Mercury Contamination of Arizona Fish

#Mercury #Contamination of #Fish in Bartlett Lake, Arizona

Bass - Largemouth

Largemouth Bass

Channel cat

Channel Catfish

Here is another threat to Arizona wildlife. Because it threatens humans, the state government is acknowledging it publicly. According to an email sent this morning by the Arizona Game and Fish Department (AZGFD), “the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality (ADEQ), in association with the AZGFD, has issued a fish consumption advisory recommending that people limit consumption of channel catfish and largemouth bass caught from Bartlett Lake [an artificial reservoir on the Verde River] in Maricopa County. ADEQ is issuing this advisory because recent fish tissue samples from Bartlett Lake contained elevated levels of mercury.”

“ADEQ recommends that adults limit consumption of channel catfish and largemouth bass to 2.4 ounces (uncooked weight) per week and children 12 years of age and under limit consumption to two ounces per month (uncooked weight). 
This advisory does not limit the use of this water body for fishing, bird watching, swimming, or other recreational uses. In general, the level of contaminants in fish is several folds higher than levels found in water.”

“Any health risks associated with eating fish from this advisory area are based on long term consumption and are not representative of risk from eating fish occasionally.  Fish are an excellent source of protein and can be an important part of a healthy, diverse diet as they are low in saturated fat and high in omega-3 fatty acids.  The American Heart Association recommends that individuals eat at least two fish or seafood meals weekly.”

Bald-Eagle-And-BabiesGR:  Unfortunately, wildlife eat these mercury-contaminated fish their whole lives. Unlike humans, they can’t “limit their consumption.” Mercury pollution is nothing new in Bartlett Lake or many other streams and lakes in Arizona.  It and the many other pollutants that wash into the State’s waters are helping destroy Arizona wildlife. The Bass and Catfish covered in the advisory are not native Arizona species, but they are often eaten by native amphibians, birds, fish, mammals, snakes, and turtles that live in around the lake. Thus, mercury works its way into the food chain and causes illness and shortened lives. Bald Eagles, for example have mercury in their eggs and tissues (Driscoll et al. 2006).  According to Robin Silver, Southwest Center for Biological Diversity, this mercury contamination is “worrisome.” You could also call it “harmful” or “deadly.”

What is the Origin of Mercury?

Mercury washes into streams and lakes after exposure by floods, mining, and construction.  Some probably comes from roads and urban wastes around and upstream from the lake.  And some comes from power plants in and around Arizona:  “Mercury is one of the most harmful pollutants faced by fish and wildlife. Toxic mercury is released from coal burning power plants across the country and accumulates in rivers, lakes, and forests.” — National Wildlife Federation.

Mercury is just one of many pollutants that humans feed into the Verde River and Bartlett Lake. Worldwide, human wastes are a major cause of wildlife disease and decline.  ADEQ makes little or no effort to regulate the sources of pollutants, but as wildlife declines and extinctions become public knowledge, the agency may have to step up and face the developers and . . . . Well, that’s not going to happen.  Not until private citizens force their political representatives to ignore their donors and future employers and direct the agency to say “enough is enough” without fear of retribution.


  • Driscoll, et al. 2006. Conservation assessment and strategy for the Bald Eagle in Arizona. Tech Rept 173, Nongame and Endangered Wildlife Program, AZGFD, Phoenix, AZ, 69 p.
  • ADEQ. 2015. Arizona Fish Consumption Advisories – July 2015. Lists 15 waterbodies of concern.

Endangered and Threatened Arizona Species Qualifying for Endangered-Species-Act Protection

A Small Subset of Arizona’s #EndangeredSpecies

The Arizona Game and Fish Department provided this photo of an endangered ocelot spotted Feb. 8, 2011, in the Huachuca Mountains of southeastern Arizona.

The Arizona Game and Fish Department provided this photo of an endangered ocelot.

Many Arizona species with shrinking populations will never receive protection under the U. S. Endangered Species Act.  Some are doing well outside Arizona, but the principal reason for the absence of protection is that many Arizona species have not been identified. Of those that biologists have identified, most have not been studied in enough detail to know how well they are doing. This tragic lack of data is true of most wild species worldwide.

Click here for lists of some of Arizona’s other endangered species.

