Talkin' Pets News

August 5, 2017

Host - Jon Patch

Co-Host - Dr. Jarrod Lazarus

Producer - Lexi Lapp

Network Producer - Quin McCarthy

Executive Producer - Bob Page

Special Guest - Emmy Award winning co-anchor of FOX News Tampa Bay, Cynthia Smoot will join Jon & Talkin' Pets 8/5/17 at 5pm EST to discuss the Cheetah Conservation Fund & the House Appropriations Committee amendment to eliminate restrictions on killing wild horses

American Bird Conservancy’s Statement on New Bills to Ban Chlorpyrifos

(Washington, D.C., July 25, 2017) We applaud the U.S. Senators who today introduced a bill to ban chlorpyrifos, a widely used pesticide that has been killing birds and poisoning the environment for the past half-century: Tom Udall (D-NM)Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Cory Booker (D-NJ), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Kamala Harris (D-CA), and Edward J. Markey (D-MA). We’re also grateful to Representatives Nydia Velazquez (D-NY) and Keith Ellison (D-MN), who have offered a companion bill in the House.

The “Protect Children, Farmers & Farmworkers from Nerve Agent Pesticides Act” would prohibit all chlorpyrifos use by amending the U.S. Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act that oversees food safety.

Chlorpyrifos, an organophosphate related to sarin nerve gas, is used in production of common crops such as strawberries, apples, citrus, and broccoli. In addition to the pesticide’s well-known threats to human health, American Bird Conservancy (ABC) is concerned about the pesticide’s effects on birds, including to declining species like the Mountain Plover (shown). A recent draft biological evaluation from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) stated that chlorpyrifos is likely to adversely affect 97 percent of all wildlife, including more than 100 listed bird species listed under the Endangered Species Act.

ABC has been calling for a ban on the use of chlorpyrifos for years. EPA scientists agreed and were on course to ban the pesticide from use on all crops. In March 2017, however, the EPA administrator reversed the recommendation of the agency’s own scientists and extended chlorpyrifos’ registration for another five years.

"It’s high time to outlaw the use of chlorpyrifos. It’s well known that this pesticide is lethal to birds, other wildlife, and people,” said Cynthia Palmer, ABC's Pesticide Program Director. “We’re encouraged by the leadership shown today in Congress.”

(Photo: Mountain Plover by Greg Homel/Natural Elements Productions)

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American Bird Conservancy is dedicated to conserving birds and their habitats throughout the Americas. With an emphasis on achieving results and working in partnership, we take on the greatest problems facing birds today, innovating and building on rapid advancements in science to halt extinctions, protect habitats, eliminate threats, and build capacity for bird conservation.

Feared Extinct, the Táchira Antpitta Has Been Found in Remote Andean Region

 

(Washington, D.C., July 25, 2017) An international team of researchers has solved one of South America’s great bird mysteries. Working deep in the mountainous forests of western Venezuela, they have rediscovered the Táchira Antpitta, a plump brown bird species not seen since it was first recorded in the 1950s.

The 7.5-inch-long Táchira (TAH-chee-rah) Antpitta had not been spotted since 1955-56, when ornithologists first recorded and described it. The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) lists the species as Critically Endangered, and many feared it was lost for good.

Last year, scientists of the Red Siskin Initiative (RSI) — a conservation partnership between the Smithsonian and several scientific organizations in Venezuela — organized a team to go in search of the antpitta. The team was led by Jhonathan Miranda of RSI and Provita, and included colleagues Alejandro Nagy, Peter Bichier of the University of California at Santa Cruz, and Miguel Lentino and Miguel Matta of the Colección Ornitólogica Phelps (COP). American Bird Conservancy (ABC) provided financial support through a William Belton Conservation Fund grant as part of its ongoing Search for Lost Birds.

The team set out in June 2016, knowing that several factors were likely to make the antpitta especially challenging to find, if in fact it still existed. The species inhabits dense undergrowth at altitudes of 5,000 to 7,000 feet in a rugged and hard-to-reach region of the Andes. Difficult to identify visually, the bird differs in coloration in subtle ways from related species.

Antpittas are also easier to hear than to see. But without sound recordings, nobody knew what to listen for.

The researchers had an advantage: They knew where to look.  “We followed the route described in the earlier expedition’s field notebooks to locate the original site of the discovery,” Miranda said.

To reach the remote location, part of what is now El Tamá National Park, the team traveled by foot on steep and narrow Andean trails, with a mule train to carry their gear. From their campsite, the team hiked two hours in the dark to reach appropriate habitat at dawn, the best time to hear the birds sing.

The first day there, Miranda and Nagy detected the distinctive song of an antpitta they had not heard before. “We were thrilled to re-find the Táchira Antpitta during our first day in the field,” said Miranda, “and we think they persist in more places we have not yet searched.”

Over the next week, the team was able to confirm the mysterious song as that of the long-lost Táchira Antpitta, obtaining the first photographs and sound recordings ever made of the living bird.

