Federal authorities have added seven yellow-faced bee species — Hawaii’s only native bees — for protection under the Endangered Species Act. This is a first for any bees in the United States.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced the listing after years of study by the conservation group Xerces Society, state government officials and independent researchers.
The Xerces Society says its goal is to protect nature’s pollinators and invertebrates, which play a vital role in the health of the overall ecosystem.
The nonprofit organization was involved in the initial petitions to protect the bee species, said Sarina Jepson, director of endangered species and aquatic programs for the Portland, Oregon-based group.
Jepson said yellow-faced bees can be found elsewhere in the world, but these particular species are native only to Hawaii and pollinate plant species indigenous to the islands.
The bees face a variety of threats including “feral pigs, invasive ants, loss of native habitat due to invasive plants, fire, as well as development, especially in some for the coastal areas,” Jepson told The Associated Press.
The bees can be found in a wide variety of habitats in Hawaii, from coastal environments to high-elevation shrub lands, she said. The yellow-faced bees pollinate some of Hawaii’s endangered native plant species. While other bees could potentially pollinate those species, many could become extinct if these bees were to die off entirely.
Hawaii-based entomologist Karl Magnacca worked with Xerces on much of the initial research. It has taken almost 10 years to get to this point, he told the AP. “It’s good to see it to finally come to fruition,” he said.
The bees “tend to favor the more dominant trees and shrubs we have here,” he said. “People tend to focus on the rare plants, and those are important, that’s a big part of the diversity. But the other side is maintaining the common ones as common. (The bees) help maintain the structure of the whole forest.”
Magnacca added that there are a lot more rare insects that deserve protection. “It may not necessarily be appropriate to list them as endangered, but we have this huge diversity that we need to work on and protect here in Hawaii,” he said. “There’s a huge amount of work that needs to be done.”
The bees are critical for maintaining the health of plants and other animals across the islands, said Gregory Koob, conservation and restoration team manager for the Fish and Wildlife Service in Honolulu.
There is no designated critical habitat attached to the listing, he said, but the protection will allow authorities to implement recovery programs, access funding and limit their harm from outside sources. All federal agencies must consult with the Fish and Wildlife service when interacting with endangered species.
“As an animal, it can’t be taken or harmed or killed by individuals,” Koob said. “Any research that is done needs a permit from Fish and Wildlife Service unless it’s done by a state agency.”
Koob said that if the bees were removed from ecosystem, the plants that they pollinate would likely not survive.
“Those plants are not only food and nesting habitat for the bees, but they also provide habitat for other animals,” he said. “It’s the web of life.”
Friday’s listing finalized the protection of 10 animal species in Hawaii, the seven bees along with the band-rumped storm-petrel, the orangeblack Hawaiian damselfly and the anchialine pool shrimp. It also added 39 species of plants native to Hawaii.
The rusty-patched bumble bee, found widely across the continental United States, is also being considered for protection.
On the Web
Documents from FWS.
Federal wildlife officials authorized the U.S. Forest Service to kill up to 103 threatened northern spotted owls in 14 timber sales slated for auction this spring in the Klamath National Forest, according to the Center for Biological Diversity.
The Westside Fire Recovery Project will clear-cut 6,800 acres on slopes above the Klamath River where lightning fires in the summer of 2014 affected owl habitat reserves, CBD said in a news release.
“Natural fires restored the forest after decades of fire suppression and gave spotted owls a kitchen full of food,” said Jay Lininger, a senior scientist with the Center for Biological Diversity. “Owls can thrive with fire, but they cannot survive clear-cutting after fire.”
In a biological opinion signed on late last week and released on Feb. 25, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service states that post-fire logging may “incidentally take” 74 adult owls and up to 12-29 juveniles, but will not jeopardize the continued existence of the forest raptor overall.
The opinion is required by the federal Endangered Species Act before the Forest Service can formally offer the timber sales, which were initially advertised last year.
More than 70 percent of the area proposed for logging overlaps Late-Successional Reserves designated by the 1994 Northwest Forest Plan to secure old-growth forest habitat for crashing spotted owl populations and prevent their extinction.
