Archive | Ecosystems

Endangered Puritan Tiger Beetles Create Housing Problems in Chesapeake Bay

LUSBY, Md., March 23 (UPI) — Homeowners on a stretch of Chesapeake Bay in Maryland are frustrated by an endangered beetle that prevents them from measures to halt cliff erosion.

Marcia Seifert, a retired teacher and insurance company executive, and her friend, Phyllis Bonfield, bought a house 10 years ago in Chesapeake Ranch Estates in Calvert County. Since then, about half their backyard has crumbled to the beach below.

“It would be funny if it weren’t so absurd,” Seifert told the Baltimore Sun. “We were never told there was an endangered species along the cliff that would prevent us from protecting our homes.”

The only known populations of Puritan tiger beetles live in the sand and clay cliffs of Calvert County along one river on Maryland’s Eastern Shore and on the Connecticut River in New England. State and federal laws prevent steps that could harm their habitat.

A state Senate committee was considering a bill Tuesday that would allow homeowners to take some steps to stabilize the cliffs without worrying about the beetles. But Lauck Ward, a geologist at the Virginia Museum of Natural History, said the cliffs are eroding at both bottom and top and efforts to keep them in place will fail.

Ward recommends moving cliff-top houses away from the edge.

Copyright 2010 United Press International, Inc. (UPI). Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI’s prior written consent.

Posted in Bugs, Insects, & Invertebrates, Ecosystems0 Comments

Alaska and National Park Service Dispute Wolf Kills

ANCHORAGE, Alaska, March 19 (UPI) — The Alaska Department of Fish and Game killed a pack of wolves this week that was being studied by National Park Service biologists.

Two of the four wolves in the Webber Creek pack were wearing radio collars, the Anchorage Daily News reported.

The wolf kill was part of an effort to increase the size of the Fortymile caribou herd and the number of moose in the area. But Fish and Game had agreed to refrain from killing radio-collared wolves.

Greg Dudgeon, superintendent of the Yukon Charley Rivers National Preserve, said he plans to ban all hunting and trapping in the preserve because the number of wolves was down even before the Fish and Game kill.

The state, in a statement Thursday, said the wolves wearing collars were killed by mistake, possibly because the collars were not functioning. Officials described the kill as successful, saying nine animals were killed in two days.

Copyright 2010 United Press International, Inc. (UPI). Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI’s prior written consent.

Posted in Ecosystems, Fish, Mammals0 Comments

Invasive Asian Carp Prove Elusive in Chicago Canals

CHICAGO, March 15 (UPI) — Federal officials say fishery crews have not caught any Asian carp in the Chicago canal system but it is still important to target the invasive species.

The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel said Monday that despite working with nets and fish-shocking tools for a month crews have been unable to catch even one of the large fish that are seen as a possible threat to the Great Lakes.

It is critical the carp to not reach Lake Michigan, where the size and hunger of the fish could pose problems for native fish populations, officials said.

Tom Marks, the New York director of the Great Lakes Sport Fishing Council, suggested the crews’ inability to catch a carp could be seen as proof the species has been unable to pass the canal system’s electric fish barrier.

“I think they believe that a ‘good show’ with no results (of Asian carp) will prove what they have been saying; there are no carp above the barrier,” Marks told the Journal-Sentinel.

Copyright 2010 United Press International, Inc. (UPI). Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI’s prior written consent.

Posted in Ecosystems, Fish0 Comments

Canal Search Locates No Asian Carp

CHICAGO, Feb. 18 (UPI) — Fishing crews said they found no Asian carp in the Chicago canal system during the first day of an expedition focused on the spread of the invasive species.

The Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel said Wednesday the first day of the two-week expedition yielded no Asian carp, which are seen as a threat to the ecosystem of Lake Michigan.

The expedition comes months after DNA tests indicated the invasive species bypassed an electric barrier intended to stop the fish from using the canal system to reach Lake Michigan.

Despite the results of last November’s tests, as well as other tests indicating Asian carp may have reached Lake Michigan, not a single member of the species has been located beyond the $9 million barrier.

If Asian carp are able to use the canal system to move from the Mississippi River to Lake Michigan, experts are concerned the species’ voracious hunger could threaten the Great Lakes fishery.

