Category Archives: Endangered Species

The world is losing bees at an alarming rate. What will happen if they go extinct?

Where would we be without bees? As far as important species go, they are top of the list. They are critical pollinators: they pollinate 70 of the around 100 crop species that feed 90% of the world. Honey bees are responsible for $30 billion a year in crops.

That’s only the start. We may lose all the plants that bees pollinate, all of the animals that eat those plants and so on up the food chain. Which means a world without bees could struggle to sustain the global human population of 7 billion. Our supermarkets would have half the amount of fruit and vegetables.

It gets worse. We are losing bees at an alarming rate….

To read the full article and view a video from the BBC, click on this sentence.

The costs of inaction on climate change will be “catastrophic”, according to U.S. Secretary of State

[John] Kerry was responding to a major report by the UN which described the impacts of global warming as “severe, pervasive and irreversible”.

He said dramatic and swift action was required to tackle the threats posed by a rapidly changing climate.

Our health, homes, food and safety are all likely to be threatened by rising temperatures, the report says.

Scientists and officials meeting in Japan say the document is the most comprehensive assessment to date of the impacts of climate change on the world.

In a statement, Mr Kerry said: “Unless we act dramatically and quickly, science tells us our climate and our way of life are literally in jeopardy. Denial of the science is malpractice.

 “There are those who say we can’t afford to act. But waiting is truly unaffordable. The costs of inaction are catastrophic.”….
Read the full article, from the BBC.

Rusty Blackbird Spring Migration Survey – Your Help is Requested

Scott Kruitbosch, the Conservation & Outreach Coordinator at the Roger Tory Peterson Institute of Natural History in Jamestown, NY, is asking for help monitoring Rusty Blackbirds during the Spring Migration.

Learn more in this blog entry:    http://rtpi.org/rusty-blackbird-spring-migration-blitz/

Soott asks:  “Please help find Rusty Blackbirds — one of the fastest declining species on the continent — wherever you are during the blitz.    Feel free to email me if you have any other questions and good luck finding them.”

His e-mail address is: skruitbosch@rtpi.org

You might also like to visit the website of the Roger Tory Peterson Institute of Natural History.

America’s Bats in Danger from a Disease that First Occurred here in Upstate New York

It is quite possible that you have already heard about the White-nose Syndrome that is doing terrible damage to cave-dwelling bats in the USA, but what exactly is it!

According to the USGS, “White-nose syndrome (WNS) is an emergent disease of hibernating bats that has spread from the northeastern to the central United States at an alarming rate. Since the winter of 2007-2008, millions of insect-eating bats in 22 states and five Canadian provinces have died from this devastating disease. The disease is named for the white fungus, Pseudogymnoascus destructans, that infects skin of the muzzle, ears, and wings of hibernating bats.”

White-nose  syndrome was first discovered in North America in upstate New York in February 2006,  in  a cave adjoining a commercial cave visited by 200,000 people per year.  The fungus appears to have been introduced to North America  from Europe. It has  been found on cave bats in 12 countries in Europe, where bats appear to be adapted to,  and unaffected by, the fungus.  Because bats do not travel between the  continents, this strongly suggests the fungus was newly introduced to North  America by people — likely cave visitors who transported it on  their gear or clothing.

An estimated 6.7 million bats have died since 2006 because of an outbreak of white-nose syndrome.  It has  wiped out entire colonies and left caves littered with the bones of dead bats.  The epidemic is considered the worst wildlife disease outbreak in North American  history and shows no signs of slowing down. It threatens to drive some bats  extinct and could do real harm to the pest-killing services that bats provide,  worth billions of dollars each year, in the United States. [Source: Center for Biological Diversity]

View photos here.

The latest news articles on this disease are available from White-noseSyndrome.org, here, and this includes the fact that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is awarding $1.4 million in grants for work on the deadly bat disease, with a further $2 million available in a second round of grants.

What can you do to help?

The key things are:

Avoid possible spread of WNS by humans

    • Stay out of caves and mines where bats are known – or suspected – to hibernate (hibernacula) in all states.

Honor cave closures and gated caves.

 Avoid disturbing bats

  • Stay out of all hibernacula when bats are hibernating (winter).

 Be observant

  • Report unusual bat behavior to your state natural resource agency, including bats flying during the day when they should be hibernating (December through March) and bats roosting in sunlight on the outside of structures. More difficult to discern is unusual behavior when bats are not hibernating (April through September); however, bats roosting in the sunlight or flying in the middle of the day would be unusual. Bats unable to fly or struggling to get off the ground would also be unusual.

