California Dairy Farmer Provides Habitat for 15,000 Imperiled Birds

I am reposting this great article from my law school colleague’s blog, The California Crow. The blog discusses the evolving world of food and agriculture policy. One hopeful story involves incentive programs in California to help farmers delay harvest long enough for imperiled birds to fledge their young. Read on.

The California Crow

Frank Mendonsa, a dairy farmer in Tipton, California, and the President of Western United Dairymen was recognized earlier this week for his significant contributions to protecting two colonies of the California emergency-listed Tricolored Blackbird. Since April, Mendonsa’s silage fields became a temporary nesting habitat for the colonies of nearly 15,000 birds, and Mendonsa is delaying harvest to help the birds safely fledge their young.

“When the birds first appeared on my property this spring, I didn’t know what kind they were,” said Mendonsa. “Once it was pointed out to me how few of these birds are left in the world and how many were on my property, I was very moved. I could see how much they needed my help and protection to build back their populations, so I have taken it upon myself to ensure their safety on this farm.”

Conservation partners working with Mendonsa to find win-win…

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Yellowstone Grizzly Population is Growing

New research based on genetic testing of grizzly bears in Yellowstone and Grand Tetons National Parks shows that the bear population is increasing in size. The tests also indicate that the population is not suffering from a lack of genetic diversity, which can happen in an animal population contained within a (relatively) small area. While the current range of the Yellowstone grizzly is around the size of South Carolina, that represents a greatly restricted home, as the species used to roam the U.S. from California to Ohio and from Alaska to Mexico. And while there were once tens of thousands of grizzlies in North America, there remain only about 2000 in the lower 48. Almost all of these are found in Wyoming, Montana, and Idaho, with a small population of maybe 80 bears in Washington state.

2000px-Flag_of_California.svg

Of course, the state flag of California still features a grizzly bear, even though the last time a bear was seen in California was in 1924. In the 1800s, residents of San Francisco could watch grizzlies swim across the San Francisco Bay to Angel Island! What a sight that would be. The Center for Biological Diversity is calling for the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service to consider reintroducing grizzlies to California’s Sierra Nevada Mountains. Read more at CBD’s newsroom here.

Read about the bear study here.

Read about bringing back grizzlies at Defenders of Wildlife’s site here

U.S. House Passes Badly Needed Anti-Poaching Bill

Legislation cracking down on international wildlife trafficking and supporting park rangers in Africa sailed through the House of Representatives yesterday with strong bipartisan support. Putting wildlife trafficking crimes on par with gun and drug trafficking, the bill would also allow the government to put much greater pressure on nations where poaching is rampant. It also provides support for front-line rangers to prevent poaching in African nations.

You can call on your senators to support the Global Anti-Poaching Act as it moves to the U.S. Senate next.

Easy link to find your senators’ phone numbers.

Read more at Defenders of Wildlife.

Entangled Whale Freed off California Coast

So, it took two days, but the poor humpback is free. Rescuers from the national oceans agency (NOAA) and San Diego SeaWorld finally cut away over 300 feet (!!) of fishing line, including a lobster trap, that was entangling the whale from tip to tail. There may have still been some fishing line in the whale’s mouth when it swam off, but hopefully it will be all right.

This incident is one of a growing number of whale entanglements. California fishermen are actively working with the state to come up with ways to prevent the abandonment of “orphan” fishing gear, which is usually what entangles marine mammals. Unfortunately, NOAA has had to respond to 50 whale entanglements so far this year.

If you see a marine mammal in distress, please maintain 100 yards distance, and call the NOAA Response Hotline at 1-877-SOS-WHALe (1-877-767-9425).

View the video at Huffington Post here