February 23, 2018
Sportsman-backed Science Spurs
Federal Management Order
By Ben Long/Outdoor Life
Photo by Mark Gunn/flickr
Scientists in Wyoming and elsewhere are demonstrating that healthy migration corridors are key for healthy big-game herds and robust hunting seasons. Secretary of Interior Ryan Zinke recently  signed an order  to put that science to work on the ground.

“This really is a science-based initiative,” says University of Wyoming associate professor Matthew Kauffman, who has helped broaden the understanding of how pronghorn, elk, and mule deer use the western landscape. “It’s a natural progression of what we have learned from research over the past 10 to 15 years.”

In particular, biologists have documented that some western big-game species commonly migrate 150 to 200 miles over the course of just one spring or fall season. That is comparable to more famous migrations of caribou in the far north or wildebeest in eastern Africa.
Sea Lions Have Come Back. That Presents a Problem
By Jason Bittel/The Washington Post
Photo by Nathan Rupert/flickr
Just a few decades ago, the California sea lion seemed on the verge of becoming an endangered species. It was 1964, and hunting and fishing had caused the breeding population off the West Coast to  shrink to just 35,000 .

How times have changed. After the Marine Mammal Protection Act of 1972 made it illegal to kill or harass sea lions, their ranks steadily grew — and grew, and grew. Now, according to  recent estimates  by the National Marine Fisheries Service, California sea lions number in the hundreds of thousands, making them comfortably within the range of what experts call the “optimal sustainable population.”

It’s as good a success story as a species can hope for. But there’s a hitch: A robust population of barking sea lions is not particularly easy for people to live with.
One Gift, and Chile’s National Park System is Born
By Pascal Bonnefoy/The New York Times
Photo by Mariano Montel/flickr
An eagle soared over the lone house atop an arid hill in the steppes of Chile’s Patagonia Park.

In the valley below, not far from the town of Cochrane, President Michelle Bachelet announced the creation of a vast national park system in Chile stretching from Hornopirén, 715 miles south of the capital, Santiago, to Cape Horn, the southern tip of South America, where Chile splinters into fjords and canals.

The park is the brainchild of Kristine McDivitt Tompkins and her husband, Douglas Tompkins, who founded the North Face and Esprit clothing companies, and starting in 1991, put $345 million — much of his fortune — buying large swaths of Patagonia.

Mr. Tompkins died  at 72 in December 2015, after a kayaking accident in Patagonia. Months before, Tompkins Conservation, an umbrella group of conservation initiatives the couple directed, proposed a deal to the Chilean government: It would donate more than one million acres of their preserved and restored territory to Chile if the government committed additional lands and designated new parks to create a Patagonian national park network.
Some Facts and Myths About Chronic Wasting Disease
By Texas Wildlife Association
McGraw Photo by Alex Garcia
The prominence of chronic wasting disease (CWD) in the media waxes as new cases are discovered and wanes as the public’s interest fades once the disease’s presence ceases to be novel. 

Chronic wasting disease disrupts the world of people who care about deer. This disruption begins with regulations to determine where the disease is located, prevent its spread, and sometimes to try to eradicate it before it gains a foothold. Over the long term, CWD can cause change by decreasing annual survival, thereby reducing the number of deer that can be harvested and eventually lowering deer density. Change is unpleasant and people respond to it in different ways. Some recognize the problem and act to address it. Others are less open to the change and strive to maintain the world the way it was. 

There is a campaign, arising from fear of the change caused by CWD, to marginalize CWD as a management issue. Following are 7 statements you may have heard about CWD and reasons why these statements are misleading at best and absolutely false at worst.
Budget Raises New Questions about Conservation Fund
By Tristan Scott/Flathead Beacon
Photo by David Clow/flickr
Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke’s full-throated endorsement of the popular Land and Water Conservation Fund and his opposition to transferring ownership of public lands rang out sharply during his first term as a Republican Congressman from Montana.

But President Donald Trump’s proposed budget for 2019 would slash funding for the massive department Zinke now helms while all but eliminating LWCF. That has forced public-land advocates back on their heels as they point out the severe consequences the steep cuts could have.

The proposed budget would cut LWCF to $8 million, down 98 percent from the $400 million earmarked in Fiscal Year 2017 and less than 1 percent of the maximum authorized annually under full funding, which is $900 million.

Even as Zinke says his support for popular land access programs like LWCF remains steadfast, the Trump administration’s budget request has drawn criticism from a host of influential conservation groups and elected leaders who worry the Interior Secretary’s support is eroding.

Read the McGraw Center for Conservation Leadership’s recommendations for the Land and Water Conservation Fund here .

- Havilah Babcock
To read past McGraw Reports click here.