[Tweeters] The absense

Kim Thorburn kthorburn at msn.com
Sun Jul 28 10:44:43 PDT 2019

Hi Tweets,

As a fish and wildlife commissioner, I spend lots of time thinking about the population status of various wildlife species. It’s surprising how difficult (and controversial) population counts (i.e., taking a census) can be. It’s basically about what kind of sampling methodology is used and how statistical corrections are applied. Community science databases, like eBird, are certainly helpful.

In order to qualify for federal funding for wildlife species protection, states are required to develop a State Wildlife Action Plan (SWAP). Washington’s plan can be found at https://wdfw.wa.gov/species-habitats/at-risk/swap. In these reports, states identify species of greatest conservation need and the ecosystems they depend on. Our state identified 268 wildlife species of greatest conservation need in its 2015 SWAP. One stand-out to me in our report is that, while we know that the state populations of the identified species of greatest conservation need are low, many have little or no reliable population data, especially when it comes to trends.

These data are important because they determine where we concentrate limited resources for wildlife conservation. The concept behind SWAPs (in contrast to endangered species protection that focuses on recovery of species whose populations are already on life support) is habitat and ecosystems protection and restoration in order to prevent endangered and threatened population status.

Adequate funding for the work of SWAPs is a huge challenge. The traditional North American model of wildlife conservation funding relies on hunters and fishers to support game species conservation. There is very little dedicated funding for other wildlife species. The Recovering America’s Wildlife Act (RAWA) was just re-introduced in Congress. If passed, it would supplement the current federal funding programs for game species conservation with designated state grants to support the conservation work for the diverse species of greatest conservation need.

At a recent commission meeting, we reviewed the status of the Oregon silverspot butterfly that has been federally and state listed as endangered since the end of the 20th century. (It is extirpated in Washington.) It has very particular habitat requirements, Pacific coastal prairie, a habitat that is greatly desired by humans for development and alteration. Its recovery raises sticky societal questions about whether we’re willing and able to give up certain environmental alterations, especially as the human population grows.

Last June, I attended a conference in Ashland, OR and learned about pollinator communities. These communities have a coordinated effort to create residential and public gardens to support pollinator species as well as minimize poisons. These can be quite successful for generalist habitat species like honeybees. The specialists like the Oregon silverspot or migrants like the western monarch butterfly face much greater needs for survival.

One thought aabout raptors: Lead ammunition continues to be a human source of lead in the environment and a source that can expose wildlife, especially scavengers. Non-toxic ammunition is available for many but not all types of guns but it tends to be more expensive than traditional lead ammunition. Conservationists need to support a move to non-toxic ammunition. While it is unclear how much lead toxicity impacts most raptor species populations, it is seen in individual animals and continues to be a concern for California condor recovery.

If we’re going to preserve biodiversity as the human population grows, we need to be strategic in our advocacy. I believe that support for RAWA is critical. Doing what we can to minimize environmental pollutants is important. Finally, there should be more emphasis on ecosystem protection and restoration than fighting about saving one endangered species at a time.

Spokane, WA

Kim Marie Thorburn, MD, MPH

From: Tweeters <tweeters-bounces at mailman11.u.washington.edu> on behalf of HAL MICHAEL <ucd880 at comcast.net>
Sent: Saturday, July 27, 2019 12:28:24 PM
To: Diane Weinstein <diane_weinstein at msn.com>; Tweeters <tweeters at u.washington.edu>
Subject: Re: [Tweeters] The absense

Come down here, we have slugs galore. And some fat garter snakes.

We have, in the four summers we have been here, always had an abundance of Bumblebees. At least two or three species and lots. They start with the rhodies and are now loving the lavender. Last year we had a lot of butterflies, especially Tiger Swallowtails. Probably more than I recall from 40+ years in western WA. Might see 5-10 on our Butterfly Bush. This year, I have seen maybe three or four in total.

Based on this one year only, I might ascribe the loss of the swallowtails to the month of snow in February. We'll see next year.

Hal Michael
Science Outreach Director, Sustainable Fisheries Foundation
Olympia WA
360-791-7702 (C)
ucd880 at comcast.net
On July 27, 2019 at 11:25 AM Diane Weinstein <diane_weinstein at msn.com> wrote:

In addition to fewer bees and other insects, I have also noticed a lack of slugs in my yard over the past few years, probably due to the hot weather. My yard used to be slug city. It is getting scary.

Diane Weinstein
From: Tweeters <tweeters-bounces at mailman11.u.washington.edu> on behalf of Paul Bannick <paul.bannick at gmail.com>
Sent: Saturday, July 27, 2019 8:29 AM
To: Nelson Briefer
Cc: tweeters at u.washington.edu
Subject: Re: [Tweeters] The absense


Thanks for bringing this up. This should be a huge concern for all of us. I too am noticing it.
For more information:


On Sat, Jul 27, 2019 at 7:23 AM Nelson Briefer < nrieferb at gmail.com<mailto:nrieferb at gmail.com>> wrote:
Dear birders and hawk watchers- why is it that Crazy Dave and I are the only one to observe ( and publish) the decline of raptors and insects. For well over a year, I have noticed a paucity of raptors in the sky. Now there is a paucity of bees and dragon flies. Folks- I am in the sky every day. Raptors cannot hide in the sky. Good day. Nelson Briefer - Anacortes- www.goshawktalker.blogspot.com<https://eur04.safelinks.protection.outlook.com/?url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.goshawktalker.blogspot.com&data=02%7C01%7C%7C1af1d2ca41994ea2d8ae08d712c8c099%7C84df9e7fe9f640afb435aaaaaaaaaaaa%7C1%7C0%7C636998525749590675&sdata=bOq%2Bc7rVPkRYGZMLJF6wUuFVpjdQoKHcJ4X6WyuTMtk%3D&reserved=0>
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