Wildlife and the Trump Border Wall


With one graceful leap out of the water, the jaguar latched on to the neck of its victim and surrendered it unconscious using its powerful jaw. The crocodile was in complete and utter alarm due to the incredible hunting abilities of the jaguar (National Geographic, n.d.). Today it is a rare to witness this breathtaking species in the southwestern United States. The jaguar is currently listed in the United States as one of the most imperiled species because of a predator removal program in the 1900’s that treated jaguars as game (Eisenberg, 2014). In 2016 a jaguar was spotted in Arizona, providing hope that a few jaguars may be established in the southwestern U.S. This sighting suggests that the animal crossed the border from Sonora, Mexico to the U.S. This jaguar, now known as El Jefe, may be one of the last remaining jaguars in the U.S, creating an urgent need for conservation of this iconic species in the borderland regions (Bruillard, 2016). El Jefe was photographed north of the border when he likely crossed through a small gap in the border wall to get to the Huachuca Mountains in southeastern Arizona (Schyler, 2017). Continue Reading

Nature Reserves for Combating Rusty Patched Bumblebee Decline

The rusty patched bumblebee, Bombus affinis, is a keystone species in grasslands and tallgrass prairies in the Upper Midwest and Northeast of the US and is known for their workers and males donning a rusty, reddish patch on their back (U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service [FWS], 2017). Through pollination, this bumblebee species aids in the creation of seeds and fruits that feed other wildlife (FWS, 2017).  Without the rusty patched bumble bee, plants such as Dutchman’s breeches could not reproduce efficiently (Macior, 1970), resulting in their decline and the decline of species that depend on those plants for food such as ant species that enjoy the seeds of Dutchman’s breeches (The Pennsylvania State University, 2002). Rusty patched bumblebees were abundant 20 years ago, but since then their numbers declined to less than 90% of their original number (Fears, 2017, para. 1; Greshko, 2017, para. 2). Because of its drastic decline, it was deemed endangered by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS,  2017; Fears, 2017; Greshko, 2017). The decline of the rusty patched bumblebee is due to habitat loss where most grasslands and prairies were degraded or converted for human use such as cities, farms, or roads. Bumblebees need their habitat to provide proper nectar, pollen, nesting sites, and overwintering sites for hibernating queens (FWS, 2017). Other significant factors of bee decline include pesticides, pathogens, and climate change.

The rusty patched bumblebee is known for it’s brown fur on the back. (Image from The Xerces Society)

Continue Reading

Slowing the Decline of the Bombus

North American Bombus Pollinates a Vibrant Flower.


Alexander Neuzil, Science and Biochemistry

Chase Balayo, Building Construction Technology

Eli Lagacy, Enviornmental Science


When we think of our favorite apple, we typically do not associate the image with a

school-aged child precariously perched among the uppermost branches, balancing a pot of pollen

in one hand, while holding a paintbrush in the other hand to paint each individual bud with

pollen.  We don’t usually envision hundreds of farmers walking blossom to blossom, hand

pollinating each individual flower one at a time, hoping that it bears fruit that can be sold at a

market.  As far-fetched an image this is, it’s the reality that is happening right now in China.

Goulson (2012) provides such an example in an article he published in early 2012.  In his article,

Goulson describes how declines in natural pollinators in southwest China due to excessive

pesticide use, and the destruction of natural pollinator habitats, has led to the farmers, and their

children, being forced to hand pollinate the apple and peach trees that grow in that region.  He

goes on to describe what a market without bees could look like, describing the lack of berries,

apples, peas, beans, melons, and tomatoes all of which depend on pollinators such as bees to

thrive (Goulson, 2012).  Nearly 75 percent of crops that are grown globally for consumption by

humans require the services of pollinators to ensure adequate yields (Potts et al., 2010).

Furthermore, the sheer demand by consumers for these crops has skyrocketed in the last half

century, on average doubling over that time span (Goulson, 2012).  Potts et al. (2010) indicates

that the steady increase of crop cultivation occurred from 1961 onward (Potts et al., 2010).

