Wildlife Roundup: The Good News, October 2011

Here is this month's roundup of good news stories in the world of wildlife conservation.  Enjoy.

  • The Solomon Islands has decided to ban the export of live dolphins, beginning in January.  Until the ban was announced, the Islands were exporting about fifty dolphins a year to zoos and aquaria around the world.  Speaking of dolphins, scientists have identified a new species of dolphin, Tursiops australis (locally known as Burrunan dolphins) in Australia.  Numbering only about 150 animals, the dolphins are found off the coast of Melbourne.
  • The Mexican government, working with The Nature Conservancy, will reintroduce American bison (buffalo) to the grasslands of the El Uno Ecological Reserve in Janos, Mexico. Selective grazers who help fertilize the soil and create unique vernal wetlands with their wallows, buffalo are a keystone species for grassland ecosystems.
  • Mexico is also planning on releasing five endangered Mexican gray wolves in the Sierra San Luis Mountains, in northeastern Sonora.  The Mexican gray wolf has been subject to a troubled reintroduction effort in the United States.  Hopefully, this reintroduction will go more smoothly.  Like buffalo, healthy wolf populations are crucial for a region's overall ecological health.
  • The Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute has successfully hatched two  Micronesian kingfishers, one of the rarest birds in the world. Now extinct in the wild, the Micronesian kingfisher was once common on Guam, until invasive brown tree snakes wiped them out.  Efforts to eradicate the Island's snakes continue.  In the meantime, the new chicks bring the worldwide population of these beautiful little birds to 131.
  •  Vancouver's Howe Sound has roared back to life.  Once an environment highly contaminated from years of copper mining and its aftermath, the Sound has recently seen record herring spawns, which has attracted gray whales, killer whales, and hundreds of white-sided dolphins.  Salmon have also returned to spawn to Britannia Creek, which is in the Sound and runs near the former mine site, for the first time in a century.
  • The removal of the Elwha and Glines Canyon dams from the Elwha river began this month.  The damn removals is a crucial step to restoring healthy salmon and steelhead populations to the river and marks a triumph for the Lower Elwha Kallam tribe, which has advocated against the dams since their construction, although controversy swirls around the tribe's plan to introduce hatchery fish into the river once the removals are complete. You can see a slide show about the dam removals here.
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