Nature Conservancy

Cooper McKim

Several dogs pat happily through snow-packed grass on Red Canyon Ranch in central Wyoming. It's backed by rolling hills and grazing cows. Maggie Eshleman, a Nature Conservancy restoration scientists, jumps out of her truck. She's interested in Red Canyon because of something that happened here nearly 20 years ago.

The Nature Conservancy just appointed Obama’s former Interior Secretary Sally Jewell as its new interim CEO.  The leadership change comes in the wake of an investigation into sexual harassment and misconduct at the organization. Several top executives were implicated and have stepped down, including the CEO and the President.

A Wyoming toad about to be released
Cooper McKim / Wyoming Public Radio

A wildlife refuge near Laramie is expanding by nearly 600 acres. The Mortenson Lake National Wildlife Refuge is one home to reintroduction efforts of the endangered Wyoming toad, whose population crashed in the mid-1970s. The amphibians have since been brought back to the area where they are beginning to breed in the wild.

WIKIMEDIA COMMONS

New research had found that the fatal brain illness, chronic wasting disease (CWD), has a direct impact on the population decline of white-tailed deer. University of Wyoming graduate student David Edmunds worked on the study and said the research shows the disease lowers the survival rate of female deer under the age of seven. As of right now, there is no way to manage the disease once introduced into a population of deer.

johnvillella

Not long ago, the bright-orange monarch butterfly was a common sight in Wyoming. Now, not so much. So conservation groups are enlisting Wyomingites to help track down how many are still migrating through.

Nature Conservancy Scientist Amy Pocewicz said the species is in serious decline because the forests where they overwinter in Mexico have been disappearing. The monarch was petitioned for possible listing as an endangered species in 2014 and the federal government is now a year overdue in making that decision. 

nature.org

Last week, President Obama issued a Presidential Memorandum to slow down the loss of wildlife habitat to human development. Governor Mead’s Natural Resources Policy Advisor, Jeremiah Reiman says the memo took Western states by surprise. 

“We do share frustration that it was developed without input from many of us.”

But he does hope the feds borrow from Wyoming’s approach to the greater sage grouse, which didn’t just seek to protect the bird, but its entire habitat.

Melodie Edwards

This summer, a Nature Conservancy Program called LEAF offered urban high schoolers the chance to live and work in the shadow of Heart Mountain north of Cody. The hope is to get the kids to love Wyoming so much they’ll come back for its colleges and its jobs in conservation. Wyoming Public Radio's Melodie Edwards has more.

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Wyoming's top 131 most vulnerable species are identified in a new study put together by the Nature Conservancy, Wyoming Game and Fish and the Wyoming Natural Diversity Database. Senior Zoologist Doug Keinath with the Diversity Database says the goal of the study was not to place blame, but instead to give the state a heads up before certain species require emergency rescue measures, the way the greater sage grouse has. 

He says the state should keep an especially close eye on amphibians.