Gray Wolf

12-graywolf-caseygirard

About Them: Gray Wolves also known as Timber Wolves have been in North America for a very long time. Wolves live in a pack that is basically a family group. It is a pair and their young year after year with a few other adults. Gray Wolves look a bit like German Shepards. They can range in color from black to gray to white, when in the gray tones they look the most like German Shepards. They have maintained living across Alaska, Canada, and the Western Great Lakes on their own, but there range is expanding as they remain on the Endangered Species List.

Their plight: Humans are the only problem for Gray Wolves. It is a very tough balance to reach with Gray Wolves having large enough populations that they seek out feeding on livestock. Wolves first went extinct from most of the lower 48 by hunting, trapping, and poisoning. It was only once we disallowed all of these things and reintroduced them into Yellow Stone that wolves began to gain healthy populations again.

In many of the lower 48 states the Gray Wolf does have healthy populations. There are enough that they are again becoming trouble for ranchers. However, they should be in more areas of the US and each State makes such drastically different choices about how to continue caution around the wolves keeps them on the Endangered Species Act.

What we should consider: It is very difficult to be a rancher living on acres of wilderness in Idaho and having a person from Washington DC tell you how you can take care of your land. I honestly don’t think it is truly understood how isolated some rural areas are. You are on your own. This lack of expressed compassion of this culture keeps a battle going on for endangered species like wolves. There needs to be a better way to accommodate individuals for property damage.

A wolf is a predator, a big predator. It is amazing to me that there is enough wilderness in the lower 48 for there to be over 4,000 wolves. The hope is to have them continue spreading out. More is needed to make sure all states are going to be able to successfully cooperate. 

What is being done: The wolves are being kept on the Endangered Species Act. There is still a captive breeding program to help bolster current wolf populations and also to reintroduce them to more areas. Education and outreach is also present.

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.

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 or other local conservation group is a great first step into finding activities and ways to become a citizen scientist and environmental advocate.

Further Reading, my sources:

https://www.nbcnews.com/news/us-news/court-rules-gray-wolves-remain-endangered-western-great-lakes-n788651

https://www.nationalgeographic.com/animals/mammals/g/gray-wolf/

https://defenders.org/gray-wolf/basic-facts

https://defenders.org/success/victory-wyoming-wolves

https://defenders.org/wolf-awareness-week

https://kids.nationalgeographic.com/animals/gray-wolf/#gray-wolf-closeup.jpg

https://www.nationalgeographic.com/animals/mammals/g/gray-wolf/

https://www.nwf.org/Educational-Resources/Wildlife-Guide/Mammals/Gray-Wolf

http://naturemappingfoundation.org/natmap/facts/gray_wolf_k6.html

http://naturemappingfoundation.org/natmap/maps/wa/mammals/WA_gray_wolf.html

http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/80beats/2010/08/10/why-gray-wolves-are-back-on-the-endangered-species-list/#.W77j5BNKiL8

http://faculty.montgomerycollege.edu/gyouth/FP_examples/student_examples/bryn_alcorn_wolves/index.html

http://www.timberwolfinformation.org/gallary/

https://www.opb.org/news/article/gray-wolves-protections-endangered-review-interior/

https://www.nbcnews.com/news/us-news/court-rules-gray-wolves-remain-endangered-western-great-lakes-n788651

https://www.mprnews.org/story/2018/10/09/wolf-death-causes-review-of-procedure

https://www.fws.gov/midwest/wolf/aboutwolves/biologue.htm

[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.]

Cave Crayfish

11-cavecrayfish-caseygirarda

About Them: I have chosen a general species this time. There are a few subspecies that are struggling across Arkansas and Oklahoma, Cambarus aculabrum, Cambarus zophanastes, Cambarus tartarus. They are all small translucent or very light cray fish with poor eye site. The differences marked between them are super scientific sounding words about bodily form. Species in caves are evolved to function in the dark with little to no impact from outside. This means their metabolisms slow down, they mature later, and live longer. These are the worst characteristics to have when encountering sudden environmental changes.

Very little is actually known about these subspecies. For the Cambarus aculabrum crayfish found in Arkansas only 40 individuals have been counted total in a year. Given data from species of cave crayfish in Florida is it likely they have a life span of close to 40 years.

