I am hiking across acres of Southwest Colorado with my fabulous best friend, a Black Mouth Cur that I named, appropriately, “Blessing” on our morning “walk” through the fields and woods of the farm where we now live. It is out … Continue reading
The administration is increasingly citing global warming to justify expansion of the endangered species habitat, pushing development and recreation away from over 26 million acres, the latest to save the Canada Lynx.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service this week proposed slightly expanded “critical habitat” for the endangered lynx in part because the administration claims warmer winters from Maine to Washington State have reduced the area of “fluffy snow” the 25-pound cat likes to hunt snowshoe rabbits in.
“Climate change is likely to be a significant issue of concern for the future conservation of the lynx,” said the agency in a 187-page proposed rule that will now collect public comments. “Climate change is expected to substantially reduce the amount and quality of lynx habitat in the contiguous United States, with patches of high-quality habitat becoming smaller, more fragmented, and more isolated,” said the agency.
An agency official said that climate change was “not a factor” in the lynx decision, however.
Under the proposed rule, development and recreational activities would be limited or barred in 26 million acres — about the size of Virginia — along Canada’s border in six states. The rule is revised from an earlier one that was challenged by environmental groups for not including enough habitat for the lynx. That 2009 decision had set aside the bulk of the 26 million acres. The new rule would add about 400,000 acres.
“Canada lynx need quiet places free of disturbance from snowmobiles and other human activities to survive,” said Noah Greenwald, endangered species director at the Center for Biological Diversity.
President Obama has said repeatedly that he will use his executive powers to institute climate change policy opposed by Republicans in Congress, and the endangered species list is one of those tools.
The government recently cited global warming in proposing to protect the wolverine and 66 coral species.
The lynx move was assailed by Rep. Doc Hastings, R-Wash., and chairman of the House Natural Resources Committee. “While the administration cannot even define how many lynx there are or what the number of decline has been, they are pressing ahead to reissue a habitat designation that will significantly affect portions of six states, and reduce access for a host of activities. It’s concerning that the massive proposal does not include an accurate or updated economic impact analyses, and will create potential regulatory uncertainty for those areas affected,” he said.
A rare death match between a golden eagle and a young deer was inadvertently captured by a camera trap set up to snap pictures of Russia’s endangered Siberian tigers.
The sika deer (Cervus nippon) was found dead in December 2011 by a researcher tending to the camera trap, which was being used to monitor the habits and movements of tigers in Lazovsky State Nature Reserve in Russia’s Far East.
Conservationist Linda Kerley, of the Zoological Society of London (ZSL), recalled that something felt immediately wrong as she approached the carcass.
“There were no large carnivore tracks in the snow, and it looked like the deer had been running and then just stopped and died,” Kerley, who runs the ZSL’s camera trap project, said in a statement. “It was only after we got back to camp that I checked the images from the camera and pieced everything together. I couldn’t believe what I was seeing.”
The camera trap footage only captured two seconds of the attack in three photos, but it showed quite clearly an adult golden eagle (Aquila chrysaetos) clinging to the young deer’s back. [Camera Trapped: Elusive Wildlife Caught in Photos]
“I’ve been assessing deer causes of death in Russia for 18 years,” Kerley said in a statement. “This is the first time I’ve seen anything like this.”
An adult golden eagle can weigh more than 12 pounds (5.4 kilograms) and have a wingspan of about 7.5 feet (2.3 meters). Though they do not regularly prey on deer, the raptors are known for ambitious attacks on large animals, the researchers said. The birds, however, have not been known to attack people, despite what the “golden eagle” hoax video would have viewers believe.
“The scientific literature is full of references to golden eagle attacks on different animals from around the world, from things as small as rabbits — their regular prey — to coyote and deer, and even one record in 2004 of an eagle taking a brown bear cub,” Jonathan Slaght, of the Wildlife Conservation Society, said in a statement. (ZSL and WCS have been partnering on tiger monitoring in the region.)
“In this case I think Linda just got really lucky and was able to document a very rare, opportunistic predation event,” Slaght added.
Kerley and Slaght described the strange case in this month’s issue of the Journal of Raptor Research.
