Idaho Snow Goose Deaths

In March, the Idaho Department of Fish and Game (IDFG) reported that staff and volunteers collected the carcasses of approximately 2,000 migrating snow geese that appeared to have succumbed to avian cholera and died while stopping at Mud Lake and Market Lake Wildlife Management Areas (WMAs).

The carcasses were collected to be incinerated so that other predatory and scavenger birds do not ingest the deadly bacteria. Samples from the die-off were sent to the IDFG Wildlife Laboratory in order to definitively confirm avian cholera.

The carcasses of a small number of snow geese were first reported at Camas National Wildlife Refuge near Dubois, Idaho. Subsequent inspections by biologists indicated higher numbers of dead birds at the Mud Lake WMA Area near Terreton, Idaho and a lesser amount at Market Lake WMA near Roberts, Idaho.

The migratory birds were on the return leg of their migration from the southwestern United States and Mexico to their breeding grounds on the northern coast of Alaska. It is unknown at this time where the geese may have picked up the suspected bacteria. “Outbreaks of avian cholera have occurred sporadically in the region over the past few decades,” said Upper Snake Regional Supervisor Steve Schmidt.

According to Schmidt, “The important thing is to quickly collect as many of the carcasses as possible, to prevent other birds from feeding on the infected birds.” In the case of Mud Lake WMA, biologists observed about twenty eagles in the vicinity of some of the carcasses. Because of a delayed incubation period it is uncertain where these eagles might be located, if and when the avian cholera affects them.

IDFG urges the public to not handle dead birds because of the potential for unintentionally distributing the disease to other wildlife.

source: Idaho Department of Fish and Game

USFWS State Wildlife Grants

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service recently announced over $45 million in funding provided through the State Wildlife Grant (SWG) program.

The SWG program awards grants for projects that implement strategies to conserve priority species contained in approved State Wildlife Action Plans. All 50 states and territorial wildlife agencies have such plans, which collectively provide a nationwide blueprint for actions to conserve rare species, such as the monarch butterfly, for future generations.

Conserving these species through direct actions such as reintroduction and habitat enhancement can help prevent listing under the Endangered Species Act. Proactively conserving and restoring valued species helps local communities, agencies and taxpayers avoid potentially greater conservation costs when species become rare.

The grants are distributed through an apportionment formula in accordance with the Appropriations Act. These funds are allocated to states and territories based on population and geographic area.

Grant funds must be used to address conservation needs, such as research, wildlife surveys, species and habitat management, and monitoring, identified within a State’s Wildlife Action Plan. Funds may also be used to update, revise or modify a state’s plan.

For more information, visit: http://wsfrprograms.fws.gov/Subpages/GrantPrograms/SWG/SWG.htm.

source: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

2015 Atlantic Midwinter Waterfowl Survey

In January of each year, with assistance from the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, Atlantic states from Maine to Florida conduct mid-winter waterfowl surveys of the Atlantic Flyway.

Results from state surveys are combined and used to help determine population trends of wintering waterfowl and their distribution. The mid-winter waterfowl survey is a nationwide effort to survey waterfowl in major winter concentration areas, and occurs in all 4 flyways.

Midwinter Waterfowl Survey Facts:

The survey counts waterfowl on open-water and coastal areas. Wooded habitats (beaver ponds and swamps) are not surveyed well.

The survey occurs only once per year in a relatively short time period.

Estimates can be inflated by icing which can force waterfowl out of small, isolated wetlands into larger water bodies.

2015 Midwinter Waterfowl Survey Highlights:

Maryland

During the course of the 2015 Maryland Midwinter Waterfowl Survey, research teams counted more than 855,500 waterfowl. The total was slightly lower than the 905,000 birds observed during 2014, but higher than the five year average of 757,000.

Two of Maryland’s most iconic ducks were present in large numbers. The total for redhead ducks (32,200) was the highest since the mid-1970s. The canvasback count (64,200) was one of the highest since the mid-1960s. Large numbers of wintering Canada geese (504,700) were also counted in Maryland.

Biologists attribute this year’s count to the fact large areas of the Bay’s tributaries were ice covered during the survey period, concentrating waterfowl where they were more easily counted.

