Conservationist Roundup: Warming Wildlife + Vanishing Cisco

Report lists problems and cures for greater sage grouse:

A new study confirms what sportsmen have known for years: The solution to plummeting greater sage grouse populations is closer monitoring of private lands development in birds' habitat range.

Researchers with the U.S. Forest Service and U.S. Geological Survey looking at grouse habitat across 11 states found occupancy rates were many times higher where human development was lower, especially such vertical structures as cell phone towers and power lines.

The highest population densities were on federal lands where regulation is tighter. However, researchers also know the greater sage grouse will soon be listed as threatened because they depend on the vast amount of adjacent private lands to maintain populations.

The report bolsters the support for the recent grant of $21.8 million by the U.S. Department of Agriculture for farmers who tailor development to grouse needs. That builds on the two-year Sage Grouse Initiative which provides $112 million to 11 Western states.

Warming has wildlife on the move:

Maybe those hunting and fishing leases south of the border aren't such a good investment. A study of more than 1,500 species over the last 40 years shows them moving northward to escape warming temperatures at a much faster rate than previously thought. The report published in Science last week noted species have climbed an average of 40 feet higher and 10.3 miles closer to the poles per decade. Naturally, wildlife in the hottest areas showed the greatest movement.

By 2100, 30 to 70 percent of cisco populations could be extirpated in Wisconsin due to climate change," said Sapna Sharma, a researcher at the UW-Madison Center for Limnology and the lead author of the study. "Cisco are much more at risk due to climate change rather than interactions with exotic species."

Goodbye to the Wisconsin cisco?

Also on the warming front: A study by the University of Wisconsin says up to 70 percent of cisco - a deep-dwelling forage species critical to game fish - could be driven from Wisconsin lakes by warming temperatures.

This on top of studies confirming warming is at the heart of the decline of moose in Minnesota.

So just how far north will we have to go to find decent hunting and fishing?