Meanwhile Goulson (2012) also indicates that a combination of increased caloric intake per

person increased nearly 30 percent, and the doubling of the worldwide human population from

just over three billion in 1961 to just over seven billion in 2011 has produced an added strain to

pollination services, such as the bumble bee, as there are not enough pollinators to go around

(Goulson 2012; US Census Bureau).  These trends coupled with the decline of pollinators due to

the combination of several factors, including pathogens, pesticides, and habitat loss can have

serious negative impacts to commercial production of crops which are necessary for food

diversity and production.  (Grixti, Wong, Cameron, & Favret 2009). Continue Reading

Trump’s border wall will destroy possibility of the return of jaguars to Southwest

Emily Hartmann – Natural Resource Conservation

Jonathon Curreri – Building and Construction Technology

Matthew  Cornacchia – Natural Resource Conservation

Benjamin Morse – Building and Construction Technology

In 2011 scientists established a camera monitoring system in the Santa Rita Mountains of Arizona intending to capture imagery of mountain lions. After checking the tapes, the wildlife biologists discovered something they never could have imagined: a lone wandering jaguar. Excited, they rushed to set up more cameras throughout the area to observe this majestic and elusive animal. This spotted bachelor, named “El Jefe”, continually maintained a home in the mountains of Arizona for five years. His popularity in the media made him a local celebrity. After all, the mysterious Panthera onca species once roamed the deserts and mountains of the southwestern United States in New Mexico, Arizona, Texas and southern California but is now a rare sight. Unfortunately, the pressures on these populations due to human development and hunting caused the species to go extinct in the United States in the 20th century, with the remaining populations congregating in northern Mexico (Northern Jaguar Project, 2010). The range of the jaguar decreased by 40% due to anthropogenic effects. (Hunter, 2017) In recent years, conservationists observed jaguars wandering through the southwestern United States but none maintained a permanent residence. El Jefe gave conservationists hope that the species could return to the area and fully restore this precious ecosystem (Milberg, 2017). Continue Reading

Trump’s Proposed Border Wall Is Bad News For Wildlife

Mule deer stopped by pedestrian fencing at the U.S.-Mexico border


Emily Brown (Environmental Science and Geography)

Gabriella Saloio (Environmental Science)

Dylan Giles (Building and Construction Technology)

Robert Golden (Urban Forestry)

On November 16, 2016, a motion-detection camera from the U.S. Bureau of Land Management captured a rare image in the Dos Cabezas Mountains of Arizona. Displayed prominently in the foreground of the photograph was the unmistakable yellow and brown speckled coat of a jaguar. This jaguar sighting was the second in the last four months and the seventh since 1996, leading scientists to believe the population might re-establish in the U.S. after more than a century of decline (Davis, 2017, para. 10). Ironically, however, the photograph was taken one week after the election of President Donald Trump, whose promise of constructing a border wall between the United States and Mexico would prevent this endangered animal from entering the country (Davis, 2017, para. 18). Though the jaguar’s persistence in the U.S. is of concern to scientists, this is only one of many species threatened by the proposal to build an impermeable border wall (Lasky, Jetz, & Keitt, 2011, p. 673). Continue Reading

Reducing Wind Energy-Related Mortality in Threatened Raptors

Wind turbines pose a greater threat to threatened species, like the California condor.

Wind turbines pose a greater risk to threatened species, like the California condor.

Sheridan Devlin- Environmental Science

Rebecca Haber- Pre-Veterinary Science


Rehabilitators took California condors into custody in order to secure their population in the 1980s (Avants, 2016). Recently they released Condor AC-4, a male in the California Condor Recovery Program, back into the wilderness. AC-4 fathered the first captive-born chick and through controlled breeding in captivity, the number of California condors rose from 22 to 435 (Avants, 2016). After spending 30 years in the San Diego Zoo Safari Park, rehabilitators finally gave him a clean bill of health and decided he was fit to return to the wilderness again after blood levels indicated low lead content (USFWS, 2016). AC-4 serves as a reminder that the California condor’s population is still slowly recovering. This threatened species still requires protection, and wind energy–lauded for its environmental benefits–could ironically and unintentionally lead to their extinction (Platt, 2013). Continue Reading

The Race Against Time: Threatened polar bear habitat under attack from climate change

