Category Archives: Extinction

Tweet 4 Prince of Wales Wolves

The hunting, trapping and illegal take of wolves from the Tongass National Forest on Prince of Wales Island, Alaska must come to a full stop or extirpation is not only imminent, but in the not too distant future. 

The federal subsistence wolf hunting season on POW begins tomorrow September 1st, with a quota set at 5 animals. As you already know it is nearly impossible to enforce such a small quota as we have seen in prior years: the quota for 2016 was set at 11 wolves yet the reported “harvest” was 28 animals; the year before the quota was set at 9 animals and 29 wolves were killed. This, of course, does not include unreported kills, which may be substantial.

As of this morning (August 31) we have not received a response from the Federal Subsistence Board, nor from Alaska Department of Fish and Game, regarding our request (representing the 11,000 members of In the shadow of the wolf community) and petition for the suspension of wolf hunting on Prince of Wales Island

Because of the failure on the part of ADF&G and the FSB to engage in any sort of dialogue, with regard to our concerns for the diminished wolf population on the island, we need to be more assertive with phone calls, emails and again, another last minute tweetstorm, this time for the Alexander Archipelago Wolves on Prince of Wales Island. 

Please take a little time out of your day to speak up for this devastated wolf population, their lives must be filled with misery. Help where you can; if you are not on twitter then please make a phone call, send an email or alert the media.  Please, just help out. 

Feel free to use any of the graphics from below or from our Facebook page @intheshadowofthewolf. As this is a last minute effort my time was extremely limited and would not allow for adding images. My apologies. As usual, all tweets can be automatically sent by tapping “Tweet4Wolves” at the end of each tweet. For ease of tweeting, open this link on your browser and close your twitter window. Should you still have trouble sending tweets then open this blog post on Twitter and send your tweets from there.

1. #Wolves #PrinceOfWalesWolves #StandForWolves PLS sign & share: Suspend Wolf Hunting on Prince of Wales Island:  bit.ly/AA_Wolves Tweet4Wolves

2. #PrinceOfWalesWolves population declined 60% from 221 #wolves in 2013 to 89 in 2014 yet hunting continues! @interior @latimes @nytimes Tweet4Wolves 

3. #PrinceOfWalesWolves population declined 60% from 221 #wolves in 2013 to 89 in 2014 yet hunting continues! @AP @NPR @adndotcom Tweet4Wolves

4. 29 more #PrinceOfWalesWolves were killed during the 2014-15 season while the quota was set at 9 #wolves. @interior @AP @NPR @adndotcom Tweet4Wolves 

5. 29 more #PrinceOfWalesWolves were killed during the 2014-15 season while the quota was set at 9 #wolves. @latimes @nytimes Tweet4Wolves  

6. At the end of 2015 season just 60 #PrinceOfWalesWolves remained yet hunting is still allowed. Shame #Alaska @interior @AP @NPR @adndotcom Tweet4Wolves

7. At the end of 2015 season just 60 #PrinceOfWalesWolves remained yet hunting is still allowed. Shame on #Alaska @latimes @nytimes Tweet4Wolves 

8. During the 2016-17 season the quota was set at 11 #PrinceOfWalesWolves and 28 were killed! Cancel the hunt #Alaska @interior @AP @NPR Tweet4Wolves

9. .@nytimes @latimes During the 2016-17 season the quota was set at 11 #PrinceOfWalesWolves and 28 were killed! Cancel the hunt #Alaska Tweet4Wolves

10a. This season’s #ADFG #FSB quota of FIVE #PrinceOfWalesWolves is IMPOSSIBLE 2 enforce @SecretaryZinke @AP @NPR  @nytimes @latimes @adndotcom Tweet4Wolves

10. Total amount of #PrinceOfWalesWolves “harvested” does not include unreported kills which may be substantial @interior @nytimes @latimes Tweet4Wolves 

11. These R dire times for 1 of world’s rarest wolf subspecies. #PrinceOfWalesWolves Suspend wolf hunting on POW @USFWS @interior  @AP @NPR Tweet4Wolves

12. #PrinceOfWalesWolves a unique subspecies of North American #wolves, from which they have been isolated for millennia are highly endangered Tweet4Wolves

