Monday, August 28, 2006

Owls, Salmon, Salamanders in the News

Spotted Owls in Canada Almost Gone
One may be the loneliest number, but 17 is rapidly becoming one of the saddest. That's how many Northern Spotted Owls are left in Canada, and a recent decision by the federal environment minister all but guarantees that they will be the last of their kind in our country. - from an article by David Suzuki

Klamath Dams Stand Trial
“In their court documents, PacifiCorp essentially gives up the Klamath salmon fishery as doomed, largely as a result of their own facilities. We simply are not willing to give up and throw in the towel like that. Unlike PacifiCorp, we believe that this river is not a lost cause, and that the Klamath is restorable. I think that after the evidence is weighed, people will be able to see through PacifiCorp’s cynical strategy of futility,” Leaf Hillman, - Vice Chair of the Karuk Tribe

Environmental watchdog groups sue to protect recently discovered salamander species

In response to Fish and Game's ongoing neglect of a threatened salamander species, a lawsuit was filed yesterday in San Francisco state court by three conservation groups. In may 2005 a new species -the Scott Bar Salamander (Plethodon asupak) - was described by a group of herpetologists.

According to a press release "[The] scientific paper suggested separating it from the Siskiyou Mountains Salamander (P stormi). The latter species, found in greater numbers across a larger range than the new species, is listed as threatened under California’s Endangered Species Act. Many of the known sites of the new species have thus been protected from logging – until now. Rather than herald the discovery of a previously unknown species, DFG [The Department of Fish and Game] instead stripped known salamander populations of their protections, encouraging the logging of areas previously set aside as key habitat."

Joseph Vaile, of KS Wild says that “Fish and Game is playing dumb about the threats to the Scott Bar Salamander. They are saying ‘we don’t see the new Scott Bar Salamander on our list of threatened species, so we don’t need to protect them and we can now allow logging in areas that were protected last year,"said Vaile.

DFG failed to analyze whether the Scott Bar Salamander merits protection, even though within its tiny range little is known about where or in what numbers it exists. Only 37-64 sites (depending on if you ask the Fish and Wildlife Service or DFG) are known to be inhabited by the new species.

Scott Bar is located near the confluence of the Klamath and Scott rivers in Siskiyou County, California. The latin name asupak comes from the Shasta Indian name for Scott Bar. According to the scientific paper, the Karuk tribe which now lives in the area "refer to indicator species in their understanding of nature and viewed salamanders as having the specific function of water purifier".

The lawsuit was brought by the Environmental Protection Information Center, the Klamath-Siskiyou Wildlands Center and the Center for Biological Diversity.

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