Worldwide Wildlife News
Back from the Brink: Victories in Conservation
Boa Constrictor Produces Fatherless Babies
Wednesday, November 3, 2010, CBC News
Researchers have discovered a female boa constrictor that can produce offspring without mating — so-called virgin births — a rare phenomenon among vertebrates.
A female boa produced two large litters of female babies with no help from any male. More significant, however, was a finding that the offspring all had a genetic makeup never before recorded naturally in the vertebrate world.
Normally, female boa constrictors have a Z and a W chromosome, while male boas have two Z chromosomes.
What was so extraordinary in the case of this boa super-mom is that all of her female offspring had two W chromosomes — something that was thought to be impossible. The 22 babies all had the mother's rare color mutation.
In effect, the babies are all half clones of their mother.
Incidents of virgin births have often been attributed to an absence of males. But the mother's two virgin birth litters were produced while she was being housed with male snakes, and she had previously given birth to litters after mating with a male.
Virgin births common among invertebrates
Lead author Warren Booth, a geneticist at North Carolina State University, said the results may require scientists to take another look at reptile reproduction. He suggested that asexual reproduction in snakes could be more common than previously thought.
Such virgin births are common in the invertebrate world. Many insect species, for instance, can produce offspring without mating. But asexual reproduction in vertebrates is much rarer.
Incidents of virgin births — known in the scientific community as parthenogenesis — have been reported previously among captive female hammerhead sharks and in Komodo dragons, but never before among boa constrictors.
Researchers at North Carolina State University published the results of their study in Biology Letters, a Royal Society journal.
"These findings provide the first evidence of parthenogenesis in the [Boa family], and suggest that WW females may be more common within basal reptilian lineages than previously assumed," the authors write.
It's not clear if the all-female snake babies will eventually mate with a male, or reproduce asexually, or do both as their mother did. But because of their WW chromosomes, any offspring they produce will be female.
Gucci, Hermès, Cartier & Co.: Stop the snake slaughter in Indonesia! 10/22/10, from Rainforest Rescue
Switzerland is the world’s largest trader in products manufactured from threatened species. Every year, the Swiss watchmaking industry alone imports more than one million leather watch bands made from the skins of endangered reptiles.
Apparently, neither the industry nor its exclusive clientele care about the incredible torture the animals have to endure just to end up as fashionable accessories. A video clip aired on Swiss news broadcast “Rundschau” reveals how Water monitors are tied together and kept in plastic bags for days, until they are killed by a hammer blow to the head. However, a large number of these animals survive their severe injuries – and are skinned alive as a consequence. Snakes get an additional “water treatment” prior to flaying: A hook through the upper jaw locks them into position, and a hose is inserted that fills their bodies with water. This procedure is employed in order to stretch their bodies so straight cuts can be made before the skinning. Unequivocally, the struggling movements of the animals prove that they are alive all along.
In the light of this footage, it is shocking that most of the companies in dispute have not responded in any appropriate way. For example, in the interview with the chairman of the Federation of the Swiss Watch Industry, Jean-Daniel Pasche simply declares that animal welfare was an issue not yet discussed by the management bodies of the companies – and thus, he himself could not make a statement.
Nevertheless, the issue of animal protection is especially pressing. The excessive hunt for reptiles has already reached an alarming level: By now, the number of animals has decreased to such an extent that the “lizard hunters” catch no more than ten specimens per night. After all, Indonesia alone exports about 400.000 skins of Water monitors. The governments of the individual countries themselves allocate the catch quota – even if they lack scientific statistics concerning the species’ population. As an example, the Asiatic reticulated python has an annual bag limit of 157.000 specimens in Indonesia. Furthermore, NGO TRAFFIC, the wildlife trade monitoring network, has proof that the exemption limits for export are exceeded constantly. Indonesian companies smuggle untanned hides into Malaysia, for example. There, grants of export licenses are bought – and charged to the Malaysian catch quota.
