January 3, 2008

Altamont Pass turbines still killing birds, despite yearlong effort
Earth News - www.earthportal.org
02 Jan 2007
Area: California United States

Turbines in California’s Altamont Pass Wind Resource Area are killing thousands of birds, despite an agreement made nearly a year ago that promised to reduce deaths of four species by 50 percent in three years. Five scientists, known officially as the Scientific Review Committee, said last month that the settlement and accompanying effort to reduce bird deaths are not on track to meet the 50 percent goal, and they recently surveyed the Altamont to determine which additional turbines should be removed or relocated to spots less likely to kill birds. The scientists issued a list of 309 targeted turbines, plus 102 more if the wind companies refuse to continue a current, temporary shutdown of all their windmills into February. The wind operators previously agreed to a two-month shutdown in November and December.

No one knows for sure how many birds are killed by the Altamont turbines, but data shows the bird deaths have not decreased since the agreement, a legal settlement to a lawsuit filed by the Audubon Society. Located in California’s San Joaquin Valley, the resource area is home of the world’s largest collection on wind turbines. Altamont contains many old, small turbines. Replacing the many old turbines with fewer, more powerful ones, a process known as “repowering,” is official county policy and would be “a big part of the solution,” said Elizabeth Murdock, executive director of the Golden Gate Audubon Society.

Alaskan sea drilling plans criticized
The Associated Press (Posted by news.yahoo.com)
03 Jan 2007
D Joling
Area: Alaska United States

The federal government will open up nearly 46,000 square miles off Alaska's northwest coast to petroleum leases next month, a decision condemned by enviromental groups that contend the industrial activity will harm northern marine mammals. The Minerals Management Agency planned the sale in the Chukchi Sea without taking into account changes in the Arctic brought on by global warming and proposed insufficient protections for polar bears, walrus, whales and other species that could be harmed by drilling rigs or spills, according to the groups. The lease sale in an area slightly smaller than the state of Pennsylvania was planned without information as basic as the polar bear and walrus populations, said Pamela A. Miller, Arctic coordinator with Northern Alaska Environmental Center. The lease sale is among the largest acreage offered in the Alaska region.

"The Minerals Management Service is required to have preleasing baseline data sufficient to determine the post-leasing impacts of the oil and gas activities that will occur," Miller said. "They simply do not have that." The MMS announced it would hold a lease sale Feb. 6 in Anchorage for the ocean floor on the outer continental shelf of the Chukchi Sea, the body of water that begins north of the Bering Strait and stretches between northwest Alaska and the northern coast of the Russian Far East. The MMS is a branch of the Interior Department.

Reported Wildlife Mortality Events to the USGS National Wildlife Health Center Updated
USGS National Wildlife Health Center
03 Jan 2008
Area: United States

USGS and a network of partners across the country work on documenting wildlife mortality events in order to provide timely and accurate information on locations, species and causes of death. This information was updated on Dec 27, 2007 on the USGS National Wildlife Health Center web page, New and Ongoing Wildlife Mortality Events Nationwide. Quarterly Mortality Reports are also available from this page. These reports go back to 1995.

8 bighorn sheep die in Colorado
The Associated Press (Posted by www.mercurynews.com)
02 Jan 2008
Area: Colorado United States

Eight Rocky Mountain bighorn sheep died in southwest Colorado last month, and all showed signs of pneumonia, state wildlife officers said Wednesday. The Division of Wildlife said seven bighorns were found dead and the eighth was so sick it had to be euthanized. Five were rams and three were ewes. The bighorns were part of the small Fossil Ridge herd near Gunnison, about 130 miles southwest of Denver. Because the herd had only about 50 bighorns before the deaths, the loss of eight animals is significant, officials said.

Field examinations suggested pneumonia was the likely cause of death for at least some of them. Tests at the Division of Wildlife laboratory in Fort Collins found evidence of the disease in all eight. Further tests are planned, with results expected by mid-January, division spokesman Joe Lewandowski said. J Wenum, the division's Gunnison area manager, said wildlife officers are monitoring the survivors and evaluating treatment options, but they are limited. "It's not like cattle where you can run them into a pen and make sure they get the proper dose," he said.

Tight Lines: Utah fights to limit whirling disease
The Salt Lake Tribune - www.sltrib.com
02 Jan 2008
B Prettyman
Area: Utah United States

It has been 10 months since state wildlife biologists announced the presence of whirling disease at the confluence of the West and North forks of the Duchesne River in Duchesne County. At the time, they promised to do everything they could to prevent the spread of the trout malady to two popular fishing reservoirs. Currant Creek and Strawberry reservoirs are not naturally linked to the Duchesne River, but a Central Utah Water Project pipeline on the West Fork of the Duchesne dumps into Currant Creek, and another pipe moves water from Currant Creek to Strawberry. Division of Wildlife Resources officials moved as quickly as any state government branch could when it comes to dealing with federal land agencies such as the Forest Service and things like National Environmental Policy Act requirements.

Biologists proposed a fish barrier on the West Fork below a diversion dam where the pipeline takes in water. The idea was to prevent infected fish from getting into the pipe. Officials hoped the diversion dam would serve as a barrier to the upper reaches of the West Fork, where a precious pure strain Colorado cutthroat population is found. The Habitat Council funded $30,000 for construction of the barrier in April.

Related Journal Article
Biological Mercury Hotspots in the Northeastern United States and Southeastern Canada
BioScience. 2007 Jan. Vol. 57 No. 1 [free full-text article]


Species barriers for chronic wasting disease by in vitro conversion of prion protein [online abstract only]
Biochemical and biophysical research communications.2007 Dec 28;364(4):796-800. Epub 2007 Oct 25.
L Li et al.

Jointly-determined ecological thresholds and economic trade-offs in wildlife disease management [online abstract only]
Natural Resource Modeling. 2007; 20(4): 511-547
EP Fenichel and RD Horan

Infectious diseases in wildlife: the community ecology context [online abstract only]
Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment. 2007 Dec; 5(10): 533-539
LK Belden and RN Harris

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