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Feature Articles
Editor's Note
Audubon View
Letters
Green Guru
Citizen Science
Incite
Earth Almanac
Reviews
One Picture
Field Notes
Briefs
Update: Fencing Match
Ready, Set, Swim!
Discoveries
Clean Cut
Good News
Scents and Sensitivity
On Guard

News Articles
Wildlife-safe wind energy; organic fish; more

 

Update
Fencing Match
Part of the nearly 700-mile fence along the U.S.–Mexican border may never be built. The 70-mile section would run through critical habitat, including the Sabal Palm Sanctuary, cutting off wildlife from the Rio Grande (see “No-Man’s Land,” May-June 2008). The Obama administration is reevaluating the wall, and eight U.S. representatives have asked that construction be suspended.—Michele Wilson
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Edwin Fortheringham

Ready, Set, Swim!
Stephanie Colburtle—named after Comedy Central’s Stephen Colbert—is arguably the most famous leatherback sea turtle ever, and she’s a loser. At least she didn’t win a 2007 race between 10 critically endangered turtles from their Costa Rican nesting grounds to their South Pacific foraging grounds. The annual contest draws attention to the turtles’ plight—tagging the animals, each named by a sponsor, with satellite tracking devices allows online audiences to follow a leg of their six-month, 6,000-mile journey. In 2008 the race website racked up four million hits and raised about $75,000. The high-tech monitoring has taught scientists more about turtles’ nesting and eating habits, which may lead to better-targeted conservation efforts. Check out this year’s two-week event, beginning April 15, here. —Kerri Fivecoat-Campbell 
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Discoveries
Courtesy Save the Albatross

Free Bird
Last year South African fisher-men began tying long red plastic streamers to their vessels to deter birds from grabbing baited hooks, which snag and drown 100,000 albatrosses in the region each a year. As a result, 85 percent fewer albatrosses died there in 2008 than the year before.

Tom Fayle/Science

Mob Scene
When our brains release serotonin, we feel relaxed. When locusts gather in groups, it triggers serotonin production, which within hours can turn these usually solitary insects into crop-destroying swarms. Scientists say the discovery could help reduce infestations. They have found that by blocking serotonin production in individual locusts, the insects never undergo the behavioral shift.

Natural History Museum, London

Let Them Eat Crab
If you can’t beat them, eat them. British researchers are trying to slow the Chinese mitten crab’s invasion of North American and European waters by whetting people’s appetite for the palm-size crustacean. The crab, which is named for its unusual furry claws, is already a popular dish in Asian restaurants.
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Courtesy Walt Disney World Resort

Clean Cut
How do you give an elephant a vasectomy? Veterinarian Mark Stetter wasn’t joking when he asked that in 2001. With funds and jumbo laparoscopic tools from Disney’s Animal Programs he pioneered a method for clipping bull elephants’ family jewels. The behemoths have stripped and toppled trees in some southern African game reserves, turning savanna into wasteland. Stetter hopes to keep herd numbers down and thus reduce culls. Last year his team snipped seven bulls in South Africa’s Pongola Game Reserve. Local rangers in helicopters spot the elephants, sedate them, and call in the vets, who prep the animals for the hourlong surgery by lifting them with a crane. Afterward, they’re roused with an antidote. “In less than five minutes they stand up and join their families,” says Stetter.—Justin Nobel 
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Good News
Karl Kaufmann/Panama Audubon Society

Olé Panama
The Panama Audubon Society and other environmental groups celebrated the addition of the Bay of Panama to the country’s National Protected Area System in February. The move will safeguard 210,000 acres of mudflats and flooded mangroves that provide critical habitat to 30 species of migrating shorebirds, including western sandpipers and willets. It will also help protect the area from urban sprawl, illegal dumping, and water contamination, and may benefit the harpy eagle.

Pockets Full of Change
It’s time to gather all those loose coins in your drawers and under your sofa cushions. Audubon and Toyota are calling on kids to join Pennies for the Planet, an annual campaign that raises funds for environmental causes. This year’s donations, collected through fundraisers, household chores, and other activities, will go directly to three critical Audubon projects: Project Puffin and the Seabird Restoration Program in Maine; Four Holes Swamp in South Carolina; and the Sagebrush Sea in Wyoming. Find more information at penniesfortheplanet.org.—Katherine Tweed
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UW-Madison Department of Botany

Scents and Sensitivity
Your great-grandmother’s roses really might have smelled sweeter. University of Virginia atmospheric scientist José Fuentes and colleagues have shown in a computer simulation that through chemical reactions, pollutants like smog can destroy floral scents. Under pre-industrial conditions, more than 80 percent of a snapdragon’s scent was detectable 3,280 feet away. At that distance today in an urban setting, less than 60 percent is measurable, and in highly polluted areas, only 30 percent of the aroma remains. This reduction could confuse pollinators like bees, which might suffer from longer searches for food, thereby impeding their ability to pollinate crops, says Fuentes. So while flowers are still a romantic gift for your sweetheart, these days they might not quite meet the bees’ needs.—Laura Shin
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Robin Sharrock

On Guard
When farmer Alan Marsh heard that foxes were decimating a fairy penguin colony on Australia’s Middle Island, he knew what to do: call in the sheepdogs. For years Marsh has protected his chickens with Maremmas, an Italian breed that has historically defended flocks from wolves, bears, and thieves. Now two of the shaggy dogs wander the penguins’ territory for two hours a day while the birds are out foraging. Scientists believe the pooches’ lingering scent deters foxes. As a result, the population, which dropped from 600 in 1999 to fewer than 10 in 2005, has rebounded to more than 100 birds. “From the very beginning this project has raised a few eyebrows,” says project manager Ian Fitzgibbon. “But it has been a really great success.” Local shearwater numbers have also jumped with the foxes kept at bay.—Katherine Tweed 
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