March 9, 2018
McGraw Leads
the Way in
Hunter Education
By Zach Lowe/McGraw
McGraw photo
Max McGraw was fond of saying, “There is a way to do it better- find it.”

The wildlife foundation that bears his name has done just that, helping the Illinois Department of Natural Resources to modernize hunter education in Illinois and make it more accessible to all of the state’s citizens.

More than two years ago, the McGraw Center for Conservation Leadership was asked to recommend strategic improvements for the IDNR. The resulting report can be read here.

Bringing hunter education into the modern age was among the report’s top recommendations, and working with Center Vice President Zach Lowe and CLfT National Coordinator Dave Windsor, the IDNR launched an online-only option for hunter’s ed over the summer. The idea was to allow some individuals to take the course on their own time, rather than trying to find a traditional classroom-oriented course that could fit their schedule.

Was it popular? Absolutely.
How Teddy Roosevelt Used His Bully Pulpit for Conservation
By Dennis Anderson/Star Tribune
Flickr photo
More than 100 years ago, Teddy Roosevelt worried so deeply about sustaining this nation’s natural resources that he established national parks and conserved wild critters and wild places at a breakneck pace that has yet to be equaled.

It helped that while he advocated for conservation, Roosevelt was president, and therefore carried a big stick. Also, he knew what he was talking about. Guns and horses, ranching, camping, hiking and hunting, Roosevelt had done it all, roughing it along the way.

Which is how he gained an appreciation for the vulnerability of the nation’s land, water and wildlife.

The subject arises so the reader can compare in this election year what Roosevelt harped on vis-a-vis conservation when he was president on or about 1910 — when the U.S. population was 92 million — to what candidates say today about the same issues in a nation of 323 million.
When CRP Lands Go Away, So Does the Wildlife
By Bryce Oates/Outdoor Life
McGraw photo by Alex Garcia
One of America’s largest wildlife habitat programs has lost 13 million acres since 2007. The Conservation Reserve Program peaked at 37 million acres in 2007, and has declined to 24 million acres today. So what happens when land is no longer enrolled in this critical federal conservation program? In short, it means there’s less game on the landscape.

Conservation programs focused on healthy habitat and water quality are essential ingredients for better hunting and fishing. A key cornerstone of federal conservation spending and priorities, the federal  Conservation Reserve Program (CRP)  faces an important crossroads as 14 million additional acres are slated to exit the Farm Bill program in the next five years.

Most of the restored acres no longer enrolled in CRP are in the Great Plains, a vast region encompassing Montana, the Dakotas, and Minnesota, Colorado, and Kansas south through Texas. This region is critical for supporting healthy populations of upland gamebirds and waterfowl.

In the most  comprehensive study of habitat and land use changes  in CRP lands that exit the program, USDA and EPA scientists estimate that approximately 30 to 35 percent of expired CRP acres have been returned to intensive row-crop production. 
Sea Rise Threatens Everglades, but Is there an Answer?
By Jenny Staletovich/Miami Herald
Photo by Ryan Healy/flickr
For years, South Florida water managers struggling to reverse the damage done to the Everglades by decades of flood control have done their best to replicate nature, timing the flow of water into marshes with the state’s wet and dry seasons.

But now researchers looking at 16 years worth of data say creeping sea rise is outpacing restoration efforts. And to save the marshes, they say, the strategy needs to change.

Sea rise “has been gaining momentum. It’s increasing at a faster rate since 2012,” said René Price, a Florida International University hydrogeologist and co-author of  a new study  that looks at the role rising seas play in restoration work. “So it’s almost imperative that it be considered now.”
Orangutan Population May Have Been Halved in 16 Years
By Ben Guarino/The Washington Post
Photo by tbSMITH/flickr
Bornean orangutans, the largest tree-dwellers on the planet, are vanishing. The population of these great apes was halved between 1999 and 2015, per an estimate published in the journal Current Biology.

A survey of orangutan nests, coupled with a statistical analysis of habitat changes, indicates that more than 100,000 animals were lost in those 16 years. It is a dramatic drop for the animals who, because their genomes and unique  physical characteristics  so resemble ours, are among humans' closest living relatives.

Orangutans' exact numbers are uncertain. The animals are intelligent and shy and prefer thick forests. You could walk by an orangutan hiding in the canopy and never know the shaggy, 4-foot-tall creature was there, said Maria Voigt, an expert in sustainability and ape habitat at the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Germany. Counting a population by sight would be a very difficult task.

Instead, surveyors tally orangutan nests. Orangutans, before they sleep, bend long branches into structures that look like leafy baskets. The nests are so large that researchers can use helicopters to spot them. Since 1999, surveyors have covered a total of 500 square miles in Borneo looking for their nests.
“Perhaps I could just lease a place in heaven, in case there’s no decent trout water there.”

- Harry Middleton
To read past McGraw Reports click here.