The Journal-Sentinel said the federal government is currently eying a plan to install new barriers in the Chicago Sanitary and Ship Canal to stop the spread of the species.

Copyright 2010 United Press International, Inc. (UPI). Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI’s prior written consent.

Posted in Ecosystems, Fish0 Comments

Salmon Run in Sacramento Hits Record Low

SAN FRANCISCO, Feb. 13 (UPI) — The number of Chinook salmon returning to California’s Sacramento-San Joaquin river system to spawn hit a record low last fall, fisheries biologists say.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration fisheries service reported 39,530 Chinook in the fall run, down from 64,456 in 2008 and 87,940 in 2007, the San Francisco Chronicle reported. The three-year period was the worst since the government began recording salmon numbers in the 1970s.

“It is devastating to see a number like this,” said Dick Pool, a fishing equipment manufacturer and regional director of the American Sportfishing Association. “When we look to the future, it really portends trouble for these fish.”

Chinook salmon, also known as king salmon, spawn in freshwater. Their offspring spend three years in the ocean before returning to the river where they were born to spawn and die.

Scientists say they believe the Chinook salmon is getting a double hit, with water diversions for agriculture in the Sacramento-San Joaquin system killing many young fish and weakening the survivors. When they arrive in the Pacific, a warmer ocean provides less nutrition.

Copyright 2010 United Press International, Inc. (UPI). Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI’s prior written consent.

Posted in Ecosystems, Fish0 Comments

Deadly Fish Virus Now in All Great Lakes

ITHACA, N.Y., Jan. 28 (UPI) — Cornell University scientists say a deadly fish virus first discovered in the Northeastern United States in 2005 has spread across the Great Lakes.

The viral hemorrhagic septicemia virus — which is untreatable and causes fatal anemia and hemorrhaging in many fish species, but poses no threat to humans — has for the first time been found in fish taken from Lake Superior. That, said the researchers, means the virus has now been documented in all of the Great Lakes.

“People come from all over the eastern United States to fish the Great Lakes,” said Bowser, noting that the virus has also been found in a few inland waters as well, including lakes, streams and a family-owned earthen pond. “The economy of many of these areas ebbs and flows with the season and perceived value of outdoor recreational opportunities.”

No significant fish mortality due to VHSV has been observed and Bowser said scientists don’t fully understand the lack of recent mortality, but the potential presence or absence of stressors on the fish may be playing a role.

Copyright 2010 United Press International, Inc. (UPI). Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI’s prior written consent.

Posted in Ecosystems, Fish0 Comments

Range of Strategies Eyed at 'Carp Summit'

WASHINGTON, Jan. 27 (UPI) — A range of strategies to keep Asian carp from entering Lake Michigan were discussed at a Washington “carp summit” Wednesday, participants say.

U.S. Rep. Peter Hoekstra, R-Mich., said some of the strategies discussed at the meeting, co-hosted by Senate Majority Whip Richard Durbin, D-Ill., included air-bubble, acoustic and electrical barriers as well as temporarily closing locks on the Chicago Sanitary and Ship Canal, through which environmentalists fear the voracious invasive species may infest the Great Lakes.

“Several ideas and bipartisan solutions were discussed to prevent the Asian carp from entering the Great Lakes,” Hoekstra said. “There is no single arrow in the quiver. Solutions will need to be based upon managerial, chemical, engineering and structural components.”

Hoekstra said wider application of fish poisoning, harvesting techniques, monitoring improvements and eco-separation were also discussed.

Another summit co-host, Rep. Judy Biggert, R-Ill., told the Joliet Herald News she “came away from the meeting with a good feeling.”

The gathering was attended by several U.S. senators and House representatives along with officials from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

Biggert told the newspaper it was important not to close the canal, saying 7 million tons of cargo passed through its locks in 2008 and contending a lawsuit filed by the state of Michigan seeking its closure is self-defeating.

“I think all of the states need to look at the numbers and see how many businesses rely on shipments that use the waterways from here to Louisiana and back,” Biggert said. “Closing the waterways would … have a negative impact on the economy of other states.”

Durbin and Biggert have worked together for years to secure funding for containment projects, the lawmakers said.