13. The long-term impacts of logging & roads push #PrinceOfWalesWolves population toward #extinction @interior @latimes @nytimes @AP @NPR Tweet4Wolves

14. The long-term impacts of logging & roads have pushed #PrinceOfWalesWolves population toward #extinction @USFWS @SecretaryZinke @adndotcom  Tweet4Wolves   

15. #PrinceOfWalesWolves R a symbol of wilderness and ecological integrity and have declined 75% in 20yrs @interior @nytimes @latimes Tweet4Wolves

16. The hunting/trapping/poaching of #PrinceOfWalesWolves needs to come to a full stop or extirpation is imminent @interior @USFWS @AP @NPR Tweet4Wolves

 17. The hunting/trapping/poaching of #PrinceOfWalesWolves needs to come to a full stop or extirpation is imminent @nytimes @latimes Tweet4Wolves

18. Steve Brockmann a @USFWS employee indicated that the continuing decline of #PrinceOfWalesWolves has to do with over-harvesting! @interior Tweet4Wolves

19. #PrinceOfWalesWolves play an important role in the ecotourism that contributes more than $1 billion 2 Southeast #Alaska economy @interior Tweet4Wolves

20. 6 decades of @forestservice aggressive old-growth clearcut #logging on POW has endangered #PrinceOfWalesWolves @interior @nytimes @latimes Tweet4Wolves

21. 6 decades of @forestservice aggressive old-growth clearcut #logging program on POW has endangered #PrinceOfWalesWolves @interior @WSJ @NPR Tweet4Wolves

22. #PrinceOfWalesWolves rely almost exclusively on a single prey species, also in decline, the Sitka black-tailed deer @interior @nytimes Tweet4Wolves

23. #PrinceOfWalesWolves and the deer have suffered over the past few decades as #logging has eroded their island habitats. @interior @nytimes Tweet4Wolves

24. Roads built 2 support logging effort provide easy access points 4 poachers 2 enter forest & kill #PrinceOfWalesWolves @interior @nytimes Tweet4Wolves

25. The POW Complex has over 4,200 miles of roads contributing to a marked increase in poaching of the #PrinceOfWalesWolves @interior @nytimes Tweet4Wolves

26. Over 1/2 of the old-growth forests that #PrinceOfWalesWolves rely on for hunting, denning & raising pups R now gone! @interior @nytimes Tweet4Wolves

27. .@usfs approved an ill-conceived logging operation within the Tongass National Forest, home to #PrinceOfWalesWolves @interior @nytimes Tweet4Wolves

28. .@forestservice approved an ill-conceived logging operation within the Tongass National Forest, home 2 #PrinceOfWalesWolves @interior @WSJ Tweet4Wolves

29. Shame on @usfs 4 pushing ahead w/6,000 acres old-growth logging & 80 more miles of logging road thru #PrinceOfWalesWolves habitat @interior Tweet4Wolves

30. Shame on @forestservice 4 pushing ahead w/6,000 acres old-growth logging in #PrinceOfWalesWolves habitat for 15 more yrs @interior Tweet4Wolves

31. Shame on @forestservice 4 pushing ahead w/6,000 acres old-growth logging in #PrinceOfWalesWolves habitat for 15 more yrs @nytimes Tweet4Wolves

32. Timber sales cost taxpayers millions in the Tongass & will cause extinction of #PrinceOfWalesWolves @usfs @interior goo.gl/LPCrVM Tweet4Wolves

33. Timber sales cost taxpayers millions in Tongass & will cause extinction~ #PrinceOfWalesWolves @forestservice @USFWS goo.gl/LPCrVM Tweet4Wolves

34. Scientific evidence shows that #PrinceOfWalesWolves cannot survive in areas with high road density @interior @USFWS @nytimes @latimes Tweet4Wolves

35. .@forestservice is more interested in kowtowing 2 timber industry than in preserving our forests 4 future generations #PrinceOfWalesWolves Tweet4Wolves

36. The ongoing scale of old-growth logging imperils #PrinceOfWalesWolves by further reducing & fragmenting remaining forest stands @nytimes Tweet4Wolves

37. #PrinceOfWalesWolves risk of inbreeding is⬆putting them at great risk of extinction due 2 loss of genetic diversity @interior @nytimes Tweet4Wolves

