July 13, 2018
Ever Wonder How Duck Seasons are Approved?
By Dale Humburg/Ducks Unlimited
Photo by TexasEagle/flickr
States set the season dates and bag limits for deer, turkeys, pheasants, and other game species; why not for ducks and geese? Actually, that was the case during the early 20th century, when waterfowl regulations were established by individual states. As a result, seasons and bag limits often varied considerably from one state to the next. Of course, that provided little opportunity for the continental management of North America's waterfowl, which regularly cross state, provincial, and international boundaries during migration. 

Today, waterfowl regulations are drafted under the auspices of an international treaty, occur within federal frameworks established for each flyway, and are adjusted by states to account for migration timing and hunter preferences. At each level, recommendations and decisions are based on the best available science, more than a century of experience, and opportunities for public input. That's not to say that the transition from state-based waterfowl harvest management to a federal framework was easy. The first two decades of the 20th century saw considerable resistance from states' rights proponents, market hunters, and commercial shooting interests. But conservation-minded citizens and policymakers were persistent in their efforts to establish a unified approach to waterfowl management, and they ultimately prevailed.
Senate Farm Bill Would Help Improve Watersheds
By Melinda Kassen/TRCP
Photo by Tony Fernandez/flickr
The Senate has passed its version of the next five-year Farm Bill with bipartisan support for conservation programs that boost America’s rural economies. There’s a lot to like in the bill, but for those of us watching drought conditions worsen in the West, one provision stands out.

The Senate Farm Bill would improve and expand the Regional Conservation Partnership Program, which encourages farmers, ranchers, sportsmen, and others to work together to improve watersheds on a landscape scale. This program has already been used everywhere from the Chesapeake Bay to the Columbia River to build resiliency in the face of pollution and drought.

The RCPP program has been wildly popular in agricultural communities, but it’s easy to see how sportsmen and women also benefit from these multifaceted projects. Here in Colorado, RCPP funding went toward improving the river in a way that helped to solve a water battle with cities east of the Continental Divide and allow ranchers to draw water into irrigation structures. But, at the same time, the project improved river flows and fish habitat in the Colorado River’s gold-medal trout fishery. Another RCPP project in our state will help ranchers conserve water while improving conditions for trout in the Gunnison River.
In Vitro Experiment May Help
Rare Rhinos
By Steph Yin/The New York Times
Photo by Ed Ralph/flickr
If you had asked Thomas Hildebrandt a decade ago whether the northern white rhinoceros could be saved, his answer would have been grim. The rhino’s numbers had dwindled to single digits, and the few remaining individuals all had severe reproductive issues.

“We thought, ‘The story’s over,’” said Dr. Hildebrandt, a wildlife reproductive biologist at the Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research and the Free University of Berlin. His prognosis got even bleaker when Sudan, the last male of the subspecies,  died in captivity last spring .

But on Wednesday, Dr. Hildebrandt and a team of colleagues reported in the journal Nature Communications that the story of the northern white rhino is not, in fact, over.

Using frozen sperm from northern white rhinos and eggs from closely related southern white rhinos,  the scientists created hybrid embryos that can potentially be implanted  into surrogate southern white rhino mothers.
The Fall, Rise and Fall of the Atlantic Puffin
By Dan Zukowski/Hakai
Photo by Francesco Veronesi/flickr
The last Atlantic puffin on Seal Island, off the coast of Maine, was killed in 1887—perhaps for food or for feathers to adorn a lady’s hat. The death marked the end of the colony on this narrow squiggle of granite and grass that once nested hundreds of these charismatic birds.

No good estimate exists for the number of Atlantic puffins in North America before Europeans arrived, but 300 years of hunting killed most of the birds in Maine by the end of the 19th century. Flourishing colonies on six islands were reduced to just four birds—two breeding pairs that held out on remote Matinicus Rock. A small colony survived there until help arrived more than 70 years later.

In 1970, Stephen Kress, then a budding scientist in his mid-20s, drew up plans for an improbable scheme: to reintroduce the Atlantic puffin to its former range.
How Koalas Adapted to Eat Eucalyptus Leaves
By Joel Achenbach/The Washington Post
Photo by J. Philipp Krone/flickr
The koala challenges the kangaroo as the most iconic Australian marsupial. It is a very peculiar animal, spectacularly specialized, living in eucalyptus trees and surviving almost entirely on their leaves, which are highly toxic to most organisms.

But not just any eucalyptus trees: There are about 600 species of eucalyptus, and koalas can be found in just 120 of them, of which only 20 species provide the bulk of the koala diet. And koalas are fanatically choosy about their leafy greens, favoring the ones high in nutrition and water content and pausing to bury their adorable Yoda-like faces in the leaves for a big sniff before nibbling.

So they're definitely not generalists.

"You're talking about a niche within a niche," says Rebecca Johnson, director of the Australian Museum Research Institute.
“I love fishing. You put that line in the water and you don’t know what’s on the other end. Your imagination is under there.” 

- Robert Altman

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