A recently published demographic study found sharp declines of spotted owl populations at an annual rate of nearly 4 percent range-wide from 1985 to 2013. The Klamath Mountains are thought to be the best hope for recovery of the species and a source for long-term repopulation of owls in the Cascades and Coast ranges.
Despite the owl’s ongoing decline and the scientific recommendation in published literature that post-fire logging should not be conducted within owl territories, the biological opinion allows the Forest Service to remove habitat from up to 57 established activity areas where the owls nest.
“Clear-cut logging at that scale in occupied habitat is a major setback for spotted owl recovery,” Lininger said.
The Fish and Wildlife opinion signals for the first time since the regional forest plan went into effect that federal biologists openly disagree about impacts to spotted owl resulting from a post-fire logging project.
Last fall Dr. Paul Henson, the top Fish and Wildlife official responsible for spotted owl recovery, commented to the Forest Service that logging in the Westside project should be “minimized” where owls remain after fire because large, dead trees will “greatly improve” the quality of forest habitat as it naturally recovers over time.
“In general, most scientists agree that salvage logging does not contribute positively to the ecological recovery of naturally disturbed forests,” Henson wrote. “It is important for (land managers) to seek ways to implement important fuel reduction work without over-utilizing salvage logging that can adversely affect the restoration of natural conditions.”
Henson also cast doubt on the core rationale advanced by the Forest Service for the project, namely to reduce hazardous fuels and fire danger.
“In our experience many post-fire salvage projects tend to be more opportunistic than part of a larger-scale, proactive strategic planning effort to reduce fire spread and severity,” he wrote.
Foresters also recently wrapped up a separate consultation with the National Marine Fisheries Service stating that post-fire logging would harm threatened coho salmon by adding sedimentation to Grider and Walker creeks and reducing egg survival.
On the Web…
The case against the alleged shooter of two endangered Whooping Cranes in Texas last month has been re-filed under the federal Endangered Species Act, which increases the likelihood of larger penalties for the crime.
Environmental activists were concerned that Trey Frederick might be tried for a Class B misdemeanor under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act.
“If we hope to deter future shootings, perpetrators must be prosecuted vigorously. In all cases of Whooping Crane shootings, we demand justice for the birds that were killed, restitution for the enormous effort needed to bring them back, and personal penalties that match the seriousness of the crime,” said Rich Beilfuss, president & CEO of the International Crane Foundation.
In the 1940s, there were fewer than 20 Whooping Cranes left in the wild.
With conservation and reintroduction efforts, the crane numbers slowly increased to about 400 total in the wild.
The two cranes shot in Texas were members of the recently reintroduced Louisiana flock which numbers just about 30.
Over the past five years, more than 20 Whooping Cranes have been shot and killed in the United States.
“Whooping Cranes are an iconic species, central to our shared natural heritage. We are grateful to the thousands of citizens who have demanded justice in this case and thank federal authorities for continuing to pursue a just outcome. It’s our hope that by working together, we can prevent future tragedies like these shootings,” Beilfuss said.
The number of animals and plants on the waiting list for Endangered Species Act protection has dropped to its lowest levels since the “candidate” list was begun in the 1970s, according to an updated list released today by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
Triggered by a settlement with the Center for Biological Diversity and other groups in 2011, the agency has made great progress in addressing the backlog of species in need of protection. The Service announced today that only 60 species — 42 animals and 18 plants — remain on the candidate waiting list for protection, according to CBD.
“The Endangered Species Act has prevented the extinction of 99 percent of the plants and animals under its care, but the law only works after species make it onto the list. It’s heartening to see so many more species now getting the protection that will save them,” said Tierra Curry, a senior scientist at the center.
In 2011, the service and the center reached a landmark agreement requiring the agency to make final protection decisions on the 251 species on the candidate list as of 2010, as well as initial decisions on 506 additional species petitioned for protection under the act.
Under that agreement for 757 species, 151 species have gained final protection to date and another 71 have been proposed for protection.
Species that have already been protected under the agreement include the yellow-billed cuckoo, a beautiful bird found along streamsides in the West that had been waiting for protection since a 1998 center petition; the Oregon spotted frog, threatened by wetland loss, which had been waiting since a 1989 petition; the Ozark hellbender, an ancient salamander threatened by water pollution that had been waiting for protection since 2004, and the Dakota skipper, a prairie butterfly that had been waiting since 1978.
