Thursday, November 20, 2014

National Furbearer Harvest Database Aids State Fish and Wildlife Agencies in Monitoring Trapping and Conserving Furbearer Species

Ever wonder how many beavers are harvested in the U.S. each year via regulated trapping?  Or maybe you want to know how many were harvested in the southeastern U.S. or just in Mississippi? The Association of Fish & Wildlife Agencies (AFWA) has your answer. 

AFWA’s U.S. Furbearer Conservation Technical Work Group has collected data from state fish and wildlife agencies annually on harvest totals and value of pelts for furbearers since 1970.

The National Furbearer Harvest Database is the only collective source of information about 28 furbearer species including badgers, coyotes, four species of fox, raccoons, four species of skunk, otters, weasels, wolverines and more.

Furbearer populations are often cyclic and impacted by weather conditions and prey species abundance. Furbearer harvests are also heavily correlated with fur value. When the value of pelts is up, harvest will likely increase and vice-versa.

With these factors taken into account, researchers, wildlife managers and many others with an interest in the conservation of furbearers are able to use the National Furbearer Harvest Database to monitor population trends over time at the state, regional and national levels.

Contrary to public perception, furbearer harvest through regulated, law-enforced trapping is good for conservation and sustaining wildlife health and diversity. Trapping is one of the most important ways that biologists can collect data about wildlife including information about wildlife diseases, such as rabies, that can also affect people.

In addition, states rely on trapping to relocate wildlife populations to areas where they once lived but may no longer be found. The restoration of river otters in Missouri was made possible through the use of trapping as a management tool.

In the U.S., during a strict trapping season, licensed trappers are allowed to harvest specific furbearing species that are abundant or overly abundant in their habitats. The trapping season lasts a few months yearly, primarily during the fall and winter. States use this information from the database to help inform their annual trapping season and harvest limits to ensure population sustainability. 

The National Fur Harvest Database now includes information from the 2012-2013 trapping season. To view the database and to learn more about AFWA’s work in conserving furbearer species, use this link http://bit.ly/AFWAfurbearer.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Recently Released... Taking Action: A Progress Report of the National Fish, Wildlife and Plants Climate Adaptation Strategy

In partnership with state agencies and federal partners, the Association of Fish & Wildlife Agencies released a progress report describing actions taken that collectively address impacts and future threats to fish, wildlife, and plants from climate change. The report follows up on the publication in March 2013 of the National Fish, Wildlife, and Plants Climate Adaptation Strategy.

Fish, wildlife, and plant resources provide important benefits and services to Americans every day, including jobs, income, food, clean water and air, building materials, storm protection, tourism and recreation. For example, hunting, fishing and other wildlife-related recreation contribute an estimated $120 billion to the nation’s economy every year. 

The progress report, entitled “Taking Action,” uses 50 examples of ongoing and completed conservation projects to demonstrate the tangible steps that federal, state and tribal natural resource agencies are taking to safeguard fish, wildlife and plants in a changing climate. Across the country, the agencies responsible for managing fish, wildlife and plants are working with partners and stakeholders to take concrete steps to collectively address the impacts and future threats of climate change.

The cases described in the report cover a diverse array of geographies and approaches for taking action for wildlife, from mapping out central Appalachia’s most resilient forests and streams to collecting data on Alaska’s changing coast to help communities make conservation management decisions. Other examples include:

  • Using conservation easements and other tools to protect more than 250,000 acres from White Mountain National Forest in New Hampshire to Moosehead Lake in Maine, providing a connective corridor of contiguous, climate-resilient habitat
  • Installing engineered log jams and planting native trees to protect remnant spawning habitat for salmon in the Quinault River on Washington’s Olympic Peninsula while also stabilizing streams against erosion.
  • Providing online training for natural resource managers and conservation professionals across the nation on the fundamentals of climate science and tools for climate adaptation. 


“The state perspective has been integral to shaping the Taking Action progress report. The report builds on and documents many of the partnership efforts underway to move climate adaptation from planning to action across the country” said Kevin Hunting, Chief Deputy Director of the California Department of Fish and Wildlife. “While the report lays out priority actions being taken now, there is still much more to be done to comprehensively address wildlife and fisheries adaptation to a rapidly changing climate.”


