Friday, September 02, 2011

Loose Feathers #306

Blue-winged Teal / Credit: Barbara Wheeler Photography, USFWS Volunteer
Birds and birding news
Nature blogging
Environment and biodiversity
  • Texas is in the midst of its worst single-year drought on record. The state has only received 6.5 inches of the 16 inches of rain that it normally has received by the end of August. Meanwhile, the Plains states overall broke heat records in July, with Texas and Oklahoma leading the way.
  • The US Fish and Wildlife Service proposed a smaller critical habitat designation for the endangered California Tiger Salamander.
  • The USFWS also produced a new recovery plan for desert tortoises in the Mojave Desert; it seeks to protect tortoises from livestock grazing, off-road vehicles, and non-native plants, but does not address other threats such as climate change and renewable energy development.
  • Reintroduction of gray wolf populations seems to benefit the Canadian lynx by reducing competition for prey from coyotes. Meanwhile, there will be wolf hunts again this year in Idaho and Montana.
  • A mountain lion was killed when it tried to cross the 405 Freeway in Los Angeles.
  • The protest and civil disobedience at the White House against the Keystone XL oil pipeline continued this week, with some high-profile attendees. James Hansen was arrested on Monday, and Daryl Hannah was arrested on Tuesday. Mark Bittman offers his thoughts on why the pipeline should not be approved. The Keystone XL pipeline would carry bitumen from tar sands mines in Alberta south to refineries in Texas.
  • A new study comes down on the side of strictly protecting some tracts of lands while intensively farming others as the best way to preserve biodiversity. However, there is substantial disagreement on that point among ecologists, and one model is not necessarily going to work for all regions.
  • New Jersey and Maryland have approved a new contraceptive for use in white-tailed deer that not only prevents pregnancy but also reduces mating behaviors such as rutting and chasing after potential mates. The contraceptive may provide an effective way of controlling deer populations in suburban and urban areas where hunting is inadvisable.
  • The access point for the Delaware and Raritan Canal at Rutgers Prep (DeMott Lane) is closed because flooding swept the footbridge away.
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