The reference sources have to be classified as doubtful anyway. In Switzerland, the trading in protected species and animals is subject to licensing as well.
Even there, some of the corresponding papers for reticulated pythons are marked with the identification code for “breeding business” – although these breeding farms do not exist in Indonesia. Addressed with this fact, the Swiss federal office in charge promises to forward this piece of information to the central office to issue export licenses, CITES (the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora).
So far, Swiss watch manufacturer Swatch is the only enterprise to respond to the news report immediately. CEO Nick Hayek, Jr. radically deletes products with dubious background from the company’s range – even though watch bands made from alligator leather provided by North American breeding farms are set to remain on offer. However, these suppliers will be thoroughly checked by Swatch as well.
Gucci has its own tannery for the imported hides, but as of yet has not passed a comment. Hermès and Cartier simply point out that their commercial trading businesses abide by current legislation. Bally on the other hand insists on their python hides to coming from Indonesian breeding farms – which do not exist, according to the Swiss federal office.
Rainforest Rescue calls for the Swiss fashion companies and the Federation of the Swiss Watch Industry to stop importing exotic leather types of protected animals. The methods for catching and processing can only be classified as animal cruelty. Moreover, this particular way of commercial trading poses a considerable threat to the rainforest’s biodiversity.
North Americans may be some of the worlds first climate refugees from global warming.
According to the results of a recently released poll by Harris Interactive, the number of Americans who believe that global climate change is occurring has declined to only 51 percent, and is dropping fast.
This new result is a steep decline from the 71 percent of Americans who indicated they believed in global warming, in 2007.
The survey, titled "Big Drop in Those Who Believe that Global Warming is Coming" (PDF) found that about 29 percent of Americans don’t believe in global warming, while 21 percent are unsure. Sadly, these percentiles mirror the staunch political partisianship on this issue, with 73 percent of Democrats believing in global warming, compared to just 28 percent of Republicans.
While the fact that people who clearly indicated that they believed in global warming at one point have found a reason to change their tune is an issue worth pondering all on its own, the visible effects of climate change continue to grow; oblivious to the debate.
A recent article in Reuters, those individuals living in the U.S. heartland are some of the most staunch climate change deniers, "fueling conservative opposition to a climate change bill that is a priority for President Barack Obama and making some Democrats vulnerable in the November 2010 congressional elections."
Maybe the skepticism is strongest in the central states because they have yet to experience the drastic effects of miniscule increases in temperature can cause.
Perhaps a visit to Americans living on the edge of the continent would open their eyes.
As the leaders of the world prepare to gather in Copenhagen to address the need for international cooperation in order to slow climate change, one Alaskan village is slowly melting away, leaving its inhabitants homeless and without a way to continue their centuries-old culture.
CNN recently reported that the Inupiat Eskimo village of Shishmaref, Alaska is experiencing coastal erosion at an accelerated rate, due to melting permafrost caused by climate change, and as a result, one home has already toppled into the sea, and over a dozen more have been moved inland.
"Rising global temperatures have started to thaw the permafrost that once helped anchor this village in place." Typically, "sea ice that protects Shishmaref's coast from erosion melts earlier in the spring and forms later in the fall. As a result of the temperature increases, "the increasingly mushy and exposed soil along Shishmaref's shore is falling into the water in snowmobile-sized chunks."
It's important to note that this is not an isolated incident. CNN reported that "a dozen Alaskan villages, including Shishmaref, are at some stage of moving because of climate-change-related impacts like coastal erosion and flooding."
While the rest of the world watches with differing levels of apathy and denial as politicians debate about whether climate change is a reality, the chunks of once stable permafrost continue to melt and fall away in Alaska, and the centuries-old Eskimo culture, their unique language and the viability of their entire village waits to slip into oblivion.