“The rediscovery provides hope and inspiration that we still have a chance to conserve this species,” said Daniel Lebbin, ABC’s Vice President of International Programs. “We hope this rediscovery will lead to improved management of and attention for protected areas like El Tamá National Park.”

“El Tamá National Park is an important part of Venezuela’s natural heritage and recognized by the Alliance for Zero Extinction as a critical site to protect for the Táchira Antpitta and other biodiversity,” said Jon Paul Rodriguez of Instituto Venezolano de Investigaciones Científicas (IVIC, the Venezuelan Institute of Scientific Research), Provita, and the IUCN Species Survival Commission.

“Jhonathan Miranda and his RSI colleagues have resolved one of South America’s great bird mysteries, and we hope their findings will contribute to a renewed effort to conserve this species,” said Lebbin.

In the coming months, the team plans to publish the full details of their findings in a scientific journal, including how the Táchira Antpitta’s voice and visual characteristics distinguish it from other similar species. Additional field work is necessary to learn more about this mysterious bird. Similar habitat can be found nearby in Colombia, and the species might also occur there. Better knowledge of the species’ vocalizations and the visual identification gathered in this study will help researchers determine the species' full range, ecology and habitat requirements, and how best to ensure its conservation.

“This species was originally described by William H. Phelps, Jr. of the COP and Alexander Wetmore, former Secretary of the Smithsonian Institution,” said Michael Braun of the RSI and the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History. “It is fitting that the Red Siskin Initiative, in which COP and the Smithsonian are key collaborators, has been instrumental in the rediscovery. We invite those interested in helping us learn more about this species to join us.”

The Venezuela search team owes its success to a number of individuals and institutions. Logistical support came from ABC, RSI, IVIC, COP, Provita, INPARQUES, Ascanio Birding Tours, the Smithsonian Institution, and the following individuals: Carolina Afan, Miguel Angel Arvelo, David Ascanio, Michael Braun, Felix Briceño, Brian Coyle, Dan Lebbin, Cipriano Ochoa, Tomás Odenall, Jorge Perez Eman, Jon Paul Rodriguez, Kathryn Rodriguez-Clark, and Bibiana Sucre.

(Photo: Táchira Antpitta by Jhonathan Miranda)

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American Bird Conservancy is dedicated to conserving birds and their habitats throughout the Americas. With an emphasis on achieving results and working in partnership, we take on the greatest problems facing birds today, innovating and building on rapid advancements in science to halt extinctions, protect habitats, eliminate threats, and build capacity for bird conservation.

Colección Ornitólogica Phelps (Phelps Ornithological Collection) is a private organization aiming to know the diversity, distribution, taxonomic and systematics of the birds of Venezuela. It is the largest and most complete collection of birds in Latin America, and among the 20 largest collections in the world, which has allowed Venezuela to be the country of Latin America best known in birds.

Provita is an NGO devoted to conservation of Venezuela's environment in its widest sense, using multiple fields of knowledge and innovative approaches to achieve integral solutions. In our almost three decades, we have successfully completed hundreds of projects, ranging from recovery of emblematic endangered species, to developing alternative livelihoods for indigenous and rural communities.

The National Museum of Natural History, Smithsonian Institution, is the largest natural history museum in the world, with more than 140 million cataloged specimens, and annual visitorship of more than 7 million. The Museum conducts natural history research and fieldwork around the globe.

Talkin' Pets News

June, 17, 2017

Host - Jon Patch

Co-Host - Jeremy Miller - SuperPet

Producer - Lexi Lapp

Network Producer - Quin McCarthy

Executive Producer - Bob Page

Special Guest - Jackie Bowen, Executive Director of Clean Label Project will join Jon and Talkin' Pets 6/17/17 at 5pm EST to discuss the top 10 and bottom 10 pet foods on the market

 

(Washington, D.C., June 7, 2017) American Bird Conservancy (ABC) is concerned by today’s order from Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke that the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) review the federal government’s Greater Sage-Grouse conservation plans. Sec. Zinke emphasized that the review would focus on potential oil and gas development on public lands.


"Sage-Grouse have already paid a terrible price in terms of population and habitat losses from past habitat loss and oil and gas drilling,” said This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., ABC’s Vice President of Policy. “This review is not a good use of the Bureau’s time or taxpayer dollars, but it is likely that the Sage-Grouse will be the biggest loser.”

 

The plans were finalized in 2015 after 5 years of collaborative effort by stakeholders across the West. Any weakening of the conservation standards laid out in the plans would likely result in further losses to a species on the brink of becoming endangered. Sage-Grouse remain at risk, with populations declining in several states.


The existing plans were designed to halt the loss of Sage-Grouse habitat, and to balance conservation with activities such as oil and gas drilling. They also include safeguards to justify the decision not to list Sage-Grouse under the Endangered Species Act.


“The Interior Department should not abandon this progress or ignore the stakeholders, including sportsmen, business owners, and conservationists, who invested years of work and countless resources into developing the existing plans,” said Holmer.