38. Genetic diversity is always a crucial factor with isolated species! Cancel #PrinceOfWalesWolves hunting #ADFG @interior @SecretaryZinke Tweet4Wolves

39. In SE #Alaska #PrinceOfWalesWolves bring significant economic benefits 2 communities ~ Essential4Ecotourism @interior @USFWS @nytimes Tweet4Wolves

40. Evidence suggests ecological heterogeneity across space can influence genetic structure of populations #PrinceOfWalesWolves @interior Tweet4Wolves

41. Evidence suggests ecological heterogeneity across space can influence genetic structure of populations #PrinceOfWalesWolves @nytimes Tweet4Wolves

42. Research found the presence of a genetic cline between mainland & island wolves. Protect #PrinceOfWalesWolves #ESA bit.ly/1GHqCyw  Tweet4Wolves

43. #PrinceOfWalesWolves R an ecologically important & genetically distinct predator that symbolizes the wilderness of the Tongass @interior Tweet4Wolves

44. #PrinceOfWalesWolves R an ecologically important & genetically distinct predator that symbolizes the wilderness of the Tongass @nytimes Tweet4Wolves

45. Both #ADFG & FSB attempt to enforce a season’s #PrinceOfWalesWolves quota by counting skins that R brought in 4 sealing @interior @AP @NPR Tweet4Wolves

46. Both #ADFG & FSB attempt to enforce a season’s #PrinceOfWalesWolves quota by counting skins that R brought in 4 sealing @nytimes @latimes Tweet4Wolves

47. FSB regulation: #PrinceOfWalesWolves skins taken by hunting &trapping must B sealed within 14 days, overquota inevitable @interior @nytimes Tweet4Wolves

48. #ADFG #PrinceOfWalesWolves taken by hunting require “skin” sealing within 30 days, a guaranteed overquota! @interior @nytimes @AP @NPR Tweet4Wolves

49. Regardless of which “skin sealing” time limit applies, it is nearly impossible 2 enforce such a small quota! @interior #PrinceOfWalesWolves Tweet4Wolves

50. Regardless of which “skin sealing” time limit applies, it is nearly impossible2 enforce such a small quota! @AP @NPR   #PrinceOfWalesWolves Tweet4Wolves

51. The smaller the quota of #PrinceOfWalesWolves the greater the chances R of the quota being exceeded! @interior @nytimes @latimes @USFWS Tweet4Wolves

52. Further compounding this disastrous situation is the unregulated amount of, & location of, trappers/hunters #PrinceOfWalesWolves @interior Tweet4Wolves

53. Further compounding this disastrous situation is the unregulated amount of, & location of, trappers/hunters #PrinceOfWalesWolves @nytimes Tweet4Wolves

54. Neither the State nor the FSB have regulations that limit number of trappers/hunters who may take #PrinceOfWalesWolves in GMU -2 @interior Tweet4Wolves

55. Neither the State nor the FSB have regulations that limit number of trappers/hunters who may take #PrinceOfWalesWolves in GMU -2 @nytimes Tweet4Wolves

56. If the decline in numbers is not arrested & recovery not immediately commenced, #PrinceOfWalesWolves fate will B sealed. @interior @AP @NPR Tweet4Wolves

57. Decline of #PrinceOfWalesWolves is a management problem that desperately needs fixing http://wp.me/p6o9qd-5s  @USFWS @interior  @AP @NPR  Tweet4Wolves

58. #PrinceOfWalesWolves R facing  threat of extinction due 2 lack of food, hunting/poaching & logging, please report @nytimes @washingtonpost Tweet4Wolves

59. #PrinceOfWalesWolves R facing  threat of extinction due 2 lack of food, hunting/poaching & logging, please report @latimes @AP @Alaska @NPR Tweet4Wolves

60. #PrinceOfWalesWolves R facing  threat of extinction due 2 lack of food, hunting/poaching & logging, pls report @WSJ @newsminer @adndotcom Tweet4Wolves

61. #PrinceOfWalesWolves R facing threat of extinction due 2 lack of food, hunting/poaching & logging, pls report @LATenvironment @alaskapublic Tweet4Wolves