Candidate species are species that warrant federal protection but are placed on a waiting list where they do not receive any substantive protection. More than 40 species have gone extinct while waiting for protection.
The only species added to the candidate list this year was the Sierra Nevada red fox — the result of a 2011 center petition to protect the California alpine dweller.
Other animals still waiting on the list include the Pacific walrus, which is threatened by diminishing ice pack due to global climate change; the Hermes copper butterfly in San Diego; and the eastern population of the gopher tortoise, a keystone species in the longleaf pine habitat of the southeastern United States.
“Scientists agree that the planet’s currently undergoing a major extinction crisis, the sixth in Earth’s history,” said Curry. “The Endangered Species Act is one of the strongest laws any nation has to safeguard biological diversity in the face of ever-increasing threats.”
Although the Fish and Wildlife Service has reduced the candidate backlog, hundreds more species await consideration for protection.
The service acknowledged in its year-end notice that more than 500 species await a status review to determine if they warrant protection.
An animal rights group is suing to get a chimpanzee named Candy out of an amusement park where, it says, she smokes cigarettes and is given soft drinks instead of water.
Candy is isolated in an inadequate cage at the Baton Rouge park, and should be moved to a sanctuary, according to the federal suit filed in Baton Rouge by the Animal Legal Defense Fund.
“Defendants have for decades allowed members of the general public to throw items into Candy’s cage, including lit cigarettes that Candy smokes. Just as with humans, cigarette smoking is very harmful for chimpanzees,” and letting her smoke violates the Endangered Species Act, the suit states.
The lawsuit is the first filed under a new federal rule that requires captive chimps get the same protection as wild chimps, said Carter Dillard, the group’s attorney. That rule, which was made public in June and took effect Sept. 14, changes captive chimps’ classification from threatened to endangered, the same classification as wild chimpanzees.
Jennifer Treadway-Morris, attorney for park owner Sam Haynes, said she had not had time to read the lawsuit. However, she said, government agencies such as the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service cannot make rules retroactive.
She also cited a letter from a veterinarian stating that an attempt to retire Candy to the Baton Rouge Zoo failed.
“She was returned because she couldn’t adjust and couldn’t assimilate,” Treadway-Morris said. “It seems that if they want her to have company, she doesn’t want it.”
The animal rights group said it went to court for Cathy Breaux, 62, and Holly Reynolds, 96, who have campaigned for decades to get Candy moved from the Dixie Landin’ park and its predecessor.
“Cathy and Holly remain upset, distressed and concerned that Candy is isolated throughout the day, deprived of companionship with other chimpanzees, and insufficiently stimulated in her empty cage,” the lawsuit states.
It said the women have seen visitors throw lit cigarettes into Candy’s cage for the chimp to smoke.
City animal control officials cited the park in 2012 for not providing water for Candy, according to the suit.
“Defendants provide Candy exclusively with Coca-Cola instead, claiming that Candy does not like water. However, Candy has readily accepted and drunk water offered to her by visiting experts. Water, not Coca-Cola, is an essential requirement for chimpanzees,” according to the suit.
In the wake of a discredited claim of an alleged “attack” against a hunter and NRA cheerleader last month in Adams County, the Wisconsin DNR and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service are slaughtering protected wolves in the 4,965-acre Colburn Wildlife Area.
The eradication has been ordered despite the fact that Great Lakes wolves were relisted last year under the Endangered Species Act, thus making it illegal to hunt the animals.
Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel outdoor writer Paul Smith brought both the falsehood of the attack claim and the subsequent wolf hunt to light despite apparent efforts by the Wisconsin DNR and USFWS to keep both a secret for as long as possible.
If wolves cannot live in areas designated for wildlife then where can they live? The reality is that wolf-hating states like Wisconsin and others will allow no more than a token population and will use any excuse to kill them in conjunction with the anti-wolf USFWS.