Western leaders including Gov. Matt Mead of Wyoming and Gov. John Hickenlooper of Colorado sent Sec. Zinke a letter in late May stating that the plans do not need significant changes. Western economies benefit from roughly $1 billion a year in economic output driven by outdoor recreation and tourism in Sage-Grouse habitat.


Many important grouse habitats have already been heavily fragmented by past oil and gas development. In Wyoming’s Buffalo Planning Area, for example, 27,122 oil wells were drilled between 1999 and 2008, with more than 10,300 additional wells planned by 2028.


(Photo by Pat Gaines)

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American Bird Conservancy is dedicated to conserving birds and their habitats throughout the Americas. With an emphasis on achieving results and working in partnership, we take on the greatest problems facing birds today, innovating and building on rapid advancements in science to halt extinctions, protect habitats, eliminate threats, and build capacity for bird conservation.

 

New Reserve May Stave Off Extinction for Cherry-throated Tanager

(Washington, D.C., June 5, 2017) The critically endangered Cherry-throated Tanager, which numbers as few as 30 individuals, has gained a much-needed refuge in Brazil’s threatened Atlantic Forest. The 4,171-acre (1,688-hectare) private natural heritage reserve, not yet named, protects essential habitat and provides a lifeline for the species.

The Cherry-throated Tanager went unseen for more than 50 years and was believed to be extinct in the wild until 1998, when it was sighted again in privately held, well-preserved forest patches in the Caetés region of Espírito Santo. Protecting every possible acre is important in Brazil’s Atlantic Forest, where only about 10 percent of original habitat remains.

The new reserve is the second-largest private protected area in the state of Espírito Santo and shelters more than 250 bird species, in addition to the Cherry-throated Tanager. Five other globally threatened birds are also found in the surrounding Caetés region: White-necked Hawk, Brown-backed Parrotlet, Golden-tailed Parrotlet, Vinaceous Amazon Parrot, and Bare-throated Bellbird. Threatened mammals, including endangered buffy-headed marmoset and brown-throated sloth, will potentially gain habitat as well.

SAVE Brasil worked with Grupo Águia Branca, one of the country’s largest transportation and logistics companies, to create this private reserve. SAVE has also been working with the state government to create a 10,625-acre (4,300-hectare) wildlife refuge adjacent to the private reserve, and American Bird Conservancy (ABC) supported SAVE on the public consultation process in 2016. ABC and SAVE’s support of the government on outreach for the wildlife refuge also helped in the creation of the private reserve.

“We hope that creation of the new reserve will accelerate the process of establishing the wildlife refuge,” said Dan Lebbin, ABC’s Vice President of International Programs. “With a total of nearly 15,000 acres (nearly 6,000 hectares), these two protected areas would contribute much-needed hope for the tanager’s survival.”

Cherry-throated Tanager occurs primarily in the forest canopy at elevations between approximately 2,800 to 4,000 feet (850 to 1,250 meters). Single individuals or groups of up to 10 birds can be found, occasionally associated with mixed-species flocks. The population may be as high as 250 but is more likely closer to 30 individual birds left in the world. Recent sightings have been of small groups of two or three tanagers observed at the same site.

The species is a candidate for designation as an Alliance for Zero Extinction (AZE) species. AZE species are those assessed as endangered or critically endangered that are restricted to one site globally. These species are those in most urgent need of conservation globally.

As few as 30 Cherry-throated Tanagers are left in the world. Photo by Ciro Albano

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American Bird Conservancy is dedicated to conserving birds and their habitats throughout the Americas. With an emphasis on achieving results and working in partnership, we take on the greatest problems facing birds today, innovating and building on rapid advancements in science to halt extinctions, protect habitats, eliminate threats, and build capacity for bird conservation.

SAVE Brasil (Society for the Conservation of Birds in Brazil) is a non-profit, non-governmental organization dedicated to the conservation of Brazilian birds and nature. Following a participatory approach, we work together with governments, civil society organizations, universities, business and communities to develop and implement strategies, programs, and actions that contribute to a better, healthier and more beautiful planet for animals, plants, and people.

 

(Washington, D.C., June 1, 2017) American Bird Conservancy (ABC) condemns President Donald J. Trump’s decision, announced today, to pull the United States out of the Paris Agreement on climate change. The reversal increases the dangers that a changing climate creates for migratory birds like Red Knot and many other species, including humans.

“This is another indication of a backward-looking energy policy that would plunder America’s remaining wildlife sanctuaries in the Arctic, offshore, and in the grasslands and forests,” said Steve Holmer, ABC’s Vice President of Policy. “We can develop a smart energy policy that responds to the climate challenge while still protecting birds and other wildlife and conserving their habitats.”

ABC remains strongly committed to combating the threats, including climate change and habitat loss, which face birds throughout the Americas. Together with partners, we have planted more than 5 million trees and protected vital habitat in North, Central, and South America.

Red Knots are one of many species affected by a changing climate. Photo by Mike Parr

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American Bird Conservancy  is dedicated to conserving birds and their habitats throughout the Americas. With an emphasis on achieving results and working in partnership, we take on the greatest problems facing birds today, innovating and building on rapid advancements in science to halt extinctions, protect habitats, eliminate threats, and build capacity for bird conservation.



