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Genetically Pure Bison Returned to Fort Belknap After a Century Away

23 Aug

from Indian Country Today Media Network

Onlookers hooted, hollered and cheered as bison were coaxed off the trailer and went racing off onto the plain of the Fort Belknap Reservation in Montana. On Thursday, 34 genetically pure animals were set loose. It marks the first time in a century the animals have roamed the area.

“It’s a great day for Indians and Indian country,” Mark Azure, who heads the tribe’s bison program, told the Great Falls Tribune moments after the final two big bulls rumbled out of a trailer and trotted away onto the prairie. The bulls were kept in a trailer separate from the others.

The animals had traveled the 190 miles from the Fort Peck Indian Reservation where Fish, Wildlife and Parks had put 70 of them last year from Yellowstone National Park. Fort Peck already had a herd of some 200 animals, but the Yellowstone bison are the only remaining genetically pure and free ranging wild bison in the United States, the same animals that covered the western plains 200 years ago and numbered in the millions.

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First New Carnivore Identified in Western Hemisphere for 35 Years

15 Aug

“Olinguito” emerges from the mists of Ecuador, bringing 100 years of mistaken identity to an end

Olinguito, a new carnivore speciesby Ian Sample / the Guardian

A small, wide-eyed beast with luxuriant orange fur has been identified as a new species more than 100 years after it first went on display in the world’s museums.

The discovery brings to an end one of the longest zoological cases of mistaken identity and establishes the “olinguito” (which rhymes with mojito) as the first new carnivore recorded in the western hemisphere for 35 years.

The animal – which has been described as a cross between a teddy bear and a house cat – had been displayed in museums around the globe and exhibited at numerous US zoos for decades without scientists grasping that it had been mislabelled.

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Cascadia Calling!

10 Aug

by Cascadia Forest Defenders

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Comrades, Allies, Friends!

For almost three months, Cascadia Forest Defenders have been tree sitting and blockading the White Castle Timber sale – against the destruction of the remaining old forests and for the right of all living things to exist. We intend to stay until  White Castle is once more a forest and no longer a timber sale and will continue to maintain our blockades while pressuring the powers that be to back off.

We are calling out for more blockaders, tree sitters, dreamers, the malcontent, all folks of a diversity of skill sets and abilities to come join us. Continue reading

Caught on Tape: One of World’s Rarest Orchids — Watch Video

29 Jul

from the Center for Biological Diversity

Photo by Ron Coleman

Photo by Ron Coleman

Coleman’s coralroot is a stunning purple orchid that exists in only a few mountain ranges in the Southwest. Fewer than 200 are known to exist in the wild, and they remain a mystery: Biologists don’t even know how the flowers are pollinated, largely because there are so few individuals — and because the elusive plants spend most of their lives underground.

It’s extremely rare to actually see these orchids in the wild. Recently, though, Center for Biological Diversity staff wandered the desert and found two specimens in full bloom; we captured them on video so that you, too, can see this beautiful hermit of the desert in all its glory.

Check out the video of the Coleman’s coralroot below; then read about the Center’s work to protect this orchid and other rare plants and animals in the Southwest’s breathtaking Sky Islands region, where many special species and wild places are threatened by an open-pit mine planned for the Santa Rita Mountains.

Climate Change Could Wipe Out Amazing Baobab Trees in Madagascar

19 Jul
Photo: Baobab trees over water by Rita Willaert.

Photo: Baobab trees over water by Rita Willaert.

by John R. Platt / The Scientific American

The Ewe people of Togo, Africa, have a proverb: “Wisdom is like a baobab tree; no one individual can embrace it.” The proverb refers to the massive trees of the genus Adansonia that can live thousands of years, reach 30 meters into the sky and achieve trunk diameters of 10 meters or more. One baobab tree in South Africa is so large that a popular pub has been established inside its trunk. Many local cultures consider baobab trees to be sacred. Others use them for their nutritious fruits, edible leaves and beautiful flowers. In addition, old baobabs, like many long-lived trees, often have natural hollows in their trunks, which in their case can store tens of thousands of gallons of water—an important resource not just for the trees themselves but also for the people who live near them.

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Jaguar Threatens Open-pit Mine Plan in Southern Arizona

27 Jun

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by Tony Davis / AZ Star

A male jaguar has roamed the Santa Rita Mountains’ eastern flank for at least nine months, photos obtained from the federal government show.

The remote cameras have photographed the big cat in five locations on seven occasions since October.

Three times, the federally financed remote cameras photographed the jaguar immediately west of the proposed Rosemont Mine site in the mountains southeast of Tucson.

The photos were taken for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service by University of Arizona cameras as follow-up after a hunter gave state authorities a photo of a jaguar’s tail that he took last September in the Santa Ritas.

The sightings next to the mine site were at roughly the same location where the earlier jaguar tail photo was taken, wildlife service officials said. Other photos ranged from two to 15 miles from the mine site.   Continue reading

David Hasselhoff Crabs Face Extinction

25 Jun

by Russ McSpadden / Earth First! News

crabsYou may think this is a joke but it isn’t. The hairy-chested Yeti crab, nicknamed the “Hoff” by deep-sea scientists for its resemblance to the luscious body hair of David Hasselhoff, could very well fall into the oblivion of extinction due to warming oceans caused by climate change.

The Hoff was first discovered in 2009 hanging out around hydrothermal vents deep beneath the Indian and Arctic oceans where water temperatures can reach 716 degrees Fahrenheit. The vents spew noxious and acidic chemicals, heavy metals and hydrogen sulfide.

One might think the Hoff could then survival a dozen degrees of temperature change but, according to a recent report published in the Proceedings of the Royal Society B, as the ocean warms, the ability of oxygen-rich surface water to mix with deep ocean waters is diminished, reducing the oxygen levels in the deep sea, which will likely result in mass extinctions for many of the creatures that live within the precarious ecology of deep sea vents.

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