American bird populations are declining across several key habitats, according to a multi-organization report. The report includes a “watch list” of bird species in need of immediate conservation help. The report also reveals, however, that in areas where a strong conservation investment has been made, bird populations are recovering.
The State of the Birds 2014 report is considered to be the most comprehensive review of long-term trend data for U.S. birds ever conducted. The report is authored by the U.S. Committee of the North American Bird Conservation Initiative—a 23-member partnership of government agencies and organizations dedicated to advancing bird conservation.
The report is based on extensive reviews of population data from long-term monitoring. It looks to birds as indicators of ecosystem health by examining population trends of species dependent on one of seven habitats: grasslands, forests, wetlands, ocean, aridlands, islands and coasts.
This year’s report is also a five-year check-in on the indicators presented in the inaugural 2009 State of the Birds report.
Full text of the 2014 State of the Birds Report can be found at stateofthebirds.org.
source: U.S. Department of the Interior
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is inviting the public to visit to a national wildlife refuge during National Wildlife Refuge Week (October 12-18, 2014).
Since 1995, refuges across the country have celebrated National Wildlife Refuge Week in early October with festivals, educational programs, guided tours and other events. Many state and local governments proclaim the week every year, and for the past four years Congress has officially recognized it.
U.S. national wildlife refuges provide areas for wildlife watching, hiking, boating, and other activities along 2,500 miles of land and water trails.
The National Wildlife Refuge System includes more than 150 million acres in 562 refuges and 38 wetland management districts.
For more information, visit www.fws.gov/refuges.
source: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
In September, NOAA released a final rule and environmental impact statement expanding the boundaries of Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary in Lake Huron from 448 square miles to 4,300 square miles.
The new boundaries now include the waters of Lake Huron adjacent to Michigan’s Alcona, Alpena and Presque Isle counties to the Canadian border.
The expansion is based on several years of research by NOAA and its many scientific partners, and now protects an additional 100 known and suspected historic shipwreck sites.
Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary is one of 14 sites managed by NOAA’s Office of National Marine Sanctuaries, and the only one in the Great Lakes. Thunder Bay features some of the world’s best-preserved shipwrecks.
The final rule and environmental assessment may be downloaded from the sanctuary’s website, http://thunderbay.noaa.gov.
source: National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
Photo credit: NEFSC/NOAA
NOAA recently announced a new sign campaign to protect North Atlantic right whales in Northeast U.S. waters. The new signs will encourage recreational and commercial boaters to report sightings of these whales and to keep a safe distance from them.
The two by three foot aluminum signs feature right whale graphics, key facts, and hotline numbers to report right whale sightings, or marine mammals and sea turtles in distress. NOAA plans to display the signs at boat ramps and marinas in the Northeast, with an initial focus on key spots around Cape Cod Bay.
In addition to NOAA Fisheries, collaborators include the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW), Center for Coastal Studies, New England Aquarium, U.S. Coast Guard, Massachusetts Division of Marine Fisheries, Whale and Dolphin Conservation, and See a Spout, Watch Out!, a program to promote responsible whale watching.
source: NOAA Fisheries
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service will disburse $5.6 million in grants for 16 projects in 12 states through the agency’s competitive State Wildlife Grants program.
The grants, which focus on large-scale conservation projects yielding measurable results, will be matched by more than $2.9 million in non-federal funds from states and their partners for projects that work to conserve and recover wildlife identified by states as Species of Greatest Conservation Need and their habitats.
The 12 states receiving grants are: Arizona, Colorado, Idaho, Iowa, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Maine, Michigan, Minnesota, Nebraska, South Carolina and Washington. The grant funds will benefit a variety of species and habitats.
State Wildlife Grant-funded projects implement strategies and actions to conserve species identified in approved state wildlife action plans. Funding for the grants comes from Fiscal Year 2014 appropriations.
source: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service