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Fish and Wildlife Service

(Editor's note: What does the federal government shutdown, starting today, mean to you? Tell us in the comments, and check out this news release from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.)

Because of the shutdown of the federal government caused by the lapse in appropriations, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service will suspend most programs and operations, including public access to all National Wildlife Refuges and all activities on refuge lands including hunting and fishing.

Should sea otters be allowed to repopulate Southern California?

Seems like a strange question, right?

When a highly imperiled species starts to recover in its native habitat, we should all be grateful and welcome them back. This has certainly been the story of the American bald eagle.

First off, let’s establish that these guys are undeniably cute. Did you know otters hold hands while they sleep so as not to be swept away from their loved ones?

It's hard to know, sometimes, who to trust with America’s wildlife.

For the most part, wildlife is managed by individual states, which do some good science and issue tags for hunting licenses. They are also, theoretically, on the front lines of ensuring that wildlife species don’t get into such trouble that the federal government needs to step in under the auspices of the Endangered Species Act.

Last Friday, the federal government proposed to protect wolverines as a threatened species under the Endangered Species Act. Wolverines are the biggest member of the weasel, mink, marten and otter family, but they don’t act like good family members—they are loners who cover huge ranges usually high in mountain ranges above tree line up in the rock, ice and snow.

Blog posts about Earth's magnificent places and creatures were the most popular themes for unEarthed readers in 2012. By far the most-read post concerned Arctic drilling, followed by reports of bison being restored and wolves losing protection. Not shown in our top 10 blog posts, below, are the delightful tales of curious critters painted in words by our own Shirley Hao. Posts written years ago by Shirley are still being discovered and read by thousands of people every year.

She never had a real name. Scientists called her 832F. To her fans, she was known simply as ’06 after the year that she was born. But for anyone who had ever seen the large, sleek gray wolf roaming the Yellowstone plains, she was the epitome of all things free and wild.

Last week, ’06 was killed by an unknown hunter just outside of the park. She was still wearing her radio collar.

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