Animals/Wildlife

Bob Wick / U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

The greater sage grouse, a bird whose range spans 11 western states, including Colorado, will not be listed under the Endangered Species Act. Sally Jewell, the U.S. Secretary of the Interior, announced the decision in a video released on Twitter.

Jewell cited the efforts of land-owners and government in states like Colorado and Wyoming, who have invested proactively in plans to protect the sagebrush landscape, which she said was suffering from “death by a thousand cuts.”

Shelley Schlender / RMCR

Colorado's South Platte River basin is a powerhouse for crops and cattle. Massive reservoirs quench the region's thirst, with farm fields generally first in line. Wildlife? It's often last.

A small win-win though is giving waterfowl a little more room at the watering hole. It's a program that creates warm winter ponds for migrating ducks — then gives the water back, in time for summer crops.

Paul Bentzen, via Cameron Ghalambor

Evolution may take place much faster than scientists previously thought. New findings suggest that it’s possible some species could adapt quickly to survive a shifting environment, as in the case of climate change.

Researchers at Colorado State University found that when they took guppies from an area teeming with predators and placed them in an area with no predators, the fish showed changes in genes after just a few generations.

“We found that the chemical cue of a predator is enough to elicit a whole series of changes,” says Cameron Ghalambor, a biology professor at CSU and lead author of the study.

The greater sage grouse is a peculiar and distinctly Western bird. It's about the size of a chicken and about as adaptable as the dodo bird, which is to say it's not very adaptable at all — at least not in a human-driven time scale.

In biological terms, the greater sage grouse is perfectly adapted for its habitat: the rolling hills of knee-high silver scrub that's sometimes called the sagebrush sea. It's the oft-forgotten parts of the fast-changing West — The Big Empty, as settlers used to call it.

Courtesy of Sandy Scott

Sandy Scott has shot thousands of African wildlife. Of course, when she's shooting lions, cheetahs and elephants, it's with a Nikon.

"You know, a picture really is worth a thousand words," Scott said.

A member of Artist Ambassadors Against Poaching, the wildlife artist is hoping the sculptures she crafted using photos from a 2013 African safari will be worth a life.

Jennifer Kleffner / Colorado Parks and Wildlife

In mid-June, a wayward moose made an appearance on Colorado's eastern plains. It has been seen near the town of Crook.

In case you were wondering, moose don't live on Colorado's eastern plains. As Jennifer Churchill, a public information officer for Colorado Parks and Wildlife, points out, "there's not really good moose habitat out there."

Nonetheless, this moose, likely a yearling from Wyoming, has made its way to farm country. While it might stick out like a sore thumb amid cornfields and cattle grounds, moose visits in farm country aren't entirely unusual.

Boulder County Open Space

Boulder County plans to set aside another big chunk of land as open space. County Commissioners approved a 740 acre purchase of land west of U.S. 36 between Boulder and Lyons for $775,000.

Ron Stewart, director of parks and open space for the county, said the land is significant.

“All of the work that we’ve done over the years, looking, for instance, at things like biodiversity and natural plant communities, indicate that area of the north foothills is one of the most sensitive and important landscapes that we have in the open space system,” said Stewart.

Pulling Colorado's State Fish Back From The Brink

Jul 15, 2015
Mariah Lundgren / Platte Basin Timelapse, used w/ permission

Colorado's mountain streams are premier trout fishing destinations, but anglers aren't likely to reel in a greenback cutthroat trout. That's because until a few years ago, Colorado's state fish was on the brink of extinction.

"Last time we pretty much just focused on the pools, there wasn't much sitting in these faster areas," said biologist Josh Nehring as he wades up Bear Creek, a few miles outside Colorado Springs. "But it's just running so high this year."

Nehring is electrofishing: sending a current through the water to attract and stun the fish, making them easier to catch. Nehring hopes to find a few trout here to help establish many more elsewhere.

Stephanie Paige Ogburn / KUNC

A few miles away from Cameron Pass, at 9,500 feet in the mountains of Northern Colorado, Boyd Wright sloshes through the water on the edge of a swimming pool-sized pond. Wright, a biologist with Colorado Parks and Wildlife, is getting ready to go toad-hunting.

“I usually try to think back to my childhood and how I would go about catching a frog, which I did a lot as a kid,” said Wright.

Taking careful steps through the water, he cups his hand and grabs a male boreal toad. It’s fist-sized, black and shiny, and scared.

Wright flips a toad on his back, to get a look at his belly. It’s beautiful, with spots that look like a leopard print. He takes a photo for tracking purposes; each toad can be identified by his belly print, which is unique, like a fingerprint. The toad keeps chirping, sounding a little like an oversized cricket.

“He’s basically saying ‘hey, get your hands off me,’” said Wright.

We’re up at this site because this is the only place in all of Colorado where an effort to reintroduce boreal toads has worked.

The Triple Crown is one of the most difficult tests in sports: Three horse races over the course of just five weeks, culminating with the Belmont Stakes Saturday in Elmont, N.Y.

American Pharoah is favored to win, which would make him the first horse to capture the Triple Crown in 37 years. But his rivals have a key advantage: They've had extra time to rest, and that's led to some grumbling inside the sport.

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