May 22 2015

Black bear genetic study expanded to all of North America

Published by under News

It’s not always about grizzlies. Sometimes, our much larger population of black bears gets some attention . . .

Last year, researchers examined the genetic diversity of American black bears in Missouri, Arkansas and Oklahoma. Now, scientists have expanded the study to include black bears throughout North America and have found a bit more about the genetics of these bears.

“This is the first genomics study of black bears across their range,” said Emily Puckett, one of the researchers, in a news release. “Using advanced nuclear genomics, the team delineated three geographic lineages of bears in the western and eastern regions of North America and in Alaska. After identifying the three lineages, the team delineated them into nine geographically relevant regional clusters to better understand the relationships of populations within each cluster.”

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May 22 2015

2015 Citizen Science opportunities at Glacier Park

Published by under News

From the official press release . . .

The Crown of the Continent Research Learning Center at Glacier National Park will continue its Citizen Science Program this summer, offering free research and learning opportunities for the public.

The program trains individuals to identify, observe, and record information on mountain goats, bighorn sheep, pikas, aquatic insects, loons, and invasive plants in Glacier National Park. These species have been targeted because of their sensitivity to changes in habitat, human disturbances and, in the case of invasive plants, their threat to native biodiversity. Participants are asked to attend a one-day training session before collecting data for a project.

High Country Citizen Science
Observe mountain goats, bighorn sheep, pikas, and aquatic insects at selected sites to assist with population and distribution estimates. These species are habitat and temperature sensitive and may be affected by climate change. Monitoring takes place June through October. Training Dates: June 12, June 19, or July 2

Common Loon Citizen Science
Gather information on the distribution and reproduction of common loons to understand more about population trends and nesting success. Glacier National Park is home to about 20% of Montana’s breeding Common Loons. Monitoring takes place May through September.
Training Date: May 22, June 18, June 26, or July 9

Invasive Plant Citizen Science
Learn to identify five targeted invasive plants and use GPS units to map their locations while hiking along trails in Glacier National Park. Monitoring takes place June through September. Interested invasive plant citizen science participants can be trained in one of two ways:
1. Complete online training session at http://www.crownscience.org/getinvolved/citizen-science/noxious-weeds.
2. Attend annual weed blitz on Tuesday, July 21. Participants will assist Glacier National Park by pulling targeted weeds.

Additional training sessions for any of the programs may be scheduled based on interest.

 

Since 2005, the Glacier National Park Citizen Science Program has utilized trained citizen scientists to collect baseline population data on species of interest within the park. Training is provided to participants to inform them of threats to native plants and wildlife that may result from human disturbance, climate change, and invasive species. Perhaps most importantly, the Citizen Science Program helps create an informed group of visitors involved in active stewardship of Glacier National Park.

Please contact the Crown of the Continent Research Learning Center at 406-888-7986 to register for training or for more information, or visit http://www.crownscience.org/getinvolved/citizen-science.

Funding and support for the Crown of the Continent Research Learning Center’s Citizen Science Program is provided by the Glacier National Park Conservancy. The Glacier National Park Conservancy, a private non-profit 501(c)(3) organization, is the official non-profit fundraising partner of Glacier National Park by providing support for preservation, education, and research through philanthropy and outreach. Visit http://glacierconservancy.org/ for more information about the Conservancy.

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May 21 2015

Government releases wildfire strategy aimed at protecting sage grouse

Published by under Environmental Issues,News

The feds have developed a wildfire strategy they hope will help protect sage grouse . . .

A federal wildfire strategy released Tuesday aims to protect the West’s sagebrush country that is home to a struggling bird species and to help prevent the sage grouse from being classified as threatened or endangered later this year.

Interior Secretary Sally Jewell was in Boise to announce the plan making greater sage grouse habitat a priority for fire prevention and response, focusing mainly on the Great Basin region of Idaho, Utah, Nevada, Oregon and California.

The plan comes as the federal government and Western states scramble to implement plans meant to halt the decline of sage grouse populations and habitat. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is under a court order to decide by Sept. 30 whether the sage grouse merits protections from the Endangered Species Act.

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May 21 2015

Motorists hauling watercraft must stop at AIS inspection stations

Published by under Environmental Issues,News

Montana really doesn’t want folks importing aquatic invasive species. From the official press release . . .

Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks officials reminded private and commercial boaters yesterday that state law requires all motorists hauling watercraft—from trailers with motorboats or inflatable rafts to canoes and kayaks perched atop cars and pick-up trucks—to stop at inspection stations.

The annual education and enforcement effort, which this year includes multiple chances to win prizes from an array of local sponsors, is to further curb the risk of aquatic invasive species from attaining a foothold in Montana waters.

Seventeen well-marked inspection stations will again be in operation beginning Thursday, May 21 through September at key border crossings, along major highways, and on heavily used water bodies. Motorists who stop will have their equipment checked—and cleaned if needed—and get information on how to enter a raffle for prizes to be awarded throughout the boating season.

