Fat Bear Week Is in Full Swing – The New York Times

“The first time Mike Fitz saw a bear in the wild, in 2007, he did what he was trained to do: He made a lot of noise.

“You can read and listen to all of the advice — it helps prepare you mentally, but at the same time I’m thinking, ‘Oh, that is a bear in front of me, looking at me,’” Mr. Fitz said. “What am I going to do now?”

This particular bear, on top of Dumpling Mountain in Katmai National Park in Alaska, however, was not exactly an imminent threat. The bear was about a quarter-mile away from Mr. Fitz, and his yells across the vast landscape barely made a dent. “I hadn’t figured out that making noise is appropriate in certain situations,” he said. “The bear probably heard me and thought, ‘What is this two-legged creature doing?’”

The encounter proved to be a formative moment for Mr. Fitz, and for millions of bear fans around the world. Mr. Fitz is the founder of Fat Bear Week, now in its ninth year. What began as a way for Mr. Fitz, a former park ranger, to engage with visitors to Katmai has “spiraled.” “

Alone in a New World With Vast Open Space, and Sheep – The New York Times

“ENGINEER PASS, Colo. — The baas, bleats and bells were fading ever so slightly, and the shepherd’s trained ear detected that his flock was veering off the path home, for this was the soundtrack of his life in the Rocky Mountains. “The sheep must be herded,” he said in Spanish, as he quickly ascended a hill overlooking a meadow.

Then the herder, Ricardo Mendoza, whistled loudly, commanding his two dogs to coax his 1,700 sheep closer to his campito, a tiny shed with a single sun-bleached word — “HOME” — over the door. His employer had hauled it up a winding, unpaved road used by 19th-century miners to this 13,000-foot pass shortly before Mr. Mendoza arrived with his horse, pack mule, dogs and sheep, ready to settle into the last outpost of his seasonal nomadic journey, about 65 miles north of Durango in western Colorado.

Mr. Mendoza, 46, has spent most of the past decade living in these rugged, remote mountains, herding sheep raised for wool and meat from spring to fall. “You live in complete solitude, just you, your animals and your thoughts,” he said, gazing at the windswept tundra below the soaring Uncompahgre and Wetterhorn peaks.”

David Lindsay: Good article, and comments. Here is one I liked:

Kevin Ott
Crested Butte, COSept. 23

This is a nice article romanticizing the grazing of domestic sheep high in the subalpine tundras of the American West. Just weeks ago, we backpacked across this exact area of the Uncompahgre Wilderness NE of Engineer Pass. Wilderness is no place for commercial animal grazing for any number of reasons. What the article did not mention are the demonstrable negative impacts of overgrazing and erosion caused by the grazing of large herds (hundreds to thousands) of domestic sheep in this delicate high elevation (12,000’ ) environment. This is Wilderness, or was. Also not mentioned is the very real impact on native Rocky Mountain Bighorns who populate these craggy locales. Domestic sheep transmit an ovine pneumonia (mycoplasma ovipneumonia) to the Bighorn population which is decimating Bighorn herds in the Rocky Mountain West. Keeping domestic sheep long distances away from the Bighorn herds is the only way to protect these dwindling, ever more isolated, majestic wild animal herds.

2 Replies75 Recommended

Hundreds of Whales Stranded Off Tasmania – The New York Times

“DARWIN, Australia — They may have taken a wrong turn, chased their prey into shallow waters, or blindly followed a dying matriarch who intended to beach herself. But the pilot whales, more than 450 of them, somehow ended up stranded on a remote beach in Tasmania.

More than half of them are likely to have already died. Now, scientists are racing to save the others.”

On a Grim Anniversary, 230 Pilot Whales Are Stranded in Tasmania – The New York Times

“MELBOURNE, Australia — It was a sobering scene: a phalanx of pilot whales, each up to 13 feet long and weighing a little under a ton, lining a remote beach in the Australian island state of Tasmania.

Already, half have died. Those that were still alive rocked back and forth in the shallows of the sand flat, twitching their fins.

On Wednesday, an estimated 230 of the animals were stranded near the town of Strahan on Tasmania’s western coast, just days after at least 14 sperm whales died after beaching on King Island in the Bass Strait, roughly 170 miles to the north.

Wednesday’s beachings came two years to the day after the worst mass whale stranding in Australia’s recorded history, when hundreds of pilot whales perished along roughly the same stretch of sand in Tasmania.”

Margaret Renkl | At Summer’s End, a Moment of Wild Surprise – The New York Times

Ms. Renkl is a contributing Opinion writer who covers flora, fauna, politics and culture in the American South.