Their plight: They have very specific and limited habitat. They are in just a few caves, 4 in Arkansas/Missouri (one cave has 58 miles in Missouri) for Cambarus aculabrum and 3 for Cambarus zophanastes in Arkansas and seemingly only 3 across Oklahoma for Cambarus tartarus. The trouble for them is water pollution from storm run off and the clearing of plants on the surface causing less water to make it’s way into the caves, but instead evaporating.

They are also trampled by people walking in the caves.

What we should consider: How do you best help a species that has potentially a low population really no matter what you do? Also, is there a possibility that there are more caves where more of these species is living? Caves are so strange. I hope there are simply so we aren’t at such risk of seeing these crayfish go away.

What is being done: With limited data, the species is on the endangered species list, the most successful space where they live in Arkansas has become a National Wildlife Refuge and is protected with fences to keep out trespassers.

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.

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 or other local conservation group is a great first step into finding activities and ways to become a citizen scientist and environmental advocate.

Further Reading, my sources:

https://www.encyclopedia.com/environment/science-magazines/cave-crayfish-cambarus-aculabrum

https://www.fws.gov/refuge/Logan_Cave/wildlife_and_habitat.html

https://ecos-beta.fws.gov/ecp0/profile/speciesProfile?sId=5011

https://www.jstor.org/stable/20424733?seq=1#page_scan_tab_contents

http://www.earthsendangered.com/profile.asp?gr=CR&sp=604

https://ntrl.ntis.gov/NTRL/dashboard/searchResults/titleDetail/PB2008105015.xhtml

http://www.iucnredlist.org/details/3678/0

(not Arkansas cave crayfish) https://www.smallincave.com/Cave%20Life%20Photos.html

https://www.wildlifedepartment.com/wildlifemgmt/endangered/crayfish.htm

https://ecos.fws.gov/ecp0/profile/speciesProfile?spcode=K02T

[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.]

Wyoming Toad

wyomingtoad-caseygirard

About Them: A toad that was thought to be extinct, but was found on private land. From that group of toads multiple groups have been working together to bring the toads back to a self sustaining population. Presently they continue existing in the wild because of reintroduced young every year although, the efforts are getting closer to seeing the toads reproduce in on their own.

These are a species created from a glacial divide from thousands of years ago. They evolved to survive in southern Wyomings. They are a palm sized toad that swims a lot more than I was expecting of a toad.

Their plight: There is not one specific reason why the toad declined. There are multiple factors that played a role, sprayed pesticide, altered landscape – diverting water from ponds, and the dreadful amphibian killer – chytrid fungus. 

What we should consider: The toads are seeing recovery because everyone is working together. This is a marvelous story of private land owners, Fish and Wildlife, zoos and citizen scientists coming together and taking action. If all species on the Endangered Species Act had this kind of care behind them we would see a lot more success. Even with that, recovery takes years possibly decades. It is always important to remember that when judging the ESA on how well it is performing.

Please remember the ESA has already been changed. States are going to be more responsible for implementing and creating recovery plans for endangered species within their borders. It is more important than ever to look locally to help.

I wanted to point out this well phrased line by Kelsey Dayton from her WyoFile article “Amphibians are considered indicator species and often when populations decline it’s a sign of problems within the ecosystem that can later impact other species.” Humans are part of the ecosystem too, we are lucky in that we can change it to suit our needs, but there will be a point of no return for our survival. The amphibians are showing us how important it is to be careful.

What is being done: Private land owners are on board allowing their land to be reintroduction sites for the captive breed toads. Many organizations have come together to research these animals and sort out what they can do to make a self sustaining wild population again.

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.

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 or other local conservation group is a great first step into finding activities and ways to become a citizen scientist and environmental advocate.

Further Reading, my sources:

https://www.npr.org/2017/06/19/533203933/wyoming-toads-rebound-as-states-seek-endangered-species-act-reforms

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bxyp5K_Ztf8

National Geographic’s version https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RHVIymD3Ppk