According to the U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS), the list below, updated 02/13/2015,

  • shows listed species or populations believed to or known to occur in Arizona
  • does not include experimental populations and similarity-of-appearance listings.
  • includes species or populations under the sole jurisdiction of the National Marine Fisheries Service.

The list includes 21 plants and 44 animals.  The links for the species scientific names connect to official details for the listing. The linked pages include maps and some photos.  More species photos and other information are found at:  FWS Digital Media Library. However, the best resource for photos is a simple Google Image search.

E = Endangered

T = Threatened

Arizona #Endangered and #Threatened Animals (44)

E Ambersnail, Kanab Entire (Oxyloma haydeni kanabensis)
E Bat, lesser long-nosed Entire (Leptonycteris curasoae yerbabuenae)
E Bobwhite, masked (quail) Entire (Colinus virginianus ridgwayi)
T Catfish, Yaqui Entire (Ictalurus pricei)
E Chub, bonytail Entire (Gila elegans)
E Chub, Gila Entire (Gila intermedia)
E Chub, humpback Entire (Gila cypha)
T Chub, Sonora Entire (Gila ditaenia)
E Chub, Virgin River Entire (Gila seminuda (=robusta))
E Chub, Yaqui Entire (Gila purpurea)
E Condor, California Entire, except where listed as an experimental population (Gymnogyps californianus)
T Cuckoo, yellow-billed Western U.S. DPS (Coccyzus americanus)
E Ferret, black-footed entire population, except where EXPN (Mustela nigripes)
E Flycatcher, southwestern willow Entire (Empidonax traillii extimus)
T Frog, Chiricahua leopard Entire (Rana chiricahuensis)
T gartersnake, northern Mexican  (Thamnophis eques megalops)
E Jaguar U.S.A(AZ,CA,LA,NM,TX),Mexico,Central and South America (Panthera onca)
E Minnow, loach Entire (Tiaroga cobitis)
E Mouse, New Mexico meadow jumping  (Zapus hudsonius luteus)
E Ocelot U.S.A.(AZ, TX) to Central and South America (Leopardus (=Felis) pardalis)
T Owl, Mexican spotted Entire (Strix occidentalis lucida)
E Pikeminnow (=squawfish), Colorado Entire, except EXPN (Ptychocheilus lucius)
E Pronghorn, Sonoran Entire (Antilocapra americana sonoriensis)
E Pupfish, desert Entire (Cyprinodon macularius)
E Rail, Yuma clapper U.S.A. only (Rallus longirostris yumanensis)
T Rattlesnake, New Mexican ridge-nosed Entire (Crotalus willardi obscurus)
E Salamander, Sonora tiger Entire (Ambystoma tigrinum stebbinsi)
T Shiner, beautiful Entire (Cyprinella formosa)
T Snake, narrow-headed garter  (Thamnophis rufipunctatus)
E Spikedace Entire (Meda fulgida)
T Spinedace, Little Colorado Entire (Lepidomeda vittata)
T springsnail, San Bernardino Entire (Pyrgulopsis bernardina)
E Springsnail, Three Forks Entire (Pyrgulopsis trivialis)
E Squirrel, Mount Graham red Entire (Tamiasciurus hudsonicus grahamensis)
E Sucker, razorback Entire (Xyrauchen texanus)
E Sucker, Zuni bluehead  (Catostomus discobolus yarrowi)
E Tern, California least  (Sterna antillarum browni)
E Topminnow, Gila (incl. Yaqui) U.S.A. only (Poeciliopsis occidentalis)
T Tortoise, desert U.S.A., except in Sonoran Desert (Gopherus agassizii)
T Trout, Apache Entire (Oncorhynchus apache)
T Trout, Gila Entire (Oncorhynchus gilae)
E Vole, Hualapai Mexican Entire (Microtus mexicanus hualpaiensis)
E Wolf, Mexican gray Entire, except where an experimental population (Canis lupus baileyi)
E Woundfin Entire, except EXPN (Plagopterus argentissimus)

Arizona Endangered and Threatened Plants (21)

