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Spectacular orca show ‘like fireworks on 4th of July’ | GrindTV.com.

Pufferfish Love Explains Mysterious Underwater Circles – Yahoo News.

NMFS denies ribbon seal endangered species listing – Yahoo! News.

Humpback dolphin discovered off Australia is new species.

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Human Wildlife Conflicts: Should Bushmen be evicted to create a wildlife corridor?

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http://www.survivalinternational.org/news/9253

http://www.survivalinternational.org/news/9267

Sea Turtle News

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Light Pollution Deters Nesting Sea Turtles – Yahoo! News.

Sea Turtle Nests Hit A Record In Georgia.

Wildlife crimes and illegal trade

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A series of articles related to wildlife crimes and illegal trafficking of wildlife parts.

http://www.economywatch.com/economy-business-and-finance-news/the-economics-of-the-illegal-wildlife-trade.29-05.html

http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2013/may/28/un-ban-kimoon-wildlife-trafficking-central-africa

http://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/opinion/2013/05/20135262017481252.html

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/james-p-farwell/slaughtering-elephants-an_b_3328425.html

New Zealand: Experiment in Ecosystem development

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New Zealand is a beautiful place. Emerald hills, rugged mountains, and lush forests all mixed together to create unique habitats. But probably the most interesting aspect of New Zealand is that it has no native species of land based mammals. In fact the only mammals native to this island country  are a few bats.

Mountains in New Zealand

Mountains in New Zealand

This may seem weird as New Zealand has become somewhat famous for the size of its red deer. While these islands are now home to several large mammals these species are not supposed to be there. They were imported by Europeans as they began to settle the area. Since then many species of game animals, particularly red stags and fallow deer have thrived in this lush country.

Ever since humans arrived on these islands we have been manipulating the ecosystem. The Giant Moas were among the first victims of humans in New Zealand. These relatives of ostriches were easy prey for the first settlers of New Zealand and were quickly wiped out. Later, when the first Europeans arrived bringing along land based mammals the ecosystem was again drastically altered leading to further declines in bird life.

Giant Moas

Giant Moas

Until the intervention of man, these islands were the only place in the world where birds had won the evolutionary arms race against mammals. Across all other land masses mammals were the dominant life forms. This was the one great stronghold of birds in which they were the dominant taxa. All ecological niches had been filled by the evolution of some adaptation or another within birds. Even to this day birds dominate the landscape outside of those areas which man has aided his mammalian stock in taking hold.

Monstrous black bear captured, relocated in Florida | GrindTV.com

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Monstrous black bear captured, relocated in Florida | GrindTV.com.

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).

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