62. Roads constructed 4 old-growth logging facilitate substantial illegal poaching @interior @usfs @nytimes @adndotcom #PrinceOfWalesWolves Tweet4Wolves

63. Obviously hunting, trapping, & poaching #PrinceOfWalesWolves is near roads because access is easier @interior @forestservice @AP @NPR Tweet4Wolves

64. The farther from a road #PrinceOfWalesWolves or deer are the more likely they will survive @interior @nytimes However… Tweet4Wolves

65. The farther from a road #PrinceOfWalesWolves or deer are the more likely they will survive @AP @NPR However… Tweet4Wolves

66. …with such an extensive network of existing roads poaching is rife! @interior @nytimes @forestservice @AP @NPR #PrinceOfWalesWolves Tweet4Wolves

67. Average distance 2 roads within GMU2 is 2.1 miles & only 1.7 miles on POW Island itself @interior @nytimes @usfs #PrinceOfWalesWolves Tweet4Wolves

68. Such high road density leaves little secure habitat for #PrinceOfWalesWolves or Sitka black tailed deer @interior @nytimes @usfs Tweet4Wolves

69. 40% of #PrinceOfWalesWolves home is logged/roaded (GMU2) creating a very high risk mortality which exceeds reproduction @interior @nytimes Tweet4Wolves

70. When just 25% of #PrinceOfWalesWolves home is logged, the ratio of reproduction to mortality is very close to 1 @interior @nytimes @usfs Tweet4Wolves

71. .@usfs wants public 2believe ADF&G’s mgmt of trapping/hunting can mitigate effects of overlogging/habitat destruction! #PrinceOfWalesWolves Tweet4Wolves

72. #Wolves #PrinceOfWalesWolves #StandForWolves PLS sign and share: Suspend Wolf Hunting on Prince of Wales Island:  bit.ly/AA_Wolves Tweet4Wolves

73. #PrinceOfWalesWolves hunting begins September 1st, voice your opposition! Call Bruce Dale 907-861-2101 #StandForWolves Tweet4Wolves

74. #PrinceOfWalesWolves hunting begins September 1st, voice your opposition! Call Ryan Scott 907-465-4359 #StandForWolves Tweet4Wolves

75. #PrinceOfWalesWolves hunting begins September 1st, voice your opposition! Call Anthony Christianson 907-786-3888 #StandForWolves Tweet4Wolves

76. The hunting & trapping of #PrinceOfWalesWolves has reached unsustainable levels. Cancel the hunt! @AkGovBillWalker #EndangeredSpecies  Tweet4Wolves

77. This yrs season of trapping and hunting will push the incredibly imperiled #PrinceOfWalesWolves closer to #extinction @interior @nytimes Tweet4Wolves

78. 2 maintain a viable population of #PrinceOfWalesWolves , #Alaska must cancel the season! @interior @USFWS @AKGovBillWalker @SecretaryZinke  Tweet4Wolves

79. Alaska wildlife officials contend: “no radical changes are necessary” 4 managing nearly extinct #PrinceOfWalesWolves population Outrageous! Tweet4Wolves

80. Endangered #PrinceOfWalesWolves & associated islands R geographically isolated & genetically distinct from other #wolves. @WSJ @AP @nytimes Tweet4Wolves

81. Endangered #PrinceOfWalesWolves & associated islands R geographically isolated & genetically distinct from other #wolves. @washingtonpost Tweet4Wolves

82. Scientific evidence shows significant genetic differentiation between #PrinceOfWalesWolves & interior wolves @AP : goo.gl/a3wA7U  Tweet4Wolves

83. Scientific data shows significant genetic differentiation between #PrinceOfWalesWolves & interior wolves @interior goo.gl/a3wA7U Tweet4Wolves

84. Evidence shows significant genetic differentiation between #PrinceOfWalesWolves & interior wolves @interior goo.gl/a3wA7U Tweet4Wolves 

85. 87% of #PrinceOfWalesWolves mortality is from unsustainable hunting/trapping Cancel the hunt @AKGovBillWalker protect under ESA @USFWS @AP Tweet4Wolves

85b. 87% of #PrinceOfWalesWolves mortality is from unsustainable hunting/trapping Cancel the hunt @SecretaryZinke @AP @NPR @nytimes @latimes Tweet4Wolves

