Posted on 01 April 2013.
Brian Bovard, Communications Coordinator
We received thousands of photos as part of our 4th annual photo contest, and now is your chance to help pick the winners! Vote for your favorite three photos at www.defenders.org/photocontest to decide which of our lucky and talented contestants gets to spend a week in Yellowstone with renowned wildlife photographer Jess Lee on one of his signature photo tours.
We had some of the best photos I’ve seen yet this year, and it was a hard task to narrow it down just to 10, but we here at Defenders are very pleased with our finalists. They say a picture is worth a thousand words, and one of our favorite jobs here each year is seeing the amazing way people have of looking at wildlife and wild lands and using those photos to tell their stories. Thanks to all of the contestants who entered this year, and we hope you enjoy the photos!!!
Posted in Features
Posted on 26 November 2012.
Brian Bovard, Communications Coordinator
Volunteers planted to restore the area’s native vegetation (Photo: Jen Watkins, Conservation Northwest)
Some outstanding members of Defenders’ Wildlife Volunteer Corps were lucky enough to join with Conservation Northwest, the Forest Service and the general public as they finished up a long summer of habitat restoration adjacent to Gold Creek near Snoqualmie Pass in the state of Washington. This is a great, ongoing project as dedicated groups continue their work to restore wildlife corridors created by the Washington Department of Transportation, including the construction of two underpasses that will connect habitat for wildlife like elk, cougar, black bear and deer, and allow them to safely cross Interstate 90.
It was a chilly day, but that didn’t stop our enthusiastic group as they planted more than 1,000 native snowberry, strawberry and spirea (hardhack) plants to help restore the soil and habitat that had been disturbed by the dumped gravel from the initial construction of the interstate more than a decade ago. The gravel and invasive vegetation that now dominate the landscape make it very difficult for native vegetation to take root, so the pre-grown native plants that the volunteers planted will provide immediate benefits to the area’s wildlife in the form of food and shelter, as well as helping to restore soil productivity in the long run so that native seeds can grow more easily. The volunteers also helped remove some of the noxious infestation of invasive St. John’s Wort and Oxeye Daisy that have taken root over the last 15 years, which will give the newly-planted vegetation room to grow.
Volunteers hard at work (Photo: Jen Watkins, Conservation Northwest)
We here at Defenders would like to thank all the dedicated volunteers who came out to help the native wildlife in the area. This project will benefit bull trout, black bear, cougar, elk, deer, pika, river otter and numerous other wildlife species. This location is also within the North Cascades grizzly bear recovery zone, and a vital corridor to the long-term recovery of gray wolves and wolverines.
If you’ve got a project in your area that would benefit wildlife, and think that Defenders might be able to help out, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Posted in Features, Habitat Conservation
Posted on 02 October 2012.
Some 73 million sharks are killed each year for their fins, depriving ocean habitats of this vital top predator.
by Brian Bovard
Sharks are facing an undeniable worldwide threat as populations are pushed to the brink of extinction due to targeted and by-catch over-fishing. Up to 73 million sharks are killed each year for their fins alone in a brutal process known as “finning” which involves slicing off a shark’s fins, usually while it’s still alive, and discarding the body at sea. As demand for this pricey commodity, which can sell for over $300 per pound and is used primarily to make an Asian delicacy shark fin soup, continues to soar shark populations across the world will continue to plummet. As predators at or near the top of marine food webs, sharks help maintain the balance of marine life in our oceans and research shows that the massive depletion of sharks will have cascading effects throughout the oceans’ ecosystems.
Fortunately countries across the world are recognizing the dangers posed by these massive depletions of shark species. This past week Defenders of Wildlife’s International Counsel, Alejandra Goyenechea, along with government representatives from 50 other countries worldwide, had the honor of attending the first meeting of signatories to the Memorandum of Understanding on the Conservation of Migratory Sharks concluded under the UN Convention on Migratory Species (CMS) which took place in Bonn, Germany. Defenders was present to ensure that proper conservation measures were in place as participants adopted a new conservation plans, which aims to catalyze regional initiatives to reduce threats to migratory sharks. Signatory states also agreed to involve fishing industry representatives, NGOs, and scientists in implementing the conservation plan.
Under the Memorandum of Understanding, countries agreed to exchange information among government bodies, scientific institutions, international organizations and NGOs for better cooperation. Improved monitoring and data collection will help assess the structure, trends and distribution of shark populations necessary to design targeted conservation measures. Although the memorandum of understanding for the conservation of sharks was made non-binding, the signatories agreed that fishing quotas for sharks must be established and monitored closely while by-catch for mako, spiny dogfish, porbeagle, basking, white, and whale sharks must be monitored much more diligently.
Currently 258 shark species are listed as threatened on the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List. An additional 210 species are listed in the Data Deficient category because of a lack of sufficient population data, which itself suggests these species are at high risk. The IUCN has estimated that 32 percent of open-ocean sharks are threatened with extinction. Sharks are slow to grow, slow to reach sexual maturity, very slow to reproduce, with some shark species having gestation periods of up to two years, and so are particularly susceptible to overfishing. Also shark species that are coastal swimmers, mostly pregnant females are very easy targets for overfishing. Fortunately there is a growing global awareness to protect sharks as more states and countries pass legislation that will protect these magnificent species.