 Nat Geo WILD’s RED Challenge Aims to Transform Wildlife Storytelling
(WASHINGTON, D.C. – May 25, 2017) Nat Geo WILD and RED Digital Cinema, a leading manufacturer of professional digital cameras, have joined forces to reinvent wildlife storytelling through Nat Geo WILD’s RED Challenge. Ten experienced filmmakers are heading out on a 15-week mission to produce, shoot and deliver innovative short films showcasing their modern take on the wildlife genre. This is a rare opportunity for filmmakers to go off script and push creative boundaries in the field using some of the best camera technology available today.
 
A hand-selected group of cinematographers from around the world has been outfitted with RED’s state-of-the-art WEAPON 8K S35 camera and challenged to create films that inspire audiences to “let the wild in” while putting a new spin on wildlife storytelling. While RED cameras are known for their work in Hollywood, the lightweight modular design and incredible image quality of RED cameras have made them ideal for any project, including natural history.
 
The winner of the challenge will be announced at the 2017 Jackson Hole Wildlife Film Festival in September. Until then, keep up with the filmmakers’ adventures in the field through the hashtag #WILDxRED on social media.
 
“RED is disrupting the filmmaking industry by reinventing visual storytelling, so we’re naturally thrilled to partner with them on this ambitious and innovative challenge,” said Geoff Daniels, executive vice president and general manager of Nat Geo WILD. “Wildlife filmmaking is one of the most celebrated and specialized forms of storytelling and, incidentally, one of the oldest, which is why we want to give participants complete freedom to unleash their creativity as we look to inspire audiences around the world with their unique vision. I can't wait to see how these filmmakers redefine the genre by going WILD!”
 
“We are really excited to partner with Nat Geo WILD on the RED Challenge,” said Jarred Land, president of RED Digital Cinema. “I am looking forward to seeing what these filmmakers create when equipped with RED cameras to help them capture their stories.”

 
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About RED Digital Cinema
RED Digital Cinema is a leading manufacturer of professional digital cameras and accessories. In 2006, RED began a revolution with the 4K RED ONE digital cinema camera. By 2008, RED had released the Digital Stills and Motion Camera system that allowed the same camera to be used on features like “The Hobbit” trilogy and “The Martian,” Emmy-winning shows like “House of Cards” and covers of magazines such as Vogue and Harper’s Bazaar. The cameras of RED’s DSMC2 line — RED RAVEN, SCARLET-W, RED EPIC-W and WEAPON — combine compact and lightweight design, superior image quality, incredible dynamic range, modularity and cutting-edge performance, including up to 8K resolution. In 2017, RED's newest 8K sensor, HELIUM, set the new image quality standard with the highest DxOMark score ever.


About National Geographic Partners LLC
National Geographic Partners LLC (NGP), a joint venture between National Geographic and 21st Century Fox, is committed to bringing the world premium science, adventure and exploration content across an unrivaled portfolio of media assets. NGP combines the global National Geographic television channels (National Geographic Channel, Nat Geo WILD, Nat Geo MUNDO, Nat Geo PEOPLE) with National Geographic’s media and consumer-oriented assets, including National Geographic magazines; National Geographic studios; related digital and social media platforms; books; maps; children’s media; and ancillary activities that include travel, global experiences and events, archival sales, licensing and e-commerce businesses. Furthering knowledge and understanding of our world has been the core purpose of National Geographic for 129 years, and now we are committed to going deeper, pushing boundaries, going further for our consumers … and reaching over 730 million people around the world in 172 countries and 43 languages every month as we do it. NGP returns 27 percent of our proceeds to the nonprofit National Geographic Society to fund work in the areas of science, exploration, conservation and education. For more information visit natgeowild.com or nationalgeographic.com, or find us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Google+, YouTube, LinkedIn and Pinterest.

 
 
 BATON ROUGE, LA - The America's WETLAND Foundation (AWF) today called the elimination of  Gulf of  Mexico Energy Security Act (GOMESA) funds in the President's budget crippling to coastal  restoration efforts in Louisiana.
 
 President Trump's budget cancels the agreement that gives coastal energy producing states a share 
 of revenues received by the Federal government through royalties from Outer Continental Shelf (OCS)  oil and gas leases. In Louisiana, these funds are constitutionally dedicated to restore disappearing  wetlands that protect the nationally critical energy infrastructure and economic and environmental  assets the country depends upon and are a crucial piece of the funding puzzle to carry out the state's  coastal master plan.
 
 "The fight for a share of OCS revenues was long and, finally, real dollars through GOMESA would  begin coming to the state next year. Louisiana's coast is disappearing at an alarming rate and if this  budget stands, it will put one of America's most essential estuarine areas at even greater risk," AWF  Senior Advisor Sidney Coffee said. "Losing this important source of funding would be devastating to  Louisiana's efforts to salvage the very coastline that benefits the entire country." 
 