E Blue-star, Kearney’s (Amsonia kearneyana)
E Cactus, Acuna (Echinomastus erectocentrus var. acunensis)
E Cactus, Arizona hedgehog (Echinocereus triglochidiatus var. arizonicus)
E Cactus, Brady pincushion (Pediocactus bradyi)
T Cactus, Cochise pincushion (Coryphantha robbinsiorum)
E Cactus, Fickeisen plains (Pediocactus peeblesianus fickeiseniae)
E Cactus, Nichol’s Turk’s head (Echinocactus horizonthalonius var. nicholii)
E Cactus, Peebles Navajo (Pediocactus peeblesianus var. peeblesianus)
E Cactus, Pima pineapple (Coryphantha scheeri var. robustispina)
T Cactus, Siler pincushion (Pediocactus (=Echinocactus,=Utahia) sileri)
E Cliff-rose, Arizona (Purshia (=Cowania) subintegra)
T Cycladenia, Jones (Cycladenia humilis var. jonesii)
T Fleabane, Zuni (Erigeron rhizomatus)
E Ladies’-tresses, Canelo Hills (Spiranthes delitescens)
E mallow, Gierisch (Sphaeralcea gierischii)
E Milk-vetch, Holmgren (Astragalus holmgreniorum)
E Milk-vetch, Sentry (Astragalus cremnophylax var. cremnophylax)
T Milkweed, Welsh’s (Asclepias welshii)
T Ragwort, San Francisco Peaks (Packera franciscana)
T Sedge, Navajo (Carex specuicola)
E Water-umbel, Huachuca (Lilaeopsis schaffneriana var. recurva)

Fate of the Crowfoot Valley Prairie Dog Colony

by Deanna Meyer, Deep Green Resistance, Colorado.  When we visited the Crowfoot site to confirm the mass annihilation of the last large colony of prairie dogs in the Castle Rock area, we found that all the burrows were packed hard as concrete. I tried to shovel out the burrows but could not because they were …

Sourced through from:

GR:  This is what we’ve always done with wild animals in our way. Now that there aren’t many prairie dogs left, we don’t stop.

Sightings of Australia’s common birds are declining

Sightings of some of Australia’s most common birds, including those that have inspired folk songs and become mascots of football teams, are decreasing in parts of Australia, according to a major report on the health of the country’s bird population.

Among the species for which fewer sightings have been recorded are the laughing kookaburra, magpie and willie wagtail.

Released by Environment Minister Greg Hunt on the eve of Thursday’s Threatened Species Summit at Melbourne Zoo, the State of Australia’s Birds 2015 report’s surprise finding was that it was the country’s “common birds” that weren’t faring so well.

Sourced through from:

GR:  This is being reported around the world, and not just for birds; most species are declining.

Arizona #Endangered Species: River Otters

From Smithsonian

Credit: painting by Consie Powell from Kays and Wilson’s Mammals of North America, © Princeton University Press (2002)

The North American River Otter (Lontra Canadensis) is a dark brown, long-bodied, web-footed, big-whiskered mammal weighing between 10 and 30 pounds. Otters live in burrows beside streams, lakes, swamps, and ponds.  They are superb fishermen, but they also hunt frogs, turtles, crayfish, small mammals, and birds.


Like other predators, Otters help control the numbers of their prey species. They happily take introduced alien species along with natives. In a few instances, people have complained that River Otters might be eating trout introduced to Arizona waters for sport fishing.

Otter, Northern River

Otters often eat and sleep floating on their backs. In the picture, a mother is holding her big-nosed child on her stomach.


tracksRiver Otters live where there is permanent food and water. They prefer riparian communities dominated by willows, cottonwoods, birches, and spruce, cattails, red-osier dogwood, black hawthorn, common snowberry, grasses, horsetails, bulrushes, and sedges (Tesky, 1993).


River Otters lived throughout Arizona. Unfortunately, their thick fur made them a favorite of 19th Century fur trappers. It takes 20 to 30 otters to make a fur coat. By 1900, most of the Otters were gone and the fur coats had worn out. During the 20th Century, water pollution and stream diversion for irrigation, flood control, and recreation eliminated most of the best habitat. Today there are few if any Otters left in the State. Ponds and pools along the Agua Fria River near my home in central Arizona might be  suitable for otters, but it is unlikely that any live here.

The State of Arizona Game and Fish Department conservation status ranking for otters and many other wildlife species is included in the species checklists on this website.

