July 5, 2019
Meet Charlotte Milling,
McGraw’s first postdoctoral fellow
Photo courtesy of Charlotte Milling
While the Max McGraw Wildlife Foundation is justly proud of its reputation as one of the nation’s finest outdoor recreational facilities, its mission is to advance the science and understanding of conservation. Few of our programs epitomize this mission better than the Center for Wildlife Research, led by Dr. Stan Gehrt.

For the past two years, Dr. Gehrt has worked closely with Dr. Charlotte Milling, a postdoctoral researcher, on the Foundation’s studies aimed at improving waterfowl production on the North American prairies. This work, driven by McGraw and conducted under the auspices of The Ohio State University, already is paying dividends by paving the way for much-needed improvements to the North American Wetlands Conservation Act and discovering potential strategies to offset waterfowl predation on the prairies.

Because of her accomplishments and her potential for continuing to lead conservation on this continent, McGraw is proud to name Charlotte Milling our first McGraw Postdoctoral Fellow. 

How river reshaping affects wildlife
By Tristan Baudrick/nola.com
Photo by Jason Mrachina/flickr
Sharonne Baylor’s pontoon boat glides through a Mississippi riverscape that’s unraveling.

“It’s like we’ve pulled a string on a sweater,” the U.S. Wildlife and Fisheries environmental engineer said as she traveled the watery border between Minnesota and Wisconsin. “We lose the land, then the habitat, then the fish and the birds.”

Baylor helps manage the Upper Mississippi River National Wildlife and Fish Refuge, a 261-mile-long stretch of river girdled in its middle by Lock and Dam 8 near Genoa, Wisconsin. It’s one of the first places where river engineering began to show its ugly side.

No one predicted, when the dam was built in 1937, that the widening pool of water behind the dam would amplify wind speeds, creating waves that ate away sandy islands and erased wildlife-rich back channels. By 1982, the five miles north of Lock and Dam 8 had lost nearly 80 percent of its 625 island acres. The wind-churned water clouded with sediment, blocking sunlight needed by aquatic plants, which died off in droves. Fish populations declined and birds steered away.

“It became a desert,” Baylor said.

House moves to combat chronic wasting disease
McGraw photo
A House spending bill for federal agriculture, interior, and environmental agencies has passed with amendments that create new dedicated funding to research, test for, and battle chronic wasting disease, a fatal disease discovered in deer and elk populations across more than half the U.S. 

The amendment will send $15 million to the states to combat the spread of chronic wasting disease in wild deer.  

“Chronic wasting disease is a dangerous and contagious condition affecting deer, elk, and moose in 26 states and over 250 counties,” said Rep. Marc Veasey, a Texas Democrat. “The disease spreads to new counties and states every year, threatening our wild deer populations rises. State fish and wildlife agencies are doing their best to combat the spread of this disease with the limited resources they have, but they need more support from the federal government to ramp up their efforts and effectively respond to both new and ongoing outbreaks in wild deer populations.

“That’s why I introduced a bipartisan amendment to dedicate new resources in the fight to contain and eventually eradicate the disease.”

Hopeful news for loggerhead turtles
By Caroline Sanders/Garden & Gun
Photo by JessicaLee-Photography/flickr
It isn’t just vacationers and sun worshippers who are heading to the beach. Beginning late spring and throughout the summer, female sea turtles are drawn to the shore, too, making their way onto the sand to lay their eggs. And so far, for loggerheads along the Southeastern coast, it’s shaping up to be a banner year. The nesting season, which began in May and lasts as late as October, has already seen an unprecedented number of nests since researchers began widely monitoring them in the late ‘70s. That means, if all goes according to plan, an unprecedented number of hatchlings will be crawling to the ocean beginning in July. 

Loggerhead turtles (scientifically known as  Caretta caretta) , one of seven species of sea turtles on the planet and the most prevalent species in the South, have been listed as “threatened” since 1978. An individual adult female crawls onto a beach every two to three years, where she digs a hole with her flippers and lays upward of a hundred eggs at a time before covering the chamber back up with sand. Sixty days later, those hatchlings will break from their shells and crawl toward the ocean.  

Along with the coast of Oman in the Middle East, the shores of South Florida’s Atlantic coast are the most densely populated areas for loggerhead nests anywhere in the world. 

Could Tasmanian devils make a comeback?
By Brandon Keim/Anthropocene
Photo by Chen Wu/flickr
Tasmanian devils are found, just as their name suggests, on the island of Tasmania. Until just a few thousand years ago, though, they also lived in Australia—and the famously ferocious marsupials might live there yet again, helping to bring balance to a continent in ecological turmoil.

“The range of devils once spanned all the main ecological zones in Australia,” write researchers led by Michael Westaway, an archaeologist at Griffith University,  in the journal Biological Conservation . “They could conceivably be reintroduced much more widely than has been thought possible.”

Australia has some of the world’s highest extinction rates, with no fewer than 1,700 threatened species and 59 mammals, many found nowhere else in the world, in imminent danger of extinction. Habitat loss is the primary culprit, but adding to the problem is a proliferation of foxes and free-ranging cats, originally introduced to the continent by European colonizers.

“One who knows the Mississippi will promptly aver — not aloud, but to himself — that ten thousand River Commissions, with the mines of the world at their back, cannot tame that lawless stream …’’

- Mark Twain

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