Kansas City Zoo’s version https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AuELw7PjpQA

http://amphibianrescue.org/tag/wyoming-toad/

http://amphibianrescue.org/2011/08/25/the-fascinating-wyoming-toad/

https://www.fws.gov/mountain-prairie/es/wyomingToad.php

http://wyomingnaturalist.com/html/herps/a_wyoming_toad.html

https://www.stlzoo.org/animals/abouttheanimals/amphibians/frogsandtoads/wyomingtoad

http://www.reptilesmagazine.com/Once-Thought-Extinct-In-The-Wild-The-Wyoming-Toad-Makes-A-Comeback/

https://www.wyofile.com/once-nearly-extinct-the-wyoming-toad-may-recover/

https://phys.org/news/2016-06-hundreds-toads-free-at-risk-animal.html

https://www.kansascityzoo.org/conservation/wyoming-toad/

http://saveamphibians.org/wyoming-toad/

http://wildlife.org/usfws-releases-final-recovery-plan-for-wyoming-toad/

http://www.wyomingpublicmedia.org/term/wyoming-toad#stream/0

https://defendersblog.org/2013/08/road-to-recovery-wyoming-toad/

[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.]

Lange’s Metalmark Butterfly

langesmetalmark-caseygirard

About Them: These are of the family Riodinidae. Their habitat is only along the southern side of the San Joaquin River in Antioch within the constantly shifting sand dunes. They, like the plants they rely on, are endemic to this small range. They need the Naked Stemmed Buckwheat plant to feed and reproduce. Without this plant they will not lay eggs. They also feed from the Antioch Dunes Evening Primrose and the Contra Costa Wallflower.

They continue to survive because in 1980 55 acres were established as the Antioch National Wildlife Refuge to protect this extremely unique habitat allowing the butterfly some needed habitat.

Their plight: This butterfly lives in an extremely narrow range. The land compares to the Galapagos in its specificity and unique species that live within it. Unfortunately it was an easily accessible location, with sand that was perfect for making bricks which, were needed to rebuild San Francisco after the 1906 earthquake. This drastically changed the environment. Then it became an industrial area with fossil-fueled energy plants surrounding the National Wildlife Refuge, inadvertently adding too much nitrogen to the sand/soil.  This extra nitrogen hinders the growth of the native plants and helps the non-natives to flourish taking over the land area which also limits the space for the native plants.

What is being done: They have a captive breeding program going, but they aren’t able to make it self sustaining. They still need to gather females from the wild each year.

They have also begun to add sand back to the dunes from dredging of the river. Amazingly this actually helps the environment and the industry in the area. The industry doesn’t have to pay to have someone take the sand which, they need to clear so ships can pass and the refuge gets free sand it really needs to help rebuild the habitat that was disturbed.

They regularly do non-native plant removal as well. This is done by hand, with a weed-wacker or with weed killer. They do their best to use the weed killer sparingly, but there are times when it is needed.

How to help: Bring awareness and educate others. Call into state senators when legislation is being passed that could affect the continued support of policy that protects wildlife, waterways and lands. 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://sardisandstamm.wordpress.com/about-the-wildlife/langes-metalmark-butterfly/

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tFwXy8bq6lU

https://www.fws.gov/refuge/Antioch_Dunes/ (note, no substantial access to the public)

https://www.fws.gov/refuge/antioch_dunes/LMB_Surveys.html

https://www.eastbaytimes.com/2017/08/03/can-you-count-butterflies-feds-need-help-tallying-rare-antioch-species/

https://bioaccumulation.wordpress.com/2017/07/23/make-every-butterfly-count-at-the-antioch-dunes-2017/

https://www.sfgate.com/bayarea/article/Weed-killers-threaten-Lange-s-metalmark-butterfly-3451816.php

https://essig.berkeley.edu/endangered/endangered_apodlang/

https://planetgreenrecycle.com/fundraising/environment/langes-metalmark-butterfly-animals

https://xerces.org/langes-metalmark/

https://www.eastbayexpress.com/oakland/the-last-stand-of-langes-metalmark-butterfly/Content?oid=2478934

[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.]

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.]

Red Wolf

This is a tough species for me to write about. I feel deep rooted attachment to this animal because I am from the South East and it makes me feel powerless to enact change if the very place I come from does not see eye to eye with me and seems to have no interest in opening their mind to alternative view points. 

I was at the Life and Science Museum, Durham NC, this past June and was able to see their breeding pair. This is the female trying to stay cool in the heat of a southern summer.

redwolf-caseygirard

About Them: Red Wolves are a smaller wolf. There is a heated argument that they are a species born from Coyote and Gray Wolf breeding from long ago, but that is not clear.