Posted in Features, International Conservation, Marine, Sharks, Species at Risk, Wildlife
Posted on 13 August 2012.
Blue shark, credit: Mark Conlin, NOAA
This week kicks off Discovery Channel’s 25th anniversary of Shark Week, and while the TV lineup will certainly contain the sensational shark footage of these apex predators that people love to watch with shows like ‘Air Jaws Apocalypse’ the take home message of the series has always been one of conservation and coexistence. And for sharks that is an important message indeed.
Tens of millions of sharks are killed each year for their fins alone in order to be used to make shark fin soup most notably targeting the porbeagle shark, the oceanic whitetip and the globally endangered hammerhead sharks whose fins are considered to be of the highest market value. The brutal process of “finning” involves catching a shark, cutting off its fins typically while alive, and then throwing the still living shark back in the water where it drowns or bleeds to death. Defenders has worked with other conservation organizations, both domestically and internationally, to raise awareness of this practice and see it ended. However, shark finning isn’t the only threat sharks face. Tens of millions more sharks are killed each year as what’s known as “bycatch” which means they are accidentally caught and killed in fishing nets while fisherman are targeting other species. In areas where sharks are becoming critically endangered off the US coast this is particularly discouraging news. In 2011 Defenders worked with many conservation organizations in California to stop the sale, possession and trade of shark fins in the Golden State. And thanks to thousands of our CA supporters sending letters and calling their state legislators the bill was passed. However, sharks are still being killed there as by-catch, specifically great white sharks that live in the waters of the northeastern Pacific Ocean off California’s coast. But thanks to our ever vigilant friends at Oceana, The Center for Biological Diversity, and Shark Stewards a petition was sent last week to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) to protect the estimated 340 great white sharks that live there against bycatch by listing them as an endangered species. If successful the petition could change the way fishing is conducted in the area and give crucial protections to the great white sharks that live there.
We hope that you will tune in to Discovery Channel’s Shark Week and learn more about these majestic animals from the deep and what’s being done to protect them.
And of course, to watch some awesome shark footage.
Learn more about threats to sharks and how you can help.
Give a Gift that Helps Save Sharks
Shark adoptions are a great way to share your appreciation for this keystone species while helping to support Defenders’ work on their behalf.
Save Something Wild!
Visit our Wildlife Adoption Center to adopt a shark or one of our other imperiled animals today!
Posted in California, Features, Marine, Sharks, Species at Risk, Wildlife
Posted on 08 June 2012.
Photo courtesy of the EPA
Our newest report “Harnessing Nature” explains that as the effects of climate change continue to become more pronounced, areas of the U.S. will continue to see increases in temperature. An example of this is the Chicago region –fresh off its warmest winter in the past 54 years– where the U.S. Global Change Research Program has already recorded a 1.5 degrees F rise in temperatures over the region. Over the next 100 years it is projected that temperatures will increase by 4 to 10 degrees F, leaving Illinois with a climate more like that of Louisiana and Texas.
A simple and extremely effective tool in combating these warmer temperatures is shade. Temperatures in the vicinity of trees and other vegetation can be 4 to 9 degrees F lower than areas that are barren. Not only can shade be an effective way of keeping your house cooler but having more trees planted around your community can have numerous benefits like helping to combat flash flooding, providing habitats for a variety of animals as well as absorbing carbon dioxide, the main greenhouse gas pollutant.
To learn more about using trees and shade effectively in your community visit the Environmental Protection Agencies’ website.
Posted in Climate Change, Features, Wildlife
Posted on 06 June 2012.
Our newest report, “Harnessing Nature,” recalls that in 2011, while much of the country was experiencing major flooding, the worst drought and heatwave in memory was hitting much of the southern plains and Southwest, including parts of Texas that saw over 100 days of 100+ temperatures. And other areas are likely to have similar experiences in the future– a panel of scientists recently took a look at the trends in weather and have predicted that there is a greater than 90 percent chance that the “length, frequency and/or intensity” of heat waves will increase over the course of this century.
So what can people do to help offset the negative impacts to their daily lives brought about by these extreme temperatures? One solution is to replace heat-absorbing, black roofs with a green roof or a vegetative layer grown on a rooftop. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) lists the immediate and significant benefits that come from installing a green roof as: reduced energy use, reduced air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions, improved human health and comfort, enhanced storm water management and water quality, and improved quality of life.
The initial cost of installing a green roof is higher than a conventional roof, but it pays off in the long run. Studies have shown that on hot days, green roofs are cooler than the surrounding air temperatures, while conventional roofs can be up to 90 degrees F hotter. To put it in dollars and cents a University of Michigan study found that the savings for a 21,000 square-foot roof over its lifetime amounted to around $200,000 with nearly two thirds of those savings coming from reduced energy needs.
To learn more about green roofs and their benefits check out the EPA’s website.
Posted in Climate Change, Features, Wildlife