Kasey Tenggren, Bachelor of Science in Earth Systems

Christopher O’Brien, Bachelor of Science in Turfgrass Science and Management

Katy Ziemlak, Bachelor of Science in Natural Resource Conservation


Imagine you live in a small neighborhood on an island that can only be accessed through one boat off the coast of the mainland. This boat operates on a normal schedule from September until early spring in April or May. You rely on these months and this boat’s schedule to get supplies you will need to survive on your island each year. From early spring until September the captain of this boat discontinues travel back and forth to the island each year to satisfy the persistence of their spouse. You see, the island transportation doesn’t pay well and their spouse wants them to get a better job during the summer months. For your whole time living on this island you learned how to adjust to the Captain’s schedule and make appropriate accommodations to gather the food, supplies, and other necessities you need to survive through those months. However, with further worsening of the economy the Captain’s spouse  requests they work their other job all the way into September this year. This means you and your family are on the island for an additional month with dwindling supplies. You’re forced to eat and use less in order to conserve what energy and supplies you have. At least it’s just this one year before you can adjust to the Captain’s change in schedule. Now imagine you can’t adjust because of the impromptu timing of the Captain’s cancellation. Imagine every year you get to the end of the summer, the end of August, and you find your supplies thinning, your energy withering, and your body getting weaker. This is how polar bears have lived for the past several years. Unlike you and your family, polar bears are incapable of evolving to fit their environment so quickly. Your accessibility to the boat is representative of polar bear’s accessibility to the vital sea-ice they rely on. Continue Reading

Importance of Polar Bear Deterrence

Importance of Polar Bear Deterrence

Sandra Chen (Animal Science)

Shayne Bradford (Urban Forestry)

Sam English (Building and Construction Technology)

NatSci 397A Professional Writing

Professor Evan Ross


            Jakub Moravec was awoken one night while asleep in his tent on a remote arctic island. A polar bear had entered his tent and was clawing at his back Continue Reading

Reducing the impacts of climate change to help the decline of the population of polar bears


Tim Griffin – BCT

Christian Boucher – NRC

One of the largest mammals in the arctic, the polar bear, may not be around for too much longer, as climate change is slowly melting away their habitat and forcing them to move more inland and come into contact with humans more often. The polar bear is one of the most elegant but dangerous animals on the face of the planet. We may enjoy looking at these creatures from afar, but how would you feel if you saw one of these creatures in your own backyard? It’s a very frightening thought and often the situation ends in death whether it be human or polar bear. Usually, the polar bear has to be lured out and tranquilized, and sometimes  euthanized, in order to be taken out of human areas. Polar bears can display aggressive behavior, especially since they are coming into residential areas, starving and looking for food.  

The degradation of sea ice levels as a result of global warming is causing polar bear populations to decline. This is a huge problem for the environment and humans alike. Due to the polar bears habitat melting away, the population is experiencing negative effects on their health. Polar bears are reproducing two to five times less now than the 1980s and 90s because they can’t put on body weight like the previous generation used to. This is causing polar bears to spend more time on land, where there is hardly any food for them there. The only food that they could access on land are small creatures, dead carcuses, and disposed human food. In fact, they are 30 to 40 kilograms less in weight now than they were in the 1980s (Black, 2012). Polar bears do come to land to rest sometimes, but it isn’t where they should mainly be spending their time. Specifically, Chelsea Harvey has stated in her article that bears in the Chukchi sea region between Russia and Alaska are spending more time on land in the summers. The amount of summer sea ice continues to decline for polar bears everywhere. We can summarize that the more time polar bears get to spend on sea ice, the more time they get to fatten up.

The melting sea ice is impacting not just polar bear populations, but also the population that they hunt. Polar bears like to feed on large creatures for their fuel source, such as bearded seals and walruses. These populations are being forced to move more offshore where the water is too deep for polar bears. Polar bears feed on sea ice that is relatively close to land and not that deep, so this is a problem for them. Their food is moving too far offshore for them.  

Human-caused deaths of polar bears could be on the rise since they are staying on land for longer periods of time. Human curiosity is a very difficult thing to deal with in regard to population control. If a polar bear wanders into a community, someone may shoot it purely for sport or to protect their residency. Another concern for polar bears due to climate change is the lack of proper denning areas . The melting sea ice also means a smaller depth in snow, where they often bury themselves and place branches and whatever they can find on top.