Montana law requires private motorists and outfitters and guides hauling watercraft—including motorboats, sailboats, kayaks, canoes, rowboats, rafts, jet skis and even small kick boats popular among some anglers—to always stop at AIS watercraft inspection stations for a brief interview and equipment check. Most inspections take fewer than five minutes but failure to stop could lead to a $135 fine.

Last year, nearly 35,000 watercraft were inspected at Montana’s roadside stations. A total of 54 motorboats and three non-motorized watercrafts were found to have been fouled by zebra mussels and other AIS contaminants and hundreds more contained standing water or noninvasive vegetation.

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May 21 2015

Flathead Forest Forest Plan Revision receives more than 19,000 comments

Published by under Environmental Issues,News

Joe Kreuger and his staff at the Flathead National Forest have got their work cut out for them. The proposed Forest Plan triggered a lot of feedback . . .

The Flathead National Forest received over 19,000 public comment submissions for its proposed revision of the forest plan, according to the agency.

Forest officials are still sorting through reams of emails and letters following the May 15 deadline for public comment.

Joe Krueger, project leader and forest planner for the Flathead National Forest, said his team continues to count the number of submissions that were filed and some that were postmarked by last Friday may still be arriving.

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May 17 2015

Montana looking at tighter trapping restrictions near Glacier and Yellowstone

Published by under Environmental Issues,News

Montana FWP wants to tighten trapping rules near national parks to protect Canada Lynx . . .

Montana wildlife officials are considering stricter regulations in an effort to reduce the chances of Canada lynx being caught in traps set for other animals outside Glacier and Yellowstone national parks.

The plan presented to the state Fish and Wildlife Commission on Thursday is part of a settlement agreement in a lawsuit filed in 2013 by three environmental groups over trapping in the threatened species’ habitat.

Several of the settlement’s statewide restrictions are already in place, but additional changes are needed in special zones near Yellowstone National Park and a wider area outside Glacier National Park in northwestern Montana, Fish, Wildlife and Parks attorney Aimee Fausser said.

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May 15 2015

Montana wishes to cut bobcat quotas

Published by under Environmental Issues,News

Montana FWP wants to cut back on the Bobcat take . . .

Montana wildlife officials are considering cutting bobcat quotas across a broad swath of central and northern Montana.

John Vore of Fish, Wildlife and Parks says agency officials have seen a drop in bobcat numbers in those areas. He attributes the decline to a cyclical population shift, but says the agency doesn’t want to exacerbate the drop through hunting and trapping.

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May 14 2015

Kootenai National Forest’s East Reservoir timber sale draws lawsuit

Published by under Environmental Issues,News

The Kootenai National Forest is drawing fire from the Alliance for the Wild Rockies over a large timber sale it has in the works . . .

The Alliance for the Wild Rockies has sued the Kootenai National Forest over a logging project it claims will lose almost $2.6 million in tax dollars.

“The EIS for this logging project is so full of misrepresentations, omissions and egregious violations of a host of federal laws that we really had no choice except to challenge it in court,” said Michael Garrity, the environmental group’s executive director.

“It’s so bad, even the Forest Service had to acknowledge that it was violating its own forest plan, and then sought to illegally amend the forest plan to exempt itself from protecting grizzlies, bull trout and lynx as required by the Endangered Species Act,” he said.

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Also read:

Group Sues to Halt Massive Logging Project in Kootenai National Forest

Big timber project appealed

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May 14 2015

Chickens and boneyards attract grizzlies

Published by under Environmental Issues,News

A good report on discussions of bear attractants at the recent Northern Continental Divide Ecosystem grizzly bear management meeting . . .

Chickens continue to be a problem for bear managers in the Flathead Valley, Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks bear specialist Tim Manley told Northern Continental Divide Ecosystem bear managers last week.

Manley said of the 10 bear complaints he’s responded to so far this spring, nearly all of them involved bears getting into chickens, ducks or both. The most effective way to keep bears out of coops and feed is electric fencing or electric wiring over gates and doors.

He showed a comical video of a grizzly bear attempting to get through the door of a coop with an electric screen over it. The bear was shocked, ran away and never came back. He also showed a video of just how well bears catch chickens — pouncing on chickens like they were salmon and swallowing them just as fast.

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May 14 2015

Presentation Monday on wolverines in Glacier National Park

Published by under Environmental Issues,News

From the official press release . . .

The Crown of the Continent Research Learning Center at Glacier National Park is hosting a brown-bag luncheon presentation about wolverines in the park by Dr. John Waller on Monday, May 18, from 12 – 1 p.m. at the park’s community building in West Glacier.

Dr. John Waller is the park’s carnivore ecologist and has been actively seeking to expand knowledge about wolverines in Glacier National Park. Wolverines are one of the least studied animals in the United States. Research indicates that Glacier National Park has the largest reproducing population in the lower 48 states.

The Glacier National Park Crown of the Continent Research Learning Center hosts brown-bag lectures throughout the year. Learn more about the Crown of the Continent Research Learning Center at http://www.nps.gov/glac/learn/nature/ccrlc.htm.

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