West Virginia

Fewer ducks and geese were observed during the 2015 West Virginia mid-winter waterfowl survey compared to 2014. DNR wildlife biologists and wildlife managers completed the survey Jan. 8 and 9. Observers counted 7,844 ducks and 6,390 geese during the survey.

Ducks were down 11 percent and geese declined four percent from the previous survey. Duck numbers remain 87 percent above the 10-year average, however, and goose numbers are 20 percent above their long-term average.

Canada geese, mallards and American black ducks were the most common species seen, with lesser numbers of snow geese, buffleheads, redheads, goldeneyes, American widgeon, ruddy, ring-necked, canvasbacks, scaup, wood ducks, common mergansers, and hooded mergansers.

North Carolina

The 2015 North Carolina mid-winter waterfowl survey was conducted from January 6th – January 22nd. During the aerial survey, all waterfowl were counted in 38 discrete geographic units.

The survey covered all major water bodies from approximately Mackay Island to the New River. Several inland lakes as well as a portion of the Yadkin/Pee Dee River system were also surveyed.

When compared to the 2014 survey, nearly all duck species were counted at lower levels. However, 2014 counts were very high due to extremely cold weather and icing experienced during the 2013-14 fall/winter period.

Most species were well above their long-term average. Notable observations included large numbers of redheads in the Core Sound area and increasing numbers of tundra swans in Northampton, Halifax and Edgecombe counties. Gadwall populations were 445% above the long-term average. Ducks that were below average included mallards, black ducks, and canvasbacks.

Lake Mattamuskeet National Wildlife Refuge and surrounding private areas continues to be the core area for concentrations of dabbling ducks in North Carolina.

BLM Sage Grouse Conservation Funding

President Obama’s 2016 budget request includes a total of $60 million to the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) for sage grouse conservation. Projects could include restoring rangelands, minimizing the threat of wildfire, controlling invasive plants, and improving riparian areas.

BLM is involved in a collaborative west-wide effort to update and strengthen management of sage grouse habitat. Key collaborators include western governors, state wildlife agencies, counties, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, U.S. Geological Survey, and the U.S. Forest Service.

source: U.S. Department of the Interior, Bureau of Land Management

Oregon Chub Recovery

The Oregon chub recently became the first fish ever removed from the Federal List of Endangered and Threatened Animals due to recovery.

The Oregon chub, a small minnow found only in the Willamette River Basin in floodplain habitats with little or no water flow, was listed as endangered in 1993 and reclassified as threatened in 2010. Primary factors that led to its listing were loss of habitat and predation by nonnative fishes.

Through collaborative partnerships, and aided by outreach to the local communities, these threats have been lessened over the last 21 years with restoration and acquisition of habitat, promotion of natural river flows, and the reintroduction of chub into historical habitat.

Just eight populations totaling fewer than 1,000 fish were known to exist at the time of listing in 1993. Today, the population stands at more than 140,000 fish at 80 locations with a diverse range of habitats.

The Endangered Species Act has helped prevent the slide toward extinction for hundreds of species. The Oregon chub joins 28 other species that have been successfully recovered and removed from the Endangered Species List.

Many other species also are experiencing positive trends toward recovery, including three additional ones from Oregon: the Modoc sucker is currently proposed for delisting, and the Borax Lake chub and the Columbian white-tailed deer are recommended for reclassification from endangered to threatened.

Private landowners have been an essential partner in recovering the Oregon chub by managing habitats on their lands and, in some cases, creating habitat to support introductions of the species on their property.

Oregon chub populations exist on the William L. Finley and Ankeny National Wildlife refuges, with Ankeny supporting the largest known population in the Willamette River Basin.

Other partners that contributed in Oregon chub recovery efforts included the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, U.S. Department of Agriculture Forest Service’s Willamette National Forest, Natural Resource Conservation Service, Oregon Parks and Recreation Department, Oregon Department of Transportation, McKenzie River Trust, City of Salem, Santiam Water Control District, Confederated Tribes of the Grand Ronde, and Bonneville Power Administration. The Willamette Valley National Wildlife Refuge Complex and Fisheries Program were also essential to the chub’s recovery.

For more information about the Oregon chub, visit http://www.fws.gov/oregonfwo/.

source: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Pacific Region

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