February’s summary of all the reasons to have a little hope about wildlife conservation.
- If it pans out, this month’s best news of all has got to have been the return of wolves to Colorado. High Country News and other outlets are reporting that a pack of wolves (with pups!) is suspected to be present on the High Lonesome Ranch, a 300 square mile property in the State’s northwest. Wolves, and what may be wolf scat, has been repeatedly sighted and collected by experienced biologists, but officials are awaiting the result of DNA tests before officially welcoming wolves back to the Centennial State.
- The lesser horseshoe bat is making a comeback in east Oxfordshire, England. The bat used to be common there but had retreated into western England and Wales. Now scientists believe that the bats are slowly expanding their territory east again. It’s nice to hear some good news about bats, given how grim the news has been of late here in the U.S.
- Steelhead trout in California (rainbow trout who migrate between fresh water and the ocean, much like salmon) are returning to fish hatcheries along Mokelumne River in record numbers. Steelhead are protected throughout California under the federal Endangered Species Act.
- The Canadian Provinces of Newfoundland and Labrador have committed to the creation of a new national park in the Mealy Mountains. When complete, the park is expected to encompass over 10,000 square kilometers (over 4,000 square miles), making it the largest national park in eastern Canada.
- The Conservation Fund secured an easement in a 2,400 acre Wyoming Ranch that will preserve the second-longest pronghorn antelope migration route in North America. The antelope use the route to move between their winter range, in Wyoming’s Green River Basin, and their summer range in Idaho’s Grand Teton Mountains.
- Plains bison (or, in Cree, mistah' moostoos) were released into a large enclosure within Grassland’s National Park in Saskatchewan, Canada. The release is part of a plan to return the ecologically important herbivore to the Park, where they have been absent for 120 years.
- Fourteen Key Largo wood rats were released in Florida's Crocodile Lake National Wildlife Refuge this month. Only 90 of the wood rats are thought to remain in the Key Largo area. The reintroduction is the result of a successful captive breeding program by the Lowry Park Zoo and Disney’s Animal Kingdom.
- The Sundaland clouded leopard, which lives in Borneo and was only classified as a separate subspecies a few years ago, has been captured on film for the first time; hopefully the publicity will lead to strong conservation measures for the big cat. Increased photo-capture of other rare cats in India is also being hailed as an “encouraging sign” for felines in the region. Check out the Sundaland clouded leopard below:
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