Help Birds Survive the Winter by Skipping Fall Yard Work – by Sara Burrows


“There are a billion fewer birds in North America than there were 40 years ago, and a fifth of the bird species on the continent are listed as “vulnerable” to population collapse over the next few decades.

You can help many of them survive the winter by putting down the garden tools and going easy on yard work this fall, the Audubon Society says.

“Messy is definitely good to provide food and shelter for birds during the cold winter months,” says Tod Winston, Audubon’s Plants for Birds program manager.

Here are the Audubon Society’s top 5 tips for helping them make it ’til spring:

Save the seeds. Some tidy gardeners might snip the stems of perennial flowers in the fall. But the seed heads of coneflowers, Black-Eyed Susans, and other native wildflowers provide an excellent source of winter calories for birds.”

Source: Help Birds Survive the Winter by Skipping Fall Yard Work

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The Race for Alaskan Oil: 6 Key Takeaways – By Steve Eder and Henry Fountain – The New York Times

By Steve Eder and Henry Fountain
Dec. 3, 2018

“FAIRBANKS, Alaska — The Arctic National Wildlife Refuge is one of the most pristine landscapes in the United States. But that may soon change as the Trump administration seeks to exploit an untapped trove of oil beneath its coastal plain.

Since Congress approved a measure last December to open the coastal plain to oil exploration, the Department of the Interior has been charging ahead with a plan to sell drilling leases as early as next year. Trucks weighing 90,000 pounds could begin rolling across the tundra even before then to conduct seismic tests that help pinpoint oil reserves.

The hurried approach has alarmed some government specialists and environmentalists, who say that risks to wildlife and damage to the tundra are not being taken seriously enough. And it comes as the Trump administration moves more broadly to exploit fossil fuels in Alaska and beyond, erasing restrictive policies that were designed to protect the environment and address global warming.

The New York Times examined how, in the space of about a year, the refuge’s coastal plain — known as the 1002 Area — went from off-limits to open for business. Here are six takeaways.”

Drilling in the Arctic: Questions for a Polar Bear Expert – By Henry Fountain and Steve Eder – The New York Times

By Henry Fountain and Steve Eder
Dec. 3, 2018

Andrew Derocher is a biologist at the University of Alberta who has researched polar bears for more than three decades. He is also a volunteer adviser to Polar Bears International, a conservation group.

He discussed the status of polar bears in the Arctic amid a warming climate, and the potential impact of oil and gas exploration. The interview has been edited for length and clarity.

Q. Worldwide in the Arctic, there are roughly 25,000 polar bears in what scientists consider to be 19 subpopulations. Over all, how are they doing?

A. People assume that because we’re concerned about polar bears from a conservation and management perspective, that all polar bears must be doing terribly. That’s not the case. Polar bears are doing just fine in many parts of their distribution, and with 19 different populations around the Arctic, we have 19 different scenarios playing out.

. . . .    The interview ended:

What do scientists know about the impact of oil and gas exploration and production on polar bears?

One of the things that’s pretty cool about bears in general and polar bears in particular is each bear has an individual behavior pattern, or personality, if you want to call it that. Some bears just don’t seem to care — they are just not worried by people, not worried by snow machines or all-terrain vehicles or trucks going by. Yet others are extremely wary, don’t like it and will move away quickly from disturbance.

By and large, I think polar bears are fairly robust to disturbance, but once they have small cubs they tend to be quite timid.

One of the concerns we have is den abandonment. If you harass a bear around a den, there’s a greater likelihood that she will leave it with her cubs. And that is not a good thing. Young cubs are not that well developed and rely on the dens for protection. Moving them around is never a good idea.

We have to accept at least the basic premise that disturbance is not going to be beneficial for the bears. Then the question is, just how bad is it going to be? That’s difficult to say. But anything that adds on to the current impacts of sea ice loss is not going to be good for the population.”

Henry Fountain covers climate change, with a focus on the innovations that will be needed to overcome it. He is the author of “The Great Quake,” a book about the 1964 Alaskan earthquake. @henryfountain 

Your Children’s Yellowstone Will Be Radically Different – by Marguerite Holloway – The New York Times

“In the United States, Yellowstone National Park is the only place bison and wolves can be seen in great numbers. Because of the park, these animals survive. Yellowstone was crucial to bringing back bison, reintroducing gray wolves, and restoring trumpeter swans, elk, and grizzly bears — all five species driven toward extinction found refuge here.

Bison in Yellowstone.
But the Yellowstone of charismatic megafauna and of stunning geysers that four million visitors a year travel to see is changing before the eyes of those who know it best. Researchers who have spent years studying, managing, and exploring its roughly 3,400 square miles say that soon the landscape may look dramatically different.

Over the next few decades of climate change, the country’s first national park will quite likely see increased fire, less forest, expanding grasslands, shallower, warmer waterways, and more invasive plants — all of which may alter how, and how many, animals move through the landscape. Ecosystems are always in flux, but climate change is transforming habitats so quickly that many plants and animals may not be able to adapt well or at all.

Yellowstone National Park, established in 1872, is one of the Unesco World Heritage sites threatened by climate change. It is home to some of the country’s oldest weather stations, including one at Mammoth Hot Springs. Data from the park and surrounding area has helped scientists understand and track climate change in the Western United States.

Since 1948, the average annual temperature in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem — an area of 34,375 square miles that includes the park, national forests, and Grand Teton National Park — has risen about 2 degrees Fahrenheit. Researchers report that winter is, on balance, 10 days shorter and less cold.”

