Off the wire

Gulf corals in oil spill zone appear healthy

ON THE FLOOR OF THE GULF OF MEXICO -- Just 20 miles north of where BP's blown-out well spewed millions of gallons of oil into the sea, life appears bountiful despite initial fears that crude could have wiped out many of these delicate deepwater habitats. Plankton, tiny suspended particles that form the base of the ocean's food web, float en masse 1,400 feet beneath the surface of the Gulf of Mexico, forming a snowy-like underwater scene as they move with the currents outside the windows of a two-man sub creeping a few feet off the seafloor.

Read the complete story from The Associated Press.

Scientists lower Gulf health grade

ST. PETE BEACH, Fla. -- Six months after the rig explosion that led to the largest offshore oil spill in U.S. history, damage to the Gulf of Mexico can be measured more in increments than extinctions, say scientists polled by The Associated Press.
Read the complete story from The Associated Press.

UN: World's natural assets vital to policymaking

TOKYO -- Governments and businesses around the world need to recognize the immense economic value of preserving species and ecosystems and incorporate that into their decision-making, a U.N. report said Wednesday.
Read the complete story from The Associated Press.

Idaho won't manage wolves under ESA

BOISE, Idaho -- After talks with the federal government collapsed, Gov. C.L. "Butch" Otter ordered Idaho wildlife managers Monday to relinquish their duty to arrest poachers or to even investigate when wolves are killed illegally.
Otter rejected the wolf management Idaho has conducted for years as the federal government's "designated agent" after a U.S. District Court judge in Montana returned wolves to Endangered Species Act protections earlier this year.
Read the complete story from The Seattle Times.

The right to hunt and fish is on the ballot in four U.S. states

Worried that their pastime may get waylaid by a growing animal welfare movement, U.S. hunters and anglers in some states are seeking constitutional safeguards. When voters in Arizona, Arkansas, South Carolina and Tennessee go to the polls to cast their ballots in the congressional elections on Nov. 2, they will also be asked if they support making hunting and fishing constitutional rights.
Read the complete story from The Star Phoenix.

Pa. man recovering after Wyo. grizzly bear attack

DUBOIS, Wyo. -- A grizzly in Wyoming attacked a Pennsylvania elk hunter, leaving the man with bite injuries to the face, arm and top of the head that required surgery. Wyoming Game and Fish bear management supervisor Mark Bruscino says the man was hunting Wednesday northwest of Dubois when he encountered the bear about 10 yards away.
Read the complete story from The Associated Press.

Whale of a Trip: Humpback makes record migration

LONDON -- It wasn't love. It could have been adventure. Or maybe she just got lost. It remains a mystery why a female humpback whale swam thousands of miles from the reefs of Brazil to the African island of Madagascar, which researchers believe is the longest single trip ever undertaken by a mammal - humans excluded.
Read the complete story from The Associated Press.

Killer whales preying on Alaska sea otters
ANCHORAGE, Alaska -- A report by government scientists identifies killer whales as the No. 1 reason there are so few sea otters in southwest Alaska. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's proposed five-year, $15 million recovery plan for sea otters in the Aleutian Islands considered a slew of possible reasons for the perilously low numbers found in some areas.

Read the complete story from The Associated Press.