Their plight: They are more or less extinct in the wild. By nature their territory crosses protected lands and private lands. They are predators so they will potentially cause damage to these private lands by consuming deer or potentially, livestock. The Red Wolves had been reintroduced into the wild after a multi-decade breeding program, but a few years ago because of out cry Fish and Wildlife Services allowed a ‘don’t know no fault’ clause. This meant if a wolf was shot on private land and the owner claimed they thought it was a Coyote they would not be held accountable. Since, that was allowed the wolf population is again almost gone. There is also the problem or natures way that Red Wolves breed with Coyotes. Once this happens they are no longer genetically Red Wolves.

What we should consider: Enough people must come together within the regions that were territory for this wolf to help these wolves become reestablished. Without the aid of locals there is no chance to bring this predator back. I believe this is why Fish and Wildlife and other organizers of the captive breeding program are choosing to recapture these wolves and keep them in captivity. The land for these wolves is presently not controlled by people interested in dealing with a predator.

These people aren’t necessarily wrong in their feelings either, it is really difficult to deal with an animal that scavenges and takes food from you. Most people that have land where these wolves have been introduced don’t necessarily have the means to handle the inconveniences a wolf would cause them. It’s also an uneven burden put on these people in that area. Additionally, federal and other government interventions on the American idle of freedom can come across poorly. Implementation of conservation laws have to be handled with care because you need everyone in contact with the plan to help.

What is being done: A captive breeding program exists and given a wild population is not presently viable the plan is to grow the population of captive wolves to 400 individuals.

How to help: Have conversations with people that don’t agree with you. Try to be kind and attempt to find a compromise. Bring awareness and educate others. Call into state senators when legislation is being passed that could affect the continued support of policy that protects wildlife, waterways and lands. 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 or other local conservation group is a great first step into finding activities and ways to become a citizen scientist and environmental advocate.

Further Reading, my sources:

[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.]

https://news.nationalgeographic.com/2018/06/red-wolf-hunting-policy-animals/

https://www.fws.gov/southeast/wildlife/mammal/red-wolf/

https://nywolf.org/ssp/red-wolves

The Life and Science Museum in Durham North Carolina

https://defenders.org/red-wolf/basic-facts

http://www.iucnredlist.org/details/3747/0

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/animalia/wp/2018/04/25/the-effort-to-save-red-wolves-in-the-wild-is-failing-a-five-year-review-says/?utm_term=.c4f09ecd1710

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

https://blogs.scientificamerican.com/extinction-countdown/8-years-until-red-wolf-extinction/

https://www.nwf.org/Educational-Resources/Wildlife-Guide/Mammals/Red-Wolf

https://www.biologicaldiversity.org/species/mammals/red_wolf/

https://wildlandsnetwork.org/campaigns/red-wolves/

http://thetruthaboutredwolves.com/

https://www.coastalreview.org/2018/07/nc-legislators-blast-red-wolf-plan/

https://redwolves.com/newsite/

Piping Plover

pipingplover-caseygirardAbout Them: Piping plovers are one of the adorable little birds you see running about in the surf. They spend most of there time on the ground to move about and they are able to blend into the environment so well it can be almost impossible to see them. This is unfortunately part of why they are having such a hard time surviving. Their bodies and their eggs aren’t seen until it is too late.

Their plight: They are trying to share the same beach and waterway space as humans and their pets. These birds used to use most of the states east of the Rocky Mountains, 37 states, for breeding and wintering. Now that space is very limited where it is free of human encounters such as damming, purposeful flooding, dogs off leash running through nests or chasing the birds, car driving on beaches, humans walking through or chasing the birds.

What we should consider: There are many people that would be content to use the beach so they can enjoy watching wildlife. As a birder, I actually try to get off the beaches by 10-11 on weekends because it is so unsettling to watch how most people use the beach. It hurts watching people and dogs chase birds. It is beautiful to watch birds fly suddenly in a flock, but making them do this is not ok. Birds on a beach are resting, some have just migrated 1000s of miles and are worn out. They deserve to use the beach how they want to, it’s their only home. Dogs need to be on a leash when in a public space that is for multiple uses. There are designated dog runs and fenced in fields. Also, why does anyone other than a lifeguard/coast guard need to be driving on a beach?

