November 23 2018
Canada Geese, From Chicago to the Tundra
Outdoor Illinois
Photo by JanetandPhil/flickr
Few species of wildlife inspire the “love – hate” relationship as much as Canada geese. Canada geese are extremely popular as a game species with Illinois hunters harvesting approximately 100,000 geese annually. Geese also are enjoyed by nature watchers across the state. The “hate” side is the risks Canada geese pose to aircraft, their aggressive behavior during the nesting season, and undesirable amounts of droppings on golf courses, beaches, parks and other recreational areas.

We began a study 6 years ago in cooperation with Illinois Department of Natural Resources, the U.S. Department of Agriculture-Wildlife Services and Southern Illinois University to understand the ecology of geese in urban areas.

The initial focus was to examine movement, habitat selection, and risk to air traffic during winter. We use neck collar-mounted GPS transmitters to provide insights into the life of Canada geese, capturing Canada geese in Chicago’s greenspaces (i.e. parks, cemeteries) using CO 2  powered net launchers with a maximum range of 10 yards.

Catching park geese has proved more difficult than one would think. 

Senate Bill Seeks to Ramp Up CWD Research
By Kristyn Brady/TRCP
McGraw photo by Alex Garcia
Just days into the lame duck session, Senators John Barrasso, Doug Jones, and Michael Bennet have  introduced legislation to ramp up on research and testing for chronic wasting disease  in deer, elk, and other cervids. Combined with  a companion bill previously introduced in the House by Rep. Ralph Lee Abraham , the aim of the bill would be to understand as much as possible about this always-fatal disease and implement research findings as a critical component of a nationwide response.

“Chronic wasting disease has negatively affected white-tailed and mule deer in Wyoming for decades,” Barrasso said. “To protect our wildlife populations and our hunters, we need to know more about how this disease is spread and which areas are most at risk.”

“Passing legislation to ultimately help curb the spread of chronic wasting disease is  one of our top priorities for the remaining weeks of this Congress ,” said Whit Fosburgh, president and CEO of the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership. “ Misinformation about CWD and how we should deal with it as a hunting community  is almost as rampant as the disease itself.”

Dead Whale Had 115 Plastic Cups in Stomach
Associated Press
Photo by Geraint Morgan/flickr
A dead whale that washed ashore in eastern Indonesia had a large lump of plastic waste in its stomach, including drinking cups and flip-flops, causing concern among environmentalists and government officials in one of the world’s largest plastic polluting countries.
Rescuers from Wakatobi National Park found the rotting carcass of the 31-foot sperm whale near the park in Southeast Sulawesi province, park chief Heri Santoso said.

Santoso said researchers from the wildlife conservation group WWF and the park’s conservation academy found about 13 pounds of plastic waste in the animal’s stomach containing 115 plastic cups, four plastic bottles, 25 plastic bags, 2 flip-flops, a nylon sack and more than 1,000 other assorted pieces of plastic.

“Although we have not been able to deduce the cause of death, the facts that we see are truly awful,” said Dwi Suprapti, a marine species conservation coordinator at WWF Indonesia.

The Hurricane Hit. The Fish Kept on Breeding.
By JoAnna Klein/The New York Times
Photo by Chesapeake Bay Program/flickr
On Aug. 25, 2017,  Hurricane Harvey  made landfall about 5 miles east of Rockport, Tex. The category 4 storm had an eye wider than the length of Manhattan, wind gusts up to 145 miles per hour and a 10 foot storm surge. The catastrophic storm resulted in at least 103 deaths in the United States.

But amid this destruction, one thing seemed to weather the storm quite well — spotted seatrout, which were busy making babies as the eye of the hurricane passed over their spawning grounds.

“Their urge to reproduce, or that inclination, is so strong that not even a hurricane can stop them,” Christopher Biggs, a graduate student at The University of Texas at Austin and first author of the study, said.

The resilience of these fish suggests that they and their  relatives , popular for recreational fishing in the Gulf of Mexico, may cope surprisingly well with increases in human activity and other temporary disturbances.

Where Did All the Stinkbugs Come From?
By Kathryn Schulz/The New Yorker
Photo by Katja Schulz/flickr
The brown marmorated stinkbug is not native to this country, but in the years since it arrived it has spread to forty-three of the forty-eight continental United States, and—in patchwork, unpredictable, time-staggered ways—has overrun homes, gardens, and farms in one location after another. A wildlife biologist in Maryland decided to count all the brown marmorated stinkbugs he killed in his own home; he stopped the experiment after six months and 26,205 stinkbugs.
Around the same time, entomologists documented 30,000 stinkbugs living in a shed in Virginia no bigger than an outhouse, and 4,000 in a container the size of a breadbox. In West Virginia, bank employees arrived at work one day to find an exterior wall of the building covered in an estimated million stinkbugs.

What makes the brown marmorated stinkbug unique, though, is not just its tendency to congregate in extremely large numbers but the fact that it boasts a peculiar and unwelcome kind of versatility. Very few household pests destroy crops; fleas and bedbugs are nightmarish, but not if you’re a field of corn. Conversely, very few agricultural pests pose a problem indoors; you’ll seldom hear of people confronting a swarm of boll weevils in their bedroom. But the brown marmorated stinkbug has made a name for itself by simultaneously threatening millions of acres of American farmland and grossing out the occupants of millions of American homes. The saga of how it got here, what it’s doing here, and what we’re doing about it is part dystopic and part tragicomic, part qualified success story and part cautionary tale.

- Havilah
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