 Val Marmillion, AWF managing director, said, "GOMESA shares revenues with states that serve the  nation and the public interest by hosting offshore energy production and finances restoration due to  impacts on communities and natural environments. It is simply wrong to cut these revenues and 
 upend state plans to work cooperatively to restore America's Wetland that provides environmental  services to the country's largest port system, its fisheries, and network of pipelines that transport oil  and gas to every part of the U.S.  How can this Administration talk about shoring up our nation's  infrastructure and then demolish funds to do just that in critical asset areas?" 
 
 For more than 15 years, AWF has called on national leaders to seriously consider the argument for a  strong economy tied to energy development from a healthy Louisiana coast. A sound case can be  made that what is essential to the regional economy is also critical for saving a vast ecosystem that is  being lost. Without a significant and immediate drive for restoration, environmental services and  species will be lost to an ill-informed budgetary process.
 
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The America's WETLAND Foundation manages the largest, most comprehensive public education campaign in Louisiana's history, raising public awareness of the impact of Louisiana's wetland loss on the state, nation and world. The initiative is supported by a growing coalition of world, national and state conservation and environmental organizations and has drawn private support from businesses that see wetlands protection as a key to economic growth. For more information, visit  www.americaswetland.com.   

 

Increasing the survival rate of frosted flatwood salamander larvae in Florida, protecting longleaf pine habitat for federally listed species like the gopher tortoise and eastern indigo snake, and spearheading Operation Herpsaspetz, to uncover an illegal scheme to capture, sell, and transport 750 North American Wood turtles worth nearly $345,000.  

These are just a few of the many conservation efforts for which the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Southeast Region honored its partners and employees Regional Director’s Honor Awards marking extraordinary conservation accomplishments in 2015 and 2016.

“Many people and organizations have worked diligently behind the scenes to help conserve the Southeast Region’s fish, wildlife and plant diversity and the variety of habitats they depend upon,” said Cindy Dohner, the Service’s Southeast Regional Director.  “We commend their efforts and thank them.”

The following individuals and organizations received awards:

Alabama:

International Crane Foundation: Dr. Richard Beilfuss, President and Chief Executive Officer; Dr. Erica Cochrane, Conservation Measures Manager; Lizzie Condon, Whooping Crane Outreach Coordinator; Dr. Julie Langenberg, Vice President, Conservation Science, Baraboo, Wisconsin:  The International Crane Foundation (ICF) spearheaded a “Keeping Whooping Cranes Safe” campaign focused on reducing human-induced mortality of these highly endangered birds. This campaign was piloted in Alabama, an important wintering area for whooping cranes in the eastern migratory population. Through partnerships with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, state, and non-government organizations, the ICF has produced radio and television public service announcements, billboards, workshops for kindergarten through high school teachers, outreach events, and even a whooping crane mascot to raise public awareness to the plight of these birds and the need to actively work for their recovery. ICF has been a key partner in expanding participation in the annual Festival of the Cranes held at Wheeler National Wildlife Refuge in Alabama for more than 3,000 attendees.

Florida:

Nick Wiley, Executive Director, Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC), Tallahassee:  Nick Wiley also is 2016-2017 President of the Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies.  He is a recognized leader-among-leaders in conservation across the nation.  Nick chaired the Federal-State Joint Task Force on Endangered Species Act (ESA) Policy, which recommended ways to strengthen the partnership between federal agencies and states in implementing the ESA. He led the development of a new kind of ESA Section 6 Agreement that allows the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and FWC to avoid duplication in ESA permitting, and the FWC Imperiled Species Program, which gives the State of Florida a stronger authority for protecting species, thus preventing the need for them to be federally listed.   Nick provided several million dollars to the Arthur R. Marshall Loxahatchee NWR to help control invasive exotic plants, such as melaleuca and lygodium, and invasive animals, including pythons and snakehead fish, all of which pose significant threats to migratory birds, listed and at-risk species, and other native wildlife. Nick also has partnered closely with the Service on NWRS land protection and managing of hunt programs, working towards common sense solutions on an array of controversial issues.

Alto “Bud” Adams Jr., Landowner of Adams Ranch, Inc., Fort Pierce:  Bud Adams’ cattle ranch has been actively operating for 76 years and is the 12th largest cow-calf ranch in the country. Bud’s influence and support as a leader in the ranching community were critical in the creation of the Everglades Headwaters National Wildlife Refuge. To date, Bud has placed 663 acres in conservation easements as part of the refuge; 2,330 acres in the Florida Rural and Family Lands program; and he is working with the State of Florida on several thousand additional acres in easements. These lands will continue to conserve and protect important natural resources in South Florida in perpetuity.

Julie Morris, Florida and Gulf Coast Programs Manager, National Wildlife Refuge Association, Nocomis:  Julie Morris has been instrumental in establishing, building and maintaining high-trust relationships with stakeholders throughout the Everglades Headwaters landscape. She has brought together federal and state agency representatives, ranchers, sports men and women, and non-government organizations in a cooperative approach across key landscapes to protect valuable natural resources, connect wildlife corridors, and keep working lands working. Julie’s collaborative spirit has fostered a partnership approach that has added 30,000 acres in conservation easements to the Everglades Headwaters National Wildlife Refuge and Conservation Area since its establishment in 2012.