TRAVELING ALONG THIS IMPRESSIVE RIVER, WHICH IS FLOWING NORTHWEST, paralleling the coast, I scramble up a hill for a photo op. Standing as close to the edge of my perch as safely possible, I hesitate to begin shooting. The awe and power of the river is complimented by the fantastic diversity of the rock walls and it is commanding my full attention. Clearly, iron dominates the rock canyon, leaving a fantastic rusty patina which is frequently interrupted with dark green trees and shrub. Gray to black mudstones, siltstones and sandstones further the pleasant variations. Even a swipe of golden brown color to complete the picture.
The river’s edge cuts a raw, white, jagged saw tooth line, the salt-crusted shoreline and boulders that rise above the water, where the natural water’s pulse and current spray have frequently misted the protruding boulders, scatter these highlights throughout the landscape. The current is intense, furious whenever the canyon walls insinuate upon the channel.
There is an odd, captivating rock formation close to the more turbulent section of the channel. It appears as though molten gray rock has spilled from the canyon wall with a round, spoon-shaped end closest to the water’s edge with its wide handle, ladle-like, balancing on the upper riverbank. This salmon-frequented river flows primarily northeast before changing course to southern pastures and wetlands.
Only a few hours into the trek and I’m met with dry-grass contrasting a man-made path with lush forests of oak and pines and other trees that I can’t distinguish, looming into its distant future. This revs my energy level, the promise of cooler, green pastures is inviting.
It doesn’t take long to leave signs of civilization behind and soon the hushed, fog-covered forest embraces my curious nature. Every step is soft, debris-mulched and fragrant under my boot.
This is true paradise.
On up the trail I continue, not knowing just why I feel I should get really deep into the forest today but I am very happy to be here, doing what I’m doing. The scenery never gets old, thank You God. The wildflowers are in full bloom and some are exceedingly fragrant. Their youth is renewed every spring, man, what a thrill that must be! I continue to scan the ubiquitous plant life and deeply inhale the surrounding scents. The perfume of the forest, nothing can beat it. The fragrances change as I proceed, pine mingling with wild licorice, licorice mingling with bay, bay mingling with mustard … I’m not sure if the oak trees have a scent but their dropped acorns are like marbles under my boots.
There is a spot reserved for me under a very large sequoia, its branches outstretched in a welcoming, “Come hither, under my canopy and rest.” I oblige. I remove my pack, habitually snapping the belt closed and settle down for a snack. The sound of rusting paper from my energy bar has apparently alerted many creatures, the most forward and aggressive of which is the scrub jay in front of me. Not far behind are a few squirrels & chipmunks in various stages of anticipation and wariness, and I’m beginning to wonder where Thumper and Bambi are.
I ignore the advancing blue jay and tip my head back to see if I can see any sky. What I do see sends my heart racing and my hands shaking.
My head now on a swivel, I check my surroundings more thoroughly, then up again into the trees. I begin to rise, keeping my eyes on the trees above me, moving ever so carefully, forcing slow and deliberate movement.
Where is mama bear?
Two curious black bear cubs are peeking down and over the foliage of the pine that is right next to the big sequoia that I am against. Still looking up, I reach for my pack, once again thankful for my habit of cinching the belt, and toss my power bar over past the oak that holds the cubs. Backing away, thankful for the soft, cushy debris and needle-carpeted ground I am looking everywhere. Seriously everywhere. Behind me, above me, beside me. No longer does my immediate forest hold a critter audience, the animals have left town.
I just can not even believe this is happening.
My heart ratchets yet another level as I swing my eyes towards the scraping, then soft thump sound. NO WAY! Those cubs are heading towards me, SNAP! I speak firmly to them, “No bear!” but apparently they don’t understand English. The larger of the two is still, although a bit hesitant, coming forward. I am nearly paralyzed with fear. WHERE IS MAMA BEAR?
I bump into a bush, maybe a tree I don’t really care and could not afford to be distracted with finding out. My entire body is shaking, my muscles feel weak, defenseless and inadequate. I sneak a look and find the path I came in on still backing away. Both cubs seem to be very perplexed, the smaller a bit distracted with a flying insect of sorts, the other looking from its sibling then to me, sizing up the situation. Thankfully they are remaining grounded where they are. But for how long, and the million dollar question: Where’s mama bear?!
