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Mario Hoppmann

Global Action on Climate Change Needed to S​ave Polar Bears From Extinction

Curbing global greenhouse gas emissions is the "single most important" action needed to protect polar bears, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) urged Monday.

Writing in a conservation management plan developed specifically for the species, the FWS emphasized that climate change-induced loss of sea ice cover, the bears' habitat, was a disastrous sign for the bears' survival and the number one priority to address to save the species over the long term. If emissions continue at current rates, only portions of the Canadian Arctic and northern Greenland may retain enough ice for bear habitat.

"This plan outlines the necessary actions and concrete commitments by the service and our state, tribal, federal and international partners to protect polar bears in the near term," said Greg Siekaniec, the FWS's Alaska regional director. "But make no mistake; without decisive action to address Arctic warming, the long-term fate of this species is uncertain."

"The plan shows the complexity of what it means to truly protect America's most iconic Arctic species," WWF's Arctic program officer and polar bear expert Elisabeth Kruger said. "It addresses the things we need to consider in near term and rightly highlights that climate change mitigation is the most important action needed to secure polar bear populations."

The Center for Biological Diversity said the plan "fails to require the large-scale reductions in greenhouse gases needed to save the species." Shaye Wolf, climate science director at the Center for Biological Diversity, feels "recovery plans work, but only if they truly address the threats to species. Sadly that simply isn't the case with this polar bear plan."

For a deeper dive:

AP, Washington Post, New York Times, The Guardian, Fusion, Buzzfeed

For more climate change and clean energy news, you can follow Climate Nexus on Twitter and Facebook, and sign up for daily Hot News.

$15,000 Reward Offered Over Illegal Killing of Oregon Mother Wolf

The Center for Biological Diversity added $10,000 on Friday to the reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of those responsible for shooting and killing an endangered wolf earlier this month in south-central Oregon. The wolf—a female known as OR-28, who recently had a pup—was found dead Oct. 6.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is also offering a $5,000 reward in the case.

OR-28. Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife

"The illegal killing of wolf OR-28 is heartbreaking. She was a pioneering animal, one of the first wolves to make the journey from northeastern to western Oregon," said Amaroq Weiss, the center's West Coast wolf organizer. "OR-28 was also a first-time mother, who leaves behind her mate and single pup to fend for themselves. This was a cowardly crime. I hope the perpetrator is caught quickly."

Because she lived in the western two-thirds of Oregon, OR-28 was protected under the federal Endangered Species Act. Poaching a protected species is punishable by a heavy fine and jail time. In 2015 the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife reported six wolf deaths due to illegal shootings, ingesting poison or from suspicious but unknown causes. This is the highest number of illegal and suspicious wolf mortalities recorded in Oregon in a single year. Only one of the 2015 wolf deaths resulted in a conviction.

Anyone with information about this case can call the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service at (503) 682-6131 or the Oregon State Police Tip Line at (800) 452-7888. Callers may remain anonymous.

News of OR-28's death comes on the heels of a statewide poll that found that the vast majority of Oregonians—from both rural and urban areas—oppose hunting as a way to manage wolves and believe wildlife officials wrongly removed state protections from wolves last November. The poll also revealed that most Oregonians believe nonlethal methods should be the primary focus in reducing conflicts between wolves and livestock.

"Oregonians love wolves and want them protected. The poaching of OR-28 is a disgusting crime that shouldn't go unpunished," Weiss said. "Someone out there almost certainly knows who did this, and I really hope they'll step forward and help secure justice for this wolf."

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5 Endangered Species Dependent on Public Lands for Survival

By Anna Kramer

Think about our national parks. What comes to mind? Many of us think of spectacular landscapes, family adventures and, of course, incredible wildlife.

These places we love are all of those things, but they are also places created to protect and restore wildlife. Our national parks, wildlife refuges and other wild public lands provide crucial habitat for wildlife, especially endangered species.

The National Wildlife Federation is part of a coalition of more than 40 outdoor and sportsmen's organizations calling upon candidates seeking public office this November to pledge to protect our public lands and the wildlife that call these places home. Thousands of friends of wildlife have already pledged to protect our wild public lands and wildlife—and urged candidates and politicians to do the same.

Endangered species don't have representatives in Congress: They need you to speak for them. Take action and ask political leaders and candidates to pledge to protect our public lands!

Meet five of the many incredible endangered species and the public lands they call home.

1. Black-Footed Ferret

2. Whooping Crane

3. Sierra Nevada Bighorn Sheep

4. Piping Plover

5. Hawaiian Monk Seals


These are only five of the thousands of threatened and endangered species reliant on our nation's public lands. Whether their habitat is primarily found on a wildlife refuge, a national park or forest, or other wild public lands the sale or transfer or our public lands could be devastating for some of the most vulnerable wildlife in the U.S.

With only weeks to go before the November election this is an issue too important to ignore. Urge our political leaders and candidates to pledge to protect our wild public lands.

Two Freshwater Mussels Listed as Endangered Species

U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) has listed two freshwater mussels—the rayed bean and the snuffbox—as endangered under the federal Endangered Species Act (ESA). The two mussels are found in river systems in the eastern U.S.

The rayed bean is currently found in rivers in Indiana, Michigan, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Tennessee and West Virginia, as well as Ontario, Canada. The snuffbox occurs in Alabama, Arkansas, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Virginia, West Virginia, Wisconsin and Ontario, Canada.

In its final rule listing the two species under the ESA, FWS pointed to dramatic declines in their populations. The rayed bean has been eliminated from 73 percent of its historical range, and the snuffbox has disappeared from 62 percent of the streams in which it was historically found. The final rule appears in the Feb. 14, 2012, Federal Register.

Threats to both the rayed bean and the snuffbox include loss and degradation of stream and river habitat due to impoundments, channelization, chemical contaminants, mining and sedimentation. Freshwater mussels require clean water—their decline often signals a decline in the water quality of the streams and rivers they inhabit.

FWS will now work cooperatively with partners to develop recovery plans for the two mussels and coordinate efforts to conserve their habitats.

Under the ESA, “endangered” means a species is in danger of becoming extinct throughout all or a significant portion of its range. It is illegal under the ESA to kill, harm or otherwise “take” a listed species, or to posses, import, export or conduct interstate or international commerce without authorization from FWS. The ESA also requires all federal agencies to ensure actions they authorize, fund or undertake do not jeopardize the existence of listed species.

More information on mussels and endangered wildlife can be found by clicking here.

For more information, click here.

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The mission of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is working with others to conserve, protect and enhance fish, wildlife, plants and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American people. We are both a leader and trusted partner in fish and wildlife conservation, known for our scientific excellence, stewardship of lands and natural resources, dedicated professionals and commitment to public service.

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