Dr. Frank Mazzotti, Professor, University of Florida, Davie: The Burmese python, Nile monitor lizard, and veiled chameleon are among the invasive species that are a threat to the South Florida landscape and to the Arthur R. Marshall Loxahatchee National Wildlife Refuge. Dr. Mazzotti is an expert on invasive reptiles and a key player in efforts to prevent their introduction and to control their spread in South Florida. He is a leader in working extensively with local, state and federal agencies and private sector organizations and individuals to actively respond to this serious threat.

Julie Scardina, Corporate Director Animal Ambassador Programs SeaWorld Parks and Entertainment, Orlando:  Under the direction of Julie Scardina, SeaWorld Parks and Entertainment turned the Migratory Bird Treaty Centennial into an environmental educational opportunity through in-park special events and social media outreach that engaged more than half a million people. SeaWorld’s communications gave people an understanding of the serious challenges migratory birds face and how we all benefit when birds thrive.  SeaWorld also has been an invaluable partner in the Service’s manatee conservation efforts rescuing 32 manatees and releasing 23 manatees in 2016.

St. Marks Frosted Flatwoods Salamander Research Team: Wildlife Biologist William Barichivich, Wildlife Biologist Katherine O’Donnell, Wildlife Biologist Susan Walls, Wetland and Aquatic Research Center U.S. Geological Survey, Gainesville: When surveys revealed a precipitous decline in frosted flatwoods salamanders on St. Marks National Wildlife Refuge and across the species’ range, staff from the refuge and the U.S. Geological Survey took action with other partners and experts through a structured decision making workshop to address the needs of the salamander. William Barichivich, Katherine O’Donnell, and Susan Walls were instrumental in inventorying and monitoring population levels and developing a successful larval headstart program. The methods developed for this program have increased the survival rate of larvae.  The Team has worked successfully with partners and experts from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Panama City Ecological Services Field Office, the Apalachicola National Forest, The Nature Conservancy, Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, and Eglin Air Force Base to implement management techniques to conserve this species.

Florida Department of Transportation State Environmental Office: Marjorie Kirby, Administrator of State Environmental Programs; Xavier Pagan, Administrator of State Environmental Process, Tallahassee: Marjorie Kirby and Xavier Pagan have championed funding and support for two additional U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service staff members to work with the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) on programmatic consultations and streamlining solutions for routine transportation projects, for projects and research to develop new approaches for protecting species and habitat, and for bold and innovative ideas to address species concerns and mitigation issues. They regularly coordinate at a statewide level with staff from the Service and the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission to ensure that species considerations are appropriately addressed and considered in project design allowing for enhanced species benefits and compatibility with road projects. Examples include the work they did with their District 1 FDOT staff on negotiating and installing State Road 80 underpasses and fencing to facilitate panthers and bears crossing under the widened sections of road, and funding/staff support for research on Perdido Key beach mouse crossings that will be considered in a multi-state bridge project. Both Majorie and Xavier were key participants in the GreenLinks project, a shared vision of landscape-level conservation priorities among partners in transportation planning in northwest Florida.

Georgia:

Georgia Department of Natural Resources, Wildlife Resources Division: Dr. Jon Ambrose, Chief of Non-game Conservation, Social Circle; Matt Elliott, Program Manager of Non-game Conservation, Social Circle;  Steve Friedman, Chief Real Estate, Atlanta; Jason Lee, Program Manager Non-game Conservation, Brunswick; Brent Womack, Wildlife Biologist Game Management, Armuchee: The Georgia Department of Natural Resources, Wildlife Resources Division has taken the lead on working with partners to establish new and expanded conservation lands at strategic locations across Georgia. As a result of the Division’s capability in partnering, planning, and application of best available science, thousands of acres that benefit federally-listed and at-risk species have been added to state-owned public lands. Examples include the expansion of the Paulding/Sheffield Forest Wildlife Management Area (WMA) to more than 15,000 acres providing open pine woodland for a variety of species and protecting the headwaters of the Etowah River, which is critical habitat for the endangered Etowah Darter and other listed pecies; significant efforts to expand the Lower Altamaha River conservation corridor creating greater connectivity with conservation lands from Georgia’s coast to the Okefenokee swamp and Fort Stewart, as well as, providing habitat for migratory birds, many listed and at-risk species, such as the southern hognose snake and Florida pine snake, and spawning areas for native fisheries; and the establishment of the Alapaha WMA that includes the state’s largest concentration of gopher tortoises.

Susan Meyers, Monarchs Across Georgia, Lilburn: Georgia Susan Meyers is a leader in conserving monarch butterflies and other pollinators through her hands-on work in schools and communities across the State of Georgia. She supported the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in the expansion of the Rosalyn Carter Butterfly Trail, oversaw the funding and creation of 20 new monarch habitats in schools and community gardens, and led an effort that put native pollinator gardens in 50 state parks. She has taught 150 teachers the basics of monarch conservation and reached 50,000 students, parents and community members through her workshops and outreach events. Susan also was instrumental in connecting the Service with numerous other partners working to create, connect and conserve landscapes for monarchs and pollinators.