86. Old growth logging has compromised the environmental & economic viability of the Tongass & forsaken the #PrinceOfWalesWolves @AP @WSJ @NPR Tweet4Wolves

87. The rapid decline of #PrinceOfWalesWolves underscores the threat continued cutting of old-growth trees poses in the Tongass @AP @WSJ @NPR Tweet4Wolves

88. The rapid decline of #PrinceOfWalesWolves underscores the threat continued cutting of old-growth trees poses in the Tongass @washingtonpost Tweet4Wolves

89. 24 yrs ago authorities recognized #PrinceOfWalesWolves viability was in danger as direct result of timber harvest in Tongass @AP @WSJ @NPR Tweet4Wolves

90. 24yrs ago authorities recognized #PrinceOfWalesWolves viability was in danger as direct result of timber harvest in Tongass @washingtonpost Tweet4Wolves

91. 24yrs ago FWS said “Without significant changes 2existing Tongass LMP, long-term viability of #PrinceOfWalesWolves is seriously imperiled.” Tweet4Wolves

92. Logging roads clearly increased risk of death 4 #PrinceOfWalesWolves from hunting/trapping & contributed 2unsustainable rates of “harvest” Tweet4Wolves

93. ADF&G should consider effects of roads, & expect substantial illegal harvest where #PrinceOfWalesWolves habitat is accessible 2 humans! @AP Tweet4Wolves

94. ADF&G, knowing poaching levels R as high as legal “take” should act2 PROTECT remaining #PrinceOfWalesWolves NOT encourage hunting! @AP @WSJ Tweet4Wolves

95. The opportunity 2C unique #PrinceOfWalesWolves in old growth home draws people frm all over the world Essential4Ecotourism @AKGovBillWalker Tweet4Wolves

96. A sharp decline in #PrinceOfWalesWolves equals a sharp decline in ecotourism.”Killing wolves is bad for business” @AKGovBillWalker @AP @WSJ Tweet4Wolves

97. Allowing decimation/imminent extinction of #PrinceOfWalesWolves is poor stewardship @interior @AKGovBillWalker @USFWS @AP @NPR @adndotcom Tweet4Wolves

Share your thoughts with those who allow the removal of wolves from our public lands in the Tongass, on Prince of Wales Island, via email or phone:

 ADF&G Director Bruce Dale:  bruce.dale@alaska.gov  Phone: 907-861-2101

ADF&G Regional Supervisor, Ryan Scott:  ryan.scott@alaska.gov  Phone: 907-465-4359

Anthony Christianson, Chair Federal Subsistence Board: subsistence@fws.gov    Phone: 907-786-3888

 

As always, thank you for being a voice for the wolves.

Twenty-eight | The imminent extirpation of Alexander Archipelago Wolves from Prince of Wales Island, Alaska:


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Copyright © 2017 [COPYRIGHT Intheshadowofthewolf, name and webpage]. All Rights Reserved.

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The Silencing of Nature: Sixth Extinction

Complex animal life evolved sometime over 500 million years ago. Since that time, life has continually evolved into different groupings of strange and diverse forms. Today, however, is a unique and unprecedented instant during this extraordinarily long history of life. Never before has there been a creature such as us—a being with the ability to rapidly and radically change the world. Only those who are blind to Nature can look around and not see catastrophe as growing thousands of species are pushed into the dawnless night of extinction.
“In the half a billion years of complex life, geology reveals five mass extinctions. All were caused by the smash of big extraterrestrial bodies into Earth or by stupendous geological forces. Biologists and conservationists call today’s extinction the Sixth Great Extinction in light of its magnitude. This extinction stands apart, though, because cosmic or geological forces do not cause it.
It has a biological cause.
One species.
Us.
Homo sapiens.
Due to its cause, and heeding our moral compass and sense of justice, perhaps we should not call today’s ecological crisis the “Sixth Mass Extinction.” Rather, we perhaps should call it the First Mass Murder of Life.

