HABITAT NOTES

Gray Wolf Reintroduction Could Be Future Model

AMERICA'S success in shepherding wolves back to Yellowstone National Park in Wyoming could serve as a model for similar projects elsewhere, wildlife experts say.

Experts at a major scientific conference this week on predators in Yellowstone National Park hailed this year's pioneering release of gray wolves into Yellowstone, putting them in the park for the first time in 60 years. The wolves were reintroduced over the strong objections of ranchers, who feared for their livestock.

Scientists at the three-day conference said the Yellowstone experience could aid in the reintroduction of wolves into the Colorado Rockies or of the Mexican wolf into the Southwest desert.

''In terms of the tremendous research investment the government has made to better understand the behavior of wolves in Yellowstone, it can be used as a model for doing it better the next time around both here and in other places,'' says Robert Crabtree, head of a research group called Yellowstone Ecosystem Studies.

Fifteen Canadian wolves were released into Yellowstone in March, and 14 were sent to Idaho with the idea of comparing the two types of releases. Officials involved in the reintroduction program said it had succeeded beyond their expectations.

One wolf has been killed by a poacher in Yellowstone, nine new puppies have been born, and fears that the wolves would leave the park to prey on domestic animals have so far proved unfounded. A wolf in Idaho is believed to have killed a calf, however.

Energy summit includes environmental discussions

DELEGATES from 50 nations attending an energy summit in Puerto la Cruz, Venezuela, focused on a topic they might well have overlooked a decade ago: environmental pollution. The three-day forum ended Sept. 27 in this Caribbean beach city. There were no grand decisions or pronouncements. Discussion, mostly behind closed doors, was about world energy needs and oil technology. Carbon dioxide buildup and the greenhouse effect - the warming of the earth because of concentrated pollutants in the atmosphere - a lso were on the agenda.

''They're thinking about their children and the Earth when their grandchildren are born,'' said Jack Carter, senior adviser to the US. Energy Department. ''That, to me, is extremely significant.''

The burning of fossil fuels, while lighting homes and powering factories, also causes ''dying forests, smog, damage to historic buildings [and] water pollution,'' says Lorenz Schomerus, a German. As might be expected at a gathering of the major oil and gas producers and consumers, including the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries and the United States, many suggested that natural resources be used wisely, not curtailed.

Pearls of good news from oysters

ENVIRONMENTAL contamination of coastal areas of the United States appears to be declining, the Commerce Department says, citing an eight-year study of chemical residues in the tissues of oysters and mussels. The department's National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration released a new report Sept. 27 attributing the decline to environmental regulations that have either banned or curtailed emissions of toxic chemicals like DDT, an insecticide outlawed in the US since 1972.

NOAA's Mussel Watch Project collects the mollusks yearly at more than 240 sites nationwide. The shellfish are then analyzed for more than 70 pesticides, polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) and toxic trace elements such as copper, cadmium, and lead.

''There are many more decreases than increases in chemical concentrations [in coastal regions] between 1986 and 1993,'' the report states. The declines were not surprising, since all the monitored chlorinated hydrocarbons had been banned for use in the United States. Lead was the only chemical showing concentrations in excess of public health guidelines, NOAA said. But it noted that some sites were showing high and rising concentrations of chemicals, although these were not seen as necessarily threateni ng marine life or people.

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