“We share this planet with many species. It is our responsibility to protect them, both for their sakes and our own.”
— Pamela A. Matson, Ecologist, Dean, School of Earth Sciences and Goldman Professor of Environmental Studies, Stanford University. Signer on the Endangered Species Act
BOREAL TOAD ONE HOP CLOSER TO PROTECTION
Earlier this week, the U.S.
Fish and Wildlife Service announced what is called a 90-day finding regarding the Boreal Toad. What this means is that a full review of the toad’s status will now be conducted and a final decision as to whether or not the toad will be placed under Endangered Species Act protection must be made within one year.
“The boreal toad is the region’s only alpine, forest-dwelling toad,” said conservation biologist Megan Mueller of Rocky Mountain Wild in a press release. “This unique toad is an indicator of the environmental health of our mountain streams and wetlands. Protections offered by the Endangered Species Act are the only certain means to safeguard the toad from extinction.”
The Boreal toad, which lives in the southern Rocky Mountains as well as in Utah, Idaho and Nevada, has seen its numbers decline rapidly in recent years due to loss of habitat and the spread of a deadly disease known as chytrid. Center for Biological Diversity attorney and biologist Collette Adkins Giese, who, according to the press release, is the world’s only attorney focused solely on protecting endangered amphibians and reptiles, said, “By addressing threats like destruction of wetland habitat we can still save these rare amphibians. But the window of opportunity is closing fast.”
NOAA GOES SEAL COUNTING
It is believed that global warming is taking a toll on various seal populations in the Bering Sea. The seals, which are dependent on chunks of pack ice for their survival, are finding these frozen life preservers far more difficult to locate as the Earth heats up.
Researchers from Russia and the United States will be attempting to count ringed, bearded and ribbon seals all of which are in danger if the ice disappears.
The project is considered to be quite ambitious. It will be very expensive because of the remote location and the equipment needed to maneuver around the Bering Sea and count the seals. Most of the work is taking place from the confines of small planes where thermal imaging and highresolution photography are being used to count and identify the species of seals.
Peter Boveng of the National Marine Mammal Laboratory in Seattle told the French Tribune, “Thermal or infrared cameras are good at detecting seals on ice, which are very warm relative to their surroundings, but not good at revealing the species of seals. Highresolution digital photos are good for species identification.”
NEWEST MEMBER OF THE CLUB
As of this month, the Endangered Species list has a new name on it, Miami blue, and it didn’t come a moment too soon for this very rare species of butterfly. The Miami blue was actually thought to have been extinct for quite some time. But in 1999, a photographer working in Bahia Honda State Park in the Florida Keys stumbled upon a small group of survivors. By 2003, biologists from the University of Florida believed that there were only 50 of the butterflies left in existence. Miami blues were once found from Daytona Beach all the way down to the Dry Tortugas. It is thought that mosquito spraying as well as naturally occurring storms have been the culprits in the butterfly’s declining population.