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Birds, Bison and Lions: Grasslands News from October 2012

Big sky and long views on American Prairie Reserve. Photo: Dennis Lingohr/APR

In an effort to increase awareness of grasslands issues and encourage you to fall in love with our world’s prairies, American Prairie Reserve compiles a news roundup each month. These stories will introduce you to the organizations working to restore this endangered ecosystem, demonstrate the diversity of the plains and showcase the many different approaches to grassland conservation – from Montana to Mongolia.

Here’s the news from the last month. Happy reading! We’re already compiling news for the next post, so feel free to leave your suggestions and links in the comments below.

Iconic prairie grasslands threatened
By Bob Kingston and Dr. Josef K. Schmutz, The Regina Leader-Post

Canadians are speaking out against a controversial decision by the federal government to hand control of some of the nation’s little remaining native prairie over to provinces – especially since Saskatchewan plans to sell it. Will these lands continue to be managed with conservation in mind?

Program gives participants a chance to rebuild lives while restoring prairie lands
By Staci Matlock, The New Mexican

Grassland restoration isn’t limited to scientists and conservation professionals. Thanks to the Great Plains Restoration Council, incarcerated felons are getting their hands dirty building prairie dog burrows. By using physical work to connect felons to nature, GPRC founder Jarid Manos is hoping to restore ecological health to the prairie while also helping inmates transition to a better life.

First conservation assessment of all American birds shows more than a third need help
Release from American Bird Conservancy

A new report from the American Bird Conservancy is the first national assessment to rank the conservation status of subspecies. By looking at more birds than ever before, and at a more regional level, ABC found that many of the vulnerable and at-risk species are habitat specialists and include prairie residents like the Lesser Prairie-Chicken, Greater and Gunnison Sage-Grouse, Mountain Plover, Burrowing Owl, American Avocet and Long-billed Curlew.

Private wildlife groups plan to set up umbrella organisation
By Muchiri Gitonga, Daily Nation

A new proposed group in Kenya aims to standardize and up level the ecotourism experience in the country by bringing together a diversity of stakeholders. Tourism in the region is primarily wildlife-oriented and centered on the Serengeti plains, but it takes place on a diversity of land types, including national parks, community and private ranches or conservancies, and game reserves. The proposal aims to give different groups a voice and manage the industry in such a way that wildlife protection is profitable to local communities.

Officials: Ancient bison bone bed ‘destroyed’
By John S. Adams, USA TODAY

A 2,000 year old bison kill site in Montana was discovered then improperly excavated, some say destroyed, as part of a plan to expand a coal mine in the area. The site, described as a rare and major archeological find, might have been able to give us insight into life on the prairie thousands of years ago, but now exists in large piles of bones and debris courtesy of a backhoe.

Illegal hunting, wildlife trade may cause conservation crisis
From Science Blog

Wildlife conservation groups Panthera, the Zoological Society of London and Wildlife Conservation Society released a new report that shows that illegal hunting and the bushmeat trade are significantly impacting wildlife on East African savannas. Previously thought to be an issue mostly related to subsistence living (and therefore a smaller impact), the report describes a growing problem that is increasingly commercial and widespread as meat is sold in urban areas and human populations increase and expand, among other factors.

Sibling rivalry: Cheeky lion cub bites off more than she can chew
By Alex Ward, Daily Mail

For your photo-worthy grassland moment, here’s a series of playful images from Tanzania that capture the mischievous nature of lions. Taken by wildlife photography guide Elliott Neep, the photos are certainly not lacking in “cute factor.”

 

American Prairie Reserve (APR) is assembling a world class wildlife reserve in northern Montana, with the goal of one day creating a seamless 3.5 million acre grassland ecosystem. APR’s President Sean Gerrity is a National Geographic Fellow. Learn more about the Reserve, including progress to date and bison restoration efforts, on the Reserve’s website.