There’s a dance party happening across much of the basin and range as the sage grouse strut their stuff to try to attract females. This is more a Madrid type party than a stateside party as the fun only gets started at dawn. That’s when the males start to dance. There are many descriptions of their dance out there, but it is electric as any disco when you see one of these fantastic beings puffing and stretching in a predawn. It is only the males who puff and strut about, but the more camoflauged females are there too, looking for the best dance partner.
Sage grouse are well known. NDOW has a quick overview of them and I’m sure there are others. But what you might not know is that you can check out the party (from a very respectful distance of course) if you volunteer with NDOWs lek count program. While the program for 2018 is already underway, 2019 is will be here soon. Volunteering provides a great opportunity to explore the basin and range region, see some amazing sunrises, start your hike or play day doing citizen science all while getting to see these unique birds in action.
Get out there lekkin’!
From the Nevada Nature Conservancy:
Check out these five cool Nevada migrations at the Nevada Nature Conservancy's website!
FORT COLLINS, Colorado – Reports of bat deaths worldwide due to human causes largely unique to the 21st century are markedly rising, according to a new USGS-led analysis published in Mammal Review.
Collisions with wind turbines worldwide and the disease white-nose syndrome in North America lead the reported causes of mass death in bats since the onset of the 21st century. These new threats now surpass all prior known causes of bat mortality, natural or attributed to humans.'
A comprehensive study reveals trends in the occurrence and causes of multiple mortality events in bats as reported globally for the past 200 years, shedding new light on the possible factors underlying population declines.
“Many of the 1,300 species of bats on Earth are already considered threatened or declining. Bats require high survival to ensure stable or growing populations," said Tom O’Shea, a USGS emeritus research scientist and the study’s lead author. “The new trends in reported human-related mortality may not be sustainable.”
Bats are long-lived, slow-breeding mammals that play vital roles in most of Earth’s ecosystems. Bats are important pollinators and seed dispersers in tropical regions, and serve as the main predators of night flying insects in most parts of the world. Insect-eating bats are estimated to save farmers billions of dollars each year by providing natural pest control.
Learn more here: http://www.usgs.gov/newsroom/article.asp?ID=4438&from=rss_home#.VqLZixgrLZs_
In an effort to help bring awareness to all the good that bats do, NDOW is once again taking part in Bat Week from Oct. 25-31. Bat Week is an annual, international celebration of the role of bats in nature organized by a team of representatives including Bat Conservation International, Organization for Bat Conservation and the U.S. Forest Service. NDOW has scheduled several items for bat week including sending out a bat fact of the day, featuring bats on its weekly Nevada Wild podcast and posting a photo gallery of Nevada bats on the Nevada Wild website at www.nevadawild.org.
Newmark points to a handful of urban myths that have given bats a bad reputation.
"It's actually kind of funny when you think about all of the misconceptions people have about bats," said Newmark. "The reality is that bats play a pivotal role in almost every ecosystem. They quietly go about all night long eating insects and helping us get rid of pests. But because we don't see them, we often don't appreciate all that they really do for us."
She points to several examples of the benefit that bats play around the world. In tropical systems, they are critical pollinators and seed dispersers. If you like bananas, mangoes, and tequila then you can thank bats as they are responsible for pollinating the plants that produce these products. Closer to home, bats in Nevada and much of North America are all insectivorous, meaning their diet consists of insects like moths, mosquitoes and even scorpions. Bats are the only night-time predators of insects, and without them, insect populations would grow catastrophically. Many of the insects that bats target are severe threats to crops and farmlands.
"A colony of 150 big brown bats can protect local farmers from up to 18 million or more rootworms each summer," said Newmark. "There are 20 million free-tailed bats that live in Bracken Cave in Texas. Those bats eat 250 tons of insects each night. It is unimaginable what our world would be like if we didn't have bats consuming these insects."
Learn more here: http://www.ndow.org/Bats-Get-Bad-Rep-Halloween/_
As hawks in the Reno and Sparks area go about their lives, University of Nevada, Reno graduate student Justin White and his team of enthusiastic interns are there for all the action and activities.
