Dr. Del Benson Judges for 2014 Federal Duck Stamp Contest

The 2014 Federal Duck Stamp Art Contest was recently held September 19th and 20th at the National Conservation Training Center in Shepherdstown, West Virginia.  Fish, Wildlife, and Conservation Biology professor, Dr. Del Benson along with Gloria Erickson, chair of the Nebraska Environmental Trust Board, George Petrides, Sr., founder of the Wild Bird Centers of America, Inc., Peter Anastasi of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and professional artist, Terry Miller constituted the judging panel.    

The panel examined, reviewed and whittled through 186 pieces of waterfowl artwork to select the winning piece by artist, Jennifer Miller, of Olean, N.Y.  

"Miller's acrylic painting of a pair of ruddy ducks will be made into the 2015-2016 Federal Migratory Bird Hunting and Conservation Stamp, or Duck Stamp, which goes on sale in late June 2015," according to a press release by the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service.  

Dr. Benson's work with private land owners, conservation education, and hunter attitudes and behavior as well as extension work garnered him a spot on this prestigious panel.  


Congress for Wildlife and Livelihoods a Success!

The 8th International Wildlife Ranching Symposium, IWRS, entitled Congress for Wildlife and Livelihoods on Private and Communal Lands: Livestock, Tourism, and Spirit was held Sept 7-12, 2014 in Estes Park.  Over 100 speakers were recruited because of their work and the strength of their messages.

Wildlife on private lands is treated as pests and prizes around the world and they present benefits and barriers to landowners, society, the land, and the broader conservation community.  Needed are interdisciplinary thoughts and actions representing multiple jurisdictions and approaches to affect positive outcomes for biodiversity.

Conclusions from the Congress were positive, yet feelings persist that private landowners and private lands are underrepresented by wildlife and natural resources professionals. The following “Top Ten Review” permeated the gathering:

1.       Systems for wildlife management on private lands differ within each country and between countries: extensively managing the wide open spaces of the Americas with free ranging wildlife; more intensive landowner and user-dominated cooperatives in human-populated Europe; inside fences of South Africa; and unfortunate places with active human livelihoods and minimal wildlife management.

2.       Biologists talk about landowners at their meetings and landowners talk about biologists at their meetings: both need to talk with each other! The Congress fostered interdisciplinary and creative thinking through interactive entertainment, sharing stories with a puppet, videotaping all sessions for future use, and plenary sessions with the entire body.

3.       The most positively talked about keynote address suggested using stories to explain science by adding emotions to information.

4.       Including “Spirit” in the Congress title was appropriate showing that positive spirits make differences and the lack of spirit creates problems.

5.       Good deeds should not be punished!

6.       If it pays, it stays: landowners need value, whether personal, cultural or economic, for wildlife to be encouraged. 

7.       Public ownership of wildlife on privately owned and operated lands creates mixed signals about authority, responsibility and management.

8.       When wildlife must rely on landscapes that are dominated by private lands (around 60% of Colorado and the US and greater in many places around the world), then landowners become the de facto manager with good or bad outcomes for society and the environment.

9.       Landowners care. 

10.     Landowners need to be functional partners in nature conservation.

Administrative outcomes from the Congress included a permanent international home and secretariat funded through Wildlife Ranching South Africa; the 9th meeting of IWRS is planned for September 2016 in Southern Africa; and the 10th meeting of IWRS is proposed for 2018 in conjunction with The Wildlife Society’s 6th International Wildlife Management Congress and will likely be held in South America.

Follow the outcomes and progress from the Congress through published abstracts, upcoming video outreach from the Internet of all sessions at http://tiny.cc/2014WildlifeCongress and under the 8th International Congress Category in http://LandHelp.info.

Dr. Mevin Hooten Received Award

Mevin B. Hooten, Assistant Unit Leader in the Colorado Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Unit and Associate Professor at Colorado State University, received the Young Investigator Award from the American Statistical Association, Section on Statistics and the Environment, at the 2014 Joint Statistical Meetings in Boston, MA.
This recognition is for his outstanding, innovative research on spatial and spatio-temporal statistical methodology for understanding complex dynamics of ecological processes; for excellent collaborations with ecologists and other environmental scientists; for exceptional early-career mentoring of students; and for service to the profession.

