SNIPPETS: A Defenders roundup

Lesser Prairie Chicken, © Joel Sartore

© Joel Sartore

Crop Subsidies ‘Plow Under’ Wildlife

Songbirds, ducks and several at-risk species, such as swift foxes, mountain plovers, sage grouse and lesser prairie chickens, all need wetlands and grasslands to survive. But under the unlimited and unregulated crop insurance subsidies much of their habitat has been converted to cropland—with more to come if Congress passes the proposals on the pending 2012 Farm Bill. 

More than 23 million acres of wildlife habitat were converted to plant commodity crops between 2008 and 2011, according to Plowed Under, a new report by Defenders of Wildlife and the Environmental Working Group (EWG) that analyzes U.S. Department of Agriculture satellite data. The losses were greatest in counties that received the largest amounts of crop insurance subsidies. In addition, the pollution in these areas from chemicals and fertilizers also leads scientists to worry that the pressure on wildlife will only increase.

Defenders is partnering with EWG to push legislators to require farmers to protect wetlands, grasslands and soil on their land before they receive federal subsidies. 

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Sun Shines for the Florida Black Bear

As few as 300 black bears roamed Florida in the 1970s. Today, thanks to successful conservation efforts, the population numbers a healthy 3,000, prompting state officials to consider removing the bear from the list of state-threatened species and to develop a new management plan. “We are pleased to celebrate the progress the bear has made,” says Laurie Macdonald, Defenders’ Florida program director. “We have been working since 1994 to help ensure this recovery happens.”

More Articles from Fall 2012

150 years of exile, quarantine and captivity, Defenders welcomes true, wild bison back to the Great Plains.
Catastrophic wildfires, record heat waves, bizarre storms and blistering droughts are exactly what climate experts predicted
Raising livestock in wolf country comes with a distinct set of challenges. But for five years, the Wood River Wolf Project has been helping Idaho ranchers coexist peacefully with wolves.
Feds move to protect sea turtles
It may sound like a contradiction, but John Hazeltine likes to joke that he recently put expensive, environmentally friendly solar panels on his rooftop because he’s cheap.
The elections are right around the corner. At the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, we used to call this “the silly season,” but there is nothing silly about the conservation of our nation’s wildlife and wild places.
In the race to save bats affected by the deadly white-nose syndrome, scientists from Michigan Technological University are using chemical “fingerprinting” to identify where bats hung out the previous summer.
The Virginia big-eared bat will devour half its weight in bugs every night during warm weather months. Come winter hibernation, though, the bat could be in for a chilling reality.