“NASHVILLE — Then, just like that, the light changed, taking on the autumnal slant that turns dust motes into flecks of fire and deepens the color of songbirds’ feathers, so bright and new now after the August molt. Suddenly it is fall, whatever the temperature might suggest.

There are two ways of marking the change of seasons. Meteorological fall begins on the first day of September. Astronomical fall begins with the autumnal equinox, which this year occurs on Thursday. The disparity between the dates is owing to the specialties involved: Astronomers account for the changing seasons by observing the earth’s tilt, while meteorologists, it probably goes without saying, divide the seasons according to the weather. For meteorologists, summer is comprised of June, July and August, the three hottest months of the year.”

It Was War. Then, a Rancher’s Truce With Some Pesky Beavers Paid Off. – The New York Times

 

Einhorn and Wylie visited northeastern Nevada and walked across a huge beaver dam, very carefully, for this article.

“WELLS, Nev. — Horace Smith blew up a lot of beaver dams in his life.

A rancher here in northeastern Nevada, he waged war against the animals, frequently with dynamite. Not from meanness or cruelty; it was a struggle over water. Mr. Smith blamed beavers for flooding some parts of his property, Cottonwood Ranch, and drying out others.

But his son Agee, who eventually took over the ranch, is making peace. And he says welcoming beavers to work on the land is one of the best things he’s done.

“They’re very controversial still,” said Mr. Smith, whose father died in 2014. “But it’s getting better. People are starting to wake up.”

As global warming intensifies droughts, floods and wildfires, Mr. Smith has become one of a growing number of ranchers, scientists and other “beaver believers” who see the creatures not only as helpers, but as furry weapons of climate resilience.”

Margaret Renkl | Monarch Butterflies Are In Decline. I Wanted to Help. – The New York Times

Ms. Renkl is a contributing Opinion writer who covers flora, fauna, politics and culture in the American South.

“NASHVILLE — After all my blue false indigo was killed by a late frost, I went down to the garden center at the farmer’s market looking for more. Blue false indigo is a host plant of the clouded sulphur butterfly, and clouded sulphurs are the most reliable guests in my pollinator patch. I would hate to be caught short-handed when they returned in all their yellow glory. There have been so few butterflies lately.

Naturally I had to walk around the rest of the garden center, too, looking for other perennials that feed native pollinators, but the only ones on offer that day were flowers I already have in abundance. When I came upon a few pots of swamp milkweed tucked into a corner, I turned to leave. Milkweed is the host plant of the monarch butterfly, but I have plenty of milkweed.

As I was turning, something striped caught my eye. I looked closer. Monarch caterpillars were munching away on the leaves.

Reader, I screamed.”

A Complete Guide to Tick Identification and Prevention – The New York Times

The Ticks That Can Make You Sick

“Only two types of ticks — blacklegged ticks (sometimes called deer ticks) and Western blacklegged ticks — can transmit Lyme-causing bacteria. But these and other types of ticks can harbor other diseases that can cause illness, so it’s important to know how to identify them if you get bitten.

Here are six of the most common ticks you might come across in the United States, including those that are most likely to bite you, and what they look like in three of their life stages: larva, nymph and adult. For most species, adult female ticks are the most likely to feed on humans, but many nymphs can bite and cause illness too.”

Where to See Winter Wildlife in the U.S. – The New York Times

“Wolves, I learned from watching them in Yellowstone National Park, are clever team players. The pack of 10 that I spied several years ago in the Lamar Valley in the north of the park did diligent reconnaissance of a reddish baby bison, making repeated forays to come between the calf and its mother, at one point drawing a stampeding two-ton bull, which scattered them briefly. But they could only keep it up for so long before collapsing and resting, seemingly distracted, as if their lives did not depend on this kill. The drama went on and off like this until we could no longer see them in the dark. In the morning, a carcass, picked over and attracting ravens, indicated they had been successful.

Seeing an apex predator on its game in the nation’s oldest national park is a bit like watching a “Nature” documentary live — thrilling and sometimes gory — but without the edits between plot points. Patience is a virtue when it comes to wildlife-watching generally, and that is especially true of wolves.”

After Mounting a Comeback, Eagles Face a New Threat – The New York Times

“The bald eagle, whose resurgence is considered one of the great conservation success stories of the 21st century, is facing a serious threat: lead poisoning.

Researchers who tested the feathers, bones, livers and blood of 1,200 bald eagles and golden eagles, another bird of prey in the Northern Hemisphere, found that nearly half of them had been exposed repeatedly to lead, which can lead to death and slow population growth.

Scientists believe that the primary source of the lead is spent ammunition from hunters who shoot animals that eagles then scavenge, usually during the winter, according to the study, which was published on Thursday in the journal Science.”

DL: The solution exists. Hunters need only switch to copper bullets – lead free ammunition.