Last fall, DNA from Asian carp, which have relentlessly made their way north along waterways in recent years since escaping fish farms in the South, was found during regular canal water testing, Durbin said. Genetic material also has been found in the Calumet River near Wilmette, Ill., and in Lake Michigan.

Copyright 2010 United Press International, Inc. (UPI). Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI’s prior written consent.

Posted in Ecosystems, Engineering, Fish, Ideas, Humanities, & Education0 Comments

Record Number of Manatees Counted in Florida

TALLAHASSEE, Fla., Jan. 21 (UPI) — Florida wildlife officials counted more than 5,000 manatees, a record number, suggesting the endangered marine mammals are on the rebound, officials said.

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, charged with managing the state’s fish and wildlife resources, counted 5,076 manatees, 1,269 more than the record 3,807 counted last year, the officials said.

The two years of increases “would indicate that populations are doing better and we’re seeing some type of increase,” manatee research scientist Holly Edwards of the commission’s Fish and Wildlife Research Institute, told the Sarasota (Fla.) Herald-Tribune.

Recent cold weather played a role in the count, officials said.

“We’ve known for a very long time that the results of these surveys are very dependent on weather,” Edwards told the newspaper. “This was an exceptional year, weather-wise, and it really pushed a lot of manatees into the areas we’re counting.”

The unusual cold sent manatees to warm water refuges, such as warm springs and power plant discharge canals, officials said.

While the overall annual count rose, the endangered mammals also suffered the deadliest year on record in 2009 as state wildlife biologists documented 429 fatalities — including 97 killed by boat strikes, 114 dying shortly after birth and 56 dying of cold stress, officials said.

Manatees are large, plant-eating aquatic mammals sometimes known as sea cows. They are noted for their friendly nature and paddle-like flippers.

Copyright 2010 by United Press International

Posted in Conservation, Ecosystems, Fish, Mammals0 Comments

Invasive Asian Carp DNA Found in Lake Michigan

CHICAGO, Jan. 20 (UPI) — Asian carp DNA has been found in Lake Michigan for the first time, raising invasive species fears, tests indicate.

Testing conducted by the Illinois Department of Natural Resources turned up a positive match for Asian carp DNA in the lake’s Calumet Harbor, while another positive DNA sample was detected about a half mile away in the Calumet River, The Chicago Tribune reported Wednesday.

News of the findings came a day after the U.S. Supreme Court rejected a request by the state of Michigan to force Illinois to close Chicago-area navigational locks and dams to keep the voracious carp from entering Lake Michigan and possibly damaging its ecosystem.

“We’ve been sitting on our hands for two months. It’s no surprise that these fish continue to move toward Lake Michigan,” Joel Brammeier, president and chief executive of the Alliance for the Great Lakes, told the Tribune. “We’re at that tipping point right now where the balance is still in our favor to stop Asian carp from getting in. But the longer we wait, the more that tips in the other direction.”

Army Corps of Engineers Maj. Gen. John Peabody told the newspaper biologists are still analyzing the DNA findings.

Copyright 2010 by United Press International

Posted in Ecosystems, Fish0 Comments

Michigan Governor Wants Summit on Invasive Asian Carp

WASHINGTON, Jan. 19 (UPI) — Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm called Tuesday for a White House summit on Asian carp.

Granholm asked President Barack Obama to intervene as the U.S. Supreme Court refused Tuesday to order the closing of lock gates in the Chicago River.

“We cannot allow carp into the Great Lakes,” Granholm said. “It will destroy our Great Lakes fisheries, our fisheries, the economy. It has to be stopped and it is urgent.”

The carp got into the Mississippi and its tributaries several decades ago through escapes from fish farms. Scientists fear the fish, voracious eaters, could wipe out many of the fish species now in the Great Lakes.

Michigan, New York, Minnesota and Wisconsin and the Canadian province of Ontario are trying to reopen a 1922 lawsuit over the engineering of the Chicago River to connect the Great Lakes to the Mississippi. The National Resources Defense Council said the Supreme Court’s refusal to grant a temporary injunction closing off the river does mean the lawsuit is doomed.

Copyright 2010 by United Press International

Posted in Ecosystems, Engineering, Fish0 Comments

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