Posted on 16 May 2011.
Each year, Defenders celebrates some of America’s most iconic creatures during Bear Awareness Week. And this year, we’re kicking it off with a species spotlight: grizzlies!
The slightly weathered appearance of this bear’s fur earned it the name “grizzly” back in the day. At seven feet long and as much as 850 pounds, however, the grizzly bear is no shrinking violet. It can run as fast as 35 mph and smell food from miles away – putting those hound dogs to shame. A big muscular hump on its shoulders (which distinguishes it from a black bear) adds power for running and strength for digging. Grizzlies dig to create dens for winter hibernation, but also to find food.
The grizzly's hump distinguishes it from black bears
Interestingly, the mighty grizzly bear also functions as the gardener in its forest and meadow home. Digging for food naturally tills the soil, which benefits the plants nearby. Undigested seeds from consumed fruit are spread freely through the bear’s waste. And salmon carcasses carried into forests decay and add important nutrients back into the soil – grizzly compost!
Grizzlies eat just about everything: grasses, seeds (esp. whitebark pine nuts), fruits, insects, fish, carrion… and even caribou. They also need to eat a lot in order to build up enough fat reserves (up to three pounds a day) to sustain them through hibernation, which lasts from five to eight months.
In case you missed it…
The New York Times must have Bear Awareness Week on its calendar! In a feature that ran yesterday called, “Where the Wild Things Are,” a piece by Ted O’Callahan focuses on a the bears of Kodiak Island. Click here to read “It’s a Bear’s World. Visitors Welcome” and learn more about the unique cousin to the grizzly.
Adopt a Grizzly Bear
Your adoption will help us offer rewards to find and prosecute poachers, fight against development proposals that threaten grizzly/brown bear habitat and reduce conflicts between bears and humans through education and on-the-ground efforts.
Save Something Wild!
Visit our Wildlife Adoption Center to adopt a grizzly bear or one of our 26 other imperiled animals today!
Get the Bear Facts
Download our Saving America’s Bears fact sheet to learn about the real threats facing bears in the United States today, what Defenders of Wildlife is doing to protect them—and what you can do to help.
Posted in Alaska, Bears, Features, In the News, Rocky Mountains and Great Plains
Posted on 25 April 2011.
Watch Feeling the Heat with Jeff Corwin to learn how climate change is affecting this cool cat.
A glimpse of its stubby tail or tufted ears and you may mistake a Canada lynx for its bobcat cousin, but this big cat is more adept at navigating the deep, snow-packed forests of Canada and a handful of northern states, including Colorado, Maine, Minnesota, Montana,Washington and Wyoming. These finicky felines can’t live just anywhere. They have very specific habitat needs: older forest with good cover for building dens and younger forest with thick vegetation for hunting prey such as snowshoe hare.
National forests provide habitat for Canada lynx.
A snowshoe hare’s fluffy white camouflage is no match for the lynx’s expert eyes and long, tufted ears. Unless the bunny makes a dash for it, that is, since lynx aren’t designed for endurance chases. You would think that those long legs would offer some benefit to make up for its strikingly odd proportions (smallish cat body with oversize limbs and massive feet). But they do come in handy in deep, fluffy snow, which offers an excellent advantage over competing predators such as coyote and bobcat. Combined with those big snowshoe-like paws, the lynx is like a four-wheel-drive vehicle — able to go where others dare not.
The Canada lynx remains a threatened species in the lower-48 states, with only around 1,000 cats calling U.S. forests home. Unfortunately, climate change is making it tougher for them to survive. Loss of snow or changes in its density due to warming temperatures affects the lynx’s hunting abilities — as well as the number of snowshoe hares.
Lynx Forest Home Faces a New Threat
The Obama administration has proposed a new plan for our national forests, setting aside vital measures that have protected the homes of lynx and other imperiled wildlife since the days when Ronald Reagan was president.
Don’t let President Obama turn back the clock for our wildlife. Urge federal officials to stand up for wildlife protections in our national forests.
Plenty is at stake. The U.S. Forest Service manages 155 national forests and 20 grasslands spread across some 193 million acres nationwide.
What You Can Do
Tell the Obama administration that you want to protect wildlife such as lynx in our national forests.
Take action yourself to stop climate change and help save vulnerable species like the Canada lynx.
Posted in Canada Lynx, Climate Change, Experts, Features, Issues, Photo, Public Lands, Rocky Mountains and Great Plains
Posted on 08 April 2011.
