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New River Monster Discovered in Brazil – Yahoo News

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New River Monster Discovered in Brazil – Yahoo News.

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9 Essential Facts About the Dallas Safari Club’s Rhino Hunt Permit Auction

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The proposed plan to auction off a permit to hunt a black rhino in Namibia has stirred up a lot of controversy. Many critics of the plan cannot understand that selective hunting can actually benefit conservation efforts. Hopefully the following link can help bring understanding as to how this is beneficial.

9 Essential Facts About the Dallas Safari Club’s Rhino Hunt Permit Auction.

Red-cockaded Woodpeckers: Declines and Conservation

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Bird species have faced serious declines since the Americas were colonized by Europeans. One of these species is the Red-cockaded Woodpecker. With estimated populations ranging from 920,000-1,500,000 groups at the time of European settlement these birds had fallen to only 10,000 individuals within 4,000 groups by the time they were listed as endangered in 1979.

Red-cockaded Woodpecker

Red-cockaded Woodpecker

This drastic decrease in numbers was due to an almost complete loss of habitat. These birds rely on old-growth longleaf pine forests. Particularly because they burrow in trees that are infected with red heart disease. This fungus is fairly common in trees that are 70 years old or more but with few trees left in this age range there was little habitat left in which these birds could nest.

Red-cockaded Woodpecker male

Red-cockaded Woodpecker male

The bird does seem to be on the increase in recent years. Now considered vulnerable by the IUCN the birds have increased to around 6,105 breeding groups according to the US Fish and Wildlife Service. This increases is largely attributed to better management practices for these birds and their ecosystems. Once mostly restricted to South Carolina they have now expanded back out to cover 11 states (AL, AR, FL, GA, LA, NC, MS, OK, SC, VA, and TX).

Former ‘Rat Island’ in Alaska has whole new look – Yahoo News

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Former ‘Rat Island’ in Alaska has whole new look – Yahoo News.

Chinese court sentences licensed ivory dealer to 15 years in prison | Wildlife News

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Chinese court sentences licensed ivory dealer to 15 years in prison | Wildlife News.

Does hunting affect the gene pool?

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Boone and Crockett Club | Wildlife Conservation | Deer Hunting | Elk Hunting | Big Game Hunting | Wildlife Conservation | Deer Hunting | Elk Hunting | Big Game Hunting.

Lesser Prairie-Chicken conservation

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Once widespread throughout the Great Plains the Lesser Prairie-Chickens, Tympanuches pallidicinctus, are now limited to a restricted range through parts of Texas, Oklahoma, New Mexico, Colorado, and Kansas. These smaller relatives of the Greater Prairie-Chicken are dependent on large areas of native prairie, particularly shortgrass prairie and sand sagebrush grasslands. However these birds have experienced a 92% reduction in range since the 1800s with similar decreases in the number of birds.

Habitat loss has been the largest driver of this decline. With the 92% reduction in range this seems like a natural conclusion. However, the way in which habitat is being lost may not seem as obvious. If one were to drive through the native range of these birds they might ask how is this habitat lost? There is very little construction through these areas. The habitat has actually been degraded by the conversion of prairie to agricultural land and through the construction of tall structures such as power lines and wind turbines.

Lesser Prairie-Chicken range map

Lesser Prairie-Chicken range map

Lesser Prairie-Chickens will not venture near tall structures as these are excellent perching places for hawks and other flying predators. Unfortunately for these birds, which are labeled as vulnerable by the IUCN, the best places for wind energy happen to be right in the middle of their remaining habitat. So as we attempt to create more green energy by harnessing wind we are inadvertently putting more pressure on a species that has already been pushed to the brink.

Fragmentation of land through fence construction has also been a threat to these low flying birds. When they are flushed and try to evade danger they often smash into these fences and die.

Lesser Prairie-Chicken

Lesser Prairie-Chicken

There is hope though. Several organizations are working to protect this species. NRCS, Natural Resources Conservation Service, has developed a program to promote conservation on private lands. This plan includes supporting better grading practices that maintain proper nesting cover for these birds, protecting and restoring large tracts of native prairie and  sagebrush grasslands, and increase connectivity of prairie-chicken habitat. So far 600 farmers and ranchers have enrolled in this program conserving around 1 million acres of habitat.

The Wildlife Society has also been involved in the conservation of prairie-chickens. Particularly several student chapters have organized work days to go out into prairie-chicken habitat and place reflectors on fences, with land-owner permission of course, to prevent these birds from striking fences by helping them see the wires from farther away.

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