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Defenders of Wildlife Senior Vice President for Conservation Programs, Donald Barry, cosigned a bipartisan letter with three other former assistant secretaries for fish and wildlife and parks from the Department of the Interior, thanking Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell for making the right decision in December to reject a highly contentious and damaging road through the Izembek National Wildlife Refuge in Alaska, despite intense political pressure to allow it. Alaskan Senator Lisa Murkowski continues to fight for the road, but the four former assistant secretaries from the George W. Bush, Clinton, Ford and Nixon administrations agreed that Secretary Jewell’s decision to reject the road protected irreplaceable wetlands of both national and international significance. The proposed road had previously been rejected by Secretary Bruce Babbitt in 1998.
Today, members of the Montana Board of Livestock (BOL) discussed but took no action on a joint proposal put forth by Montana’s Department of Livestock and Department of Fish, Wildlife and Parks to expand the tolerance zone for bison outside of and adjacent to Yellowstone National Park, which would enable bison to roam on as much as 421,000 acres federal, state and private lands west and north of the park.
Defenders of Wildlife released a report today finding that draft plans developed under the federal National Greater Sage-grouse Planning Strategy would not conserve sage-grouse. Ranging over ten western states, greater sage-grouse have experienced both significant habitat loss and long-term population declines. In 2010 the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service determined the bird warranted protection under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and other agencies initiated the planning strategy to implement new land use and management plans on 60 million acres of public land to support sage-grouse recovery before the Fish and Wildlife Service makes its formal listing decision in 2015.
Tonight Senate Democrats will hold an all-night talking session on the Senate floor to highlight the need for action on climate change.
Today, the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) released the official annual count for gray wolves living in Washington state; this year’s count tallied 52 wolves, an increase of one individual from the 2012 year-end population. The count also tallied five successful breeding pairs, the same number reported in the 2012 annual count.
Eleven conservation organizations representing hundreds of thousands of Washington residents sent a letter to the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife today urging the agency to rescind its support for stripping wolves of federal Endangered Species Act protections.
Two new solar energy projects recently approved by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM)—the Silver State South and Stateline Solar projects—would put the threatened desert tortoise at an increased risk of extinction by violating the Endangered Species Act, which has prompted Defenders of Wildlife to challenge the federal agencies’ approval of these projects in court. BLM’s approval comes after Defenders spent more than three years attempting to work with the BLM, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (the Service) and solar companies to plan projects in the Ivanpah Valley in a way that would minimize impacts on endangered species and not undermine the future existence of the desert tortoise.
On Friday, February 28, Idaho Department of Fish and Game announced that, working together with Wildlife Services, they succeeded in gunning down 23 gray wolves from a helicopter in northern Idaho’s Lolo elk zone near the Idaho/Montana border. The state agency said this killing was necessary to boost elk harvest levels in the area, despite independent scientific peer reviewers’ observations that habitat loss, not predator influence, was the major factor in this localized elk herd decline.
The number of endangered gray wolves living in Oregon shows a slight increase from the previous year, according to the official winter count released this week by the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife (ODFW). This year’s count tallied 64 wolves, an increase of 16 individuals from the 2012 year-end population. The ODFW also reported four breeding pairs. Oregon’s wolf population is determined annually based on verified sightings of wolves, thus these numbers represent the minimum wolf population in Oregon.
Michigan Representative John Dingell announced today that he will retire after nearly six decades in the House of Representatives. His leadership was instrumental in the passage of some of our nation’s groundbreaking environmental laws, including the National Wildlife Refuge System Administration Act, the Endangered Species Act, the Clean Water Act and the National Environmental Policy Act. Representative Dingell set the high bar for wildlife conservation in this country and demonstrated to generations of Americans that our nation’s natural resources are too valuable to be left unprotected.