One of the biggest problems that scientists face is the lack of public support. There are small relief funds out there that help protect polar bears, but besides scientists and small groups such as Polar Bears International, not many people are concerned with protecting these magnificent creatures. Unfortunately, it’s hard to get people to care about subjects that do not directly affect them. But if the word gets out to enough people, there will be that much more known support. Just getting the word out that climate change is real and affecting everyone is key. A lot can be done if the common public opinion believes that climate change needs to be addressed. Reducing our Greenhouse gas emissions is necessary for this to happen.

As a reader, you should care about the decline of the population of polar bears. Even if you are a thousand miles away from them, you should still be concerned because climate change is affecting everybody. Polar bears are one of the many examples of the negative effects of climate change. Climate change is caused by the rise of Greenhouse gas emissions due to the unsustainable living by humans. An example of the unnecessary contribution to climate change is our use of fossil fuel usage throughout everyday life. As opposed to using oil and gas to run our cars, we could use sustainable alternatives such as hybrid cars and solar power.  This means that the Earth’s temperature is rising and it is causing the arctic’s ice and glaciers to melt at an alarming rate.

In turn, the oceans sea levels are rising due to the melting sea ice. To put it in context, the city of Miami, Florida has the potential to be underwater in the next 50 years. Thousands of families along the country’s coasts may soon be forced to relocate more inland, and places where there were once homes and businesses may soon be underwater. This is bad for both the habitats for humans and for animals. There are many other animals besides polar bears that will have the potential to go extinct. If you are a human and are aware of the severity climate change poses, you should be concerned about preventing it.

If you live in one of the many towns of the arctic region, the issue of the polar bear population declining is especially concerning. The loss of sea ice due to climate change would cause the bears to migrate inland and onshore, making them easier targets for hunters and poachers. Not only from hunting, but in self-defense situations, polar bear’s lives are taken, thus increasing their mortality rate. The further they move inland, the closer they get to human societies where these self defense situations may take place.

We recognize that climate change is inevitable and we can only take preventative measures to reduce its impacts, so for now we can do things like provide safe breeding grounds and new laws to help protect the declining polar bear population. The arctic’s countries where the polar bears live in should provide safe, natural preserves where polar bears can roam around, live and breed peacefully. We can even provide them with food sources if their surrounding habitat isn’t abundant enough with them. Along with doing this, we can also place bans on hunting these creatures. Since the species is on the verge of decline, it doesn’t make sense that it should be ok to hunt them.  

        It is likely that, due to climate change, polar bear populations in certain areas will no longer exist.  Since climate change is causing the Earth to warm, sea ice is melting. Sea ice levels are one of the primary variables to the success of a polar bear population. As the warming trend continues, isolation of some polar bear populations will occur and will surely perish over time. It can be inferred that as the sea ice levels decrease, so does the quality of their habitat. All of which are caused primarily by global warming and climate change.

A study conducted in 1999 had reported that there had been a significant decrease in multilayer ice in the polar basin. Another study conducted in 2000 found that perennial ice cover in the Arctic is declining at a rate of 9% annually, stating that this may result in all of the multilayer ice cover to be depleted within the century. Loss of sea ice is causing polar bears, more often now than ever, to hunt in terrestrial areas and inland. Global warming has been causing sea ice levels to diminish which has caused the polar bears to be forced ashore to hunt and forage. “Numerous recent scientific papers have documented the consumption of terrestrial and freshwater foods by polar bears and suggest that such use is increasing. Some authors hypothesize that such observations are evidence that terrestrial foraging will play a major role in polar bear adaptation to global warming”. This quote stands to show that there is consensus amongst many scientists that global warming is impacting polar bears. As sea ice levels decline due to warming, the polar bears have been moving on land to hunt and have been utilizing their abilities to forage on terrestrial grounds.