One of the prime reasons that a federal judge relisted wolves in the Great Lakes was because of inadequate “management” plans that kept the species in isolated pockets. It seems that, especially in Wisconsin, the moment wolves migrate out of their isolated pockets in the northern part of the state they must be eradicated. This is shameful and a direct affront to the ESA and wildlife advocates. It’s bad enough that for three years wolf haters were allowed to go deep into wolf habitat, trap, arrow, hound, bait, and destroy entire wolf packs. Now they are eradicating packs because of one alleged incident involving a convicted wildlife rule violator that just happened to run right to an NRA propaganda magazine right after the non-attack.
The Wisconsin DNR and other anti-wolf government agencies and killing cartels have been looking for ways to continue the eradicating wolves following the December 2014 re-listing. It looks like they found their tactic.
This one non-“attack” and the response to eradicate a wolf population in a wildlife area opens the door for every single anti-wolf element in the state to claim other non-“attacks” and then the WI DNR and USFWS will come in with traps and guns blazing. This is shameful but unfortunately a common practice used by anti-wolf states to keep the populations isolated to small pockets and prevent them from migrating.
We see this also in Wyoming, where they have been practicing an “under the radar” eradication, Minnesota, where keeping wolves in one area is written into their “management plan,” and in Wisconsin where anti-wolf groups like the Wisconsin Bear Hunters Association, SCI, and the Wisconsin Wildlife Federation seek to have open eradication in the Southern two-thirds of the state.
Adams County, toward the southern end of Wisconsin’s wolf range, has had two wolf packs since at least 2010, according to DNR reports.
MacFarland said the Adams County wolves have not caused problems in the past.
As a result of the recent wolf encounter, however, the DNR added a notation to its 2015 list of wolf depredations and other incidents. The Oct. 1 update includes a check mark in Adams County for a “non-livestock threat.”
Two confirmed cases of wolf depredations on livestock have occurred this year in the southern half of Wisconsin, one each in Columbia and Crawford counties.
Nellessen’s incident and the agencies’ handling of it have drawn added attention because, if confirmed, it would have been the first verified wolf attack on a human in Wisconsin.
Since their investigation and interviews found no physical contact with the wolves and no injury to the self-professed “victim,” law enforcement officials did not classify it as an attack.
It’s quite amazing that the only people ever “attacked” or “threatened” by wolves are hunters and others who hate the species. Why don’t we hear about hikers having non-“attacks” or being “threatened?” I and other wildlife advocates can see right through the game being played by anti-wolf government agencies and the killing cartels that pull their strings. They are frustrated that Congress hasn’t yet been able to strip protections from wolves in the Great Lakes and Wyoming, so they are coming up with alternate near-eradication and harassment plans to keep wolves at bare minimum numbers without attracting too much attention to their real motives. They use fragile excuses like “threats to human safety” and “livestock depredation” to continue with their eradication policies.
If wolves aren’t even allowed to be seen or live in wildlife areas, then where can they exist? Even in the areas where they are “allowed” to live, such as in our National Forests, they are still subjected to non -stop harassment by thousands of loose hounds, traps, and being baited into one of the almost 70,000 bear bait piles and 5 MILLION gallons of bait spread around the northern 1/3 of the state.
Following decades of massive deer overpopulation and the non-stop deer killing seasons the deer population in Wisconsin appears to finally be reaching a reasonable level that the ecosystem can support. Unfortunately that’s not good enough for the great white hunters in Wisconsin and the DNR. Brutal winters, endless killing seasons, vehicle crashes, and disease have allegedly brought deer numbers down slightly over the past decade and of course the great white hunters blame the few hundred wolves in the state, despite facts to the contrary. Add in the constant whining by the bear hounders, and it’s obvious what the endgame of the puppet Wisconsin DNR is.
Wolves will pay the price despite the DNR admitting through their own studies that wolf predation on deer (you know, their natural diet) is minuscule at best. Despite that fact, wolves will be pushed to near eradication in spite of their current ESA protections through the use of the loophole that says killing can occur to “specimens which pose a demonstrable but non-immediate threat to human safety.”
Please contact the Wisconsin DNR and USFWS to express your outrage at this eradication operation and the fact there was no action taken in what they admit wasn’t an “attack.” If anymore evidence was needed to see the true intentions of the Wisconsin DNR and the Dan Ashe-run USFWS to bring wolves back to the brink this is all one needs. If they can thumb their noses at the federal judge and ESA and use loopholes to continue their anti-wolf tactics. What’s the point of even having an ESA if a “protected” species can be killed just for being seen?