The examples highlighted in this report are not a comprehensive accounting of what has been accomplished, but rather illustrate the diversity of projects, scales of planning, and partnerships that can and are being be utilized across the natural resource management sector to respond to the impacts of climate change. These challenges include changing species distributions and migration patterns, the spread of wildlife diseases and invasive species, the inundation of coastal habitats with rising sea levels, changing productivity of our coastal oceans, and changes in freshwater availability.

Development of the original strategy was guided by an innovative partnership of federal, state and tribal fish and wildlife conservation agencies in response to a 2010 call by the U.S. Congress for a national, government-wide climate adaptation strategy to assist fish, wildlife, and plants. The strategy’s implementation is coordinated through the Joint Implementation Working Group, which is co-led by Interior’s U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the Department of Commerce’s National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the Great Lakes Indian Fish and Wildlife Commission and the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (representing state fish and wildlife agencies).

The Joint Implementation Working Group, which includes representatives from 15 federal agencies, five state fish and wildlife agencies and one inter-tribal commission, oversaw development of the “Taking Action” Progress Report with support from the Association of Fish & Wildlife Agencies. 

The National Fish, Wildlife and Plants Climate Adaptation Strategy and the “Taking Action” Progress Report can be found on the web at www.wildlifeadaptationstrategy.gov.

Monday, November 10, 2014

AFWA Releases Concept Paper on "Applying the North American Model of Wildlife Conservation to Herpetofauna"


State fish and wildlife agencies are charged with managing all wildlife including amphibians and reptiles and the habitats on which they depend, and in recent years, this responsibility has grown.

Native amphibians and reptiles (i.e., herpetofauna) have long been used in unique ways relative to other vertebrates in the public trust—for research, education, food consumption, skins and live uses such as pets, bait, hobbyist collection, captive breeding and photography. However, many of these uses are not closely tracked, and thus, sustainability of such harvest may not be known.

Given that the global human population is still growing, and in combination with continued habitat loss and fragmentation and the emerging threats of disease and climate change, state, provincial and territorial fish and wildlife agencies need more tools to ensure the sustainability of herpetofaunal species and communities. One such tool already exists in the North American Model of Wildlife Conservation.

The Association of Fish & Wildlife Agencies' Amphibian and Reptile Subcommittee produced a concept paper, Applying the North American Model of Wildlife Conservation to Herpetofauna, which provides guidance using the framework of the Model to ensure sustainable use of these resources. Following review by seven AFWA committees, the paper was advanced to AFWA’s Business Meeting and unanimously approved in September 2014.






Spadefoot toad photo courtesy of George Andrejko, Arizona Game and Fish Department

Thursday, November 6, 2014

National Conservation Leadership Institute: Cohort 9 Fellows Complete Their 1st Residency

The 36 Fellows of NCLI Cohort 9 completed their first residency on October 15 at the National Conservation Training Center (NCTC) in Shepherdstown, WV. In addition to the tremendous courage, dedication and hard work demonstrated by the Fellows themselves, their success was made possible by the efforts of the NCLI Board, faculty, staff and peer coaches.

The NCLI’s first residency format is engaging, experiential and challenging to existing held assumptions. Cohort 9 met these challenges head on with intense inquiry, strength of purpose, resolute courage and a willingness to adopt new approaches.

The cohort’s development process will continue as they work within their peer groups over the next seven months towards a greater understanding of how to help their organizations thrive in the complex environment they face. They, like previous cohorts, are committed to learning this new approach to leadership to enhance their organizations problem solving capacity.

Cohort 9’s journey will continue throughout the year and will culminate in May 2015 with a four-day second residency at the National Park Service’s Albright Training Center, near the rim of the Grand Canyon.


For more information about the NCLI, go to www.conservationleadership.org



Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Regional Representative Changes on AFWA's Executive Committee

The Association of Fish & Wildlife Agencies announces two changes in Ex Officio voting members on our 2014-2015 Executive Committee as a result of the recent Midwest and Northeast Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies regional meetings. 

Ed Boggess, Director of Minnesota Department of Natural Resources’ Division of Fish and Wildlife Resources, is now serving as the Midwest Ex Officio voting member on the Association of Fish & Wildlife Agencies’ Executive Committee. Cathy Sparks, Assistant Director for Natural Resources of the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management, is now representing the Northeast state fish and wildlife agencies.

The Executive Committee determines all matters not especially provided for in AFWA’s Constitution and Bylaws until specially passed upon at a regular meeting; it employs and assigns duties to the Executive Director and subordinate employees; and it approves the annual budget. AFWA’s Officers and Executive Committee will meet in Washington, DC in mid-December.