It’s another Red Hot and Green Friday, and this week Nicky is dedicated for Defenders! He’s not only loading it up for lynx, but he’s taking steps to protect wildlife from climate change on multiple fronts.
In addition to saving energy and water by turning off lights and the tap while he’s not using them, Nicky hits on an important (and these days, easy!) way to fight climate change: recycling. Recycling helps conserve energy, minimize pollution and reduce greenhouse gases. If every metal, plastic and glass container in the U.S. was recycled, the energy savings (compared to the mining and manufacture of new items) would be equivalent to 53.5 million barrels of oil. If your town or city doesn’t provide recycling services or you think they’re not good enough, start a community petition to improve them! And if your town or city does recycle, make sure to follow the rules and sort your recycling accordingly.
Warming temperatures pose threats to species like the lynx and its prey, snowshoe hares, which can only survive in a cold environment with lots of deep, soft snow.
When people like Nicky make changes to their lifestyle to protect wildlife and natural habitats from the impacts of climate change, it’s reassuring to hear that the government is taking steps as well. Launched on Earth Day and running for 50 days, “The Climate of Conservation in America: 50 Stories in 50 States” is an effort by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and its partners to show the many ways in which climate change is already affecting fish and wildlife across America – and what they’re doing to fight it.
Buried in my email Inbox was a message from one of our citizen volunteers with the unassuming subject line, “South_4_Transect_Variation.” This subject actually meant something to me — it was a report from a route that this person had recently snow-shoed or skied near Lincoln, Montana, looking for signs of rare carnivores. It was sent by one of dozens of citizen volunteers that we helped train to identify and record tracks in the snow and other wildlife observations in an area where the Threatened Canada lynx and other rare carnivores were recently documented by the non-profit wildlife research group we partnered with for the trainings, Wild Things Unlimited. Yet I was busy with reports and phone calls and merely flagged the email to open and read later, so there it sat for several days.
Imagine my surprise when cleaning out my Inbox that Friday afternoon, I open the message to learn not only did this volunteer find and document tracks in the snow from the Threatened lynx, he also captured four full-frame photos of one visiting an elk carcass!
Citizen scientist Kalon Baughan measures lynx tracks in the snow.
Citizen scientist Kalon Baughan measures a single paw print in the snow.
The volunteer behind this remarkable report Kalon Baughan had already won our 2011 citizen scientist MVP award (informal designation), for identifying and documenting not just lynx tracks but also tracks from the equally imperiled and elusive wolverine. Yet with these photos his title has now been upgraded to citizen scientist “Rock Star” (equally informal designation, but quite justified).
Check out Kalon’s field notes (Citizen Scientist Trip Report 04 15 11 public) and see his lynx photos taken with the use of an infra-red remote triggering device. The beauty of this methodology is that it is considered to be “non-invasive,” meaning no animals were harmed or even affected by the observer, since Kalon simply used an attractant that was already present in the forest to capture this lynx on film.
What’s next? Photos of a wolverine perhaps? Wish our volunteer Rock Star good luck for the remainder of his extraordinary field season!
Defenders Talks Meso-carnivores on LA Talk Radio
While we await Kalon’s next report, you can learn more about lynx, wolverines and fishers by listening to the radio clip above. I was invited on to the Hill & Dale show yesterday on LA Talk Radio to discuss efforts to conserve these meso-carnivores. The segment starts with a wolverine snarl (at the 12-minute mark) and covers the basic biology of the three species as well as threats to their survival in the wild. Don’t miss my radio debut!
Our national forests can provide vital habitat for endangered animals like lynx. Unfortunately, a new decision by the Obama administration would roll back forest protections that have been in place since the 1980s.
For lynx and other wildlife, it could be a forest foreclosure—one that denies these mysterious forest creatures and other wildlife the habitat protections they need to survive.
In an outrageous move, 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.
Plenty is at stake. The U.S. Forest Service manages 175 national forests and grasslands spread across 190 million acres in 42 states and Puerto Rico.
These magnificent landscapes support diverse ecosystems and an incredible array of fish, wildlife and plants including iconic animals such as lynx, antelope, bison, bighorn sheep, elk and cutthroat trout. In all, our national forests provide habitat for more than 5,000 species of fish and wildlife and more than 10,000 plant species.
Our national forests are worth protecting. The deadline for submitting public comments on the Obama forest plan is May 16th.
Roll back existing safeguards for wildlife conservation and no longer require the Forest Service to maintain healthy and sustainable fish and wildlife populations for every species in our national forests;
Leave the decision of whether or not to maintain healthy, viable populations of many imperiled wildlife species at the discretion of individual forest managers, leaving the fate of hundreds of species uncertain; and
Allow individual forest managers the discretion to “give up” on protecting many needy species without facing accountability to the public.