"We have found more than 70 nests and have set up 24 nest cameras," White, who is a geography student working on his doctorate, said. "This means we have driven enough kilometers to cross the United States twice just in Reno looking for nests. We have been able to measure things like chick survival, feeding intervals and parental roles relative to urban density."
White's Reno Hawk Project has two main goals: to gain insight into how nesting Red-tailed Hawks as one of the largest apex predators in the urban ecosystem are affected by different levels of urbanization, and to provide a platform for the University to connect with the local community and an opportunity for interested residents of the Truckee Meadows to join in the research. Since the fall of 2014, White, his team and community partners have sighted, recorded and documented several kinds of hawks and their activities.
Learn more here: http://www.unr.edu/nevada-today/news/2015/the-reno-hawk-project_
In a landmark agreement the US Fish and Wildlife Service has issued the first permit in Nevada to the Nevada Department of Wildlife for implementing a Candidate Conservation Agreement with Assurances (CCAA) in an effort to recover the relict leopard frog.
The CCAA process allows private landowners to voluntarily participate in the conservation of the relict leopard frog in an effort to recover the species, and hopefully, preclude the need to list the frog under the Endangered Species Act. However, any landowners participating in the CCAA can do so without having to worry about further restrictions on their lands or activities if, at some time in the future, the species is listed under the Act. This agreement would allow NDOW to hold the FWS permit and then enroll landowners under the program by working directly with the State agency.
"This is a proactive approach to conservation that recognizes our State authority for management of resident wildlife and insures more conservation efforts will be in place before the Service has to make a listing decision on this species," said Tony Wasley, Director of the Nevada Department of Wildlife.
The relict leopard frog is a rare native amphibian species that occurs only in the Virgin, Muddy and Colorado River drainages in Clark County and in adjacent areas of Arizona and Utah. Habitat for the frog has been lost or altered by the construction of Lakes Mead and Mohave and from other changes in its historic range in areas such as the Muddy and Virgin River basins. The frog was petitioned for listing and an initial decision by FWS on ESA protection is expected by fall 2017.
Learn more here: http://www.ndow.org/Good-News-Fight-Recover-Relict-Leopard-Frog/_
An unprecedented, landscape-scale conservation effort across the western United States has significantly reduced threats to the greater sage-grouse across 90 percent of the species’ breeding habitat and enabled the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) to conclude that the charismatic rangeland bird does not warrant protection under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). This collaborative, science-based greater sage-grouse strategy is the largest land conservation effort in U.S. history.
Secretary Jewell made the announcement earlier today on Twitter with a video that explains why the sage grouse decision is a historic and sets the groundwork for a 21st century approach to conservation.
The FWS reached this determination after evaluating the bird’s population status, along with the collective efforts by the BLM and U.S. Forest Service, state agencies, private landowners and other partners to conserve its habitat. Despite long-term population declines, sage-grouse remain relatively abundant and well-distributed across the species’ 173-million acre range. After a thorough analysis of the best available scientific information and taking into account ongoing key conservation efforts and their projected benefits, the FWS has determined the bird does not face the risk of extinction now or in the foreseeable future and therefore does not need protection under the ESA.
“This is truly a historic effort – one that represents extraordinary collaboration across the American West,” said U.S. Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell. “It demonstrates that the Endangered Species Act is an effective and flexible tool and a critical catalyst for conservation – ensuring that future generations can enjoy the diversity of wildlife that we do today. The epic conservation effort will benefit westerners and hundreds of species that call this iconic landscape home, while giving states, businesses and communities the certainty they need to plan for sustainable economic development.”
See more here: http://www.fws.gov/news/ShowNews.cfm?ref=historic-conservation-campaign-protects-greater-sage-grouse-&_ID=35235
Governor Brian Sandoval has declared July "BEAR Logic Month." "BEAR" stands for Bear Education, Aversion and Research, and BEAR Logic Month is an opportunity to help educate the public about living in bear country.