Never before has a single species escaped out of the confines of its ecosystems to become a global, geological force and then to spread across Earth to almost every ecosystem, and then remake and in many cases waste those ecosystems. Never before has a single species consumed so much of the rest of life into itself.
Never before has the population of a single species exploded instantaneously across the globe.
We have erupted like the burning cinders and poisonous gases of a giant volcano and now cover Earth” ~ From the Rewilding Institute .

The Silencing of Nature: Sixth Extinction:

 

 To get involved with helping endangered species, deepen your knowledge of environmental atrocities, and find ways in which you can help protect our planet and co-inhabitants, please see this list of helpful links:

Earthjustice

National Resources Defense Council

Greenpeace

Climate Network

Rainforest Action Network

IUCN, International Union for Conservation of Nature

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Sumatran Elephant, critically endangered. Over two-thirds of Sumatra’s natural lowland forest has been razed, cutting this elephant’s habitat by 70%. Only approximately 2,400 remain.

 The production of meat and other animal products places a heavy burden on the environment – from crops and water required to feed the animals, to the transport and other processes involved from farm to fork. The vast amount of grain feed required for meat production is a significant contributor to deforestation, habitat loss and species extinction.

Take extinction off your plate . By eating less meat and more fruit and vegetables, the world could prevent several million deaths per year by 2050, cut planet-warming emissions substantially, save billions of dollars annually in healthcare costs and climate damage, and spare countless animals from unnecessary suffering.

Consider a  vegan lifestyle.

Connect with Anthropocene: The Sixth Extinction on YoutubeFacebook, and Twitter.

Climate change/Wildfire map

 Copyright © 2016 [COPYRIGHT Intheshadowofthewolf, name and webpage]. All Rights Reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced or distributed in any form or by any means, or stored in a database or retrieval system, without the prior written permission of the publisher.

Will we soon see another wave of bird extinctions in the Americas?

  

In the shady recesses of unassuming forest patches in eastern Brazil, bird species are taking their final bows on the global evolutionary stage, and winking out.

These are obscure birds with quaint names: Alagoas Foliage-Gleaner, Pernambuco Pygmy-Owl, Cryptic Treehunter. But their disappearance portends a turning point in a global biodiversity crisis.

Bird extinctions are nothing new. Human activity has already wiped out over a thousand species. But the vast majority of these occurred on oceanic islands. Today, although island species remain disproportionately threatened, we are witnessing a historic shift towards the endangerment of continental species of birds. The Alagoas Foliage-Gleaner, last seen in 2011, looks increasingly like the tip of an iceberg.

This new wave of threats, driven primarily by habitat loss, is deeply troubling because South American forests are home to such a concentration of bird diversity, yet our conservation strategies are still a work in progress.

The trouble with the tropics

To appreciate the significance of today’s looming extinctions in the tropics, we must travel north to the great deciduous forests of the eastern United States, which are haunted by the ghosts of extinctions past. Here, the opportunity to experience the double raps of Ivory-billed Woodpeckers, sun-obscuring clouds of Passenger Pigeons, raucous flocks of Carolina Parakeets, and the monotone song of the Bachman’s Warbler is seemingly forever lost.

The blame for these four infamous extinctions has been laid firmly at the door of historic deforestation.

In the early 20th century, the last remaining old-growth fell to the sawmills, almost without exception. Given the ubiquity of the logging, perhaps the most noteworthy feature of this extinction episode is that it did not involve more species.

The European experience was even more striking. The wholesale clearing of Europe’s primeval forest apparently did not cause a single bird extinction. The logical conclusion is that it is very difficult to drive continental birds extinct.

Why then are forest birds beginning to go extinct on mainland South America, home of the largest and most intact tropical forests on Earth?

We must face two equally unsettling conclusions. The first is that forest destruction, particularly in Brazil’s Atlantic rainforest, has reached continental-scale proportions, with almost no nook or cranny spared. And the second is that it may not be nearly as difficult to drive extinct in the tropics as in the temperate zone.

Biologists Stuart Pimm and Robert Askins have argued that the eastern USA witnessed few avian extinctions simply because most of its birds have very large geographic ranges. In South America, the situation is dramatically different.

South America is both the evolutionary cradle and current champion of global bird biodiversity; the authoritative regional list totals 3,368 species – around one third of all the word’s birds. Many of these species have small ranges, restricted to particular countries or even to particular mountains or forest types.

