November 17, 2017
RMEF, CLfT Expand Partnership
The Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation is extending and expanding its partnership with the Max McGraw Wildlife Foundation, and its Conservation Leaders for Tomorrow (CLfT) program.

CLfT hosts five-day workshops for wildlife professionals and students who do not hunt. They leave with a deep understanding of hunting and its impact on conservation.

"Supporting CLfT helps RMEF meet its conservation mission of ensuring the future of our hunting heritage," said Blake Henning, RMEF chief conservation officer. "We have witnessed first-hand that this program changes lives and that translates into a stronger understanding and more effective on-the-ground wildlife management practices. We are excited to extend our partnership an additional five years."

RMEF and CLfT partnered in 2013 and worked to expand the program into the western United States. In exit surveys, 98 percent of participants said they acquired a better understanding of hunter motivations and nearly a third said they acquired a better understanding of the relationship between hunting and conservation. Nearly 9 out of 10 described their experience as "excellent."
To learn more about CLfT click here. 

Why You Should Care About Nutrient Pollution
By Dani Dagan/TRCP
Photo by NOAA/flickr
Water is always moving. The Lake Erie waters dripping off a just-landed walleye contain billions upon billions of molecules that traveled untold miles over time, picking up all kinds of chemical hitchhikers, which include nutrients-nitrogen and phosphorus-from farm fertilizer. The word "nutrient" is often associated with positive effects on human health, but they can become dangerous pollutants in our watersheds.

In 2016, the Environmental Protection Agency released a  memo  renewing a single call to action: reduce nutrient pollution. Why? Because it "remains one of the greatest challenges to our nation's water quality and presents a growing threat to public health and local economies." In other words, nutrient pollution makes our water toxic to drink and costs communities millions of dollars to treat.

Nutrient pollution comes from many sources, including storm runoff from cities, but a lot of it drains into our water via poorly managed agricultural land. Nutrients in fertilizers make farms more productive, but when rain washes over those fields, nutrients can pollute entire watersheds. The Des Moines Water Works  lawsuit , which was perhaps the biggest legal action on water quality in decades, specifically addressed pollution caused by nitrogen, one of the major components of fertilizer. The downstream impacts are bad for human health, sportfish, waterfowl, and even your Labrador retriever .
Rare Bird Lures Flocks to Long Island
By Joe Trezza/Audubon
Photo by Ron Knight/flickr
It is not a short hike to the Corn Crake. But when a bird is so rare it isn't even listed in some North American field guides, you go. You go 50 miles east of New York City and 15 more south. You speed across South Oyster Bay, then the full length of a barrier island, to reach a beach town so boarded-up even the public bathrooms are closed. You scramble across a two-lane highway to a brushy median, high-stepping the thorns, hoping you haven't missed it.

You fly in from Michigan, from North Carolina, from Minnesota. You ditch work and rent a car, rumble in from Manhattan against the crosstown traffic. You drive three hours to what feels like the edge of the world, November's first deep chill sweeping in off the sea, and say, "I would have driven six to see it."

"It only took me 58 years to see this bird," said Paul Desjardins, who came from Connecticut. "I never thought I'd see it."

Not since 1963 has a Corn Crake been documented in New York State, when one was shot in a remote rye field. Before that, the last record came from Grover Cleveland's first presidency, in 1888. That's two Corn Crakes in the past 129 years-until Ken and Sue Fuestal spotted one foraging on the side of a shoulder-less highway on Long Island, just east of New York City, on November 7. 
Great Plains Grasslands Are Still in Decline
By Patrick Springer/Bismarck Tribune
Photo by Tez Goodyer/flickr
Dwindling grassland remnants in the Great Plains continued their decline last year with the loss of 2.5 million acres consumed by expanding crop production.

The reduction, which included a loss of 266,127 grassland acres in North Dakota, was tallied by a "Plowprint" report recently released by the World Wildlife Fund.
The loss of grassland acres has been an ongoing concern to conservationists. The longstanding trend accelerated a few years ago when high crop prices enticed farmers to expand their cropland. The trend continued in 2016, although at a slower rate, even with the more recent drop in farm commodity prices, the World Wildlife Fund report said.

The previous year, 2015, 3.7 million grassland acres disappeared due to crop conversion. Since 2009, about 8 percent of grasslands in the Great Plains have been lost to crop expansion, according to the World Wildlife Fund report.
Giant Crab Can Climb Trees ... and Hunt Birds
By Avi Selk/The Washington Post
Photo by Drew Avery/flickr
Coconut crabs grow to the size of dogs. They climb trees, and tear through solid matter with claws  nearly as strong as a lion jaws .

And now, finally, we have video evidence that the crabs - thousands strong on one island - can scale trees and hunt full-grown birds in their nests.

"It would at first be thought quite impossible for a crab to open a strong cocoa-nut," Charles Darwin once  wrote , as that father of evolutionary biology recounted stories of a "monstrous" arthropod said to roam an island in the Indian Ocean.

"The crab begins by tearing the husk, fibre by fibre, and always from that end under which the three eye-holes are situated," Darwin wrote. "When this is completed, the crab commences hammering with its heavy claws on one of the eye-holes till an opening is made."
"Time in nature is not leisure time; it's an essential investment in our children's health (and also, by the way, in our own)."