Steven C. Armstrup, the chief scientist of Polar Bears International, has stated that if humans allow wild polar bear populations to decline, polar bears in zoos can provide greater benefits when it comes to breeding. (Armstrup, 2012) Zoo experts are fluent in small population management practices and understandings in genetics. By creating and supporting specific polar bear breeding programs, this could contribute to the genetic diversity of polar bears when it comes to reintroducing captive-bred bears to the wild. This would result in stronger, more resilient bears. Stronger genetics in the bears would also help assure their persistence as their habitat changes and could one day help and stabilize wild polar bear populations.

Our proposal is that if we can begin by cutting back our Greenhouse Gas emissions (GHG’s) and start combatting global warming, conserve sea ice levels to keep polar bears offshore and create captive polar bear breeding programs, polar bear populations may have a chance in existence outside of zoos in their natural habitat. As humans, we can reduce our GHG’s by making changes to our everyday lives, such as: recycling, driving less, using energy efficient products and even just by taking cooler, shorter showers. By reducing our GHG’s, this would eventually decrease the global heating trend and our planet would cool over time, preserving what sea ice would remain as the cooling occurs.

Until we are faced with some offset of climate change and global warming, the creation and support of captive bred polar bears would be ideal in the long run persistence of this species because they would result in stronger, more genetically diverse polar bears that could be used to repopulate the species in their natural habitat. A strong counter argument would be that global warming does not have any affect on the melting sea ice and is not the cause of the polar bear population declining, or that global warming even exists at all. It has often been argued that throughout the earth’s history, there have been natural changes in our earth’s climate. Currently, people who are skeptics are claiming that we are in the middle of one of these cycles. They think that we could do whatever we wanted and it would not matter because it is all part of a natural cycle.

Skeptics also refer to the recent weather that we have experienced in the past couple of years as evidence that climate change does not exist. In 2015, many areas around the country experienced record amounts of snowfall. In 2014, there was a resurgence in arctic sea ice as observed through NASA satellites. It simply doesn’t make sense that the Earth could still be that cold if climate change was occurring. However, there has been evidence that global warming is not caused directly by humans, but the rate in which is has been occurring has been drastically increased due to human habits. Carbon dioxide and methane are two of the primary GHG’s present in our atmosphere that are contributing to the warming.

Commercial cattle farming produces tons of methane annually and the usage of fossil fuels emits tons of carbon dioxide into our atmosphere annually, as well. Those two examples and wasteful lifestyles have all contributed in the increase of Greenhouse Gas emissions which cause the warming effect we are currently experiencing. Since atmospheric makeup can differ depending on area, different areas experience different effects of climate change such as varying weather patterns and unusual climatic patterns.

        In conclusion, consensus has been made that climate change and global warming are negatively impacting polar bear populations. Since their quality of habitat has deteriorated or, in some areas, their habitat is completely gone, polar bears have began hunting onshore and may become an issue for humans and their residencies. By offsetting our GHG’s and advocating for captive bred polar bear programs, we can help preserve and possibly rehabilitate the polar bear’s natural habitat and stabilize their plummeting population.  

Does Climate Change Pose a Significant Threat to Polar Bears?

Jules Galligan – Geology
Olivia Smith – Pre-Veterinary Science
Kathy Tran – Animal Science

A polar bear carries away it's meal for the day--a young cub. Image retrieved from: http://www.trvl.com/cache/img/c-1024-768/wp-content/uploads/2012/09/047-130136481-11.jpgA polar bear carries away it’s meal for the day–a young cub.
Image retrieved from: http://www.trvl.com/cache/img/c-1024-768/wp-content/uploads/2012/09/047-130136481-11.jpg

One cold, icy December afternoon, researchers scanned the Arctic ice below, hoping to track a polar bear they tagged a few months earlier expected to recently give birth to cubs. In the distance, a splash of red caught their eye–a polar bear presumably feasting on a previously killed seal. As they got closer they could not believe their eyes. To their dismay, the mother bear they had been tracking was ripping apart a clump of white fur–her own cub. The bear looked up as they approached, the cub’s head dangled from the mother’s mouth. This polar bear cannibalism was not their first encounter. In fact, studies show that more polar bears are practicing cannibalism more frequently for the purpose of securing reliable sources of nutrition (Amstrup, Stirling, Smith, Perham & Thiemann, 2006). Continue Reading