This is my favorite kind of story — when wildlife are allowed to return to habitats they used to live in before being hunted nearly to extinction. Last week, on National Bison Day, 10 bison were reintroduced to northern Colorado, where they haven’t roamed free for more than 150 years.
The National Wildlife Federation worked to bring brucellosis-free bison to a 1000-acre parcel of open space owned by the city of Fort Collins and Larimer County. Brucellosis is a bacterial disease that can cause female bison to miscarry. Because it is possibly transmissible to domestic cattle, ranchers have long fought the reintroduction of bison in areas where their cattle might come into contact with them. The 10 bison released in Colorado last week were bred using a new technique that should guarantee they are free of brucellosis. The eventual goal is to have a herd of hundreds of bison roaming about 10,000 acres. Bison from this large herd could go on to repopulate other areas or provide fresh bloodlines to other bison herds.
Only a few bison were left in the U.S after the herds of 30 million were reduced to just a few individuals by the late 1800s. Ten bison is just a small start, but someday large herds could roam parts of Colorado again.
View the National Wildlife Federation blog post here
The citizens of Washington state just voted to enact a new law that will “prohibit the purchase, sale, and distribution of products made from a list of 10 endangered animals being exploited to the point of potential extinction, and will be enforced by strong penalties. The animals protected by I-1401 include elephants, rhinos, lions, tigers, leopards, cheetahs, marine turtles, pangolins, sharks and rays.”
This is great news, as these are some of the most targeted and trafficked animals in the world. The U.S. Senate will soon be considering a bill (recently passed by the House) that will strengthen federal criminal penalties for illegal wildlife trafficking. Although we are still sad about the death of Cecil the Lion, it is certainly true that his death has shined a spotlight on the issue of international wildlife crimes.
You can view the original National Wildlife Federation Action Fund post here
Save Animals Facing Extinction (bill sponsor)’s site here.
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.
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
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.
The Columbia Land Trust has made significant headway toward removing an eight-mile road along the banks of southern Washington’s Klickitat River. Part of the Columbia River watershed, this river is being restored to provide better salmon habitat under the direction of the Yakama Nation Fisheries agency.
The video below is really beautiful. Thanks to the Land Trust Alliance for the link.
View the restoration video at the Columbia Land Trust site here