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Archive for February, 2007

Bees are in trouble, and that means so are we.

Honey bees have a problem.

It began almost 10 years ago when honey bee hives started getting infested by a species of parasitic Asian bee-killing varroa mite. Since then, these mites have killed off honey bees by the millions, or maybe even billions. Other bee species (carpenter bees, bumble bees) are more resistant to the mites and that’s why we’ve been seeing increased numbers of these guys in our yards as they fill in the spaces left by the disappearing honey bees.

Unfortunately, there still aren’t enough of these other bee species to take the place of the honey bees.

To make matters worse, there is a new honey bee problem, called “Colony Collapse Disorder” for want of a better name, because no one really understands what this mysterious ailment is. All we know at this point is that honey bees around the country are starting to abandon their hives and disappear.

And as if the poor honey bees don’t have enough problems, they are also getting hammered by heavy (and often careless!) pesticide use and unusually bad weather all across the country.

Honey bees are vital to the things we grow. Without the assistance of these hard-working little insects, farmers will have a tough time getting their crops pollinated … and grown.

Simply put, we need these bees to survive.

Honey bees pollinate about one-third of the human diet and more than 50 different agricultural crops valued at more than $20 billion a year in the United States, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Carl Hayden Bee Research Center in Tucson, Ariz.

Eternal optimist that I am, I think scientists will eventually figure this all out and
come riding to the rescue to save the bees.

In the meantime, we home gardeners can assist their efforts right in our own back yards by doing what we can to protect remaining populations of our local honey bees, plus any other bee species we see.

For starters, don’t use pesticides. Use alternative pest control methods. Most chemical insecticides sold for home and garden use are toxic to honeybees, even in minute amounts. (I know, I’ll say it for you, “why are these pesticides allowed to be sold?”)

And be nice to every bee you see.

Posted on Wednesday, February 28th, 2007
Under: Bee decline | No Comments »

Navy wants to use dolphins and sea lions to protect submarines from underwater terrorists in Puget Sound

While checking the Associated Press wires this morning, I came across a story by Blaine Harden of the Washington Post about the Navy wanting to use of dolphins and sea lions to police Puget Sound waters and “nab terrorists in wetsuits.”

The Navy has about 100 trained dolphins and sea lions, most of them based in San Diego.

There is concern among animal advocates that the Puget Sound waters are at least 10 degrees cooler than Atlantic bottlenose dolphins are used to in San Diego and might harm them. There will be public hearings in March on the Navy’s plan.

In the story, Naomi Rose, a marine mammal scientist for the Humane Society of the United States, said dolphins, a highly social and intelligent species, should not be held captive for any reason and she objects on ethical grounds, to their being used for military purposes. “They are not reliable soldiers,” she said. “They think they are just having fun.”

A decision on whether Navy dolphins and sea lions will go to Puget Sound is expected to take at least a year, according to Harden.

You can read Blain Harden’s complete story at:
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/02/24/AR2007022401040.html

So how do you personally feel about using dolphins and sea lions to guard against and capture underwater terrorists? Is it any different than using police dogs?

Click on “Comments” below and let’s hear what you have to say about the use of intelligent wild animals for military purposes.

Posted on Tuesday, February 27th, 2007
Under: Animals in military | 2 Comments »

Watch your favorite barn owls, Frida and Diego, raise their family, live!

TheOwlCam is a barn owl nest box in the Benicia Arsenal, where Frida and Diego Barn Owl live.

The barn owl family’s every move is captured by a video camera (webcam) and you can view the results, 24/7, on the Internet at: http://www.TheOwlCam.com

An amazing number of my daily newspaper column readers have been following the exploits of Frida and Diego since they first hit the local scene in January, 2004. That was when a creative gentleman named Scott Zoog, and his friends Mark Engelhardt and Jason Lingnau, working together at a company named Intuitive ISP in Benicia, made TheOwlCam happen.

For those who haven’t been following this, Scott first contacted me on Jan. 11, 2004 to tell us about the nesting and breeding barn owls that had been living in his neighborhood in the Benicia Arsenal for years. Scott and his above named associates had put an unobtrusive video camera equipped with infrared night vision in their nest box, set it to run 24 hours a day and hooked it up to the Internet (webcam) so the world could watch.

