Environment and Outdoors

Environmental news

GORHAM, Maine — Federal investigators are looking into the death of a 43-foot-long endangered right whale that was found off the coast of Maine with fishing gear wrapped around her body.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration says the adult female whale was found Friday near Boothbay with fishing gear ropes wrapped around her head, mouth, flippers and tail. She weighed about 45 tons.

The whale was towed to a Gorham farm. A necropsy was performed Sunday.

State wildlife officials say the deaths of three dozen juvenile herring gulls in Portland’s Deering Oaks Park over the past 3 weeks is not a cause for alarm.

Judy Camuso with the state Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife says die-offs like this are relatively common in wild birds, but most of the time occur in places away from the public. She says this type of mortality is typically seen in birds that nest in colonies, such as herring gulls.

Camuso says whatever is affecting the birds travels through the group.

Xerces Society / Via The Associated Press

Federal wildlife officials have made a formal recommendation that a bumble bee that was once quite common throughout eastern North America, including Maine, be listed as an endangered species.

Mark McCullough with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service says the range of the rusty patched bumble bee has decreased by 90 percent in the past decade. He says threats to the bee and other pollinators include loss of habitat, diseases and parasites.

By Michael Casey, The Associated Press
CONCORD, N.H. - Private wells across the Northeastern United States are drying up in the face of a punishing drought that has lasted for much of the summer.

Scores of homeowners from Vermont to Connecticut with shallow wells have in the past month found themselves depending upon relatives and neighbors for bottled water to bathe, cook, and drink. Those with much deeper, underground wells have largely been spared.

A.J. Higgins / MPBN

It was just over three weeks ago that President Barack Obama designated 87,000 acres of remote Maine forestland as a national monument. But there are lots of details to work out: Recreational access, potential fees and timber harvesting were among the top concerns expressed by a crowd of more than 150 people who met Thursday evening in Stacyville to discuss the future of the Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument.

Kathleen Masterson / Vermont Public Radio

Even as wind and solar energy have grown to nearly 10 percent of New England’s energy mix, they’re still not a reliable power source. Wind and sunshine can’t simply be turned on and off with a switch. 

AUGUSTA, Maine - Maine’s Drought Task Force says a severe drought continues in part of the state, with no relief in sight.

Patty Wight / MPBN

Open up a refrigerator and the chances of finding limp lettuce or soggy squash are pretty high. Here in the U.S., it’s likely that this food will find its way into the garbage — according to the USDA, at least 30 percent of the nation’s food supply is wasted.

A new program launched Wednesday by ecomaine aims to get that food out of the trash and give it a second life as compost or energy.

Campobello Whale Rescue

PORTLAND, Maine - Scientists say the ability of an endangered whale species to recover is jeopardized by increasing rates of entanglement in fishing gear and a resultant drop in birth rates.

The population of North Atlantic right whales has slowly crept up from about 300 in 1992 to about 500 in 2010. But a study in the journal Frontiers in Marine Science says the number of baby right whales born every year has steeply declined since 2010.

By Patrick Whittle, The Associated Press
PORTLAND, Maine - The black bear population in northern New England is growing, and wildlife managers say this year's hunt for the animals is especially important to control it.

The growing bear population has caused some confrontations between people and bears, especially during dry summers like this one. Dry weather prompts bears to search bird feeders and garbage cans for food.

Susan Sharon / MPBN

Interior Secretary Sally Jewell capped off a week-long celebration of the National Park Service with a visit to the nation’s newest national monument: Katahdin Woods and Waters in the heart of Maine’s North Woods. Jewell paddled several miles of the East Branch of the Penobscot River, took a hike in the woods and shared her thoughts about moving past the rhetoric that has clung to the historic project for years.

The Gulf of Maine’s blue mussel population is all but disappearing in the inter-tidal zone, according to ecologists at the University of California, Irvine. The population has declined by more than 60% over the past 40 years.

Ten years ago, before Cascade Sorte became an assistant professor of ecology at the University of California, Irvine, she was a postdoctoral researcher in Massachusetts, where she started to hear rumors about blue mussels.

“So people were seeing blue mussels did not appear to be as abundant as they had once been,” says Sorte.

AUGUSTA, Maine - The state Department of Inland Fisheries & Wildlife has decided to approve an increase in "any deer'' hunting permits. There will be more than 45,000 of the permits issued this year.

"Any deer'' permits allow hunters to harvest deer of either sex with the use of firearms. The permits are used by the state to control the hunt and ensure the health of the population in the future.

State regulators say Maine can afford to hand out more permits this fall because so many deer survived the mild winter.

Pat Wellenbach / Associated Press

The summer has been a dry one for some areas of the state, particularly in the southwest, which has experienced a severe drought this year.

U.S. Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell will be one of the first official visitors to Maine’s Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument that was authorized by President Obama this week. Secretary Jewell will also participate in a dedication ceremony for the new monument.

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