What is being done: Advocacy groups are doing there best to get beach activities controlled and limited. They are setting up physical barriers between nesting pairs and beach goers. They are helping to create legislation that puts in place formal protections and by defining what is safe beach and coastal land use by humans.

How to help: Protect the dunes and coastal habitats by staying off them and keeping dogs on leashes so, they aren’t destroying habitat or wildlife.

Continue bringing awareness. Call into state senators when legislation is being passed that could affect the continued support of policy that protects wildlife and coastal lands. 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.allaboutbirds.org/guide/Piping_Plover/overview

https://www.fws.gov/midwest/endangered/pipingplover/pipingpl.html

https://www.fws.gov/plover/facts.html

https://www.audubon.org/field-guide/bird/piping-plover

http://defendersblog.org/2014/07/turtles-tourists-thrive-cape-hatteras-national-seashore/?_ga=2.198515951.1954249476.1538766560-1514208625.1538766560

https://defenders.org/piping-plover/basic-facts

https://defenders.org/success/cape-hatteras-protections-upheld

http://defendersblog.org/2014/07/turtles-tourists-thrive-cape-hatteras-national-seashore/?_ga=2.198515951.1954249476.1538766560-1514208625.1538766560

https://www.biologicaldiversity.org/programs/public_lands/off-road_vehicles/index.html

https://www.biologicaldiversity.org/species/birds/piping_plover/index.html

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

[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.]

Florida Grasshopper Sparrow

FGS-caseygirard

About Them: A specific subspecies of the Grasshopper Sparrow that’s unique to the prairies of Florida. They have beautiful coloring with dark lining and spotting on their back surrounded by almost white edging. Then they have yellow above their eye and at the shoulder of their wing. They also have dark stripes across their crown with a light stripe that is almost white down the center. Their breast is lighter with no markings. You would most likely hear these birds instead of see them if you visited their habitat. You would hear an insect like call that rings out across the fields they are found in. Generally you will hear this in spring and early summer as males are advertising for a mate.

Their plight: This sparrow has suffered habitat loss, but additionally and perhaps worse now is the invasion of red fire ants. The sparrow nests on the ground so, if an ant colony is nearby it is able to decimate any sparrow babies.

Then recently they have discovered a protozoan parasite that attacks the birds organs and causes death. This is the kind of problem you see when species get to such low population size. If anything major hits, there is not room for rebound because almost all animals will likely be affected and there won’t be enough left to make a new population. 

What we should consider: Species of Florida are under more pressure than most species. In fact the first bird to go extinct after the ESA was in place was a bird that only lived in Florida, the Dusky Seaside Sparrow. The Florida Grasshopper Sparrow is really close to extinction in the wild very few are left, think under 50 if that. They did find unbanded birds in the spring of 2018. To bolster the Grasshopper Sparrow species and not letting this specialized subspecies go should matter. 

What is being done: A breeding program has begun to help build back up the population and it is seeing success. You can see videos of fledglings on the the Florida Grasshopper Sparrow facebook page. Additionally they are setting up predator detectors around sparrow nests that are located so they can neutralize the threat. Habitat continues to be restored with controlled burns. Finding ways to battle the protozoan are also in the works.

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.

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.

The Florida Audubon did have a call for volunteers in 2013 when conservation of this sparrow began. Be on the look out for more opportunities like that. -> http://fl.audubon.org/news/citizen-scientists-needed-help-florida-grasshopper-sparrows

Further Reading, my sources:

https://www.kissimmeeprairiefriends.org/florida-grasshopper-sparrow-fund.html

https://www.audubon.org/magazine/fall-2017/inside-race-save-florida-grasshopper-sparrow-north

https://blogs.scientificamerican.com/extinction-countdown/is-this-the-year-the-florida-grasshopper-sparrow-goes-extinct/

http://fl.audubon.org/news/florida-grasshopper-sparrows-vs-grasshopper-sparrows-whats-difference

http://fl.audubon.org/news/florida-grasshopper-sparrow-endangered-species-free-fall

https://www.audubon.org/magazine/march-april-2013/the-most-endangered-bird-continental-us

http://www.archbold-station.org/html/events/newsletters.html

https://youtu.be/c-UX2_QCPzI

https://youtu.be/UUEwDvl8EXs

https://youtu.be/VMYYDC89-7M

[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.]

(this is less than I originally wanted to write, but I caught a cold, hoping for a rebound myself after some rest)

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