Hellbender on a rock

Endangered Species Act changes could hinder hellbender conservati­on

Conservationists have been attempting to list the species under the federal Endangered Species Act since 2010, but as Elise Bennett with the Center for Biological Diversity explains, regulatory changes to the act proposed by the administration of President Donald Trump could hamper the path to protection for hellbenders and other at-risk wildlife.

News in brief: I-26 connector meeting, Hump Mountain, veterans train service dogs

According to the project website for the planned Interstate 26 Connector project in Asheville, the N.C. Department of Transportation has been meeting with community groups about the roadway since 1989. On Tuesday, Dec. 4, NCDOT will again convene local stakeholders. Also: a major public land acquisition in the Cherokee National Forest, and a new community service option for veterans involved with the criminal justice system.

Prescribed burn at the Oshun Mountain Sanctuary

New publicatio­n shares benefits of intentiona­l wildfires

Craig Harper with the University of Tennessee notes that negative public perception about prescribed burning generally arises from a lack of understanding about how fire benefits the landscape. “Many people will argue for increased diversity on national forests, but they don’t want disturbance,” he says. “If you don’t have disturbance, then it is impossible to have increased diversity.”

Local agencies wrestle with livestock impacts on water quality

Advocates for clean water in North Carolina often focus on the eastern part of the state, which hosts one of the world’s highest concentration of hogs. But French Broad Riverkeeper Hartwell Carson emphasizes that Western North Carolina and its smaller farms are not immune from the water quality issues related to animal agriculture.

Going batty: Get to know these misunderst­ood mammals

According to Katherine Caldwell, a biologist with the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission in Asheville, it’s “almost incomprehensible,” the number of flying insects bats snap up on their nocturnal hunting expeditions. While their spooky reputation is slowly giving way to a more nuanced understanding of bats’ critical role in the ecosystem, we still have a lot to learn about these unusual mammals.

Fantastica­l fidos and felines: Howl-O-Ween pet costumes

Does your furry friend have their annual Halloween disguise? If not, don’t despair! Thanks to Asheville Pet Photography, Bone-A-Fide Pet Boutique, the Asheville Humane Society and Brother Wolf Animal Rescue, we have some last minute inspiration from some of the fanciest pets around. With just a little creativity (or perhaps a trip to your local pet store) your […]