July 19, 2019
West Side Lakes named for Kelly family
Photo courtesy of Tim and Carrie Kelly
Tim Kelly and his wife, Carrie, were hooked the first time they visited the Max McGraw Wildlife Foundation.

“I remember passing through the gate and feeling like we had entered a different world, a unique place of serenity and calmness,” Tim Kelly said. “The more we learned of the Foundation’s Mission, focused on conservation, leadership, education, and research, the more enamored we became.”

The Kellys quickly became avid and generous supporters of the Foundation and its mission. Tim Kelly personally built the bridge over the spillway between Duck Valley and Island Lake as a tribute to his mother, who loved children and their promise, as well as the Foundation’s focus on training future conservation leaders. They later donated a log cabin near Lake Geneva, Wis. to McGraw.

In light of the Kellys’ generosity, the McGraw Board of Directors recently voted to designate the lakes on the Foundation’s west side collectively as the Kelly Family West Side Fishing Lakes.  

Water crisis has Florida anglers reeling
By Andrew McKean/Outdoor Life
Photo by Stig Nygaard/flickr
Florida’s marine fisheries are showing uncharacteristic fragility. It started with increasingly dire reports from Florida Bay, the shallow-water mecca for inshore species between the tip of Florida’s peninsula and the Keys. Then Atlantic Coast communities were hit with a toxic algal bloom that drove visitors out of the water and residents out of their expensive beach homes. Locals still call it the Lost Summer of 2013. In 2016, and again in 2017, red tide killed millions of fish up and down the Gulf Coast, creating a stench that undid years of Sunshine State tourism promotions.

But last year was the clincher.

“We call it Toxic ’18 because of the convergence of pollution-driven tragedies on a scale we’ve never witnessed here,” says Terry Gibson, a former fishing guide who shuttered his charter business because he couldn’t consistently put clients on fish. He now works as a water-policy expert for a number of advocacy groups. “We had a virtual crayon-box of algal blooms. Red tide in Sarasota Bay. Blue-green algae in Indian River Lagoon. Brown algae—it’s called aureoumbra—in Mosquito Lagoon. Plus, we have structural problems that have wrecked the way water flows naturally in Florida. Four straight years of record hot temperatures just act as an accelerant.”

Along the Mississippi, towns adapt to survive
By Tristan Baurick/nola.com
Photo by Nenortas Photography/flickr
In early July 2014, the Mississippi flooded downtown Davenport, Iowa, turning its minor league baseball stadium into an island. It happened at a particularly bad time: just before a three-game Independence Day weekend series.

But the game played on.

With floodwaters lapping at its base, the stadium welcomed more than 6,000 fans to watch the hometown River Bandits take on the Timber Rattlers of Appleton, Wis. The post-game fireworks display was bigger than ever, and the stadium’s Ferris wheel offered birds-eye views of the flooding.

“This (stadium) — it literally becomes the middle of the Mississippi River,” Davenport Mayor Frank Klipsch said.

That’s by design. Davenport, population 103,000, is the only major city along the Upper Mississippi without a floodwall. Part of its downtown functions as an urban floodplain.

Lion parts ban
is a boon for breeders, poachers
By Rachel Nuwer/The New York Times
Photo by Michael Jansen/flickr
An international treaty prohibits the buying and selling of products made from any of the big cat species, save one: the African lion. If the animals have been bred in captivity in South Africa, then their skeletons, including claws and teeth, may be traded around the world.

Lion parts legally exported from South Africa usually wind up in Asia, where they are often marketed as tiger parts. This lucrative business is on the rise, and according to recent research, a ban enacted by the United States may have helped to ignite it.

In 2016, the Fish and Wildlife Service banned imports of captive-bred lion trophies. For many lion breeders in South Africa, skeleton exports  were an obvious way to make up for lost business .

Woodpeckers evolve to resemble each other
By Marc Devokaitis/Living Bird
Photo by Mark Moschell/flickr
Downy and Hairy Woodpeckers are a classic case of confusing species. Both woodpeckers sport similar black-and-white plumages, males of both species don a red mark on the back of their heads, and the two species’ habitats and ranges overlap considerably.

But despite being look-alikes, these two species are not that closely related. Their genetic lineages split off from a shared ancestor over 6 million years ago—about as far back as chimps and humans split. The Hairy Woodpecker is more closely related to the very different looking Red-cockaded Woodpecker, while the Downy is closer to Nuttall’s Woodpecker.

A new study in the journal Nature Communications provides strong evidence that Downy and Hairy Woodpeckers are an example of “plumage mimicry”—one species of bird evolving to match the plumage patterns and colors of another. And the researchers found more instances of woodpecker doppelgangers all around the world, including Lesser Spotted Woodpeckers that look like Great Spotted Woodpeckers in Europe; and Cardinal Woodpeckers that look like Gabon Woodpeckers in Africa.

“Study nature, love nature, stay close to nature. It will never fail you.

-        Frank Lloyd Wright

To read past McGraw Reports click here.