May 25, 2018
Do We Need a New Way of Financing Conservation?
By Travis Cooke/TRCP
McGraw Photo by Alex Garcia
Did you know that every year, hunters contribute more than $700 million to state wildlife conservation efforts? That’s right—for more than 80 years, sportsmen and women have been overwhelmingly responsible for the health of fish and wildlife populations in America.

At the start of the 20 th  century, several wildlife species were imperiled, with few safeguards in place for dwindling populations. Recognizing that inaction may result in not only the mass extinction of America’s wildlife but also our pursuit of wildlife, hunters decided to take matters into our own hands.

In 1937, with support from the nation’s earliest sportsmen’s organizations, Congress passed the Pittman-Robertson Act, which created the Wildlife Restoration program. Since then, more than $10 billion in excise taxes on shooting and archery equipment have been distributed to state wildlife agencies for wildlife conservation projects, hunter education courses, and public access improvements. In most states, Pittman-Robertson is the only source of funding for fish and game agencies.

But recent data paints a grim picture for the future of hunting and wildlife conservation.

A Diet Rich in Fish Could Save Swaths of Land
By Emma Bryce/Anthropocene
Photo by Derek Oyen/flickr
If we fulfilled a large share of our future protein needs with farmed fish instead of livestock, we would save several hundred million hectares of land. This fact comes down to the much less resource-intensive diet of farmed fish, compared to their livestock counterparts, researchers write.

A huge proportion of crops like maize, wheat, barley, and soy beans are now farmed solely to feed livestock and farmed fish. But the study showed that if aquaculture–wherein fish are farmed in pens on land or at sea–replaced a larger chunk of livestock farming to generate one-third of global protein by 2050, it would reduce feed requirements by up to 600 million tonnes. If we factor in not only the land saved from having to  grow  enough feed for millions of livestock, but also the land we’d save from not having to set aside as much for livestock to  graze upon, aquaculture would in fact free up between 729 and 747 million hectares globally from conversion into crops. That’s an area of land twice the size of India.

Even when producing this much larger slice of the protein pie, fish would still only account for a tiny proportion–less than 10%–of global feed produced from crops. That’s a testament to just how efficiently and sustainably fish can convert the food they’re given into valuable protein for human consumption, compared to the huge inefficiencies of conventional livestock, which require much greater inputs.
Ice is Rapidly
Disappearing from the
Arctic Ocean
The New York Times
Photo by NASA/flickr
In the Arctic Ocean, some ice stays frozen year-round, lasting for many years before melting. But this winter, the region hit a record low for ice older than five years.

This, along with  a near-record low for sea ice over all , supports predictions that by midcentury there will be no more ice in the Arctic Ocean in summer.

As darker, heat-absorbing water replaces reflective ice, it hastens warming in the region. Older ice is generally thicker than newer ice and thus more resilient to heat. But as the old ice disappears, the newer ice left behind is more vulnerable to rising temperatures.

“First-year ice grows through winter and then to up to a maximum, which is usually around in March,” said Mark A. Tschudi, a research associate at the Colorado Center for Astrodynamics Research at the University of Colorado, Boulder. “As summer onsets, the ice starts to melt back.”
Savor the Magic at Illinois’ Hennepin and Hopper Lakes
By Russ Blogg/Outdoor Illinois
Photo by Adam Woodis/flickr
It was an early June morning, the sun had yet to rise and my ears were filled with the buzzing of mosquitos on the edge of the marsh. And then I heard “coo-coo-coo…coo-coo-coo.”

The slow, distinctive call of a least bittern traveled across the marsh at Hennepin and Hopper lakes in Putnam County. In addition to the least bittern, other marsh birds heard that day were the common gallinule and pied-billed grebe.

Hennepin and Hopper lakes are part of the 3,000-acre Sue and Wes Dixon Waterfowl Refuge owned by the Chicago based  Wetlands Initiative . Founded in 1994 and dedicated to restoring wetland resources throughout the Midwest, the organization acquired land adjacent to the Illinois River near Hennepin, and since 2001 has been working to restore the area’s hydrology.
City Parks May Provide Much-Needed Habitat for Pollinators
By Sarah de Weerdt/Anthropocene
Photo by Victoria Pickering/flickr
Some city parks may be just as good bee habitat as protected natural areas are, according to a new study by researchers in Poland. The findings are a bit of good news for pollinators, which have been on the decline worldwide. The study also suggests how simple tweaks to the management of urban green spaces could help them support greater bee diversity.

Past studies have documented that urban landscapes as a whole tend to support fewer bees than natural areas – a not surprising result, since concrete and asphalt don’t provide much nectar. But this is among the first to compare bee communities in urban green spaces to those in natural landscapes, arguably a more apples-to-apples comparison.

“Efforts at mitigating global biodiversity loss have often focused on preserving large, intact natural habitats,” the researchers write. “However, preserving biodiversity should also be an important goal in the urban environment.”
“There’s no Wi-Fi in the wilderness, but you’ll have a better connection.”

-- Anonymous

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