Lawmakers- Lobbyists and the Administration Join Forces to Overhaul the Endangered Species Act – The New York Times

“WASHINGTON — The Endangered Species Act, which for 45 years has safeguarded fragile wildlife while blocking ranching, logging and oil drilling on protected habitats, is coming under attack from lawmakers, the White House and industry on a scale not seen in decades, driven partly by fears that the Republicans will lose ground in November’s midterm elections.

In the past two weeks, more than two dozen pieces of legislation, policy initiatives and amendments designed to weaken the law have been either introduced or voted on in Congress or proposed by the Trump administration.

The actions included a bill to strip protections from the gray wolf in Wyoming and along the western Great Lakes; a plan to keep the sage grouse, a chicken-size bird that inhabits millions of oil-rich acres in the West, from being listed as endangered for the next decade; and a measure to remove from the endangered list the American burying beetle, an orange-flecked insect that has long been the bane of oil companies that would like to drill on the land where it lives.

“It’s probably the best chance that we have had in 25 years to actually make any substantial changes,” said Richard Pombo, a former congressman from California who more than a decade ago led an attempt to rethink the act and is now a lobbyist whose clients include mining and water management companies.”

 

David Lindsay:
Ouch. It all sounds so good, but it is rotten. Here is a comment I strongly endorse:
et.al.nyc
great neck new york5h ago
Times Pick
This “anti-science” Republican administration does not understand how species are inter-related. If one species is being polluted to extinction, it follows this will also affect humans, especially infants and children. We may choose to compensate landowners and industries, but there is no way to compensate a child sickened by changes to our ecosystem. These species are simply the “canaries in the coal mine”.

Reply446 Recommended

Orcas of the Pacific Northwest Are Starving and Disappearing – The New York Times

By Jim Robbins
July 9, 2018
“SEATTLE — For the last three years, not one calf has been born to the dwindling pods of black-and-white killer whales spouting geysers of mist off the coast in the Pacific Northwest.

Normally four or five calves would be born each year among this fairly unique urban population of whales — pods named J, K and L. But most recently, the number of orcas here has dwindled to just 75, a 30-year-low in what seems to be an inexorable, perplexing decline.

Listed as endangered since 2005, the orcas are essentially starving, as their primary prey, the Chinook, or king salmon, are dying off. Just last month, another one of the Southern Resident killer whales — one nicknamed “Crewser” that hadn’t been seen since last November — was presumed dead by the Center for Whale Research.”

For an Endangered Animal- a Fire or Hurricane Can Mean the End – By Livia Albeck-Ripka – NYT

“When lighting struck the Pinaleño Mountains in southeast Arizona at around 2:45 p.m. on June 7, igniting a 48,000 acre fire that reduced an ancient forest to blackened poles and stumps, a scurry of rare squirrels — 217 of the 252 left in existence — disappeared.

Some were fitted with radio transmitters that burned to ash; conservationists deduced their fates. They hoped others had managed to escape.But for those 35 survivors — biological remnants from the last ice age — Jeff Humphrey, a spokesman with the United States Fish and Wildlife Service, was deeply concerned.“Most of them have lost the cones they’ve stored for their winter nourishment,” Mr. Humphrey said. “How do we get them through this winter?”

Era of ‘Biological Annihilation’ Is Underway- Scientists Warn – The New York Times

“From the common barn swallow to the exotic giraffe, thousands of animal species are in precipitous decline, a sign that an irreversible era of mass extinction is underway, new research finds.The study, published Monday in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, calls the current decline in animal populations a “global epidemic” and part of the “ongoing sixth mass extinction” caused in large measure by human destruction of animal habitats. The previous five extinctions were caused by natural phenomena.

Gerardo Ceballos, a researcher at the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México in Mexico City, acknowledged that the study is written in unusually alarming tones for an academic research paper. “It wouldn’t be ethical right now not to speak in this strong language to call attention to the severity of the problem,” he said.

Dr. Ceballos emphasized that he and his co-authors, Paul R. Ehrlich and Rodolfo Dirzo, both professors at Stanford University, are not alarmists, but are using scientific data to back up their assertions that significant population decline and possible mass extinction of species all over the world may be imminent, and that both have been underestimated by many other scientists.”

Polar Bears’ Path to Decline Runs Through Alaskan Village – The New York Times

“A Habitat EndangeredThreatened species like lions or wolves face predictable threats: poaching and hunting, or the encroachment of human settlements on their habitat.

But the biggest threat to the polar bear is something no regulatory authority involved in wildlife conservation can address: the unregulated release of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases into the atmosphere.

Sport hunting once posed a significant danger to polar bears, greatly shrinking their numbers in some areas until 1973, when an agreement among the Arctic countries restricted hunting to members of indigenous groups, and the populations began to rebound.Oil spills, pollution and over-hunting still pose some risk. But these dangers pale compared with the loss of sea ice.”

Meet the Arctic’s New Top Predator … Killer Whales -By David Kirby – EcoWatch

By David Kirby

“There’s no doubt that melting sea ice in Hudson Bay is threatening endangered polar bears, but it might also be harmful to beluga whales, seals, narwhals and other marine mammals, scientists are warning.The reason? Melting ice caused by climate change is carving huge swaths of open water for longer periods of time, providing Atlantic killer whales more access to the bay and its rich stocks of prey.”

Source: Meet the Arctic’s New Top Predator … Killer Whales