These American citizens will likely be some of the world's first climate refugees, a threat that tops the list of concerns for Copenhagen attendees, and an issue that no amount of polling can allow us to continue to ignore.
Japan Officially Labels Sea Shepherd Director Paul Watson a "Terrorist" for Saving Whales
by: Drew Wilson July 2009
When will this silly "terrorism" rhetoric end? I thought that once Bush left office he would take the with-us-or-with-the-terrorists mentality with him. Maybe that was naive. Apparently the Japanese government has taken yet another step towards labeling the conservationist Paul Watson a terrorist.
Watson is the founder of the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society and captain of the anti-whaling vessel, the Steve Irwin. During a recent trip between Canada and the United States, Watson discovered that he is now officially on some kind of Japanese suspected-terrorist watch-list. While going through the regular paperwork of international air travel, he was told that there was some issue with his documents and was pulled aside by a member of the American homeland security office. There he was held long enough to miss his original flight, but Watson was lucky enough to catch the next flight out.
While being held, Watson discovered from the US agents that the Japanese government has sent an official communication to the American government that they suspect the anti-whaling activist of being a terrorist. The homeland security officer eventually let him go, but only after asking for an autograph for his son. Apparently the boy is a big fan of Whale Wars. Awesome.
From Paul's online editorial column:
"But the truth had just been revealed and with a shudder down my spine I realized that I was now a member of a new species of terrorist, a gentler, kinder sort of terrorist.
I was not upset. In fact I was overjoyed to find out that I was not alone. Another international terrorist whose name strikes fear into the hearts of every Chinese communist bureaucrat was his Holiness the Dali Lama.
This gentle, non-violent, wise and honorable man is now, according to the Chinese government, an international terrorist. And if the Dalai Lama can be defined as a terrorist then I’m proud to be a terrorist also."
Seems like the power dynamic is always the same: if an activist points out the wrong-doing of some dominant power structure like a government or a major corporation, then they get labeled an antisocial terrorist. What garbage. The whole world is rooting for Sea Shepherd.
Tourism Deserts Baringo As Lakes Dry Up, Once Home For Over 10,000 Crocodiles (Kenya)
Daily Nation, (Kenya) By BENJAMIN OUMA and WYCLIFFE KIPSANG, 6/27/09
Lake goes dry: A crocodile carcass lies on the dry bed of Lake Kamnarok in Baringo North District as cattle graze on. The lake, covering 13.5square kilometers, was the second largest in holding capacity of crocodiles in Africa, after Lake Chad and was a habitat for over 10,000 crocodiles but is now dry due to prolonged drought. Some crocodiles died as a result of the drought while others migrated to the nearby Rivers Kerio and Endao. PHOTO/ JARED NYATAYA
They cut down every tree in sight, burnt charcoal with abandon and made a living by selling firewood.
Now, mother nature has hit back and residents of Baringo are ruing the destruction of one of the area’s most important natural assets.
Lake Kamnarok, which was once home to more than 15,000 crocodiles, has dried up. All the hundreds of elephants that used to inhabit the nearby game reserve have fled from the area to the Rimoi Game Reserve in the neighboring Keiyo district, dealing a crippling blow to the local tourism industry.
And the disruption in the local ecological balance has seen rivers dry up and led to the death of numerous animals.
The District Forest Officer, Daniel Too, describes the situation as grave, saying locals have resisted efforts to prevent illegal logging. He says 10 vehicles were impounded at police checkpoints in the area ferrying tree products last month.
Morop, Seretunin and Pemwai forests, which have streams that feed Kirandich dam and Lake Kamnarok, are the most affected.
“If the illegal logging continues at this rate, we shall soon lose all the water catchments, which will subsequently lead to the drying up of Kirandich dam as well,” warned Mr Too.
Officials say people residing in the Tugen hills in the area still rely on charcoal burning, a trend which has worsened the situation. In the nearby Marakwet hills, where Embobut forest used to be, the situation is the same, with trees disappearing at a fast rate.
