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Feds ask to put wolves back on endangered list

Billings, MT - Federal wildlife officials have asked a judge to put gray wolves in the Northern Rockies back on the endangered species list - a sharp reversal from the government's prior contention that the animals were thriving.

Attorneys for the Fish and Wildlife Service asked U.S. District Judge Donald Molloy in Missoula to vacate the agency's February finding that more than 1,400 wolves in the region no longer needed federal protection.

The government's request Monday follows a July injunction in which Molloy had blocked plans for public wolf hunts this fall in Montana, Wyoming and Idaho pending resolution of a lawsuit by environmentalists.

"What we want to do is look at this more thoroughly," Fish and Wildlife spokeswoman Sharon Rose said. "We definitely have a lot of wolves out there, but we need to address some of (Molloy's) concerns in a way that people feel comfortable with."

At issue is whether a decade-long wolf restoration program has reversed the near-extermination of wolves, or if - as environmentalists claim - their long-term survival remains in doubt due to proposed hunting.
Red Flag

World's common birds 'declining'

The populations of the world's common birds are declining as a result of continued habitat loss, a global assessment has warned.

nightingale
©Gareth Peacock
Once a familiar sight and sound, the nightingale is becoming less common
Bizarro Earth

New climate change threat: Arctic seabed releases millions of tons of methane into atmosphere

Arctic scientists discover new global warming threat as melting permafrost releases millions of tons of a gas 20 times more damaging than carbon dioxide

The first evidence that millions of tons of a greenhouse gas 20 times more potent than carbon dioxide is being released into the atmosphere from beneath the Arctic seabed has been discovered by scientists.

The Independent has been passed details of preliminary findings suggesting that massive deposits of sub-sea methane are bubbling to the surface as the Arctic region becomes warmer and its ice retreats.

methane
©ALAMY
Preliminary findings suggest that massive deposits of subsea methane are bubbling to the surface as the Arctic region becomes warmer and its ice retreats
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Walnut Trees Emit Aspirin-like Chemical To Deal With Stress

Walnut trees respond to stress by producing significant amounts of a chemical form of aspirin, scientists have discovered.

Image
©Carlye Calvin, UCAR
NCAR researcher Alex Guenther studies a chemical form of aspirin produced by walnut trees in California.

The finding, by scientists at the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) in Boulder, Colo., opens up new avenues of research into the behavior of plants and their impacts on air quality, and also has the potential to give farmers an early warning signal about crops that are failing.

"Unlike humans, who are advised to take aspirin as a fever suppressant, plants have the ability to produce their own mix of aspirin-like chemicals, triggering the formation of proteins that boost their biochemical defenses and reduce injury," says NCAR scientist Thomas Karl, who led the study. "Our measurements show that significant amounts of the chemical can be detected in the atmosphere as plants respond to drought, unseasonable temperatures, or other stresses."

For years, scientists have known that plants in a laboratory may produce methyl salicylate, which is a chemical form of acetylsalicylic acid, or aspirin. But researchers had never before detected methyl salicylate in an ecosystem or verified that plants emit the chemical in significant quantities into the atmosphere.
Frog

New Pacific Iguana Discovered In Fiji

A new iguana has been discovered in the central regions of Fiji. The colorful new species, named Brachylophus bulabula, joins only two other living Pacific iguana species, one of which is critically endangered. The scientific name bulabula is a doubling of bula, the Fijian word for 'hello,' offering an even more enthusiastic greeting.

Brachylophus bulabula
©Paddy Ryan, Ryan Photographic
Brachylophus bulabula.

Pacific iguanas have almost disappeared as the result of human presence. Two species were eaten to extinction after people arrived nearly 3,000 years ago. The three living Brachylophus iguana species face threats from loss and alteration of their habitat, as well as from feral cats, mongooses and goats that eat iguanas or their food source.
Cloud Lightning

Typhoon hits Philippine shipping, 21 rescued

Manila - The Philippine coastguard rescued 21 people from three cargo and fishing vessels that sank in rough waters as Typhoon Hagupit gathered strength off the country's northeast coast, officials said on Monday.

Disaster officials also braced for possible landslides and flooding after a category 3 warning signal was raised across six northern provinces on the main island of Luzon, meaning a tropical cyclone was imminent.
Info

Estrogen 'Flooding Our Rivers,' Montreal Study Finds

The Montreal water treatment plant dumps 90 times the critical amount of certain estrogen products into the river. It only takes one nanogram (ng) of steroids per liter of water to disrupt the endocrinal system of fish and decrease their fertility.

These are the findings of Liza Viglino, postdoctoral student at the Université de Montréal's Department of Chemistry, at the NSERC Industrial Research Chair in Drinking Water Treatment and Distribution, who is under the supervision of Professors Sébastien Sauvé and Michèle Prévost.

The presence and effects of estrogen residues on aquatic wildlife are well documented. However, this research is unique because it didn't only consider natural hormones and those used in oral contraceptives - it also included products used in hormone therapy that is prescribed to menopausal women. Data indicates that 128 million contraceptive pills and 107 million doses of hormone therapy are consumed every year in Quebec.
Info

Wildlife Management: Salmon Fisheries, Yellowstone Wolf Introduction Show What Is Possible

The Netherlands is a densely populated nation, but could be a good example of how to practice wildlife management in the coming century. Rapid human population growth on the planet is creating pressure on wildlife populations, and many places will thus come to resemble the present situation in The Netherlands.

In such situations, it is essential for good practice that all those with interests in wildlife are able to participate as full partners. It is surprising that the Dutch, otherwise so practiced at negotiation and consensus-building in their heavily urbanized country, are having difficulties with this model, because interested parties do not always regard each other as valid partners, says Dr. Ron Ydenberg, Professor in Wildlife Management, at Wageningen University, Netherlands.
Evil Rays

Bats pick up rustling sounds against highway background noise

Listening for faint rustling noises made by tasty beetles on a quiet day is simple for bats hunting with their exquisitely sensitive hearing. So try imagining what it must be like trying to locate rustling treats just metres from a roaring highway. It would seem to be almost impossible to pick out a centipede's footsteps as a juggernaut hurtles past; or is it? How animals that locate their prey by sound alone cope in our increasingly noisy world puzzles Björn Siemers from the Max Planck Institute for Ornithology in Germany.

Siemers explains that no one had ever measured whether bats that hunt by listening for rustling insects are affected by man-made noise. However, this is a question that Siemers is frequently asked by urban planners keen to minimise our impact on local wildlife populations. Curious to know how sharp-eared bats react to loud background noise, Siemers and his colleagues Andrea Schaub and Joachim Ostwald monitored foraging bats' responses to rustling mealworms in noisy environments and publish their results on 19th September 2008 in The Journal of Experimental Biology
Umbrella

UK: Twister provides a new sight beside the seaside



Waterspout
©Unknown

A waterspout was photographed off the South Devon coast as a storm swept inland at the same time, bringing high winds and a downpour.

Alison Heather, 21, a student, photographed the twister from her home in Livermead, Torquay. She said: "It was moving across the bay and you could actually see it was drawing the sea spray up a couple of hundred feet into the air."
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