30 October 2015 Wildlife Weekly Wrap-Up Posted by: Melanie Gade | 2 comments The Future for Red Wolves Still Uncertain The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service recently announced that it will postpone its decision on continuing its red wolf recovery effort until next summer. This is the second time a decision on the future of the recovery program has been postponed since the Wildlife Management Institute studied it back in November and raised serious concerns about the program’s science and management. Defenders of Wildlife and other conservation groups have gone to court to challenge the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service on their irresponsible management of this critically endangered wolf, of which only 50-75 individuals remain in the wild. But some good news: Ben Prater, Defenders of Wildlife Southeast Director has been nominated as a member of the Red Wolf Recovery Team. And as such, Defenders will have a seat at the table in future red wolf management decisions. Southern Resident Orcas Still Face Significant Threats The aerial photos of orcas living off the coast of Washington and Oregon just don’t get old! We’ve been enjoying them here all week long. Researchers are calling this photo the best aerial photo of a nursing orca calf ever taken! But aside from giving us “warm fuzzies,” keep in mind that these photos are actually a very important tool researchers are using to monitor the health of this highly endangered population. And while these photos reveal that there have been at least 5 calves born since January, this population is by no means out of the woods yet. The two threats of most concern to southern resident orcas are high levels of pollution in the waters in which they live and in the species they eat, as well as a dramatic reduction in available food. Defenders and our conservation partners believe we need to continue work to restore the orca’s primary food source, the Chinook salmon, if we would like to see this orca population continue to recover. In addition, we need to reduce the amount of toxins and chemicals in areas like Washington’s Puget Sound and the Columbia River Basin. A variety of sources — like aging and abandoned boats and stormwater runoff – have highly polluted the waters along the Washington and Oregon coasts that these orcas call home. When the orcas ingest food with toxins, it accumulates to dangerous levels in their blubber. We’ll keep you updated here on our continued work to recover these iconic orcas! Help Protect Our Freshwater Ecosystems! A rare fungus could have devastating impacts on salamanders in the United States if action is not taken. Almost a year ago, Defenders of Wildlife called upon the Department of the Interior to prevent the introduction of a fungus called Bsal for short, into United States following the publication of a scientific paper that predicted the dangerous impacts it would have on salamander populations. You may have heard about the chytrid fungus which has decimated frog populations around the world; Bsal is a close relative of the chytrid fungus. Despite the urgency of this situation, the Department of the Interior has still not taken decisive action. The United States is home to almost one-third of the world’s salamander species. The potential consequences of the Bsal fungus entering the United States are enormous. There are already 20 species of salamanders listed under the Endangered Species Act and many more could be placed in jeopardy. You can help us by sending a letter to Secretary Jewell, asking the Department of the Interior to take immediate action to protect America’s salamanders! Melanie Gade, Communications Specialist Melanie handles press coverage for wildlife in the Pacific Northwest and Rockies and Plains, as well as Defenders' national work on the Endangered Species Act.