The government tried to evict squatters there last month, but their MP, Mrs Linah Jebii Kilimo, intervened and urged the squatters to stay put.
Mrs Kilimo’s intervention was not taken kindly by the people living in the Kerio Valley downstream, who blame the Embobut forest squatters for the dry river beds and their dying cattle.
The Kerio Valley residents have now threatened to march uphill to forcibly evict the squatters from the forest, if the police are unable to do so. But local leaders have urged the government to step in to avert a confrontation.
The outgoing Baringo district environment officer, Juma Masakha, blames the environmental disaster on human activity in the reserve and the nearby Tugen and Embobut hills.
“The only lasting solution is to evict people living near the reserve,” he says.
Lack of vegetation on the hills means all the soil has been carried down to the lake, filling it up gradually.
“De-silting the lake would be too expensive for the council. It is a pity that the people are now pleading for help from the government, yet they are the ones who brought this disaster upon themselves,” says Mr Masakha, who has been transferred to Trans Nzoia.
The dried-up lake represents dramatic evidence of the environmental catastrophe that has unfolded. Lake Kamnarok was the centrepiece attraction of Lake Kamnarok Game Reserve, which lies about 50 km from Kabarnet town.
It is an expansive 87 square-kilometre piece of land that used to draw plenty of tourists. The lake itself measures about one square kilometer. When we visited the game reserve last week, we drove right to the middle of what used to be a lake. And all we found was a barren, broken piece of caked earth, a few emaciated cattle and goats, and several crocodile carcasses.
A small boy tending goats showed us some bushes on the other side of the lake and indicated that there were more crocodile carcasses there.
No tourist was in sight, meaning Baringo Municipal Council, trustees of the Lake Kamnarok Game Reserve, no longer receives the about Sh3 million it earned from the reserve every month.
The lake was gazetted in June 1983 by the ministry of Tourism and Wildlife. It used to support thousands of crocodiles, elephants and 14 other species of mammals. The lake is now dead.
Locals say they are stunned by the development. A woman who said she ordinarily fetched water from the edge of the lake now has to walk with a water container and dig into the soil, upon which water seeps through and she fetches enough to fill her container. Legend has it that the lake last dried up in 1904.
The lack of rain in Baringo has reduced residents to a life of searching for wild fruit, and hoping that the relief food truck makes more trips to the vast Kerio Valley.
The wild fruit will not last for long; the skies are still a clear blue and despair is setting in. A few residents claim they know one or two people who have died of hunger.
“The fruit season is coming to an end, and we wonder what our people will eat in the next one month,” says the Kolowa ward civic leader, Mr Francis Kositet. Wild fruit
The elderly are most affected by the drought as they cannot walk long distances to search for the wild fruit. Children have been pulled out of school to help in the search for wild fruit, and to help walk the emaciated cattle through the dry river beds and the badly eroded terrain in search of water and pasture.
The Baringo County Council clerk, Mr Nicholas Kalela, says that all the tourists who used to visit the Lake Kamnarok Game Reserve now flock to the neighboring Rimoi Game Reserve in Keiyo District, which still has some water and food for the elephants.
It’s Time to Learn From Frogs
By Nichloas D. Kristof, 6/28/09, Op-ed Page New York Times.
Some of the first eerie signs of a potential health catastrophe came as bizarre deformities in water animals, often in their sexual organs.
Frogs, salamanders and other amphibians began to sprout extra legs. In heavily polluted Lake Apopka, one of the largest lakes in Florida, male alligators developed stunted genitals.
In the Potomac watershed near Washington, male smallmouth bass have rapidly transformed into “intersex fish” that display female characteristics. This was discovered only in 2003, but the latest survey found that more than 80 percent of the male smallmouth bass in the Potomac are producing eggs.
