November 10, 2017
What's Killing Minnesota's Moose? Deer
By Josephine Marcotty/Star Tribune
Photo by Barbara Friedman/flickr
After spending millions of dollars and tracking hundreds of moose with GPS collars, scientists have pinpointed the primary culprit behind the animal's ever-shrinking numbers in Minnesota.

It's the deer. Parasites they carry into Minnesota's North Woods have emerged as the leading cause of death for moose, state and tribal biologists have concluded.
But solving that mystery creates a thornier one: How can state wildlife managers balance efforts to save the iconic moose with the demands of hunters who want more deer in Minnesota's far North Woods?

Minnesota has an estimated 500,000 deer hunters, and they provide about $20 million a year to the state Department of Natural Resources while supporting powerful and well-organized hunting organizations.

"We don't have a Minnesota Moose Hunters Association," said Carrol Henderson, nongame wildlife manager for the DNR.

Stalking the Invasive Snakehead in NYC
By Alex Vadukul/The New York Times
Photo by JW/flickr
Morgan Krell, a 17-year-old wearing sunglasses and a cap, approached a dirty pond protected by tall reeds in Flushing Meadows Corona Park in Queens with his fly rod in hand. The Van Wyck Expressway whined above him and the World's Fair Unisphere was visible in the distance. He nodded toward a plastic bag floating in the filthy water.

"Snakehead," he said. "If there's snakehead in this park, they live here. They love it dirty."

Morgan cast his fly rod majestically, sending line curling through the air, as a family barbecued nearby and an ice cream truck chimed its tune. His feathery lure   - designed to look like a small tasty frog - plopped onto the water.

A neglected sign with an illustration of the fish he was after stood nearby. Its message, highlighted in red, began: "If you catch this fish, do not release. It is highly invasive and a threat to the ecosystem."
Understanding the Fault Lines in the Farm Bill
By Alan Bjerga and Cindy Hoffman/Bloomberg
Photo by cjuneau/flickr
The so-called farm bill includes something for everyone, from farm subsidies and food stamps to clean-air initiatives. But its sheer, trillion-dollar size leaves critics plenty to find fault with-and those fault lines could derail the bill currently being drafted by the House and Senate agriculture committees.

The coalition that passes the law, which expires on Sept. 30, 2018, cuts across parties and regions. That's especially crucial in 2018, when rural lawmakers may determine who controls Congress. How they manage the farm bill's faults may shape who wins next year's elections-and determine whether America flirts with a reversion to older farm laws that would force markets to adjust to supply-restricting rules in effect when Harry Truman was president.
9/11 Tribute Mesmerizes Birds - And May Save Them
By Sarah Kaplan/The Washington Post
Photo by Jason Jenkins/flickr
Most years, sundown on Sept. 11 finds Susan Elbin standing atop a parking garage in Lower Manhattan. She watches as technicians turn on dozens of 7,000-watt bulbs to create two brilliant columns of light - an ethereal tribute to the towers that fell there and the people who lost their lives inside them.
Darkness falls, and there's suddenly movement inside one of the beams, something that dips, whirls and calls out in high-pitched chirps. Then more shapes appear. They're birds, circling endlessly inside the columns as though caught in a trance. Elbin and her colleagues count tens of thousands of them over the course of the night.
"You can see the pillars of light sort of filling up with birds, almost like they're pouring in from the top," recalled Elbin, director of conservation and science at NYC Audubon. "It's just this combination of awe and thinking, 'Gosh, we have to do something to get these birds back on their way.' "
In a  paper published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Elbin and her colleagues report the results of their yearly tally: Between 2008 and 2016, roughly 1.1 million migrating birds were affected by the Tribute in Light annual installation. 
Why Hunters are the Backbone of Conservation
By Wes Siler/Outside Online
McGraw Photo by Alex Garcia
Whenever a hunter purchases a box of bullets, a new bow, or similar equipment,  an additional 11 percent tax is levied  on them, which is dispersed to state fish and wildlife departments, which in turn use it to fund their conservation efforts. Thanks to those policies, the amount of money raised by hunters each year in the United States currently stands at  more than $3 billion -eclipsing the sum of nonhunting conservation efforts by at least a comma.

Hunters then go out and perform the hard work of population management-for free. You see, prey animals like elk or deer are programmed through evolution to reproduce in numbers that would be unsustainable in their environment if all the babies grew to adulthood. Since we've also virtually eliminated predators from our wild places, prey numbers can get out of hand-and there's less land to support them.

Hunting is our most effective tool for reducing local population surpluses. Land managers carefully determine the number of animals hunters can kill every year by studying population numbers in specific areas. The goal of this is population management, not species destruction.
"Still in waders, with the string of ducks across his shoulders, he stood hesitating on the sidewalk in the cold November wind...Today, all day, he had been alive; now he was back ready to be dead again."