I need not wonder any longer.
Emerging from the underbrush, sending a fleeting glance toward my power bar, is protective mama bear! She brawls at her cubs like a mother admonishing her children for straying beyond the yard, then gives her full, very direct attention to me. Somehow I continue to back away, averting eye contact, wild and insane thoughts swirling through my mind. Out of the corner of my eye I see the cubs scrambling up a tree to safety. Obedient children now that mom’s back.
Realizing that I have been shaking my head in a “no, no, no!” while retreating further, I force every cell, every adrenalin dump into sniper-concentrated focus. I know the choices on what to do, now how on earth do I choose which avenue to take? “Read the body language” comes back to memory and I continue backing away, not saying a word, my hands needlessly out in a “stay away” gesture.
Mama grunts threats, her sounds deep and quite menacing, then makes a swipe at the ground in front of her, sending dust and sticks flying into the air, shaking her lowered head. I’m reminded of a bull about to charge and I’m certain I’m going to lose it completely, right here. Right now. She has not charged me, I take this as a very good sign. I am still backing away when suddenly I’m falling, and I still haven’t landed yet!
Tangled in brush and briars, I look up the hill to see if she has decided to follow, then end me. Piece by piece, Marybeth-mulch nourishing the forest. At this point I have lost all reason, tearing my clothes and skin as I thrash through the sticky under brush in full panic mode. I don’t see her, I have lost my pack somewhere along the fall and I no longer care. I am completely overcome with irrational fear as I begin to run down the trail. DO NOT RUN FROM A PREDATOR but I figure after the fall that I’m far enough away and I’m around the bend so that she can’t see me? Panic trumps reason, it really does.
I am back to the manmade pathway, out of the dense forest and I have not heard any movement or growl behind me since the fall but every fiber of my being is still at high alert. I collapse in a sobbing heap, then I begin to laugh. I think perhaps I’m hysterical, just a thought.
Once I recovered and was shakily on my way home I was first, exceedingly grateful that I was reasonably unharmed. Physically. Emotionally I’ll probably never be the same. I thought about the good habit of keeping my keys and phone separate from my pack and for the habit of always fastening my pack belt. Even though I lost my pack, had I not fallen, I would have had it for minute protection or for the first aid kit inside it.
Establishing good hiking habits and knowing how to interpret and react to animal behavior goes a very long way. Even when you mess up the best laid plans.
For information on safety, signs of presence, and first aid please click:
The monstrous California wildfire that has scorched an area nearly the size of New York City doesn’t just loom over hundreds of homes — it’s also threatening one of the cornerstones of the regional economy: cattle.
Many of the thousands of grass-fed cows who have grazed on lush land in the Stanislaus National Forest — where the massive fire sparked Aug. 17 — are now feared displaced, wounded or dead, according to the San Francisco Chronicle.
As local ranch hands deal with their potentially decimated stock — and with the future of grazing in the forest area unclear — the regional cattle industry may take a big hit, according to the newspaper.
“They go out every day, gathering the cows they can find, the ones that have made it into the green areas,” Susan Forbes, a national forest staffer, told the Chronicle. “They’re finding pockets of livestock and concentrating on removing them as fast as they can.”
Forbes told the newspaper that 12 of 36 grazing grounds in the park were devastated by the blaze. Herds of cattle are now scattered over thousands of acres — making evacuation efforts a huge challenge.
The Golden state accounts for 7.4 percent of the U.S. national revenue for livestock and livestock products. It’s also the number one state in cash farm receipts, making up 11.6 percent of the U.S. total, according to the California Department of Food and Agriculture.
Cattle and calves were California’s fifth leading commodity two years ago, and remain a chief state resource, according to CDFA data.
Meanwhile, crews battling the so-called Rim Fire made significant gains overnight, officials said.
The fire was 60 percent contained Monday morning, a jump from 45 percent Sunday night, said Dan Bastion, a spokesman for the multiagency fire management team.