When barn owl females incubate eggs, males usually roost nearby and only visit to drop off fresh mice and gophers (I once saw a rat) for the female. While there, he also breeds with her to fertilize the eggs she’s been laying.

The fun is really going to begin when the eggs hatch and we get to watch the mother owl interacting with and raising her chicks. I’ve hand-raised a lot of orphaned barn owls over the years, and I’m telling you now, don’t miss it!

It beats the heck out of “Desperate Housewives,” or “Funniest Home Videos,” and there are no commercials!

That means you can watch them breed, lay eggs, incubate the eggs, hatch out their baby owls, and raise them over the next several months. It makes for fascinating and often hilarious viewing and Frida and Diego have a LOT of fans.

What prompted all of the above information is this e-mail I just received this morning from Scott Zoog:

Hello Owl Fans!
TheOwlCam’s 2007 season is officially underway! Frida and Diego have been mating many times a day for about a week now.

Here is a nice shot that the folks at Cornell saved on Valentines Day: http://www.birds.cornell.edu/birdhouse/nestboxcam/barn_owl_ca

Here is a quick breakdown of how the coming events should progress:

We should start to see some egg laying around the middle of March. The egg laying will go on for about two weeks. In previous years, about 7 eggs have been laid.

It takes about 32 to 34 days for the first egg to hatch, so around mid-April we should start to see some babies.

The eggs then hatch every other day. As a result, the nest will contain young of different sizes and age.

The young are called “owlets.” They are covered with white down for about 6 days. This is gradually replaced by a buff-colored down which develops into a thick, woolly covering that is still in evidence for about 50 days.

Adult plumage is acquired in about 7½ weeks, at which time, after much practicing about the nest, the young venture out for their first lessons in flying and hunting.

If you haven’t already, don’t forget to send your 2007 donation. Your generous support is what keeps TheOwlCam online. Click here to learn how you can help: http://www.theowlcam.com/support.php

Until next time, Happy owl watching.
~Scott

To watch the owls, go to: http://www.TheOwlCam.com

To join TheOwlList and receive e-mail message updates about Frida and Diego, send a blank e-mail to: TheOwlList-on@list.intuitiveisp.com

To be removed from TheOwlList, send a blank e-mail to: TheOwlList-off@list.intuitiveisp.com

Have fun!

Posted on Monday, February 26th, 2007
Under: Uncategorized | No Comments »

A divisive issue

Anyone looking for letters about killing wild turkeys in Rossmoor can find them below, under February 22, 2007.

Dear readers: I thought this provocative letter to the editor of “Nature Conservancy,” the magazine published by the Nature Conservancy, written by Dr. Michael J. Vandeman, might interest you. Dr. Vandeman gave me permission to also print it here for you to read.

You can respond to Dr. Vandeman’s comments with your own thoughts, if you feel so inclined, by clicking on “Comments” (below) at the end of his piece. /Gary

From Michael J. Vandeman, Ph.D.:
The Winter 2006 issue of “Nature Conservancy,” the magazine published by the Nature Conservancy, published the following letter:

“Divisive Issue. You can count me among your growing legion of ex-supporters; the recent article by Hal Herring did it for me (“Hunter, Angler, Conservationist,” Autumn 2006, http://www.nature.org/magazine/autumn2006/features/art18601.html). Along with many environmentalists with strong feelings in favor of protecting — not exploiting — wildlife, I have no interest in conserving nature in order to provide playgrounds for those who take part in archaic ‘blood sports.’ Your organization would be far better off courting the progressive community of ecologically-minded activists, and I won’t be surprised to read that the dying and exhausted sport of hunting has turned out not to be a lucrative bedfellow for groups like yours after all. Mark Gross, Seattle, Washington.”

In that and the Spring 2007 issue are a series of letters addressing the same topic, mostly taking the position that since we are animals like other animals, therefore we can do whatever we want to.

