Conservation

Word Wildlife Day

Did you notice?

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Yesterday was World Wildlife Day…

It feels, that celebration went rather unnoticed.

The UN website says “The fate of the world’s wildlife will soon be in the hands of the next generation.” I must disagree. The fate of the world’s wildlife, the fate of us, and the fate of us in our hands, besides natural forces. I think we should do everything we can, to stop loss of diversity due to human activity, such as deforestation, overpopulation, and resource extraction.

On one hand, there are efforts to clone woolly  mammoth and the passenger pigeon from preserved DNA, on the other hand we loose probably more than one species a day.

I have never seen a passenger pigeon. It was once the most common bird in North America. Due to deforestation and overhunting, passenger pigeons disappeared from the wild. In 1914 the last member of this species died in captivity. Her name was Martha.

R.W. Shufeldt, Osteology of the Passenger Pigeon

At that time nobody bothered to breed  and maintain the species. That was a mere 100 years ago.

Have we changed our attitude towards preserving wildlife?

Barely.

World Wildlife Day goes by largely unnoticed.

We have bigger fish to fry. Grow the economy, border up the country, go to Mars…

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Inside Out

Drifting

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Drifting Snow, Alaska

“Hidden in the glorious wildness
like unmined gold.”

John Muir


Is it time for another John Muir, or an Edward Abbey and a president with an open ear for the environment and its conservation?

I think so. All this talk about jobs, growth, and profits is so wrong. Maybe it will support this generation and a few more to come, but we cannot keep growing forever. That’s just not possible on a planet with limited resources. What do we do? Do we care?

That is maybe the key question we should ask ourselves. Do we really care about future generations and this planet? Or do we only care about us? Our family, our genes?

I am wondering what Darwin would say about our current state of affairs. Maybe our species is currently the fittest in this world that we have changed. Maybe not.

What do you think?

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Note to self

Ripple effect

“In nature everything is connected,
interwoven, subject to natural law.
We cannot separate ourselves from that,
no matter how hard we try.”

Jeffrey R. Anderson


 

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Low Tide, Chilkaat Inlet, Alaska

I strongly believe that we are part of Nature, not separate from it, not above it. What we do with and to our environment will affect us and others. Some of it is out of our hand. In some instances, we may be able to tip the balance, either way. And sometimes we are completely accountable for the plundering and destruction of our planet.

I hope we find a way to act responsibly and leave this planet in better shape than we found it for future generations. I am sure this has been said before.

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Conservation, One Man's Paradise

Good News

Once in a while there are good news. Here is an interesting one concerning the delisting of one of the most elusive predators in North America – The wolverine (gulo gulo).

The ruling does not grant listing of wolverines on the endangered species list, but it calls the USFWS 2014 decision to withdraw the proposed wolverine listing rule “arbitrary and capricious.”

wolverine

A lot of legends surround the wolverine. To see one in the wild is an unforgettable experience.

The one above was photographed at the Kroschel Wildlife Center, a great way to see all kinds of wildlife in large enclosures. Some of the animals have developed a real connection to Steve Kroschel, otherwise you could not do this:

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It’s all good:

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A delisting of the wolverine would be welcome, if it were based on research and facts, not special interest or arbitrary decision making. Thank you, Judge Christensen.

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Conservation

Waterfall – № 4

“Here is your country.

Cherish these natural wonders, cherish the natural resources, cherish the history and romance as a sacred heritage, for your children and your children’s children.

Do not let selfish men or greedy interests skin your country of its beauty, its riches or its romance.”

Theodore Roosevelt


I am bit puzzled by President Roosevelt, who was an avid hunter and an early supporter of the National Park System. On one of his safaris to Africa his expedition killed about 11,000 specimens, hundreds of big game, including 6 white rhinos. He must have been aware of the anachronistic nature of this hunt. He asked not to be condemned, as he collected the specimens for the Smithsonian and other museums in the name of science. I guess times have changed and we have enough dead animals in collections and dangling form walls. I hope President Roosevelt would look at big game hunting with different eyes if he were alive today.

