Wildlife Roundup: The Good News, December 2011

macho B (Arizona Game and Fish Dept.)

This month's theme is definitely "the return,"  with lots of good news to be had illustrating that if we give animals room to roam they will return to suitable habitat, often traveling a lot farther and moving a lot faster than anyone has anticipated.

  • A two year old male wolf (named OR-7 and, no doubt, looking for love) has dispersed from eastern Oregon to Douglas County, in the State's southwest, be coming the first wolf to reach western Oregon in over sixty-five years.  More wolves will almost certainly make this journey and, with any luck, there will be wolf packs throughout the State (and perhaps even in Northern California) one day. 
  •  Efforts to clean up and restore salmon-friendly habitat in Dublin's Tolka River have paid big dividends.  Last month biologists confirmed that wild Atantic salmon had successfully spawned in the Tolka for the first time in over 100 years. Dublin can now boast of three different rivers (the Liffey, Dodder, and Tolka) within city limits that support wild salmon populations.  
  • Israel's Nature and Parks Authority announced the discovery a hula painted frog in Northern Israel's Hula Valley.  The frog was long thought extinct, a casualty of water diversions and efforts to draining local swamps to fight malaria.  Officials believe that wetland restoration three years ago (by diverting more water to the swamps) paved the way for the frog to bounce back.  Check out a video of the frog below:
  • The Ganges population of river dolphins (known as the Gangetic river dolphin) in the India's only dolphin sanctuary has rebounded, with recent population estimates climbing from a low of 175 individuals to about 223, according to the Vikramshila Biodiversity Research and Education Centre. The census was conducted in the Vikramshila Gangetic Dolphin Sanctuary, a fifty mile protected stretch of the Ganges Riverin Bihar.  Still, there are only about 2,000 Gangetic dolphins left in India, so the species remains highly imperiled. (hat tip: This Week in Whales.)
  • Jaguar have returned to Arizona.  More than two years after the last known jaguar in the United States southwest (a male named "Macho B") was accidentally killed in an illegal trapping incident, another male jaguar was spotted and photographed in Cochise County by mountain lion hunters.
  • Not to be outdone, bobcats have returned to northwest Ohio.  Last month a raccoon trapper ended up catching a bobcat in Montpelier. While the elusive and shy cats are known to range in the Buckeye State's more heavily wooded southwest, this is the first confirmed record of bobcats in the northwest.
  • And, finally, just because it's cool: scientists announced the discovery that ravens use their wings and beaks to make communicative gestures, like pointing.  This the is first documentation of this kind of behavior outside of primates.
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