This species means as much alive to us as it does dead to a tiny minority. It’s time we make that very clear.
To protest this new strategy of skirting the law protecting wolves, contact:
Regional Director: Tom Melius
Deputy Regional Director: Charlie Wooley
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
5600 American Blvd. West, Suite 990
Bloomington, MN 55437-1458
TTY: 1-800-877-8339 (Federal Relay)
Edited and reprinted from ourwisconsinourwildlife.wordpress.com.
Dozens of congressional members led by Arizona Democrat Raúl M. Grijalva are raising an alarm over the record number of anti-Endangered Species Act provisions in House and Senate appropriations bills to fund the Interior Department and other federal agencies for the upcoming fiscal year.
A letter to the president calls on him to ensure the damaging attacks by Republicans, which would block federal protections for gray wolves, greater sage grouse, lesser prairie chicken, and numerous other species, are removed from final legislation to fund the federal government.
The letter calls the Endangered Species Act “a bedrock environmental law that for forty years has protected our irreplaceable and iconic American Wildlife and landscapes. It has been ninety-nine percent effective, preventing the extinction of hundreds of plants and animals, including the peregrine falcon, the Florida manatee, the American alligator and our nation’s symbol, the bald eagle.”
Yet, the writers said, “House Republicans have doubled down on their quest to erode protections provided under the Endangered Species Act.”
“We endorse this strong statement from nearly 100 members of Congress, which reflects the resolve of the vast majority of American voters who support the Endangered Species Act,” said Drew Caputo, of the nonprofit Earthjustice. “In a time of partisan strife, fully 90 percent of voters have found common cause in protections for imperiled species and preservation of our natural heritage.”
A coalition of wildlife groups has filed a petition with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to uplist African elephants from threatened to endangered under the federal Endangered Species Act.
Since the African elephant was originally listed as threatened in 1978, the species’ population has declined by about 60 percent, primarily due to poaching for the ivory trade. Habitat destruction and unsustainable trophy hunting also contributed to the decline. Scientists say elephant mortality is outpacing the natural birth rate, fixing the species in a pattern of ongoing decline.
The coalition includes the International Fund for Animal Welfare, The Humane Society of the United States, Humane Society International and The Fund for Animals.
“African elephants are in very real danger of disappearing from the wild,” said Jeff Flocken, North American regional director for IFAW. “U.S. policy for elephants needs an update to reflect the current crisis and declining status of the species. As one of the world’s largest ivory markets and home to many elephant trophy hunters, the U.S. can end our contribution to the slaughter with an endangered listing.”
He added, “It is the best tool in our domestic policy toolkit to stop our role in elephant deaths and bring global awareness to the crisis.”
The coalition, in a news statement, said the current regulations for African elephants under the threatened listing fail to adequately protect the species from unsustainable trade. An endangered listing would institute restrictions on both domestic and international trade in African elephant parts — including ivory, hunting trophies, skins and other products — and would expand public oversight of such activities.
It is generally prohibited to engage in the import of or interstate commerce in endangered species and their parts, except in limited circumstances that clearly benefit the species, such as for scientific purposes. An analysis in the petition shows that between 2003 and 2012, parts from about 50,000 elephants crossed borders worldwide in legal trade, including over 40,280 whose ivory and tusks were legally traded, and over 10,240 elephants whose parts were imported as trophies into the United States.
The uplisting petition comes at a significant milestone. One year ago, the White House announced a National Strategy for Combatting Wildlife Trafficking, which called for new rules to restrict the domestic ivory trade. The Petitioners will continue to support the Fish & Wildlife Service’s efforts to implement the National Strategy.
“Now is not the time to give up on these iconic, majestic creatures,” said Teresa Telecky, director of wildlife for Humane Society International. “The United States has a chance to shutter one of the world’s largest elephant ivory, skin and trophy markets. The positive potential impact of an endangered listing cannot be overstated.”
Animal protection and conservation organizations petitioned the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to reclassify gray wolves under the Endangered Species Act as threatened throughout the contiguous United States, with the exception of the Mexican gray wolf which remains listed as endangered.
