Sonoran Pronghorn

sonoranpronghorn-caseygirard

About Them: Sonoran Pronghorn are one of five subspecies of the Pronghorn. The Sonoran only live in the Sonoran Desert between the US and Mexico.

These are incredible animals that lived through the last ice age. They evolved to live with the animals before that ice age which, caused them develop their unique traits. They can run over 50 mph, this was to get away from Dire Wolves and Saber Toothed Cats. They are able to do this because of their tiny powerful legs and their huge lungs, heart, and trachea that allow for air to flow quickly. They have huge eyes, they are the same size as an elephant’s, these are high on their head on both sides.

Their plight: These are long range migrators. They need vast open space without fences or roads. Because much of their territory crosses ranch land and country border walls they get trapped. As fast as these pronghorn can run they can’t jump, so a fence is a major barrier. They are over hunted. Their habitat is changing as the climate changes. Lack of yearly rains causes the food produced to be scarce. In the past they would migrate to better locations, but they are now hemmed in to these limited ranges.

What we should consider: What are ways we can allow for their migration across the land? Are there ways to implement fences that still make way for the Pronghorn? Given that they managed to live through a the mass extinction, the Ice Age, there is possibly much we could learn from them on how to deal with climate change.

What is being done: Captive breeding programs are in place and they are preserved on the National Wildlife Refuges in the US. There are between 80-160 left in the US (range given to date range within found reference material).

How to help: Continue bringing awareness. Call into state senators when legislation is being passed that could affect the continued support of policy that protects wildlife, national land and waterways. Support locally.

Support can be:

  • donating to science groups
  • helping to ensure funding to the organizations that creating breeding programs
  • being a citizen scientist through
    • land restoration project
    • trash clean ups
    • species counts
    • bio blitzes
  • getting people you know excited about how incredible our planet’s biodiversity is.

Joining your local Audubon Society is a great first step into finding activities and ways to become a citizen scientist and environmental advocate.

Further Reading, my sources:

https://www.nationalgeographic.com/animals/mammals/p/pronghorn/

https://www.desertusa.com/animals/pronghorn.html

https://defenders.org/sonoran-pronghorn/basic-facts

https://www.nps.gov/orpi/learn/nature/pronghorn.htm

http://www.bbc.com/earth/story/20170403-americas-pronghorns-are-survivors-of-a-mass-extinction

http://www.ens-newswire.com/ens/may2008/2008-05-22-01.html

https://medium.com/usfws/rare-sonoran-pronghorn-are-rebounding-5de9c5343ded

https://www.fws.gov/refuge/Kofa/wildlife/pronghorn.html

[This is a blog of my opinions. I speak for myself. I am a one person team and if I have misinterpreted a fact or made an error please feel free to get in touch to correct me. I will make edits and updates to post. I would appreciate corrections to be polite. I will not engage in hate.]

California Tiger Salamander

cts-caseygirard

About Them: A large black and yellow salamander that is endemic to California. There are other Tiger Salamanders, but the California Tiger Salamander is genetically different than the other subspecies. The CTS are best equipped to deal with the habitat of California’s grasslands and vernal pools. Vernal pools are small bodies of water that are only filled during the wet season. This means the life that flourishes in them is fairly specialized and used to periods of no water.

During the dry season CTSs use burrows generally dug by small mammals to survive. They go into aestivation, kind of like hibernation. The distance between these burrows and the vernal pools can be as far as a mile.

Their plight: This is another species that needs a kind of habitat that is very difficult to meld into human development. Large open grassland or foothill spaces with safe tracks for a small amphibian to walk through. These are often used for development of homes and roads leaving the salamander few pathways that aren’t interrupted by human traffic.

Then they need depressions capable of being vernal pools, generally these are also removed because vernal pools breed mosquitos.

With their reliance on the burrows of small mammals, this means they are exposed to the pesticides that are used to try to eradicate the mammals.

Finally the introduction of invasive species such as the nonnative tiger salamander which, are cross breeding with California Tiger Salamanders. The hybrids are strong more aggressive and more able to survive, but they decimate the vernal pools which, will ultimately lead to ecosystem collapse. Nonnative bullfrogs have also been introduced and  are an overly aggressive predator to the CTS.   

