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Study Finds One in Three U.S. Species at Risk of Extinction

The Bobwhite Quail is one of 377 species in Arkansas which, due to habitat loss, are at risk of becoming extinct. (USFWS)
The Bobwhite Quail is one of 377 species in Arkansas which, due to habitat loss, are at risk of becoming extinct. (USFWS)
April 3, 2018

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – A new report warns that as many as one-third of wildlife species in America are in crisis but with funding, their recovery is possible.

The report, released jointly by the National Wildlife Federation, the American Fisheries Society and The Wildlife Society, finds that more than 150 U.S. species have already gone extinct and 500 additional species have not been seen in decades and could be extinct.

Bruce Stein, chief scientist and associate vice president of the National Wildlife Federation says while there are other causes, loss of habitat is the main reason many species across America are disappearing.

"Wildlife need habitat in order to survive," he notes. "As we have converted much of the natural habitat across America to other uses, that sort of put a squeeze on many of the species, particularly those that require very specialized habitats."

The groups are backing the Recovering America's Wildlife Act, a bipartisan measure pending in Congress that would dedicate $1.3 billion a year to fund state Wildlife Action Plans. Under the legislation, the Arkansas Wildlife Plan would receive about $16 million a year toward the conservation needs of 377 species and their habitats.

Trey Buckner, president of the Arkansas Wildlife Federation says restoring the depleted habitat of a single species can set off a chain of improvements for other wildlife species.

"It's what they are doing for the Monarch Conservation Coalition, and what they're doing with the Quail Initiative," he says. "On the game and fish end, if we could get the quail back restored and the Monarch conservation implanted and keep going, that's going to pick up some of the birds, some of the salamander species and some of the other species."

Stein says the effects of climate change pose a major threat to habitat and wildlife.

"There are many different cascading effects that increasing temperatures and changes in rainfall and precipitation are having on many species across the country and we're beginning to see species responding and declining as a result," Stein explains.

Funding for the Recovering America's Wildlife Act would come from an existing tax on energy and resource industries for the right to develop on federal lands.

Mark Richardson/Shaine Smith, Public News Service - AR