Displaying items by tag: habitat

 

                                                                                                      

Greater Sage-Grouse populations remain in serious trouble. Photo by Tom Reichner/Shutterstock

The Administration has finalized major changes to the 2015 Greater Sage-Grouse conservation plans. These changes gut vital protections for the grouse; undermine the deal made by Western states and federal officials; and create uncertainty for millions of Westerners and the bird.

 

The revised plans eliminate vital protections for the sage-grouse. Specifically, most of the Sagebrush Focal Areas — 8.7 million acres of the key habitat for grouse and some 350 other species that were off limits to immediate development in the original plans — are now exposed to increased oil and gas extraction and other energy development.

 

“Federal administrators began dismantling safeguards put in place by the 2015 plans as soon as they could, removing each layer of conservation management and mitigation,” said Steve Holmer, Vice President of Policy for American Bird Conservancy. “Now grouse populations are declining across their range and have nearly disappeared from Washington State and the Dakotas. The trend is ominous.”

 

“These changes will put the grouse back on a path toward needing an Endangered Species Act (ESA) listing,” said Mike Parr, ABC President. “That’s exactly the outcome that the 2015 cooperative plans had sought to prevent.”

 

Please see additional ABC information on sage-grouse:

Op-Ed: Will Federal Policies Doom the Sage-Grouse to Extinction?

Petition to Save the Grouse

 

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American Bird Conservancy is dedicated to conserving birds and their habitats throughout the Americas. With an emphasis on achieving results and working in partnership, we take on the greatest problems facing birds today, innovating and building on rapid advancements in science to halt extinctions, protect habitats, eliminate threats, and build capacity for bird conservation. Find us on FacebookInstagram, and Twitter (@abcbirds).

 

 

Pets in the Classroom invites teachers to submit pictures of the habitats of their classroom pets.

The Pets in the Classroom grant program invites pre-kindergarten through 8th grade teachers with classroom pets to enter the Pets in the Classroom Habitat Contest. September 19th through December 10th, teachers can submit pictures of their classroom pet’s habitat.  All entries are being featured on the Pets in the Classroom website, and people are invited to vote for their favorite habitat.  The teacher whose entry receives the most votes when the contest ends will be selected as one of the contest winners and one additional teacher will also be selected as a winner based on random selection.  Each winner will receive a $100 Amazon Gift Card.

 “We encourage all teachers with a classroom pet to enter the habitat contest,” commented Steven T. King, Pet Care Trust Executive Director. “Your students will enjoy seeing their ‘classmate’ featured on the Pets in the Classroom website, and you will help other classes improve their pets' habitats with your ideas. Encourage parents, students and fellow teachers to vote for your habitat and you might win a $100 gift card!”

The Pets in the Classroom grant program provides grants to Pre-Kindergarten through 8th grade teachers in both private and public schools for the purpose of purchasing and maintaining classroom pets.  Classroom animals are wonderful resources for teachers that, when incorporated into lesson plans, can have a profound impact.  Classroom pets not only provide excitement in the classroom, but they also benefit students by teaching them responsible, long-term pet care at an early age and providing the psychological and developmental benefits associated with the human-animal bond.  Studies have shown that caring for pets has a positive effect on children, improving school attendance and teaching children responsibility, as well as encouraging nurturing and building self-esteem. 

For more information on the Pets in the Classroom grant program or the Habitat Contest, visit www.PetsintheClassroom.org.

 

Habitat Protection Urgently Needed to Compensate for Barred Owl Competition

Northern Spotted Owl by Chris Warren

Northern Spotted Owl by Chris Warren

Washington, DC, December 10, 2015: TheNorthern Spotted Owlis in decline across its entire range, and its rate of decline is increasing—that is the conclusion of a major demographic study produced by federal scientists, published Wednesday, December 9, 2015, in the journal “The Condor.” The study examined survey results from monitoring areas across the range of the imperiled owl.

This research indicates that since monitoring began in 1985, Spotted Owl populations declined 55-77 percent in Washington, 31-68 percent in Oregon, and 32-55 percent in California. In addition, population declines are now occurring in study areas in southern Oregon and northern California that were previously experiencing little to no detectable decline through 2009.

“This study confirms that immediate action is needed to reduce the impact of Barred Owls and to protect all remaining Spotted Owl habitat. It also points to the need to restore additional habitat by maintaining and expanding the successful reserve network of the Northwest Forest Plan,” said Steve Holmer, senior policy advisor with American Bird Conservancy.