What we should consider: The California Endangered Species Act is almost more narrow in its scope of expectation on individual and company compliance than the ESA. It can have such tough requirements even if the farmers, who now own most of the land that is good habitat for these salamanders, are interested in being involved, to be certified is more complicated or expensive than they can manage. One scientist* for Fish and Wildlife found law that allows them a work around to still be able to comply for the safety of these salamanders without being disinterested in participating because of complex paperwork. These laws are needed to help guide humans that don’t totally understand care of habitat and species. These help them make choices that are in the right direction for the environment, but it is equally important that the laws are written so they are also tenable for anyone.

What is being done: The California Tiger Salamander was only recently added to the Endangered Species List. It has been a fight to get attention and follow through for a recovery plan. In 2017 a final recovery plan was created.

How to help: Continue bringing awareness. Call into state senators when legislation is being passed that could affect the continued support of policy that protects wildlife, land, and waterways. Support locally.

Support can be:

  • donating to science groups
  • helping to ensure funding to the organizations that creating breeding programs
  • being a citizen scientist through
    • land restoration projects
    • trash clean ups
    • species counts
    • bio blitzes
  • getting people you know excited about how incredible our planet’s biodiversity is.

Joining your local Audubon Society is a great first step into finding activities and ways to become a citizen scientist and environmental advocate.

Here is FWS’s pamphlet on how to help: https://www.fws.gov/sacramento/es_species/Accounts/Amphibians-Reptiles/Documents/What_You_Can_Do.pdf

Further Reading, my sources:

https://www.fws.gov/sacramento/es_species/Accounts/Amphibians-Reptiles/ca_tiger_salamander/

https://www.biologicaldiversity.org/species/amphibians/California_tiger_salamander/

http://www.nhptv.org/natureworks/californiatigersalamander.htm

*https://www.wildlife.ca.gov/Science-Institute/Featured-Scientist/Tag/tiger-salamander

https://www.pacificforest.org/species/california-tiger-salamander/

http://www.reptilesmagazine.com/Endangered-California-Tiger-Salamander-Gets-Tunnel-Under-Highway/

http://www.reptilesmagazine.com/Wild-Lizards/Californias-Super-Salamander-Dilemma/

https://lindsaywildlife.org/animal-ambassador/california-tiger-salamander/

https://www.fws.gov/sacramento/es_species/Accounts/Amphibians-Reptiles/Documents/What_You_Can_Do.pdf

http://www.californiaherps.com/salamanders/pages/a.californiense.html

[This is a blog of my opinions. I speak for myself. I am a one person team and if I have misinterpreted a fact or made an error please feel free to get in touch to correct me. I will make edits and updates to post. I would appreciate corrections to be polite. I will not engage in hate.]

Kirtland’s Warbler

The Kirtland’s Warbler is proof of success from the Endangered Species Act. This bird was down to 167 breeding pairs in the 1970’s when it was one of the first species to be placed on the Endangered Species List for the US. Now it is up to over 2,000 breeding pairs and up for removal from the Endangered Species List.

kirtlandwarbler-caseygirard

About them: These are larger warblers that have a gray cap and back with black streaks then, a bright yellow breast. They have white eye crescents and the males have dark in front of their eye. They have a ting territory for breeding and wintering; Northern Michigan for breeding and the Bahamas in winter. Even their migration track is almost a direct line from place to place making them only over Ohio, Georgia, and Florida with any regular notice.

Their choice for breeding habitat is very specifically jack pine forests, but only if they are six years growth from a fire. Once the trees are over 16 feet tall the warbler will not continue breeding there. This need for such specific habitat is one of the largest reasons this warbler got into peril.

The other reason is Brown-headed Cowbird nest parasitism. Brown-headed Cowbirds lived in the great plains where the Bison grazed. Because of this they constantly moved with the heard and learned to leave their eggs in the nests of other birds. Within this territory and amongst birds that evolved with them, both species were ok. Since humans have altered the land and caused large herds of grazing cattle, Brown-headed Cowbirds have been able to spread into territories of birds that did not evolve with them and they are able to harm the population of those species. The Kirtland’s Warbler is one of those species that has struggled.

