wildlife

With their bald heads, beady eyes, and habit of shredding messy roadkill, turkey vultures look like birds only a mother could love. But this week we all should look up and tip our hats at the key role they play in the natural world. Saturday September 5 is International Vulture Awareness Day.

Earth Notes: The Southwest’s Armored Anteater

Aug 26, 2015

With spikes rimming its head and spines flanking its body, the horned lizard of the West could be a fearsome sight, a sort of modern-day dinosaur. That is, if it were any larger than a human hand. 

thedrinkingbirdblog.com/

Two environmental groups have filed objections to a forest-thinning project designed to protect Flagstaff’s watershed from wildfire and flooding. The groups say the plan would have negative effects on the threatened Mexican spotted owl. Arizona Public Radio’s Ryan Heinsius reports. 

Melissa Sevigny

Pronghorn antelope are native to the American West. But the landscape they roam is increasingly fraught with peril. Highways and railroad tracks block their movement and make it difficult for pronghorn to find food, water and mates. Even simple cattle fences act as barriers. Now, wildlife biologists and volunteers have created a program to help pronghorn cross those boundaries.  

David Mikesic/AP

For the first time more than 30 years, the Navajo Nation Zoo is not exhibiting snakes. As Arizona Public Radio’s Ryan Heinsius reports, zoo officials made the decision to relocate the animals because many Navajos view them with deep suspicion.

Earth Notes: Returning Grass to the Grasslands

Jun 17, 2015

The back of its wings glinting rust-red in the sun, a ferruginous hawk scans the grasslands below for ground squirrels and jackrabbits, two choice meals. These hawks rely on broad vistas to catch prey. But shrubs and juniper trees have steadily invaded many of their hunting grounds in the Southwest.

AP Photo/The Avalanche-Journal, Josie Musico

The National Park Service is opposing a U.S. Senate bill designed to reduce the number of bison at the North Rim of Grand Canyon National Park. As Arizona Public Radio’s Ryan Heinsius reports, park officials say it would interfere with their own bison management study currently in the works.

Navajo Nation

Outgoing Navajo Nation President Ben Shelly is expected to sign legislation that will fund the construction of a large golden-eagle aviary. As Arizona Public Radio’s Ryan Heinsius reports, the move will expand a current program allowing tribal members to legally obtain the feathers of federally protected birds for ceremonial purposes. 

Photo by Steven Kazlowski

The advocacy group People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals is calling on a wildlife park near Williams to sever its relationships with three other animal facilities. As Arizona Public Radio’s Ryan Heinsius reports, those out-of-state businesses have all received citations from the federal government for animal-handling infractions.

The American beaver is an appealing animal, with dexterous paws, curious eyes and paddle-shaped tail. But, these rodents, the largest in North America, were nearly wiped out by the early 1900s as trappers sent mass quantities of the thick brown pelts back East for stylish top hats.

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