While habitat loss continues to threaten the Spotted Owl, new threats have emerged. Barred Owls, whose range has increased in recent years to coincide with the Northern Spotted Owl, can outcompete the Spotted Owl for food and territory. The study says:

We observed strong evidence that Barred Owls negatively affected Spotted Owl populations, primarily by decreasing apparent survival and increasing local territory extinction rates.… In the study areas where habitat was an important source of variation for Spotted Owl demographics, vital rates were generally positively associated with a greater amount of suitable owl habitat.

 

However, Barred Owl densities may now be high enough across the range of the Northern Spotted Owl that, despite the continued management and conservation of suitable owl habitat on federal lands, the long-term prognosis for the persistence of Northern Spotted Owls may be in question without additional management intervention.

The Importance of Spotted Owl Habitat

Dr. Katie Dugger, a research biologist at the USGS Oregon Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit of Oregon State University and lead author on the report, said: “The amount of suitable habitat required by Spotted Owls for nesting and roosting is important because Spotted Owl survival, colonization of empty territories, and number of young produced tends to be higher in areas with larger amounts of suitable habitat, at least in some study areas."

Much attention has turned to the increased threat posed by Barred Owls since the Northern Spotted Owl was listed as a threatened species under the Endangered Species Act. However, Holmer stressed that adequate habitat is the only long-term solution to the Barred Owl threat.

“Science shows that Northern Spotted Owls and Barred Owls can coexist where there is enough high-quality habitat,” he said. “A large amount of owl habitat will become available as the Northwest Forest Plan continues to restore the old-growth ecosystem.”

Northern Spotted Owl & the Northwest Forest Plan

The Northern Spotted Owl is a rare raptor often associated with the complex features and closed canopy of mature or old-growth forests. Since it is associated with older forests, the owl serves as an “indicator species”—its presence indicates that the forest is healthy and functioning properly.

Historically, Spotted Owl decline has been traced to habitat loss caused primarily by logging. Because the owl is dependent on older forest types, logging of old-growth forests is particularly harmful. Once these forests are logged, it can take many decades before suitable habitat regrows.

The Northern Spotted Owl's1990 listing intensified issues concerning federal forest management. As a consequence of prior overcutting of owl habitat and a lack of compliance by the land-management agencies with wildlife protection requirements, logging of federal forests was largely halted across the owl’s range.

In reaction to the stalemate over federal forest management, in 1994, the Clinton Administration established the Northwest Forest Plan, a landscape-level resource management plan that established a series of forest reserves across the range of the Northern Spotted Owl. The plan was intended to both protect remaining owl habitat and to encourage development of future habitat.

After 20 years, USDA Forest Service monitoring reports indicate the plan is meeting its objectives to restore wildlife habitat as well as to improve water quality; forests of the Northwest are also now storing carbon instead ofacting as a source of emissions.

“The monitoring reports confirm that the system of reserves has slowed the decline of the owl,” Holmer said. “But the Spotted Owl’s continued decline makes clear that this reserve system is not enough due to competition from Barred Owls. Urgent action is needed to address the Barred Owl threat and to protect all Spotted Owl habitat on federal land.”

Pets in the Classroom invites teachers to submit pictures of the habitats of their classroom pets.

The Pets in the Classroom grant program invites pre-kindergarten through 8th grade teachers with classroom pets to enter the Pets in the Classroom Habitat Contest. Now through December 15th, teachers can submit pictures of their classroom pet’s habitat.  All entries are being featured on the Pets in the Classroom website, and people are invited to vote for their favorite habitat.  The teacher whose entry receives the most votes when the contest ends will be selected as one of the contest winners and two additional teachers will also be selected as winners based on random selection.  Each winner will receive a $100 Amazon Gift Card.

“Teachers are endlessly creative in incorporating pets into their classroom environment,” noted Steve King, Pet Care Trust executive director. “We wanted to give teachers an opportunity to share their creativity with their peers. The Habitat Contest is a fun way to inspire others.”

The Pets in the Classroom grant program provides grants to Pre-Kindergarten through 8th grade teachers in both private and public schools for the purpose of purchasing and maintaining classroom pets.  Classroom animals are wonderful resources for teachers that, when incorporated into lesson plans, can have a profound impact.  Classroom pets not only provide excitement in the classroom, but they also benefit students by teaching them responsible, long-term pet care at an early age and providing the psychological and developmental benefits associated with the human-animal bond.  Studies have shown that caring for pets has a positive effect on children, improving school attendance and teaching children responsibility, as well as encouraging nurturing and building self-esteem. 

For more information on the Pets in the Classroom grant program or the Habitat Contest, visit www.PetsintheClassroom.org.