Reese Thompson, Landowner, Vidalia:  Reese Thompson has been a major contributor to the restoration of longleaf pine in the Southeast by the way he has managed his own lands and the model he has provided for other landowners. Reese has restored thousands of acres on his own land and been a champion for management of at-risk and listed species, such as the gopher tortoise and eastern indigo snake, demonstrating through actions that species can be conserved on working forests. Reese is a leader among private landowners, working with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Partners for Fish and Wildlife Program, the Longleaf Alliance, the Orianne Society, and Partners for Conservation to not only improve management on his property, but also to host field days to educate others and to advocate publicly for ecological restoration and public-private partnerships. Reese works closely with adjacent landowners to keep the larger forested landscape as forest. His knowledge and insight helped the Service and the Natural Resources Conservation Service adapt conservation measures that are practical for landowners to implement under the Gopher Tortoise Working Lands for Wildlife Initiative.

Dan Forster, Director Government Relations, Archery Trade Association New Ulm, Minnesota:  As the past director of the Georgia Department of Natural Resources’ Wildlife Resources Division and past president of the Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies and the Southeastern Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies, Dan Forster has long been a guiding force in southeastern species and habitat conservation. Dan played a key role in land acquisitions for many listed species, including the indigo snake, red-cockaded woodpecker, and Etowah darter and at-risk species, including the gopher tortoise, gopher frog, and Florida pine snake, leveraging funds from multiple partners including the Department of Defense, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, U.S. Forest Service, industry, foundations, and private landowners to focus on shared conservation goals. Conservation along the Altamaha River is a great example of Dan’s leadership in restoring habitat connectivity and providing large corridors of habitat for various species. The Altamaha is the last major undammed river in Georgia that provides natural flood regimes and through Dan’s leadership over 100,000 acres of habitat along the lower Altamaha River has been conserved.

Louisiana

Louisiana Turtle Smuggling Investigative Team: Scotty Boudreaux, Special Agent U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Lacombe; Brian Cazalot, Postal Inspector U.S. Postal Inspection Service New Orleans; David Haller, Assistant U.S. Attorney U.S. Attorney’s Office New Orleans; Greg Kennedy, Assistant U.S. Attorney U.S. Attorney’s Office New Orleans; Brian Lomonaco, Special Agent Department of Homeland Security, New Orleans:  Working with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Office of Law Enforcement, this team of investigators is recognized for their unparalleled dedication to the international fight against wildlife trafficking and smuggling. Through Operation Herpsaspetz, they identified and dismantled an unlawful scheme in which some 750 North American Wood turtles worth nearly $345,000 were illegally captured, sold and transported over a three-year period from Pennsylvania through Louisiana and California to a final destination in Hong Kong. The investigation led to the arrest and prosecution of American and international suspects for violations of the Lacey Act, and Endangered Species Act, smuggling, money laundering, using fictitious names and addresses, and conspiracy violations. So far, the prosecution phase has yielded six and a half years of incarceration, 25 years of probation, and $51,000 in fines and restitution, in addition to monetary seizures of $134,000.

North Carolina:

Jeff Fisher, Chief Executive Officer Unique Places, LLC Durham; Tim Sweeney, Principal/Manager 130 of Chatham, LLC, Cary: A strong partnership between Tim Sweeney, Jeff Fisher, and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has led to significant contributions to the conservation of rare plants and other native fish and wildlife species in the Box Creek Wilderness National Heritage Area in North Carolina. Tim, with Jeff ’s assistance, has donated 6,000 acres of conservation easements to the Service, with another 1,000 acres underway, to permanently protect southern Appalachian mountain bog habitats, advance the conservation of at-risk species, and contribute to wildlife corridor connectivity with other protected lands in the state. Tim has also purchased 175 acres of endangered Virginia big-eared bat habitat, permanently protecting a significant maternity colony.

Tennessee:

Ed Carter, Executive Director Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency Nashville: As Executive Director of the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency, Ed Carter has set the bar for his visionary leadership and invaluable contributions in support of the Southeast Conservation Adaptation Strategy (SECAS). In recognizing the existing and projected massive landscape changes reshaping the Southeast’s aquatic and terrestrial habitats, Ed introduced a compelling vision whereby state fish and wildlife agencies engage partners in defining a conservation landscape of the future that sustains fish and wildlife. Ed led efforts to receive commitment and support from the 15 State Directors of the Southeastern Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies (SEAFWA), and the 12 federal agency leaders of the Southeast Natural Resource Leaders Group. His leadership also provided direction and support to the conservation science staff of six Landscape Conservation Cooperatives, the Southeast Climate Science Center, and the Southeast Aquatic Resource Partnership to achieve many significant accomplishments over the past five years. This enormous undertaking culminated in a SECAS Conservation Leadership summit convened at the 2016 SEAFWA Conference where state and federal leaders gathered to witness the amazing progress that has been made. Under Ed’s direction, the Leadership Summit participants helped to chart the course for the next five years.