Congratulations Dr. Hooten!  

New study verifies more than 100,000 elephants in Africa killed in three years

New research led by Colorado State University has revealed that an estimated 100,000 elephants in Africa were killed for their ivory between 2010 and 2012. The study shows these losses are driving population declines of the world's wild African elephants on the order of 2 percent to 3 percent a year.
Landmark Analysis of Continent-Wide Poaching Toll
This study provides the first verifiable estimation of the impacts of the ongoing ivory crisis on Africa’s elephant populations to date, solidifying speculation about the scale of the ivory crisis. An average of 33,630 elephants per annum are calculated to have been lost over those three years, with preliminary data indicating unsustainable levels continued in 2013.
To quantify the poaching death toll, researchers drew on data and experience from a continent-wide intensive monitoring program. The most thoroughly studied site was Samburu in northern Kenya where every elephant birth and death over the past 16 years has been recorded. The intensive population study was conducted in a project founded by George Wittemyer of Colorado State University with Save the Elephants, and in association with the Kenya Wildlife Service.
Wittemyer is lead author of the new report and a professor in the Department of Fish, Wildlife and Conservation Biology at CSU’s Warner College of Natural Resources. He has dedicated his scientific career to understanding and conserving one of Earth’s most intelligent and charismatic species.
"Witnessing the killing of known elephants, some that we have followed since they were born, has been terrible," said Wittemyer. "Our data has become the most sensitive barometer of change during this poaching epidemic.  We needed to quantify the scale of killing and figure out how to derive rigorous interpretation of poaching rates."

Quantifying the scale of killing
The researchers determined illegal killing in Samburu began to surge in 2009. This surge was directly correlated to a more than quadrupling of local black-market ivory prices paid to poachers and tripling in the volume and number of illegal ivory seizures through Kenyan ports of transit. The data also show that the destination of the illegally trafficked ivory increasingly shifted to China.
The team used the intensive study of the Samburu elephants as a Rosetta stone to translate less detailed information from 45 elephant populations across Africa to estimate natural mortality and illegal killing rates to model population trends for the species. The UN-mandated continental Monitoring of Illegal Killing of Elephants (MIKE) programme establishes cause of death for each elephant carcass found in these sites, and this has provided the best measure of poaching pressure.
Species Decline
Over the last decade, the proportion of illegally killed elephants has climbed from 25 percent to between 60 percent and 70 percent. Such figures cause conservationists alarm, as the study shows over 54 percent is a level of poaching that elephant birth rates are unable to overcome and will lead to population decline.

”This study helps make sense of the challenge faced by thousands of rangers working on the frontlines to protect elephants and other species across Africa,” said co-author Julian Blanc of the Convention on the International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) secretariat. “It also highlights the importance of the accurate collection of data as part of their day-to-day patrol work, which is essential to understand and communicate the true proportions of the threat that elephants face.”
To establish figures rather than proportions, two types of model were used. One focused on the elephant populations with the best information and used them as an indicator for the conditions in their region of Africa. The other used proxy variables such as Chinese consumption rates and a corruption index to estimate illegal killing in 300 sites. Both came to similar conclusions.
While the timing and magnitude of declines differed by region in Africa, with central Africa experiencing the worst levels, all regions of Africa are facing unsustainable levels of ivory poaching with the killing peak in 2011 equating to more than 40,000 elephant deaths.
“It's a complex situation for elephants across Africa, with some populations – such as in Botswana – still increasing. History has taught us that numbers alone are no defense against attrition from the ivory trade, and this new work confirms that elephant numbers are decreasing in East, Central and Southern Africa,” said co-author Iain Douglas-Hamilton, founder of Save the Elephants.
The research paper, "Illegal killing for ivory drives global decline in African elephants," is published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States.  

Support Wittemyer's Elephant Conservation Research

Posted on Aug. 18, 2014 by This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.