What we should consider: Our legislation of the ESA does work. It saved this species from extinction. It contributed to the funding, research, and needed time to give these warbler’s back what they needed to survive. If we could succeed here, we can succeed for other species. 

What is being done: Habitat management is constantly in the works. Forests of Jack Pines are being set up in human controlled ways to provide the Kirtland’s Warbler with the needed habitat to breed. Then, Brown-headed Cowbirds are captured and kept away from these warblers.

How to help: As this species comes off the Endangered Species List support for interventions will be less, namely funding to control Brown-headed Cowbirds. There are enough Kirtland’s Warblers to experience more of the cowbirds, but if after a year or two decline is seen, the controls will need to go back on. Without being on the ESL it will be more complicated to get funding needed to implement this, and this is where independent contributors will be sought out. Be on the look out to see if they need funding.

Continue bringing awareness. Call into state senators when legislation is being passed that could affect the continued support of policy that protects wildlife and waterways. Support locally.

Support can be:

  • donating to science groups
  • helping to ensure funding to the organizations that creating breeding programs
  • being a citizen scientist through
    • land restoration project
    • trash clean ups
    • species counts
    • bio blitzes
  • getting people you know excited about how incredible our planet’s biodiversity is.

Joining your local Audubon Society is a great first step into finding activities and ways to become a citizen scientist and environmental advocate.

Further Reading, my sources:

https://www.fws.gov/midwest/news/878.html

https://www.audubon.org/field-guide/bird/kirtlands-warbler

https://www.allaboutbirds.org/guide/Kirtlands_Warbler/overview

https://www.audubon.org/news/how-makeshift-stereos-could-help-endangered-warbler-find-new-home

https://www.allaboutbirds.org/jack-pine-juggernauts-what-will-happen-to-kirtlands-warblers-after-delisting/

https://abcbirds.org/bird/kirtlands-warbler/

https://ebird.org/science/applied-projects/kirtlands

https://www.wildlife.ca.gov/Conservation/Invasives/Species/Cowbird

https://www.audubon.org/news/plot-twist-congress-considering-law-could-protect-hundreds-more-birds

Atlantic Sturgeon

The Atlantic Sturgeon. I picked this one because I love this fish. I think it is strikingly beautiful.

atlanticsturgeon001About them: Atlantic Sturgeon are huge fish once in maturity. They can weigh up to 800 lbs and be as long as 14 feet in length. They are long lived fish, up to 60 years. They do not have scales but scutes which, are 5 rows of bony plates, two rows run along their belly, a row on each side and one along their back. They have a shark like tail, with the top lobe larger than the bottom. They are bottom feeders so they have a snout for rooting in the muck and 4 sensory barbels in front of their mouth.

This is a very old fish. It has been on our earth for millions of years and survived past mass extinctions. Now, humans are making their survival much more complicated.

Historical Data: Sturgeon used to provide a booming business to fishermen, through the adult fish meat and mostly through their caviar. The abundance of food they produced was staggering, but they were horrifically overfished and over a few decades their populations plummeted. Now, this happened in those years of plenty when people of the US were just grasping their impact on species, the late 1800’s and early 1900’s. This is when the US first started putting limits on hunting and fishing. Unfortunately the damage had been done and given that this species has such a long maturity time and 3-5 years between spawning the recovery has been a struggle.

What we should consider: Along with low populations the environments where these fish spawn and live has changed. These are fish that travel up rivers from the ocean to lay eggs. They need just enough river debris for their eggs to attach and enough dissolved oxygen in the water for the eggs, then baby fish to survive. With so much agricultural run off and other pollutants entering the river ways these circumstances are not always present. The other trouble is dredgers and other large boats using the water ways take up enough space in the river as they travel that the adult fish is boxed into contact with the dangerous prop of the boat. Other human activities that accidentally kill this fish are, lost fishing nets and water turbines which suck up water from rivers for other uses. 

