January 31, 2020
Should we manage
wildlife by
ballot box?
By Ben Long/Outdoor Life
Photo by USFWS/flickr
Sometimes, while people bicker about politics, Mother Nature does her own thing. That seems to be occurring in Colorado when it comes to wolves.

On Election Day, Colorado voters will be asked to consider ballot initiative directing Colorado Parks and Wildlife to import wolves from the north and turn them loose by 2023.

But true to form, the wolves have thrown a curve ball. This month, CPW announced that biologists believe wolves are already setting up housekeeping in the northwest part of the state. In essence, the wolves voted with their paws before humans have a chance to vote on the topic.

Either way, Colorado is poised to become the next “wolf state.” One looming questions is, how much bad blood will be created by ballot-box wildlife management?

How the Mississippi built south Louisiana
By Chris Macaluso/TRCP
Photo by Formulanone/flickr
Over the last 10,000-plus years, as the mouth of the Mighty Mississippi shifted back and forth across the central Gulf of Mexico coast, sediment dropped out and formed a mix of rich, watery, alluvial lands crossed and dotted with bayous, lakes, swamps that eventually give way to marshes and barrier islands.

Since explorers planted a French flag in those soils in 1682, there has been a constant struggle to tame the river and balance the needs of flood control and navigation with the ecological needs of those wetlands and swamps and the fish, wildlife and people who live there.

The struggle intensified in late 2018 through the spring of 2019 as more rain fell in the Mississippi River Valley than at any other time in recorded history.

Levees built in the mid-19 th  to the mid-20 th  century protect communities during the average spring flood. The levees, while saving communities and industries, also cut off the vital, wetland-sustaining annual water and sediment supplies. The consequence has been the loss of nearly 2,000 square miles of fish and wildlife-producing marshes and swamps in the last century.

Australia fires threaten rarest species
Washington Post
Photo by Ale_Flo13/flickr
The mouse-size dunnart is not as renowned as the koalas or platypuses that draw tourists, but it is arguably the most special mammal on Australia’s Kangaroo Island.

Now the Kangaroo Island dunnart’s days may be numbered. Before bush fires struck, it was already endangered, so rare that even researchers who studied them had never seen one. Now they fear they never will. One-third of the 1,700-square-mile island has burned, including the entire area where these dunnarts are known to live.

“One hundred percent — all of our records since 1990 are within the burned fire scar. The entire range of the species has been burned,” said Rosemary Hohnen, an ecologist who spent more than two years surveying the Kangaroo Island dunnart. “They’re in true peril, real peril of extinction.”

CWD rates rising at Wisconsin deer farms
Wisconsin Public Radio
Photo by Deb Watson/flickr
There have been more than 400 cases of chronic wasting disease at Wisconsin deer farms and hunting ranches since it was first detected in the state almost two decades ago. But more than a quarter of those were reported in just over the last year, according to newly released state  data.

According to the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection, 405 cases of the fatal brain disorder have been reported in deer at 27 farms and hunting ranches since testing began in 2002. Before November 2018, there were a total of  300 CWD positives  reported at deer farms.

The majority of the positives have come after 2013 when DATCP began letting some deer farms and hunting ranches continue operating after CWD was detected on their property. Prior to that, all CWD positive deer farms were depopulated.

Recycling old tires just got a lot easier
Photo by hardwarehank/flickr
Here’s a new way to keep old tires going round and round. By recycling them, that is. Researchers have found a simple, efficient way to break the strong bonds in tire rubber, which could make them easier to recycle.

The world produced a staggering three billion tires in 2019 alone. Tires are meant for single use, typically lasting three to four years before their tread wears out. At the end of their lives, some are shredded and turned into artificial field turf or playground surfaces. But many end up burned or in landfills, releasing toxic chemicals into the air or leaching them into the ground.

Unlike for plastics, which is also derived from petroleum, recycling the polymers in tire rubber has been challenging. “The properties that make tires so durable and stable on the road also make them exceptionally difficult to break down and recycle,” says Michael Brook, a professor of chemistry and chemical biology at McMaster University in Canada who led the research published in  Green Chemistry .

“Deer carry wilderness entangled in their antlers; their hoofprints put the stamp of wildness on tame country.” 

–  John Madson

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