The proposal would continue federal oversight and funding of wolf recovery efforts and encourage development of a national recovery plan for the species, but would also give the Fish and Wildlife Service regulatory flexibility to permit state and local wildlife managers to address specific wolf conflicts.
Gray wolves are currently protected as endangered throughout their range in the lower 48 states, except in Minnesota where they are listed as threatened and in Montana, Idaho and eastern Oregon and Washington, where they have no Endangered Species Act protections.
Some members of Congress are advocating for legislation to remove all protections for wolves under federal law by delisting the animal under the Endangered Species Act. The petition proposes an alternative path to finalizing wolf recovery based on the best available science, rather than politics and fear, and would help to find a balanced middle ground on a controversial issue that has been battled out in the courts and in states with diverse views among stakeholders on wolf conservation.
Wayne Pacelle, president and CEO of The Humane Society of the United States, said in a statement, “Several states have badly failed in their management of wolves, and their brand of reckless trapping, trophy hunting, and even hound hunting just has not been supported by the courts or by the American people. We do, however, understand the fears that some ranchers have about wolves, and we believe that maintaining federal protections while allowing more active management of human-wolf conflicts achieves the right balance for all key stakeholders and is consistent with the law.”
Wolf populations are still recovering from decades of persecution — government-sponsored bounty programs resulted in mass extermination of wolves at the beginning of the last century, and the species was nearly eliminated from the landscape of the lower 48 states. Wolf numbers have increased substantially where the Endangered Species Act has been implemented, but recovery is still not complete, as the species only occupies as little as 5 percent of its historic range, and human-caused mortality continues to constitute the majority of documented wolf deaths.
Kierán Suckling, executive director of the Center for Biological Diversity, said in the statement, “A congressional end run around science and the Endangered Species Act will create more controversy and put wolves and the law itself in jeopardy. The better path is to downlist wolves to threatened, replace the failed piecemeal efforts of the past with a new science-based national recovery strategy,and bring communities together to determine how wolves will be returned to and managed in places where they once lived, like the Adirondacks, southern Rocky Mountains, Cascades and Sierra Nevada.”
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s piecemeal efforts to delist gray wolves in the northern Rockies and western Great Lakes have been roundly criticized by scientists and repeatedly rejected by multiple federal courts.
In addition to denouncing the service’s fragmented approach to wolf recovery, courts have recognized that several states have recklessly attempted to quickly and dramatically reduce wolf numbers through unnecessary and cruel hunting and trapping programs. The public does not support recreational and commercial killing of wolves, as evidenced by the recent decision by Michigan voters in the November 2014 election to reject sport hunting of wolves. Wolves are inedible, and only killed for their heads or fur.
Adam M. Roberts, CEO of Born Free USA, said, “Complex conservation problems require sophisticated solutions. The history of wolf protection in America is riddled with vitriolic conflict and shortsightedness and it is time for a coordinated, forward-thinking approach that removes the most barbaric treatment of this iconic species and focuses on the long-term viability of wolf populations throughout the country.”
The threatened listing proposed by the petition would promote continued recovery of the species at a national level so that it is not left perpetually at the doorstep of extinction. A threatened listing would also permit the Fish and Wildlife Service some regulatory flexibility to work with state and local wildlife managers to appropriately address wolf conflicts, including depredation of livestock.
Groups filing the petition include national organizations and those based in wolf range states:
• Born Free USA
• Center for Biological Diversity
• Detroit Audubon
• Detroit Zoological Society
• The Fund for Animals
• Friends of Animals and Their Environment
• Friends of the Wisconsin Wolf
• Help Our Wolves Live
• Howling for Wolves
• The Humane Society of the United States
• Justice for Wolves
• Midwest Environmental Advocates
• Minnesota Humane Society
• Minnesota Voters for Animal Protection
• National Wolfwatcher Coalition
• Northwoods Alliance
• Predator Defense
• Sault Sainte Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians
• Wildlife Public Trust and Coexistence
• Wildwoods (Minnesota)
• Wisconsin Federated Humane Societies
• Wolves of Douglas County Wisconsin
Posted by Lisa Neff.