Cooler temperatures and higher humidity allowed crews to get an advantage on the fire overnight, according to Bastion.
“The fire is a little less active today,” Bastion said early Monday.
And yet the so-called Rim Fire grew slightly late Sunday, and now spans over 357 square miles, or 228,670 acres, making it the fourth-largest blaze in modern California history, he said. It surpasses a 1932 fire in Ventura County, according to officials.
The fire threatens some 4,500 homes, although many of those structures are “not in imminent danger,” Bastion said. Some 11 residences have already burned down, according to the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection.
Mandatory evacuations still stand for some people south of Highway 120. Tioga Road west of Yosemite Creek Picnic Area remains shuttered, according to The Associated Press.
Crews will continue building fire lines and scorching away the fire’s potential fuel sources Monday, according to the wire service.
Authorities are investigating the cause of the blaze, but the possibility that it was started by an illegal marijuana growing operation was recently raised by a fire chief in Tuolomne County.
Todd McNeal, fire chief in the town of Twain Harte, west of Yosemite, said at an Aug. 23 community meeting that officials “know it’s human caused, there’s no lightning in the area. … (We) highly suspect that it might be some sort of illicit grove, marijuana grow-type thing.”
His comments surfaced in a YouTube video of the meeting.
However, Rim Fire spokesman Brian Haines told NBC Bay Area that at this juncture, the marijuana theory is merely “an opinion.”
In June, 15,000 marijuana plants were pulled out the forest to the south and four miles of irrigation pipe were removed, according to the San Jose Mercury News.
The newspaper said a 40-acre wildfire the month earlier in the same area was blamed on marijuana growers tied to Mexican drug cartels.
Unmanned drone is the latest tool in the battle against the wildfire raging at Yosemite National Park.
The MQ-1 National Guard unmanned aircraft being remotely piloted hundreds of miles away quickly alerted fire bosses to a new flare-up they otherwise wouldn’t have immediately seen.
“This morning it’s allowed us to see a spot fire,” said Mike Wilkins, commander of forces at the Rim Fire.
The 12-day-old Rim Fire continued to grow, expanding to 292 square miles, and containment remained at 23 percent. But increasingly confident fire officials said they expect to fully surround it in three weeks, although it will burn for much longer than that.
Each icon represents one of the dozens of large fires currently burning across the West.
“It’s looking better every day,” said incident spokesman Glen Stratton.
While unmanned aircraft have mapped past fires…
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Yosemite wildfire blankets region with choking smoke for more than 100 miles
“Rim” fire one of the biggest wildfires in California history.
Revive Note: Hundreds of displaced bears and other wildlife. Campers, hikers be diligent!!
Ash and smoke pour into Reno, Nevada.
Firefighters reported significant progress Wednesday against one of the biggest wildfires in California’s history, but it was still spewing an enormous plume of smoke, dangerously contaminating the air across California and Nevada.
Authorities urged people in the region to avoid all outdoor activity as the Rim Fire’s choking haze — a mile and a quarter thick at some points — spread from the outskirts of Yosemite National Park into Nevada. “Unhealthful” and “very unhealthy” air quality readings were recorded Wednesday across the Reno and Carson City area.
The fire had grown from 144,000 acres Sunday to about 187,500 acres by late Wednesday morning — about the size of…
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A lack of funds at The Desert Tortoise Conservation Center, located outside Las Vevas, Nevada, will cause the sanctuary to close its doors and euthanize about half of its 1,400 tortoise residents, reports the Associated Press.
The facility was created in 1990 when the overdevelopment—namely McMansions, solar plants, and strip malls—of the turtles’ native habitats caused the critters to be put on the endangered species list.
The center previously upheld a $1 million annual budget, mostly fueled by “raking in funds from fees imposed on real estate developers who chose to build on the tortoises’ habitats,” reports the AP. But the housing market collapse in 2008 caused that fund pipeline to dry up. And, as a result, The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) simply can’t allocate any more money for…
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HONOLULU (AP) — A 20-year-old German woman who lost her right arm in a shark attack off of Hawaii last week is being remembered by her family as beautiful and strong after fighting to stay alive in a Maui hospital. … Continue reading