Unique features of the life history of tropical birds led to an overly rosy assessment of their future. Author and academic Bjorn Lomborg, for example, claimed that the lack of extinctions following the destruction of Brazil’s Atlantic forest showed that the biodiversity crisis is overblown.

But extinctions may lag far behind forest loss, a phenomenon known as the “extinction debt” which may be paid over hundreds of years.

Tropical birds typically live for longer than their temperate counterparts. Thus, the last pairs of rare species may make their last stand in their fragmented forest redoubts for decades. Indeed, several species have paid this price, and more may already be committed to extinction.

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The last known Alagoas Foliage-gleaner photographed in Pernambuco, Brazil in November 2010 Ciro Albano/NE Brazil Birding

Need to develop strategies

The situation in northeast Brazil is particularly dire.

A few dozen Alagoas Antwrens cling to survival in less than six tiny forest patches. The Alagoas Foliage-gleaner, presented to science along with the Antwren for the first time in the 1980s, was known from only two patches. The last known individual was photographed for the final time in November 2011. We can only guess how many more species will be lost from this region where new species are discovered and others are disappearing on a near-annual basis.

But what of Amazonia, the last great tropical forest wilderness and bastion of tropical biodiversity?

Although deforestation rates have fallen since 2004, there are still grounds for concern. Pressure on existing protected areas from dam-building and mining interests is increasing, and the existing reserve network poorly protects the hardest hit regions.

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Arable fields in eastern Amazonia, former forest haunts of the endemic Belem Curassow, illustrated in the inset to the right of the similar Bare-faced Curassow. This former species was last documented in the wild decades ago. both images Alexander Charles Lees, curassow specimens ©Museu Paraense Emílio Goeldi

Furthermore, Amazonia is divided into different biogeographic regions known as ‘areas of endemism’ that each contain species found nowhere else. Even today, taxonomists continue to recognize new divisions in Amazonian birds, often elevating former subspecies to species status. The Belem Curassow was recently recognized as a species and occurs only in the most deforested part of the Amazon. The last documented record in the wild was over 35 years ago.

Unless a population is discovered in the embattled Gurupi reserve, this species may be the first recorded Amazonian bird extinction. Hot on its heels is the Iquitos Gnatcatcher, known only from a tiny and heavily deforested area of unique stunted forest in Peru. Only six pairs are known, and the bird has proven harder to find every year.

Some of these species need immediate and drastic conservation interventions, but their plight seems to be largely ignored by governments and international environmental groups. Restoring forest around these last fragments is crucial for long-term population viability.

However, for some species captive breeding with an eye to future reintroduction may be the only way forward. Such measures have already saved the Spix’s Macaw and Alagoas Curassow from global extinction – populations of these species exist only in captivity. However, while we have centuries of experience breeding parrots and gamebirds, we know far less about breeding small songbirds.

In fact, most of what we know about managing songbird populations comes from islands, and it is unclear how well this knowledge will translate to the mainland. Island species are adapted to maintain small populations and may be better able to recover from genetic bottlenecks. And, quick fixes such as controlling invasive predators have helped to restore populations. But mainland birds face a different suite of threats, dominated by habitat loss.

Clearly, we must not assume that tropical forest birds will prove as resilient to human activity as their temperate brethren. But though the situation is critical, we also see grounds for optimism.

In Peru, for instance, new endangered species legislation has convened a working group to develop a conservation strategy for the Iquitos Gnatcatcher. In the meantime, a small reserve has been created that protects the few remaining territories. Across the border in Brazil exciting plans are being drawn up to reintroduce the Alagoas Curassow back into the wild.

There is an immediate need to support and expand such actions. The next five to ten years will be critical for many species of South American birds teetering on the brink of extinction.

Feature Image: The Iquitos Gnatcatcher hangs by a thread in small patches of stunted forest near Iquitos, Peru. Only six pairs are known. José Álvarez Alonso, used with permission.

Source

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Species lost from the eastern forests of the U.S. – from left to right: Ivory-billed Woodpecker, Passenger Pigeon, Carolina Parakeet and Bachman’s Warbler. Alexander C. Lees ©Cornell University Museum of Vertebrates, Author provided