Bringing Otters back to Arizona:  Reservoir Dreams

Returning Otters to Arizona would be difficult. Otters are sensitive to water pollution, and could not survive in many of the State’s streams and lakes. Moreover, the banks of irrigation canals and reservoirs aren’t suitable for Otter burrows. We can imagine that we might set aside one of our reservoirs for Otters. Stocked with native fish, protected from pollution and recreation, and planted with preferred vegetation, Otters brought to the reservoir from other locations might set up a colony and the species might once again live in Arizona.

The header image is from Animal Photos.


  • Arizona Game and Fish Department (AZGFD).  List of “nongame” species includes bats:
  • Arizona Game and Fish Department. 1995 (Second Draft). Animal Abstracts Lontra Canadensis sonora. PDF. Unpublished abstract compiled and edited by the Heritage Data Management System, Arizona Game and Fish Department, Phoenix, AZ. PDF.
  • Hoffmeister, D.F. 1986. Mammals of Arizona. The University of Arizona Press. Tucson. Pp. 515-517.
  • Jones, et al. 1987. North American Mammals North of Mexico. Texas Tech Univ.
  • Kays, R.W., and D.E. Wilson.  2009.  Mammals of North America (second edition).  Princeton Univ Press, Princeton, NJ.  248 p.
  • National Wildlife Federation:
  • NatureServe.
  • Navajo Nation Fish and Wildlife Department. 2000. Navajo Endangered Species List. Navajo Nation Fish and Wildlife Department. 2005. Navajo Endangered Species List. P. 2.
  • Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History:
  • Tesky, J.L. 1993. Lutra canadensis. In U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station Sciences Laboratory (2002, September). Fire Effects Information System,
  • Endangered Species Act.  1973. The act and related laws discussed at:
  • U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service:
  • USDA, Forest Service Region 3. 1999. Regional Forester’s Sensitive Species List. The latest update (2007) does not list the River Otter.

I am beginning a series of short articles about the state’s endangered species. For  species that the Department considers Critically Imperiled (S1), Imperiled (S2), or Vulnerable to Extinction (S3).  Please send me your comments and suggestions or bring them to a meeting. The inaugural meeting is at 10:00 am, August 15, 2015, at the Dewey-Humboldt Historical Society Museum on Main Street in Humboldt.

Help Stop the Mexican Gray Wolf Extinction Bill!

Tell your Representative to oppose HR 2910 and demand full recovery efforts for the critically endangered Mexican gray wolf!

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British Museum’s ivory icons denied US entry for loan show
1 July 2015

The US Fish and Wildlife Service blocked the importation of six Byzantine ivory pieces due to come to the US on a loan from the British Museum for the travelling exhibition Saints and Dragons: Icons from Byzantium to Russia. The show, currently on view at the Museum of Russian Icons in Clinton, Massachusetts and due to travel to the Chrysler Museum of Art in Norfolk, Virginia, this autumn, centres on icons that are normally hidden away in storage at the London museum.

Sourced through from:

GR:  Perhaps historically and artistically important ivory artifacts should be duplicated and then destroyed.

Speak for Wolves

On August 7-9 2015, Americans of all-walks-of-life will meet in West Yellowstone, Montana to tell our elected leaders that we need to reform wildlife …  Source:

GR:  We could choose to maintain intact ecosystems.  There are so many species threatened now that it’s hard to decide where to spend efforts.  Wolves are a pretty good choice.  For them to flourish much will have to change in the ways that people live with the land.  To prevail on behalf of wolves will benefit many other species.  The gathering in West Yellowstone concerns all wildlife species.  Let’s go.

See on Scoop.itGarryRogers NatCon News

Eleven new species found in Madagascar

Madagascar is home to extraordinary biodiversity, but in the past few decades, the island’s forests and associated biodiversity have been under greater attack than ever.  Source:

GR:  The Wildlife Conservation Society and others such as those listed by the Lemur Conservation Network are working within Madagascar to preserve wildlife.  However, as elsewhere, those who wish to harvest the land have power and influence.  Perhaps we should all visit, spend a little money, and express our concern.

See on Scoop.itGarryRogers NatCon News

Making Sacramento a haven for honeybees

Carpenter Bee on LarkspurSacramento is the latest city to become an official honeybee haven. More residents are interested in keeping their own hives. But how do you catch this buzz?  Source:

GR:  Here’s the link to put your honeybee haven on the map.  For other posts on bees, pollinators, and pesticides, enter “bees” in the search window.