower in southwestern Idaho, that protected about 65 square miles (170 square kilometers).
US wildlife officials aim to remove wolf protections in 2020
TRAVERSE CITY, Mich. – The Trump administration plans to lift endangered species protections for gray wolves across most of the nation by the end of the year, the director of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service said Monday. The administration also is pushing ahead with a rollback of protections for migratory birds despite a recent setback in federal court, she said. Skipwith said the Fish and Wildlife Service was still evaluating the judge’s decision and planned to issue a final rule by the end of the year. The agency remains committed to “making sure we’re not criminalizing these unintentional actions” while stepping up efforts to protect migratory birds, she said.