October 6, 2017

Zoological Society Honors
The Chicago Zoological Society has honored the Max McGraw Wildlife Foundation with the 2017 Edith Rockefeller McCormick Partnership Award, presented in recognition of  the Foundation's commitment to ensuring the future of conservation.

Kerry Luft, McGraw's executive vice president, accepted the award Sept. 28 at a dinner in downtown Chicago.  Other honorees included Clive Stockil of Zimbabwe, a pioneering conservationist who has been working to save rhinos, elephants and other African wildlife for more than 40 years, and Howard B. Simpson, a longtime trustee and leader of the Zoological Society and its Brookfield Zoo.

"We're thrilled to present these awards to two dedicated individuals and an organization that exemplify an immense passion for wildlife," said Stuart D. Strahl, Ph.D., president and CEO of the Chicago Zoological Society. "Each of them has worked to inspire and cultivate the next generation of conservation leaders while also fostering connections between people and the environment around them. We are proud to honor their achievements."

In accepting the award, Luft noted McGraw's longtime personal and professional relationship with Dr. Strahl and the fact that the two groups share many distinguished supporters and friends. McGraw and the zoo, he added, were kindred spirits, places " where people would come to learn about nature and savor its gifts."

"The mission of education of future generations as to the importance of managing our wildlife resources is among our foremost challenges in an ever-urbanized society," said Charles S. Potter Jr., McGraw's president and CEO. "The Chicago Zoological Society does a remarkable job in telling the story and informing the public of the needs of wildlife and habitat management. We are most proud of our friendship and cooperative efforts with Stuart and the Zoological Society. There is much work to be done to achieve our respective goals. We look forward to continued collaboration whenever possible."

The award is on display in Pond Cottage.

How Flooding May Save Part of Louisiana
By Chris Macaluso/TRCP
Photo by NASA/flickr
The primary reason that nearly 2,000 square miles of prime fish and wildlife habitat have vanished along Louisiana's coast is not erosion or development. It's just that the land is constantly sinking, a phenomenon known as subsidence. While gradual, sea-level rise is already affecting coastal areas all over the world, and  Louisiana is contending with rising water and sinking land .

Sediment delivered by annual flooding on the Mississippi River used to be the key to keeping coastal wetlands above the water line. But, when that sediment flow was cut off by flood-protection and navigation levees a century ago, wetlands started disappearing.

That's why Louisiana's coastal master plan calls for the construction of two major diversions to deliver the sediment needed to help wetlands stay above the water line, serving as critical fish and wildlife habitat and better protecting coastal communities from storm surges.

Extensive modeling has been conducted to try and predict the effects of the freshwater, but biologists have been careful to point out that there's a degree of uncertainty.
Garbage Dumps Can Be Vital Ecosystems
By Brandon Keim/Anthropecene
Photo by Jan Truter/flickr
"Ecosystem" is not a word that comes readily to mind when contemplating a garbage dump. Even people who embrace so-called novel ecosystems are usually referring to interesting new jumbles of plants and animals, not giant piles of trash. Yet perhaps we might put aside our preconceptions and view dumps through an ecological lens: as concentrated sources of energy - and also risk - intertwined with a great many nonhuman lives.

In a review published in  Global Ecology and Conservation , biologists Pablo Plaza and Sergio Lambertucci of Argentina's National University of Comahue argue that garbage dumps deserve more careful attention. Found wherever humans are, they're a significant landscape-scale feature; they're indeed novel ecosystems, featuring new combinations and abundances of species, and also novel is their steady, year-round provisioning in landscapes where resources otherwise fluctuate with the seasons.
Group Seeks to End Big Cat Hunts in Arizona
By Dustin Gardinier/Arizona Republic
Photo by wplynn/flickr
An animal-welfare group wants Arizona voters to put an end to sport hunting of mountain lions, bobcats and other big cats that roam the state.

Arizonans for Wildlife says it wants to stop trophy hunting, in which cats are killed only for their head or fur. To get the issue on the November 2018 ballot, the group must collect at least 150,642 valid signatures.

Kellye Pinkleton, campaign director for Arizonans for Wildlife, said hunters are cruelly killing wild cats for sport, not for their meat. She said the initiative also would end the use of steel-jawed traps, dog packs and other cat-hunting methods.

The initiative faces opposition from hunters and others who say the state's mountain lion population isn't endangered and is safely regulated by the Arizona Game and Fish Department.
More Pandas, But Habitat is Being Carved Up
By Ben Guarino/The Washington Post
Photo by Adrian Dutch/flickr
The pandas' shaggy ranks appear to be swelling deep in the Chinese wilderness. A national survey of the bamboo forests, completed in 2013, reported 1,864 giant pandas. The survey completed a decade before counted fewer than 1,600. Population numbers alone, though, paint an incomplete picture.

Using satellite data, a team of scientists mapped 40 years' worth of changes in panda habitat, the researchers reported in a new study published Monday in  Nature Ecology & Evolution . Although there are more pandas, the area they live in is smaller than when the International Union for the Conservation of Nature, or IUCN, first listed pandas as endangered in 1988.

"This study is the first that provides a 40-year analysis of panda habitat changes across the entire panda range," said Jianguo Liu, a Michigan State University environmental scientist and an author of the new work. "It shows that the panda habitat continued to decline until 2001, when the panda habitat began to recover."
" If Christmas came on the Fourth of July and it also happened to be your birthday, you might have some idea of what a first pheasant is like..."