Now scientists are connecting the dots with evidence of increasing abnormalities among humans, particularly large increases in numbers of genital deformities among newborn boys. For example, up to 7 percent of boys are now born with undescended testicles, although this often self-corrects over time. And up to 1 percent of boys in the United States are now born with hypospadias, in which the urethra exits the penis improperly, such as at the base rather than the tip.
Apprehension is growing among many scientists that the cause of all this may be a class of chemicals called endocrine disruptors. They are very widely used in agriculture, industry and consumer products. Some also enter the water supply when estrogens in human urine — compounded when a woman is on the pill — pass through sewage systems and then through water treatment plants.
These endocrine disruptors have complex effects on the human body, particularly during fetal development of males.
“A lot of these compounds act as weak estrogen, so that’s why developing males — whether smallmouth bass or humans — tend to be more sensitive,” said Robert Lawrence, a professor of environmental health sciences at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. “It’s scary, very scary.”
The scientific case is still far from proven, as chemical companies emphasize, and the uncertainties for humans are vast. But there is accumulating evidence that male sperm count is dropping and that genital abnormalities in newborn boys are increasing. Some studies show correlations between these abnormalities and mothers who have greater exposure to these chemicals during pregnancy, through everything from hair spray to the water they drink.
Endocrine disruptors also affect females. It is now well established that DES, a synthetic estrogen given to many pregnant women from the 1930s to the 1970s to prevent miscarriages, caused abnormalities in the children. They seemed fine at birth, but girls born to those women have been more likely to develop misshaped sexual organs and cancer.
There is also some evidence from both humans and monkeys that endometriosis, a gynecological disorder, is linked to exposure to endocrine disruptors. Researchers also suspect that the disruptors can cause early puberty in girls.
A rush of new research has also tied endocrine disruptors to obesity, insulin resistance and diabetes, in both animals and humans. For example, mice exposed in utero even to low doses of endocrine disruptors appear normal at first but develop excess abdominal body fat as adults.
Among some scientists, there is real apprehension at the new findings — nothing is more terrifying than reading The Journal of Pediatric Urology — but there hasn’t been much public notice or government action.
This month, the Endocrine Society, an organization of scientists specializing in this field, issued a landmark 50-page statement. It should be a wake-up call.
“We present the evidence that endocrine disruptors have effects on male and female reproduction, breast development and cancer, prostate cancer, neuroendocrinology, thyroid, metabolism and obesity, and cardiovascular endocrinology,” the society declared.
“The rise in the incidence in obesity,” it added, “matches the rise in the use and distribution of industrial chemicals that may be playing a role in generation of obesity.”
The Environmental Protection Agency is moving toward screening endocrine disrupting chemicals, but at a glacial pace. For now, these chemicals continue to be widely used in agricultural pesticides and industrial compounds. Everybody is exposed.
“We should be concerned,” said Dr. Ted Schettler of the Science and Environmental Health Network. “This can influence brain development, sperm counts or susceptibility to cancer, even where the animal at birth seems perfectly normal.”
The most notorious example of water pollution occurred in 1969, when the Cuyahoga River in Ohio caught fire and helped shock America into adopting the Clean Water Act. Since then, complacency has taken hold.
Those deformed frogs and intersex fish — not to mention the growing number of deformities in newborn boys — should jolt us once again.
Sea turtles are endangered all over the world but yet the US government wants to "roll back" protections in the Pacific. Read all about it here.
Check out this article from this National Park Service website about a 100+ year old Eastern Box Turtle that was found in 2002 in New York State! It seems that our little friends live much longer than previously thought so keep that in mind the next time you meet one while hiking or driving along.
NATIONAL PARK SERVICE ANNOUNCES
Centenarian Turtle Found In Park
A 100-year-old eastern box turtle was discovered September 16, at the William Floyd Estate, a mainland unit of the Fire Island National Seashore in New York. The box turtle was a study specimen of renowned naturalist John Treadwell "J.T." Nichols, who is credited with discovering the homing instincts and the home range of box turtles.