Brett Dunlap, State Director U.S. Department of Agriculture, APHIS Wildlife Services Madison: Brett Dunlap was instrumental in developing a new program in Kentucky and Tennessee to meet stakeholder needs around livestock depredation while fulfilling Migratory Bird Treaty Act responsibilities for black vultures. Brett worked with the Farm Bureau, the livestock industry, and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to craft a first-in-the-nation program that is being used as a model. It permits “take” of these migratory birds with authorization granted through the Farm Bureau, while at the same time establishes a process for consideration of non-lethal methods to resolve the problem. Brett played a major role in working with the livestock industry and various organizations that represent livestock producers to provide public awareness of the benefits of black vultures, as well as the non-lethal tools that could help the producers and minimize the need to take birds. To date, the program has helped more than 250 farmers and has resulted in a greater exchange of information.

Conservation Fisheries, Inc.: Pat Rakes, Co-Director, J. R. Shute, Co-Director, Knoxville: For more than two decades, Conservation Fisheries, Inc. (CFI) has dedicated itself to the preservation of aquatic diversity, providing critical data and technical assistance to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and others for the protection and recovery of listed and imperiled fish species throughout the Southeast Region. CFI has worked with more than 60 species, developed propagation protocols, created and maintained “ark” populations of those most critically endangered fish, and reintroduced propagated animals back into their native habitats. Their work has led the way in helping populations of several imperiled species, such as the yellowfin madtom, smoky madtom and Citico darter and also helped focus restoration efforts in areas that benefit multiple species.

Gulf States:

Deepwater Horizon Natural Resource Damage Assessment and Restoration Case Team: Dan Audet, Project Manager, National Park Service, Seattle, Washington; John Carlucci, Assistant Solicitor, Office of the Solicitor, Department of the Interior, Washington, DC., Kevin Chapman, Compliance Coordinator, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Atlanta; Colette Charbonneau, Chief of Staff, U.S. Geological Survey, Reston, Virginia; Clare Cragan, Attorney-Advisor,Office of the Solicitor, Department of the Interior, Lakewood, Colorado; Charman Cupit, Budget Analyst, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Jackson, Mississippi; Holly Deal, Attorney-Advisor, Office of the Solicitor, Department of the Interior Atlanta; Georgia; Benjamin Frater, Restoration Specialist, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Fairhope, Alabama; James Haas, Chief Resource Protection Branch, National Park Service, Fort Collins, Colorado; Jon Hemming, Field Supervisor, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Fairhope, Alabama;  Amy Mathis, Natural Resource Planner, U.S. Forest Service, Prairie City, Oregon; Debora McClain, Deputy Case Manager, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Denver, Colorado; Ronald McCormick, Ecologist Bureau of Land Management, Washington, D.C.; Ashley Mills, Fish and Wildlife Biologist ,U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Atlanta, Georgia; Mark Van Mouwerik, Restoration Project Manager, National Park Service, Fort Collins, Colorado; Nanciann Regalado, Public Affairs Specialist, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Atlanta, Georgia; Robin Renn, Fish and Wildlife Biologist, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Fairhope, Alabama; Kevin Reynolds, Case Manager, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Atlanta, Georgia; John Rudolph, Attorney-Advisor, Office of the Solicitor, Department of the Interior Washington, D.C.; Pam Rule, Program Analyst, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Knoxville, Tennessee; Gregory Steyer, Ecologist, U.S. Geological Survey, Baton Rouge, Louisiana; Amy Wisco, Program Analyst, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Lakewood, Colorado:  The Department of the Interior’s Deepwater Horizon Natural Resource Damage Assessment and Restoration Case Team - composed of representatives of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, National Park Service, the U.S. Geological Survey, the Bureau of Land Management, and the Office of the Solicitor - achieved extraordinary success in conservation following the catastrophic 2010 oil spill - the largest marine spill in U.S. history. Working together with state and federal partners on the Deepwater Horizon Trustee Council, this team helped lead the assessment of injuries to natural resources such as birds, fish, sea turtles and federally-managed lands while simultaneously creating and implementing a multi-faceted restoration program for the Gulf of Mexico. This collaborative approach across multiple bureaus within the Department of the Interior was extremely effective and efficient in providing clear, consistent and timely decisions and information and is considered a model for the Department’s engagement in future spills and other complex environmental challenges. This team’s efforts, from the completion of five Early Restoration Plans, which green-lighted $868 million dollars for restoration projects, to the completion of the Trustee’s Programmatic Damage Assessment and Restoration Plan and Environmental Impact Statement, were pivotal in helping the United States and the five Gulf States reach the $20.8 billion global settlement with BP - the largest civil settlement in the history of the United States.

The mission of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is working with others to conserve, protect, and enhance fish, wildlife, plants, and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American people. For more information on our work and the people who can make it happen, visitfws.gov. Connect with the Service onFacebook, follow ourtweets, watch theYouTube Channeland download photos fromFlickr.

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