In the wake of a pretty depressing meeting of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species this month, here is some good news about wildlife conservation:
- They’re baaaaack……After being presumed extinct for nearly thirty years, scientists recently discovered a population of yellow-spotted bell frogs (Litoria castanea) in Australia. Researchers have already harvested tadpoles from population, about 100 strong, in order to start a captive breeding program for the species. (Hat tip: John Platt.)
- Foxes have made a huge comeback on Catalina Island. Just off the coast of Southern California, Catalina Island has seen its population or rare Island foxes rise from a low of less than 100 two decades ago to almost 1,000 today. Much of the credit is due to some favorable climatic conditions, but an aggressive distemper vaccination program, as well as public outreach and education also was responsible for the foxes comeback.
- Eighty Palos Verdes blue butterflies, an extremely rare endangered species, were just released on the Palos Verdes peninsula, in Los Angeles, as part of a reintroduction effort. The butterflies, which only live for ten days once they undergo metamorphosis, were bred in captivity.
- In more butterfly news, Taylor's checkerspot butterfly (Euphydryas editha taylori) also got a boost last month. The Oregon Zoo released more than 2,000 captively reared butterfly larvae in prairie ecosystems near Olympia, Washington. This is the fifth year that the Zoo has successfully reared the butterflies, which are an endangered species in Washington and a candidate for federal Endangered Species Act protection.
- There’s new hope for the Tasmanian Devil, whose numbers have been devastated in recent years by a highly contagious form of mouth cancer that swept through the population. Now scientists believe that the have identified a genetically resistant colony of the Devils.
- As a kid, one of my favorite books was E.B. White’s The Trumpet of the Swan, so it’s good to see that the Iowa Department of Natural Resources is helping to conserve trumpeter swans in partnership with Kirkwood Community College. The Iowa DNR and Kirkwood recently released two swans into a controlled environment as part of an ongoing captive breeding program for North America’s largest waterfowl—not to mention one of its most beautiful.