Working cooperatively with the National Park Service, researchers from the Wildlife Conservation Society found the centenarian turtle during a biological inventory of the park. The inventory was funded in part by the Natural Resource Challenge, a major effort to substantially improve how the NPS manages the natural resources under its care. One of the initiatives of the Challenge is a multi-year effort by the National Park Service to document the presence, abundance, and distribution of species in the National Park System and to help park managers make informed natural resource management decisions.
Researchers recaptured the turtle known as JN21/21, which was originally captured and marked by Nichols in 1921. JN21/21 was approximately 20 years old at the time making him the oldest known turtle at the William Floyd Estate. Park staff recaptured JN21/21 again in 1991.
Nichols marked each turtle by etching his initials, the date, and a number into the plastron, the hard coating that protects a turtle's underside, with a penknife. Nichols began monitoring box turtles in the area surrounding the William Floyd Estate in 1914 and wrote prolifically about their habits. He continued to monitor the turtles until his death in 1958, and his field notes indicate that he captured approximately 1,000 individual box turtles on the property. Both the National Park Service and the American Museum of Natural History in New York have copies of his field notes. The William Floyd Estate became a detached unit of Fire Island National Seashore in 1965. The National Park Service manages the grounds as a cultural landscape, maintaining the fields, forest, ponds and marsh.
Nichols wrote 1,000 articles and books on nature and traveled the globe. He paid his children five cents for each marked turtle and three cents for each unmarked turtle they collected while he was away from the estate. The turtles were kept in the window wells of the estate until Nichols return when he marked them and then released the turtles at the estate's flagpole. From his studies he determined that turtles have strong homing instincts and that their home range is approximately 220-yard diameter.
The turtle inventory ceased after Nichol's death until NPS Ranger Rich Stavdal began working at the estate in 1980. "Almost immediately I found a turtle marked by Nichols. Since then I've found 17 of his and marked over 680." Stavdal continues to monitor box turtles, but for the first time a full amphibian and reptile inventory was conducted this year with help from the Natural Resource Challenge program.
Wildlife Conservation Society researchers inventoried amphibians and reptiles at the William Floyd Estate for a six-month period. The scientists captured approximately 30 box turtles, bringing the marked population to more than 700. Wildlife Biologist Robert Cook, a box turtle expert at Cape Cod National Seashore, Massachusetts said the goal of conducting inventories is to document the presence, abundance, and distribution of species. One of the fundamental missions of the National Park Service is to maintain native wildlife. Information gathered during the inventory will help to preserve and protect species through informed natural resource management, Cook said.
Researchers conduct systematic inventories using established methods, such as placing plywood and metal sheet "cover boards" on the property to attract amphibians and reptiles, searching for them under logs and brush and using live-traps, and other techniques. Inventories are important for documenting rare and important species and the habitats they depend on and provide a base-line for future monitoring of species populations. As a result of the inventory the presence of four-toed salamanders was documented for the first time on the estate grounds.
According to Stavdal the age of a turtle can be estimated by the presence of growth rings on the turtle's plastron and the condition of the rings. If Nichols hadn't marked JN21/21 researchers might have been fooled by the turtle's youthful appearance because JN21/21's rings were only slightly worn. Nichols' field notes indicate the turtle was about the same size when he found him more than 80 years ago. "We joked about JN21/21 not looking a day over 50," said Stavdal adding, "We could be handling turtles that are much older than we think."
According to Stavdal, Nichols' observations about turtles' home range appear to be true because turtles are being found 60 to 70 years later in the same location as Nichols found them.
According to Stavdal and Cook, the Floyd Estate represents the Northeast landscape 100 to 200 years ago. "A lot of the Northeast was agriculture. Now the park units that preserve areas as agricultural land are surrounded by developments and suburbanization," Cook said. The estate was cleared for agriculture and used as a plantation in 1724. The Floyd family later stopped farming, and only used the estate for a home in the country allowing a second-growth forest to emerge.