To meet the goal of BEAR Logic Month, the Nevada Department of Wildlife (NDOW) has put together a series of educational materials including public service announcements (PSA), videos, infographics and a resource page on the NDOW website at www.ndow.org/Bear.
Steps to Avoid Human-Bear conflicts
Learn more here: http://www.ndow.org/Gov-Sandoval-Declares-July-BEAR-Logic-Month/
From Nevada Today:
Nearly 44 million acres of Nevada rangelands have been invaded by Pinyon Pines and Juniper trees in the past 150 years, reducing valuable habitat for range animals, including the Greater Sage Grouse, which is a candidate for listing as endangered under the Endangered Species Act.
In an effort designed to help the stewards of Nevada's lands make informed decisions, Tamzen Stringham, a professor and nationally recognized rangeland ecologist at the University of Nevada, Reno, travels the open spaces of the 71.5 million acres of the Silver State to catalog and study the rangeland ecosystems. Some of those decisions could be about the habitat for sage grouse, but also pygmy rabbits and other animals that rely on rangelands to survive.
"How we manage these lands to make the birds and other wildlife habitat resistant and resilient to environmental or management impacts is the ultimate goal," she said. "Land managers make the best decisions they can based on current knowledge, and then we look to see if it worked, or if it is a disaster. We quantify these things."
Stringham puts about 25,000 miles on her Ford pickup truck in about three months' time crisscrossing the state to visit hundreds of ecological sites as she and her team catalog site characteristics and responses to various disturbances and management choices so they can prepare state-and-transition models.
"You can't say one thing caused the expansion of Pinyon/Juniper into rangelands," she said. "There are multiple drivers: livestock grazing at settlement, fine fuel reduction, fire suppression, climate change. Fire was a natural driver to keep Juniper and Pinyon in the high rocky places - and a pretty big mechanism.
See the full article here: http://www.unr.edu/nevada-today/news/2015/tamzen-stringham
USFWS WASHINGTON –The monarch butterfly, Topeka shiner and gopher tortoise are among the imperiled species that will benefit from $5.7 million in grants to 11 states through the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Competitive State Wildlife Grants program. The grants focus on large-scale conservation projects to conserve and recover species of greatest conservation need and their habitats. They will be matched by more than $2.9 million in non-federal funds from states and their partners.
In addition to offering funds to these 11 states, the Service is also awarding two grants totaling $605,771 to the Western Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies, to be distributed to several western states and their partners for cooperative conservation projects.
“State Wildlife Grants demonstrate the Service’s commitment to conserving pollinators and other imperiled species,” said Service Director Dan Ashe. “I commend our state grantees and their conservation partners for their efforts in responding to mounting conservation challenges.”
This year, the Service encouraged state applicants to design projects to benefit pollinators, as well as other at-risk species. Successful applicants include the Hawaii Department of Land and Natural Resources, which will establish a captive propagation program for rare native invertebrates including the Kamehameha butterfly; state fish and wildlife agencies in Idaho and Washington, who will partner with the Xerces Society to map the distribution and relative abundance of milkweed and the monarch butterflies that depend on it in order to help assess and reduce threats to both species; and Ohio and Michigan state fish and wildlife agencies, that will restore oak savannah to benefit the federally-endangered Karner blue butterfly.
State Wildlife Grant-funded projects are identified in State Wildlife Action Plans. These plans assess the health of each state’s wildlife and habitats, identify the problems they face and outline the actions needed to conserve them over the long term.
“We appreciate the strong ties formed by state agencies and their partners to protect these imperiled wildlife species and their habitats,” said Hannibal Bolton, the Service’s Assistant Director for Wildlife and Sport Fish Restoration. “The State Wildlife Grants program is a catalyst for collaborative conservation, and we look forward to continued partnership success for the future of America’s wildlife.”
Click here for a complete list of 2015 SWG projects. Click here for more information on the State Wildlife Grant program.
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