On other news, Shell got the go ahead to drill in the Arctic with the EPA watching over every step. Right. Since they just did such a great job with the Animas river in Colorado I have full confidence, not. There are 500,000 old mines in the US, many of them environmental hazards. I guess it is fair to say that the mining companies in the past were not good stewards of the land. What about the oil companies of today?

I wish men and women in power do remember what Roosevelt had to say more than hundred years ago.

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Conservation

Cecil, Echo, Romeo

The recent killing of Cecil, a popular lion, in Zimbabwe has more than ruffled a few feathers so to speak. Until now the debate is limited to big game hunting in Africa. Some politicians are ready to jump in with new legislation concerning the import of game trophies from other countries.

What about trophy hunting in front of our own doorsteps? We allow the killing, sometimes also referred to as “harvesting”, of big game in the United States, without any intent for consumption of the meat. A selfie, bragging rights, a head mount or a pelt are the only intent for killing that animal.

We still have states that encourage and reward the killing of species, such as coyotes in UT, that we consider a pest. As a result, the occasional wolf ends up being shot without any consequences to the shooter, since  the laws state, if you shoot a wolf mistakenly, you are free to go. Hence, Echo, the first gray wolf to appear in the Grand Canyon after decades was killed by accident. The shooter went free, the female wolf is gone.

Now, the first gray wolf in years has been spotted in Northern California. Wolves once roamed the Coastal Range from San Diego to Sacramento, Shasta County and the central Sierra Nevada. Through a government funded extermination campaign in the 1920s Canis lupus was hunted to extinction. Today, the gray wolf is on California’s Endangered Species List.

What does that all say? Times are changing. We don’t live any more in a world of abundant wildlife. It is simply unethical to kill  animals for “sport”. Declining populations, such as the Alexander Archipelago wolf should be protected, period. Wildlife management as an oxymoron. It would mean, we know the correct population size and distribution of prey and predator. Instead, we manage based on monetary and other interest, not science, because there is no such thing as exact science when it comes to wildlife management that includes culling.

I’ll stop here, fully aware that no big game hunter will read this or the following:

Wolves in California
Romeo: A Lone Wolf’s Tragedy in Three Acts
Key Population of Alaska’s Alexander Archipelago Wolves Nearly Wiped Out in 1 Year

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Into the Wild

Thoughts on Wilderness – № 2

“We need the tonic of wildness…

At the same time that we are earnest to explore and learn all things,
we require that all things be mysterious and unexplorable,
that land and sea be indefinitely wild, unsurveyed and unfathomed by us because unfathomable.

We can never have enough of nature.”

Henry David Thoreau


Denali National Park management goes one step further than most other parks by promoting their leave-no-trace policy. Backpackers in the park are now, as part of the mandatory safety instruction, advised not to publish or follow GPS-data on their hike in an effort to avoid the creation of man-made trails. “Leave only footprints, take only photographs” may be a popular motto in other parks with designated, and well maintained hiking trails. Not so in Denali National Park.

McKinley Bar Trail, Denali National Park, AK

McKinley Bar Trail, Denali National Park, AK

A few marked trails exist in Denali National Park, mostly around the park entrance. Few backpackers venture far away from the park’s road into the back country of this vast park. Those that do, enjoy the experience of wilderness as described by Thoreau. The management of Denali National Park wants to keep it that way. By preventing the establishment of man-made trails they hope to keep the majority of the park wild and pristine.

Tundra hiking in Denali National Park

Tundra hiking in Denali National Park

“Let the tourist be on his own, and not be spoon-fed at intervals. Let him be encouraged to keep his eyes open, do his own looking and exploring, and catch what he can of the magic of wilderness.” Those were Adolph Murie’s words in the 50’s, opposing a plan to develop trails in Denali National Park. His opinion seemed to have inspired the park’s trail-less philosophy.

This approach provides the unique opportunity for hikers to experience nature in the most profound and intense way.

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Find your own path…

Wildlife management in Denali National Park also differs from most other national forest lands and parks, wildlife refuges, and wilderness areas. It’s hands-off. No animals are culled! In the most protected areas there is no hunting, period. In other areas subsistence hunting is allowed, but no guided trophy hunting, thank you very much.

Finally, no private traffic on the park’s one and only road. Just as Edward Abbey suggested. Unfortunately, many other parks look more like drive-through theaters than wilderness.

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