In 1938 a hurricane struck Long Island, New York, and New England. Trees throughout the Northeast were devastated. According to historical records the storm killed 700 people, destroyed 8,900 homes and buildings, left 63,000 homeless, had winds at 121 mph and storm surge at 17 feet over high tide, and toppled approximately two billion trees.
During the 1930s and 40s a series of wildfires burned through the area. In the 1950s and 60s the fields were reclaimed to provide hunting for family members. JN21/21 survived everything. "He has seen more than any of us. He lived through the '38 hurricane," Stavdal said.
What concerns the National Park Service more than the turtle's ability to survive hurricanes and fires is its ability to survive in habitat surrounded by roads, subdivisions, and backyards, said Cook.
According to Cook, "This underscores the importance of monitoring the species over time. Without monitoring we would not be able to detect the effects of landscape changes
on wildlife. Having monitoring programs that look at animal populations and the habitat they are in is a good way of putting the National Park Service in a position to know what happens to its wildlife as the landscape changes," Cook said.
Maintaining the estate's turtle population isn't always easy and requires staff members to be sensitive to the needs of the park's resources. Fields are mown during periods of inactivity such as hibernation and during dry weather when the turtles retreat to the woods. "The importance is to understand their seasonal movements so we don't impact them," Stavdal said.>
Although the turtle population at the estate appears stable, predators concern park natural resource managers. Park units that are located in suburban areas throughout the Northeast are experiencing an increase in raccoons and skunks, which are nest raiders. Because raccoons and skunks can gain easy access to food supplies from sources such as garbage they become subsidized predators and their numbers are increasing. Even though skunks, raccoons, and turtles have coexisted for thousands of years the natural balance can change when predator populations reach unnaturally high levels. Turtles are slow reproducers and lay just six to eight eggs per year and they are especially vulnerable until they develop a hard shell to protect them.
It is difficult to tell how many turtles are leaving the property in the hands of visitors, Stavdal said. Those who remove turtles from the estate are not only removing a natural resource they are removing part of a historical collection. It is violation of federal law to harass or remove wildlife from a national park.
The release of turtles that aren't part of the estate's turtles' gene pool concerns park managers. Releasing foreign turtles at the park may affect the estates historical turtle gene pool and put turtles not genetically prepared for harsh winters in jeopardy of death, said Cook. Many people don't realize that if they find a box turtle in Virginia and release it in New York that they have brought the animal to a place where it will be subjected to weather and other environmental factors that the turtle is not prepared for. "Their ancestors never experienced those conditions. Turtles are frequently moved and let go with good intentions, but often not with good results," Cook said.
Because of Nichols, Stavdal, and the Wildlife Conservation Society, the National Park Service has access to inventory information gathered for more than 80 years at the William Floyd Estate. Funding provided by the Natural Resource Challenge has enabled continuing inventories and provides valuable information to park managers, helping them to protect our nation's heritage.
"Inventories help us with informed decision making, for example ensuring that roads don't get built through important habitats. You need to know what species are at a site so you can plan and operate a park without negatively affecting its plants and wildlife. The ultimate goal is to ensure the preservation of native species and natural processes," Cook said.
Cigarette Butts are Toxic Waste
SAN DIEGO, California. San Diego State University researchers say filter-tipped cigarette butts are toxic to marine and fresh-water fish. KPBS Environment Reporter Ed Joyce tells us they want those butts classified as hazardous waste.
SDSU Public Health Professor Tom Novotny and other members of the Cigarette Butt Advisory Group plan to recommend that filtered cigarette butts should have new requirements for disposal. They say the toxic waste in the butts harms wildlife and the environment.
"It is toxic at rather low concentrations," Novotny said. "Even one butt in a liter of water can kill the fish in a period of 96 hours."