In response, I wrote the following letter to the Editor:

February 21, 2007

Nature Conservancy

Re: “Divisive Issue” (Winter 2006 Issue, p.6)

To the Editor:

Times change. We learn new things, and old ideas become obsolete. It’s inevitable. For example, we can no longer safely assume that water from mountain streams is safe to drink. As Mark Gross stated so eloquently, exploiting wildlife and wildlife habitat, for pleasuring humans, is fast becoming obsolete (although dropping support for Nature Conservancy seems counter-productive to me). The rationalizations for such exploitation are transparently just that. Aldo Leopold is a good example of discarding obsolete notions (the killing of wolves) when they become clearly untenable.

This not to say that denigration of the “exploiters” is OK. I can’t really criticize 19th century Americans for not anticipating modern conservation biology. And I don’t think that difference of opinion necessarily means we can’t get along and work together. There will probably always be compromises “on the ground.”

But I don’t see any reason to compromise on telling the truth! Yes, we are animals somewhat like other animals, but we are not a natural part of any ecosystem. We are a species that is native to part of Africa, and everywhere else a very late newcomer, i.e. an exotic species. Like all exotic species, we have arguably no right to access, much less exploit, local ecosystems, especially when those activities threaten native species (except that, when it’s convenient, we claim that “might makes right”).

There is no honest way in today’s environment to rationalize hunting, fishing, and “collecting” of native species, or non-sustainable recreational activities like mountain biking.

Michael J. Vandeman, Ph.D.
http://home.pacbell.net/mjvande

Dr. Vandeman is a wildlife activist who has also dipped his hand in mathematics, computer programming, psychology, transportation activism, conservation biology, the impacts of mountain biking, theories of consciousness, and fraud in scientific research.

References:
Ehrlich, Paul R. and Ehrlich, Anne H., “Extinction: The Causes and Consequences of the Disappearances of Species.” New York: Random House, 1981.

Errington, Paul L., “A Question of Values.” Ames, Iowa: Iowa State University Press, 1987.

Flannery, Tim, “The Eternal Frontier — An Ecological History of North America and Its Peoples.” New York: Grove Press, 2001.

Foreman, Dave, “Confessions of an Eco-Warrior.” New York: Harmony Books, 1991.

Knight, Richard L. and Kevin J. Gutzwiller, eds. “Wildlife and Recreationists.” Covelo, California: Island Press, 1995.

Louv, Richard, “Last Child in the Woods — Saving Our Children from Nature-Deficit Disorder.” Chapel Hill, N.C.: Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill, 2005.

Noss, Reed F. and Allen Y. Cooperrider, “Saving Nature’s Legacy: Protecting and Restoring Biodiversity.” Island Press, Covelo, California, 1994.

Stone, Christopher D., “Should Trees Have Standing? Toward Legal Rights for Natural Objects.” Los Altos, California: William Kaufmann, Inc., 1973.

Vandeman, Michael J., http://home.pacbell.net/mjvande, especially http://home.pacbell.net/mjvande/india3, http://home.pacbell.net/mjvande/sc8, http://home.pacbell.net/mjvande/scb4 and http://home.pacbell.net/mjvande/scb7.

Ward, Peter Douglas, “The End of Evolution: On Mass Extinctions and the Preservation of Biodiversity.” New York: Bantam Books, 1994.

“The Wildlands Project,” Wild Earth. Richmond, Vermont: The Cenozoic Society, 1994.

Wilson, Edward O., ”The Future of Life.” New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2002.

Posted on Friday, February 23rd, 2007
Under: Hunting | 1 Comment »

Take my turkey … PLEASE!

Turkey Wars
Times’ staff writer Denis Cuff’s story on the front page of last Saturday’s Times (Feb. 17) about shooting wild turkeys in the Rossmoor retirement community in Walnut Creek is still causing ripples. Hum, better make that “waves.” I got a phone call yesterday from someone who played a VERY LOUD recording of a turkey gobbling in my ear. I can still hear it. Kind of inspiring, if you know what I mean.

A day hasn’t passed since then without my getting more phone calls, e-mail messages, and letters from people who are angry about this turkey killing. Why do we always kill things that annoy us? (Don’t even try to answer that.)

My daily newspaper column space doesn’t have enough room to print all these e-mails and letters, so I’ve decided to print some of them here in my blog, which has plenty of room.

Do the letters below stimulate a few thoughts of your own? You can add your own comments by clicking on “Comments” at the end today’s entry.