Lynx recovery relies on the designation of "critical habitat" by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
A federal district court in Montana recently ruled that the Fish and Wildlife Service provided insufficient grounds to exclude potentially important habitat both in Colorado and Montana (the Service had claimed that future of Colorado’s reintroduced population is still uncertain, so the importance of its habitat to the recovery of the lower-48 lynx population is premature).
Another federal district court in Wyoming ruled that the Service must revisit its economic analysis of the effects of the critical habitat designation in Washington State. Defenders and several other groups represented by Earthjustice intervened in this lawsuit filed by a Washington snowmobile group, and successfully defended the bulk of the current critical habitat designation from this legal challenge, losing only on this narrow point that an environmental assessment that accompanied the previous designation was found lacking.
The Fish and Wildlife Service had considered appealing both rulings, but has instead opted for revising its designation a third time to address these two court rulings. The agency’s initial designation in November 2006 was essentially limited to national parks that were already protected, and was thrown out by the courts after evidence that the decision was tampered with by Bush Administration officials. The agency’s second designation in February 2009 covered a much larger area—approximately 40,000 square miles—but again was found deficient in these two rulings issued last year. Defenders will actively participate in this latest update of the lynx critical habitat designation affecting lynx across the contiguous U.S. to ensure that all of their key areas are included.
We believe a recovery plan is the best way to translate lynx protections on paper to recovery actions on the ground, where they matter most to lynx. Recovery plans for other listed species like grizzly bears have made all the difference between just “hanging on” and making tangible, forward progress toward achieving recovery goals.
We look forward to a resolution of the critical habitat issue so that we can turn our attention to the greatest need facing lynx in the lower 48: a recovery plan. We believe a recovery plan is the best way to translate lynx protections on paper to recovery actions on the ground, where they matter most to lynx. Recovery plans for other listed species like grizzly bears have made all the difference between just “hanging on” and making tangible, forward progress toward achieving recovery goals. These goals are specified in their recovery plans and include: population goals (numbers and distribution); limits on mortality; targets for reproduction and survival of young; standards to maintain key habitats; recommendations for interstate and international collaboration and cooperation; and (very important for lynx especially) a strategy to adapt recovery actions to the anticipated effects of climate change.
With ongoing help from our members and supporters, Defenders will continue its leadership role among the many other advocacy groups, scientists and agency officials dedicated to the survival and recovery of this beautiful and majestic wild cat of America’s northern forests.
To learn more about lynx and climate change threats, watch this episode of Jeff Corwin’s Feeling the Heat:
Vote for Defenders of Wildlife to win $200,000 and help save lynx!
Thanks to everyone who has been voting for Defenders of Wildlife each week to help us try to win $200,000 in funding from Members Project from American Express. You can vote once a week through February 20, 2011 and this week you’re voting for lynx!
Lynx need a very specific kind of habitat to survive—habitat that is threatened by climate change and reckless development schemes.
Significant populations of lynx are thought to exist only in Montana and Washington. But, with the help of caring people like you, we can work to restore lynx in other parts of the country where they’ve historically lived.
Two hundred thousand dollars can do a lot of good for lynx and other wildlife.
It can help us stop harmful development that would compromise lynx habitat. It can fund rewards to capture people who illegally kill these rare forest felines. And it can help us advocate for policies to address climate change that is threatening the very survival of these reclusive cats.
How to Vote for Defenders
The current round of voting runs through midnight on Sunday, February 20, 2011. You can vote once a week throughout the voting period. Here’s how to get started:
Scroll down to the Vote section in the lower left corner of the page. The Members Project is a partnership between American Express and TakePart, so you need to be a member of TakePart to vote. First, click the Sign Up And Vote button. NOTE: If you’re already registered and logged in with TakePart, the button will say Vote For This Charity and clicking it will take you to the final step below.
Click the Register to Vote button.
A form will pop up. Fill out all the required fields and make sure you check the boxes to accept the terms for both TakePart and Members Project. NOTE: You can use your full name as your username, including a space, if you want.
Once you’re registered, scroll down the page and click the Defenders logo. A little box will pop up.
Click the Vote button in the popup. You’ll be prompted to confirm your choice.
That’s it! Thanks for voting for Defenders of Wildlife!
Thanks to the dedicated support of caring wildlife champions like you, Defenders is currently leading the pack in the Environment and Wildlife category, with 81% of the votes. But with more than a month left to go in this round, we need to make sure we stay in the lead! Remember, you can vote once a week until February 20th!