What is being done: When the ESA put the 5 populations of Atlantic Sturgeon on the Endangered Species list 2012, it really helped with the funding of needed research and the establishment of protections for this fish along their historical breeding habitats. Since that happened Sturgeon are being seen in their historic sites once again. Although, they are not yet seeing consistent successful breeding, meaning finding young in the rivers. 

How to help: Continue bringing awareness. Call into state senators when legislation is being passed that could affect the continued support of policy that protects wildlife and waterways. Support locally, new legislation means the ESA will need to work more closely with states and even rely more on state funding to continue protections.

Individual support can be:

  • donating to science groups
  • helping to ensure funding to the organizations that creating breeding programs
  • being a citizen scientist through
    • land restoration project
    • trash clean ups
    • species counts
    • bio blitzes
  • getting people you know excited about how incredible our planet’s biodiversity is.

Joining your local Audubon Society is a great first step into finding activities and ways to become a citizen scientist and environmental advocate.

***

Further Reading, my sources:

https://www.richmondoutside.com/2018/08/new-event-celebrates-annual-migration-of-atlantic-sturgeon/

https://www.fisheries.noaa.gov/species/atlantic-sturgeon

https://e360.yale.edu/features/atlantic_sturgeon_an_ancient_fish_struggles_against_the_flow

https://www.bayjournal.com/article/biologists_alarmed_over_lack_of_young_atlantic_sturgeon_in_surveys

https://blog.nature.org/science/2016/05/20/restoring-an-ancient-nursery-for-atlantic-sturgeon/

https://www.bayjournal.com/article/biologists_alarmed_over_lack_of_young_atlantic_sturgeon_in_surveys

http://www.dnrec.delaware.gov/fw/Fisheries/Pages/Juvenile%20Atlantic%20sturgeon%20tracking.aspx

http://www.eagletribune.com/news/haverhill/endangered-status-of-atlantic-sturgeon-up-for-review/article_d7da883c-f540-527f-9e07-25800b6deaf9.html

 

[This is a blog of my opinions. I speak for myself. I am a one person team and if I have misinterpreted a fact or made an error please feel free to get in touch to correct me. I will make edits and updates to post. I would appreciate corrections to be polite. I will not engage in hate.]

Dusky Gopher Frog

We start with the Dusky Gopher Frog. This is a subspecies of the Gopher Frog, an amphibian that gets it’s name from using burrows dug by gopher tortoises for shelter.

duskygopherfrog-Caseygirard

About Them: The Dusky Gopher Frog, a very specialized creature that used to live across, Louisiana, Alabama, and Mississippi. However, they are so specialized and sensitive they now only inhabit a few ponds in Mississippi and have recently been added to the Sandhill Crane National Wildlife Refuge. The population in the NWR is not yet a viable breeding colony as it takes 2.5 years for a female to mature to breeding age. But males are being heard singing during the breeding season! Hurray some success!

The habitat for this frog is very specific and not very conducive for close human neighbors. They need open coastal plains with specific longleaf-pine trees as the canopy. They need these pine trees to grow far enough apart that there is open canopy for sun to reach the ground. This means that regular fires should move through the area to clear out the under brush. This type of land is necessary for numerous other species on the Endangered Species list, seems unsurprising given this is such a complicated type of land to mush in with human development. Fire is suppressed and often forgotten as a natural phenomenon that plants and animals learned to adapt to. Additionally they need seasonal pools, which dry up during summer, there in, not supporting fish making the frog eggs safe.

duskygopherfrog-habitat-caseygirard

Their current legal battle: They are getting notoriety because, Fish and Wildlife Services referencing the ESA law, is asking that a parcel of private and commercial land in Louisiana be designated as suitable habitat for the frog. This would only be used if the population in Mississippi finds itself under duress. Then they would ask that the land be restored to support a translocated batch of Dusky Gopher Frogs. The landowners and company are challenging the FWS because they have rights to the land for another 20 years meaning they would see a loss in revenue if they had to adhere to the necessary requirements to make the land viable for the frog.