I’ll be interested to hear what you think about all this. /Gary

GARY: Our Rossmoor administration has hired a sharp-shooter with a silenced .22 rifle to thin the wild turkey population. If there are people like you who admire the birds, please call Rossmoor so that an adoption plan can be set up, or just drive up with a covered pickup truck full of feed. You will have a truck full of gobblers in no time.

Unlike deer that jump in front of cars, I have yet to see a dead turkey in the road, being that the speed limit is 25 and the birds move slowly as do our senior residents. After dark the turkeys roost in the trees while the deer still prance around at all hours. As far as destroying the Rossmoor maintained landscape, the deer eat everything that they can reach while the turkeys just peck at the ground.

One complaint is that elderly people can slip on their droppings. The turkey flock is always in slow but constant motion. The food that they eat is not on the sidewalks so that the droppings on the walkways are minimal. They cross the walkways and streets, like the proverbial chicken, “to get to the other side.” They can be noisy but no more than the Canada geese that flock here or the complaining seniors who live here.

It may disturb your sense of animal justice, but dogs and cats in Rossmoor cannot roam free. If they can’t tolerate a leash, they must remain indoors. Because of that rule we have ground nesting birds like quail. Residents in the Eagle Ridge area keep their cats indoors to prevent them from becoming a coyote’s dinner. Birds of prey like owls and red-tailed hawks also reside there.

Rossmoor, with the exception of its minority of complaining seniors is a wild animal park in the suburbs. I do love and admire all our natural friends that surround us here that make Rossmoor a special place to spend our golden years. I hope that some of our wild turkeys can be relocated rather than shot. And I hope the gunned down gobblers can be given to the Contra Costa Food Bank. (Bob Butkus, Rossmoor, Walnut Creek)

GARY: “Rossmoor to kill turkeys.” Oh boy, I was furious to hear this! I have so enjoyed the return of the turkeys to this area. Granted, there are a lot of them, with the population growing in leaps and bounds, but we live in an area surrounded by open space and need to learn to accept the good with what some see as the bad.

I can understand the problem with turkey poop on sidewalks, I’ve stepped over it many times myself, but that gives humans the right to kill another living thing? No! What about all the dog owners who don’t pick up after their dogs when they poop; do we shoot the owner? The dog? I’d much rather deal with turkey poop than all the dog poop left lying around in this area (Rudgear Road).

Can’t these birds be moved to higher ground? My God, I can’t believe that rather than deal with nature, humans will kill. It disgusts me.

I have seen cars pull over and stop to watch the turkeys and yes, I’ve seen them have to stop and wait for turkeys to cross the road … so what? I saw a U.S. Postal Service truck aim at them and speed up, literally.

Why have we become so self important that “lesser” living creatures have no right to live? Why are we in such a hurry that we can’t stop and wait for another living creature to cross a road without some becoming so angry we start honking and screaming?

Why, why are we allowed to kill something because it poops on the sidewalk? (Lauran, Walnut Creek)

GARY: The news in Saturday’s paper was really appalling to me. Reading about all the shootings in Rossmoor trying to kill the wild turkeys. They even had to hire someone to do this and use a silencer so that the people would not hear the shooting. What a crying shame! These wild turkeys are so wonderful with their tranquil sounds. Can’t these people enjoy life and put up with a little debris? What is next? Killing all the crows that make noise or all the cats that are roaming around?! These Rossmoor people should be ashamed of their doings. (Aimee Ann Vickers, Pleasanton)

GARY: Our neighborhood is still grieving over the loss of our beloved George the Turkey (hit by a car) while across town in Rossmoor they are being killed by a hired gun. It is reported that the population of turkeys is growing to an unmanageable number in Rossmoor thereby causing a nuisance to the residents.

George was also a nuisance, but a much loved one! He caused me to be late to work a number of times because he would perch himself on the top of our Explorer and wouldn’t budge. My husband had to clean up turkey poop on our cars and in our yard everyday but figured that was the least we could do in exchange for all the enjoyment George brought to us.

Surprisingly, turkeys are indeed capable of living near humans and the sight of a large tom strutting and calling during the spring courtship is a spectacular sight that many people who are fortunate enough to have witnessed often recite and share and fondly remember. But to have to shoot them?

