Mallorcan midwife toad, © Jan Van Der Voort

Wildlife Weekly Wrap-up

Scientific Breakthrough Could Save Dramatically Declining Frog Populations
A deadly fungus, called “chytrid fungus” today plagues more than 700 species of amphibians on five different continents. Two hundred species of frogs have already been declared extinct and many others are headed for the same fate because of chytrid fungus, in addition to other factors. Since the fungus was first detected in the 1990s, researchers have been looking for ways to cure wild populations of amphibians. And now, for the first time, they’ve found one. A new report reveals scientists have cured this fatal and globally-transmitted fungus in a population of wild amphibians on the Spanish island of Mallorca. This is a major breakthrough in our continued effort to stop the spread of the deadly chytrid!

Colorado Officials Don’t Press Charges for Wolf Killed in Western Colorado
Federal officials say no charges will be filed against the coyote hunter who killed an endangered gray wolf outside of Kremmling, Colorado last April. The wolf was the first confirmed animal to enter Colorado in over 70 years; the last Colorado wolf was killed in 1945. We are highly disappointed in this decision. As wolves continue to disperse into new areas, it is critical that wildlife agencies take a more proactive role in educating hunters and local residents about the potential presence of wolves, their status as a protected species and how to tell the difference between wolves and coyotes.

Wolf, © Sandy Sisti

 


Wyoming Wolves under Fire in Congress
Wyoming Senator Barrasso recently introduced a bill in the Senate to remove federal protections for wolves in Wyoming. This bill – nearly identical to a bill introduced earlier this year in the House by Representative Lummis, and a policy rider that could be included in a final bill to fund the government – would not only take protections away from wolves in Wyoming, it would also delist wolves in Minnesota, Wisconsin and Michigan. These bills come after courts set aside rules last year that delisted wolves in both regions, keeping wolves protected under the federal Endangered Species Act (ESA). At Defenders, we strongly believe Congress has no place meddling in wildlife management decisions, which should be left to biologists and wildlife managers. But, Congress has a bad track record of doing just that. We’ll keep you updated here as we learn more, but for now, you can help us by telling Congress to stop attacking the ESA.

Grizzly with fish, © Eric SchmidtGrizzlies Getting a Warm “Welcome Back” to Washington’s North Cascades
In 1975, America’s iconic grizzlies were one of the first species to receive protection under the Endangered Species Act. The plan to save the species from extinction identified six recovery zones to focus on. We are all familiar with some of these recovery zones; Yellowstone and its surrounding ecosystem is probably the most famous example. But the North Cascades ecosystem in Washington was also identified as a critical area for grizzlies. This ecosystem contains high-quality bear habitat, is anchored by North Cascades National Park and includes two national forests and several wilderness areas. Unfortunately, today, the bears in this recovery zone are not doing at all well – at last count there were fewer than 20 bears remaining.

As a result, federal and state wildlife managers are working to evaluate how best to recover these grizzly, and you can be sure that Defenders is heavily involved in this process! We believe the most effective method for recovering North Cascades grizzlies is by adding new bears to help the current, fading population. Earlier this year, we updated you on the effort to bring grizzlies back to the Cascades, and a recent Seattle Times article explores the latest on this issue. We’ll keep you posted as we continue our work to recover these iconic bears.

New Wolf Pack in Washington
There’s a new wolf pack in north-central Washington! The “Loup Loup” pack was identified by wildlife officials after the public’s continued reports of wolf sightings prompted wildlife officials to confirm their presence in the Methow Valley through surveys. Because this pack is in the western two-thirds of Washington, the animals are protected under the federal Endangered Species Act. Wildlife officials say they already have plans to outfit at least one of the pack members with a radio collar so they’re able to closely monitor and thus understand the pack’s movements. Although this isn’t the first time wolves have lived in Washington’s Methow Valley, we’re thrilled to see Washington’s wolf population continue to grow and reestablish in this area. At last count there were 68 wolves statewide.

Delmarva fox squirrel, © USFWSConservation Success Story! Delmarva Fox Squirrel
After nearly 50 years on the endangered species list, the Delmarva fox squirrel has finally recovered. Overhunting and excessive development of the squirrel’s hardwood forest habitats originally drove the species to the brink. At one point, the squirrel was reduced to living in just four small counties along the Delaware, Maryland and Virginia peninsula. But through a combination of habitat protection programs and relocation efforts – thanks to its listing under the Endangered Species Act – the squirrel can now be found in 10 counties. The squirrel will continue to be protected from hunting by state endangered species laws. Delaware, Maryland and Virginia have also set up land conservation programs to expand protected areas for the species. The Delmarva fox squirrel’s recovery is a perfect example of the nearly 99% effectiveness rate of the Endangered Species Act at preventing the extinction of listed species.