What we should consider: If land is designated as needed for a species we currently ask that the land owner take responsibility for this burden. With so many historical changes to land it can be a lot to make land viable for an endangered species. What can we do to make the land owners incentivized to see this as a positive for their land and not a burden? Presently it really is a problem for a land owner. They find themselves with their land under restricted use, they have to put money into making it work for the species, and the overall land value may have dropped significantly.

How to help: Continue bringing awareness. Call in that we want to allow the ESA to have this reach to reallocate land. Then help change the legislation to incentivize land owners to be on board with this. Honestly it is kind of ridiculous that a land owner who may not care about animals is suddenly responsible for their needs. If enough of our communities want to see species survive we have to take on the responsibility of making that viable.

This can mean:

  • donating to science groups
  • helping to ensure funding to the organizations that create breeding programs
  • being a citizen scientist through
    • land restoration projects
    • trash clean ups
    • species counts
    • bio blitzes
  • getting people excited about how incredible our planet’s biodiversity is

Joining your local Audubon Society is a great first step into finding activities and ways to become a citizen scientist and environmental advocate.

Further Reading, my sources:

https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/courts_law/theyre-great-little-animals-the-dusky-gopher-frog-goes-before-the-supreme-court/2018/09/29/b928b9b4-bc4f-11e8-8792-78719177250f_story.html?utm_term=.c0536fb61da4

http://amphibianrescue.org/tag/gopher-frog/

https://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/kavanaugh-endangered-species_us_5b7f15f8e4b0729515114437

https://citiesspeak.org/2018/05/01/what-happens-when-wildlife-conservation-and-economic-impacts-collide/

http://www.biokids.umich.edu/critters/Lithobates_capito/

https://ecos.fws.gov/ecp0/profile/speciesProfile?spcode=D031

https://www.nationalreview.com/magazine/2018/10/01/consider-the-dusky-gopher-frog/

https://www.oyez.org/cases/2018/17-71

https://constitutioncenter.org/blog/looking-ahead-cases-for-the-supreme-courts-new-term

Per inktober! I used Copic markers for the frog portrait and I used a Pentel brush pen for the landscape. I’m testing my skills, I have drawn digitally all year. It’s cool to test how I feel about ink again. Although, I’m not sure I love the smell of marker yet.

[This is a blog of my opinions. I speak for myself. I am a one person team and if I have misinterpreted a fact or made an error please feel free to get in touch to correct me. I will make edits and updates to post. I would appreciate corrections to be polite. I will not engage in hate.]

Inktober US Endangered Species Promts

I want to bring attention to the Endangered Species Act. It is a 45 year old law that is being called into question and is being changed by the current federal legislators. Some changes have occurred through the House Committee of Natural Resources. Then the Supreme Court will hear a case beginning October 1st which, will set precedent for what kind of reach the ESA has to protect land for endangered animals. We need to be paying attention and getting involved, these will have lasting effects. 

To bring attention and start discussion I plan to spend Inktober, a drawing exercise started by Jake Parker, drawing some of the lesser known and under loved species that find themselves on the Endangered Species Act. I know it seems hard to imagine saving some of these species, but each does play a role in the cycle of their environments and I believe it is best if we can find a way to help them survive.

I would love it if more artists participate to help bring the awareness. This is definitely a problem that needs more minds on it; I think in the end the answer for the ESA and our planet’s species is going to come from a community push of citizen scientists, which can be anyone!

If you would like to participate here is the prompt list:

Inktober2018-ESA

Rules, first follow the rules of Inktober

Our additional rule:

  1. Please include the hashtag #inktoberendangered and #protecttheESA 

 

If you are getting questions, send people back to my blog and instagram. I am going to go deeper with blog posts about each animal as well as some explanations about what is happening to the ESA right now.

If you want to get involved helping endangered and threatened species check in with your local Audubon Society. They are one of the best places to start and with new laws coming on the books they are going to need all the local help they can get for the species within their range.

****

Here are some good places to start learning about the ESA and where it is now:

Fish and Wildlife Endangered Species Main Page

National Resources Committee, their news release page of approved new bills that will affect how the ESA is implemented.

The main bill that gives States more power or to have a say in how an endangered species is protected or not protected.