© 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.
For more: www.defenders.org/plowedunder 
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.”