Featured Endandered Wildlife Species

by Lauren Kane (VM16)

Blue Iguana (Cyclura lewisi)

The Grand Cayman Blue Iguana (Cyclura lewisi) is endemic to the island of Grand Cayman and is one of the longest-lived species of lizards. Fewer than 15 animals remained in the wild by 2003, and this wild population was predicted to become extinct within the first decade of the 21st century. The species’ decline is mainly being driven by predation by feral pets (cats and dogs) and indirectly by the destruction of their natural habitat as fruit farms are converted to pasture for cattle grazing. Since 2004, hundreds of captive-bred animals have been released into a preserve on Grand Cayman run by a partnership headed by the Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust, in an attempt to save the species.

The Blue Iguana is listed as endangered on the IUCN Red List. In late 2012, the Blue Iguana Recovery Program estimated that the wild population had risen to approximately 750 individuals, and the IUCN subsequently downlisted the species from critically endangered to endangered. The Blue Iguana Recovery Program’s conservation strategy involves generating large numbers of genetically diverse hatchlings, head-startingthem for two years where their chance of survival in the wild is high, and using these animals to rebuild a series of wild sub-populations in protected, managed natural areas.This is accompanied by field research, nest site protection, and monitoring of the released animals. Restored sub-populations are already present in two non-contiguous areas—the Salina Reserve and the Queen Elizabeth II Botanic Park.

For more information, please check out, http://www.blueiguana.ky/

Featured Endangered Wildlife Species

by Steve Zachar (VM16)

Mexican Gray Wolf (Canis lupus baileyi)

Similar in size to a German Shepherd Dog, the Mexican gray wolf is the smallest wolf subspecies, as well as the most critically endangered wolf species in the world. They are currently listed as Extinct in the Wild on the International Union for the Conservation of Nature’s (IUCN) Red List. Due to government-mandated predator removal efforts in the mid-1900s, as well as a reduction of natural prey species, the Mexican wolf completely disappeared from the wild by the late 1970s. The Mexican Wolf Species Survival Plan began with just seven individuals in 1978, and it was not until 1998 that 50 captive-bred wolves were released into protected wilderness areas in New Mexico and Arizona. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s (FWS) annual year-end survey reported 75 Mexican wolves in the wild, a 17 wolf increase from the previous year. The FWS will maintain protection of the Mexican gray wolf in the Southwest while expanding recovery efforts. With continued success of captive breeding programs and federal Endangered Species Act (ESA) protection, the FWS is hopeful that Mexican gray wolf numbers will rebound as well as their Gray wolf cousins, whose population has gone from near extinction in the U.S. to several thousand over the past several decades.

Mexican Gray Wolf, © Jim Clark / U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

For more information on the Mexican Gray Wolf Recovery Program, visit: http://www.fws.gov/southwest/es/mexicanwolf/

References:

1. U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service. Service Proposes to Return Management and Protection of Gray Wolves to State Wildlife Professionals Following Successful Recovery Efforts. The Mexican Gray Wolf Recovery Program. U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, 7 June 2013. Web. 28 Oct. 2013. <http://www.fws.gov/southwest/es/mexicanwolf/pdf/NR_wolf_press_release.pdf>.

2. U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service. Wolf Recovery in North America. The Mexican Gray Wolf Recovery Program. U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, January 2007. Web. 28 Oct. 2013.  <http://www.fws.gov/home/feature/2007/gray_wolf_factsheet-region2.pdf>.

3. “Basic Facts About Mexican Gray Wolves.” Mexican Gray Wolf. Defenders of Wildlife, n.d. Web. 28 Oct. 2013 <http://www.defenders.org/mexican-gray-wolf/basic-facts>.

That Cuddly Kitty Is Deadlier Than You Think

Photo by James Morton

“In a report that scaled up local surveys and pilot studies to national dimensions, scientists from the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute and the Fish and Wildlife Service estimated that domestic cats in the United States — both the pet Fluffies that spend part of the day outdoors and the unnamed strays and ferals that never leave it — kill a median of 2.4 billion birds and 12.3 billion mammals a year, most of them native mammals like shrews, chipmunks and voles rather than introduced pests like the Norway rat.

The estimated kill rates are two to four times higher than mortality figures previously bandied about, and position the domestic cat as one of the single greatest human-linked threats to wildlife in the nation. More birds and mammals die at the mouths of cats, the report said, than from automobile strikes, pesticides and poisons, collisions with skyscrapers and windmills and other so-called anthropogenic causes.”

Read the full article at The New York Times