Red wolves may have something to howl about very soon. The Museum of Life and Science in North Carolina announced Tuesday that its female red wolf may be expecting a litter of pups!
According to museum staff, the female wolf (named 1287), has been showing signs of pregnancy. Recently, she has been digging more than normal, burying food, and removing areas of belly hair—a common preparation for nursing.
Once ranging throughout the southeastern U.S. from Pennsylvania to Florida and as far west as Texas, habitat destruction and extermination nearly brought red wolves to extinction by 1980. Now, thanks to captive breeding programs and reintroduction to a restoration area in North Carolina, the species is slowly making a comeback.
A new wolf litter–between two to nine pups–would be a huge benefit to the fragile population of only 300 wolves (captive and wild combined). The parents of this potential litter have desirable genes that scientists want to keep in the mix. Creating diversity in the gene pool is extremely important to the survival of such a critically endangered species as the red wolf.
Even though this potential pregnancy is taking place in captivity, a new litter can still benefit wild wolves. Occasionally, captive pups can be introduced to wild wolf litters. And since interbreeding with coyotes has become the most significant threat to recovery in their native habitat, captive breeding programs are essential to a successful red wolf comeback.
Read more about the endangered red wolf on Defenders’ fact sheet or on our Species Spotlight: Red Wolves.
Get more information on captive breeding of red wolves from the Red Wolf Coalition.
Posted in Features, Southeast, Wildlife, wolves
Posted on 07 April 2011.
Are you ready for a rare wildlife experience? How about an actual ‘bird’s eye view’ of a growing family of bald eagles–LIVE? Check out the streaming live video footage (above)from a bald eagle nest in Decorah, Iowa, courtesy of the Raptor Resource Project.
Watch as two eagle parents take turns at the nest, tending to the eggs and the newly hatched eaglets. Listen to the fluffy chicks pip, laugh at their wobbly antics, and smile as the female gently tucks them under her breast. Over the past week, over 22 million people have followed the Decorah eagle family eggstravaganza. On April 2, the first of three eggs hatched (see a collage of the first 24 hours), followed by number two the next day. The third egg is expected to hatch any day now. What a drama—life unfolding minute by minute in a tree 80 feet above the ground. As I write this, momma eagle sits patiently atop her brood. Every so often she stands up to check on them—that’s when you see the little fluffy heads poke out. I’m joined by 136,000 viewers, who like me, are curious about what happens in an eagle’s nest and want to experience that joy when the next egg hatches. What a rewarding and intimate glimpse into the life of an American icon.
Background on bald eagles
Four years ago, the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service removed the bald eagle from the Endangered Species List. The announcement marked a successful milestone in the species’ recovery from the brink of extinction. Today, illegal shooting of bald eagles is considered the biggest threat to their survival. Other threats include lead poisoning from eating ducks that have consumed lead shot, power line electrocution and habitat loss.
Find out more about bald eagles.
Posted in Birds, Features, Photo, Video, Wildlife
Posted on 30 March 2011.
Sea otters capture our attention with their playful antics and adorable furry faces. However, they also pull at our hearts when we hear their numbers are declining and that they may be in serious trouble. Fortunately, the California Sea Otter Fund (a tax check off program) has been in place for the last four years, working to find solutions to their plight. This year, Assemblyman Bill Monning (D-Carmel) has introduced legislation that, if passed, will keep this donation-based program going through 2016, provided it reaches its minimum contribution goal each year.
In a recent Living on Earth radio program segment, Mark Seth Lender captures in word and on camera just how special these sea mammals are. He also emphasizes their important role in maintaining healthy Pacific kelp forests, since otters feed on kelp-grazing sea urchins and thereby keep those critters in check.
Meditate on all that is otter by listening to his story, and check out his photos and video of these amusing animals too.
You can show your support for sea otters! Visit Defenders’ site: www.saveseaotters.org to see how.
Posted in Features, Sea Otter, West Coast, Wildlife
Posted on 25 March 2011.
This Saturday, March 26 at 8:30 pm local time, people around the world will make a statement about climate change.
For one hour, people are asked to turn off their lights as a way to show their commitment towards a sustainable future. In its third year, World Wildlife Fund’s Earth Hour demonstrates an awareness that we all contribute to climate change, but are ready to come together to fight it. Last year, 128 countries and territories participated, making it the largest Earth Hour yet. This year, WWF encourages people to go beyond the sixty minutes, and think about their impact every day.
Our daily actions can make a difference on the environment. See how you can take a stand against climate change.
Posted in Climate Change, Photo, Take Action, Video, Wildlife