Click here for further advice.

(Compiled by Eddie Wren, from relevant websites)

The excellent wildlife photography book, ‘BEAR’, by Paul Nicklen (Tuesday evening’s speaker at Kleinhans, in Buffalo)

One of my recent posts was about Paul Nicklen’s National Geographic presentation on Tuesday, March 4th, at Kleinhans, in Buffalo.

Today (March 2), I’ve spent quite some time looking at his excellent wildlife photography book:  ‘BEAR — The Spirit of the Wild’

The cover of Paul Nicklen's book, 'BEAR'
The cover of Paul Nicklen’s book, ‘BEAR’

The introductory description of the book, inside the dust jacket, reads:  “…a powerful visual journey that reveals the private world of the great denizens of the wild north. National Geographic photographer and biologist Paul Nicklen takes readers on a special journey to some of his favorite corners of the planet’s northern latitudes, providing rare and intimate glimpses of bears and portraying them as noble ambassadors of the wild.  Through his unforgettable images and personal narrative, Nicklen strives to show us a different side of bears…” Initially, when I first opened to the book to flick through the photographs, I was a little cautious because some of the first half-dozen images have been pushed to the very limit in terms of printing very small sections of the original file and/or filling a double-page spread, but despite some visible ‘noise’ on those images as a result of this, it cannot be denied that they are still very powerful.  And the good news is that such issues are confined to those initial images; from that point on the quality gets higher and effectively stays there.  Indeed, many of the subsequent images are nothing short of jaw-dropping. Introductory small images of Mr. Nicklen himself, on pages 20-23, show just how close he is prepared to work  to bears and — quite literally — the validity of his approach is put into words by the start of his introduction, on page 19, where he writes: “If you have picked up this book hoping to read about a near-death experience with a bear, you will be deeply dissappointed.  As you will witness through the images and the stories from these great authors, none of us has a terrifying story to tell.  Instead, we have all been greatly inspired by the last true nomads of North America…”

My own favourite images?  Well, I’m going to list the page numbers but there’s a very high chance that your favourites would be different to mine, as they undeniably should be, because we all have different likes.

  • Polar bears: 34-35, 36-37, 40-41, 48, 54-55, 198
  • Grizzlies: 86-87, 88-89, 104-5,  112-13
  • Black bears: 152-3
  • Spirit bears (i.e. white-coloured black bears but they’re not albinos): 166-67, 168-69, 172-73 (same as cover), 178-79

There are some excellent none-bear photographs, too, including several environmental shots — mostly from planes — as well as:

  • narwhals at a large breathing hole, with polar bears watching
  • an outrageously good shot of a ringed seal surfacing
  •  caribou migrating
  •  salmon migrating

Whether or not you are going to Paul Nicklen’s talk in two days’ time — which is not all about bears — you might want to check this book out.  (Barnes & Noble on Niagara Falls Boulevard has a copy in the ‘Nature’ section, by the bow window.)  It is $35.00 but for any keen wildlife watcher or nature photographer it would be a fine addition to one’s library.

The other book by Paul that I know of is called ‘Polar Obsession’, which clearly will be more closely related to his imminent talk (click for further details).

Eddie Wren

White House Releases Strategy to Combat Wildlife Trafficking

The White House released a National Strategy for Combating Wildlife Trafficking last week in an effort to address the increase in illegal wildlife trade, which threatens wildlife conservation and global security.

The U.S. is one of the world’s largest markets for both legal and illegal wildlife and wildlife products….

….The strategy aims to reduce illegal trade in wildlife not only in the U.S., but around the world by focusing on three main priorities: strengthening enforcement, reducing demand for illegally traded wildlife, and expanding international cooperation and commitment….

Read the full article, from the Wildlife Society

Only 600 whooping cranes left in North America, and 3 were just shot!

The endangered whooping crane population currently stands at only about 600 in all of North America — and shootings are cutting into that number.

In the past few months, three of the continent’s tallest birds, at some five feet, have been killed: Two were apparently killed in November in Kentucky, and one was found shot dead in southwestern Louisiana on Friday.

The identities of the birds make a “senseless act” all the more “devastating,” says Robert Love of the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries….

Read the full article, from Fox News.