Wildlife

Surveys of endangered Mount Graham red squirrel show decline due to impacts from the Frye Fire

mt-grahm-red-squirrel
Mount Graham Red Squirrel

PHOENIX — An annual survey of the endangered Mount Graham red squirrel showed a significant decline due to the effects of the lightning caused Frye Fire in the Pinaleño Mountains of southeastern Arizona. 

The annual survey, conducted jointly by the Arizona Game and Fish Department (AZGFD), Coronado National Forest, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Arizona Center for Nature Conservation – Phoenix Zoo, and the University of Arizona, resulted in an estimate of only 35 squirrels. This is a significant decrease from the 252 squirrels estimated in 2016. Evidence of the Frye Fire was observed in 95% of the surveyed locations, 80% showed at least some habitat loss, and 44% were completely burned. 

Forest Service, Arizona Game and Fish, Mount Graham Red Squirrel, fire

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Bees are Critically Important to Humans, So Construct a Garden they Will Love

bees
(Photo via Pixabay)

Honey bees are the greatest pollinators that farmers have, according to The Nature Conservancy. Unfortunately, bee colonies have been rapidly disappearing, and humans should know that they can do their part to create a bee haven in their own yard. There are many reasons – most of them largely speculative – as to why bee colonies are being abandoned by their inhabitants. But methods for preserving the bee population are proven. If certain measures are taken in gardening practices, we can help ensure that bees continue the pollination process so critical to man’s food supply.

bees, pollinators

Read more: Bees are Critically Important to Humans, So Construct a Garden they Will Love

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Public invited to release of California Condors

California Condor
California Condor

Public invited to release of California Condors on Saturday, Sept. 30, at Vermilion Cliffs National Monument  

VERMILION CLIFFS, Ariz. – California Condors will be released to the wild in Vermilion Cliffs National Monument in northern Arizona at 11 a.m. Saturday, Sept. 30. The public is welcome to observe the release from a viewing area where spotting scopes will be set up and project personnel will be available to answer questions.  

The release coincides with National Public Lands Day, the nation’s largest hands-on volunteer effort to improve and enhance America’s public lands. National Public Lands Day involves the U.S. Bureau of Land Management and other federal agencies, along with state and local governments and private groups.  

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Lesser Prairie-Chicken Range-wide Plan is working on the Landscape

Lesser Prairie ChickenThe Western Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies (WAFWA) has released a new video demonstrating how the mitigation program in the Lesser Prairie-Chicken Range-wide Conservation Plan is successfully conserving habitat for this iconic grassland bird. The video documents work being done on a West Texas ranch that is being funded by industry participation in the plan. The video was produced through a partnership between WAFWA, the Natural Resources Conservation Service and Pheasants Forever.

The range-wide plan allows industry to continue operations while reducing and mitigating impacts to the bird and its grassland habitat. Industry contributions support conservation actions implemented by participating private landowners. Pioneer Natural Resources is one of more than 160 companies that are enrolled in the plan.

Lesser Prairie Chicken, conservation plan

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Aerial Surveys Confirm Lesser Prairie-Chicken Population is Holding Steady

The latest lesser prairie-chicken survey shows bird population trends remain stable after six years of aerial survey data collection. The survey indicates an estimated breeding population of 33,269 birds this year, up from 24,648 birds counted last year. Though scientists are encouraged by the numbers, they know that year-to-year fluctuations are the norm with upland birds like the lesser prairie-chicken.

“The survey results indicate a 34% increase in the number of birds, but we don’t read too much into short-term population fluctuations,” explained Roger Wolfe, WAFWA’s Lesser Prairie-chicken Program Manager. “The monitoring technique used for this survey is designed to track trends which more accurately reflect the amount of available habitat and population stability. The bottom line is that the population trend over the last five years indicates a stable population, which is good news for all involved in lesser prairie-chicken conservation efforts.”

Lesser-prairie chickens can be found in four ecoregions in five states: Colorado, Kansas, New Mexico, Oklahoma and Texas.  Wildlife biologists note prairie chicken numbers regularly fluctuate up and down from year to year due to changes in habitat conditions mainly influenced by weather patterns. The surveys this year indicated apparent population increases in three of the four ecoregions and range-wide, with an apparent decrease estimated in the fourth ecoregion.

Lesser Prairie Chicken, population trends

Read more: Aerial Surveys Confirm Lesser Prairie-Chicken Population is Holding Steady

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