© Suzi White
Bison Win Big
Bears and elk don’t get shot just for leaving Yellowstone National Park, but bison that search for food across park boundaries during harsh winter months are typically hazed back into the park or captured and sent to slaughter. Ranchers fear bison could spread disease to cattle—even though the risk is slim to none. But tolerance for bison outside park bounds is growing. In April, Montana officials finalized a deal among eight state, federal and tribal agencies to allow bison to roam north of the park into Montana’s 75,000-acre Gardiner Basin in winter months. Defenders has long worked on this issue and has committed at least $50,000 to begin Yellowstone bison reintroduction projects on tribal lands and landowner coexistence projects.
Red Knots in a Bind
These migratory shorebirds may be small—red knots are roughly the size of robins—but they undertake one of the longest migrations on Earth. Some travel from the tip of Argentina all the way to the Arctic. But the overharvesting of horseshoe crabs, whose eggs provide critical food for the hungry travelers at a major rest area along Delaware Bay, is largely causing the bird’s population to plummet. Last year, the peak Delaware Bay count found fewer than 15,000 red knots—down from more than 100,000 in the 1980s. Now climate change, oil spills and tropical storms pose more danger. This year’s winter survey in Chile and Argentina counted at least 5,000 fewer birds than the previous winter—a devastating blow to the species. In 2006, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service declared the red knot a candidate for the endangered species list, thanks in part to a petition from Defenders of Wildlife, but a lack of funding prevents official listing and the beginning of a recovery plan.
100,000 Defenders Speak for the Trees
Thanks to the nearly 100,000 of you who submitted comments to the U.S. Forest Service asking for stronger wildlife protections, there is reason to hope that the Obama administration’s proposed changes to the National Forest Management Act won’t weaken long-standing protections for wolverines, grizzly bears, fishers, frogs, owls and others. National forests have more intact populations of rare species than any other federal land system, providing habitat for one-fifth of our federally protected threatened and endangered species. Many Defenders’ members attended public meetings, voiced concerns to congressional leaders and wrote letters to their local newspapers. Thank you!