I can’t help but think there must be a better way. Studies reveal that every species of wildlife has a fascinating story and these stories put our lives into perspective. Hopefully the citizens of Rossmoor, along with the rest of our community, will take the time to understand and be tolerant of the natural world around us and be inspired to protect and appreciate whatever is still wild and under their care. (Rita Bradt, Walnut Creek)

A final thought:

“I wish the bald eagle had not been chosen as the representative of our country; he is a bird of bad moral character; like those among men who live by sharking and robbing, he is generally poor, and often very lousy. The turkey is a much more respectable.”
— Benjamin Franklin, statesman, scientist, philosopher, inventor (1706-1790)

Posted on Thursday, February 22nd, 2007
Under: Uncategorized | 5 Comments »

ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center advice on recent FDA recalls of cat food and peanut butter

Here’s an alert from the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals about some recent food recalls that might affect your pets:

NEW YORK — Last week, the U. S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued two recalls pertaining to products contaminated with the bacteria Salmonella. The first involves a recall on Peter Pan and Great Value brands of peanut butter with the manufacturer code “2111” on the jar lid.

The second recall pertains to Wild Kitty Raw All Natural, Frozen Cat Food – Chicken with Clam Recipe. Contaminated packages include both the 3.5 ounce and 1 lb. sizes. Thus far, there have been no reports of illness pertaining to either product in pets.

As many pets — especially dogs — enjoy an occasional peanut butter treat, the ASPCA cautions pet parents against feeding recalled peanut butter to pets. Affected jars should be thrown out, and extra caution should be taken to ensure that pets do not access trash receptacles containing the discarded peanut butter. Similar steps should be followed for the contaminated cat food.

“Most healthy adult dogs and cats are less susceptible to Salmonella infection than humans,” says Dr. Eric Dunayer, Senior Toxicologist for the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center. “However, it is still possible for problems to occur, so we recommend discarding any product involved in this recall.”

For more information about the recalls, please visit:

http://www.fda.gov/bbs/topics/NEWS/2007/NEW01563.html
and http://www.fda.gov/bbs/topics/NEWS/2007/NEW01562.html

The ASPCA’s Animal Poison Control Center is the premier animal poison control center in North America. An allied agency of the University of Illinois, it is the only facility of its kind staffed by 25 veterinarians (nine of whom are board-certified toxicologists) and 14 certified veterinary technicians. Located in Urbana, Ill., the specially-trained staff provides assistance to pet owners and specific analysis and treatment recommendations to veterinarians pertaining to toxic chemicals and dangerous plants, products or substances, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

For more information on potentially dangerous substances in the home or to reach the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center, you can call 1-888-426-4435 or visit www.aspca.org/apcc.

Posted on Wednesday, February 21st, 2007
Under: Food recalls | 1 Comment »

Air travelers should leave pets at home

I just received this urgent press release from The Humane Society of the United States:

As the nation’s air travel system struggles to recover after recent winter storms, The Humane Society of the United States is urging pet owners to keep their pets on the ground for the next several days.

“News reports indicate some flights have been delayed for eight hours or even longer,” said Wayne Pacelle, HSUS president and CEO. “Animals housed in cages in the cargo holds for hours in freezing temperatures are at serious risk for hypothermia. The best thing to do is to leave pets at home if there is any risk of flight delays.”

Airlines allow passengers to bring small pets into the passenger cabin if the pet is kept in a carrier small enough to fit under seats. Larger pets are shipped in transport crates in a plane’s cargo hold. The temperature in cargo holds varies widely depending on the weather conditions.

The HSUS advises air travelers to leave pets at home in the care of a pet sitter or to delay travel until delays are less likely.

The HSUS has tips for travelers on its web site: www.humanesociety.org.

Many thanks to HSUS for keeping an eye on our pets!

Posted on Friday, February 16th, 2007
Under: Pets | No Comments »

Help stop people from engaging in brutal “blood sports”

Dog fighting and cockfighting are just plain brutal. So are the people who are involved in these “blood sports.”

Back in the early 1980s I got a campaign going in my daily newspaper column to alert readers to the fact that there was a lot of dog fighting going on locally in my newspaper’s circulation area. I was able to contact two local dog fighters who agreed to let me interview them about their “sport.” They described their activities in graphic terms and I published their comments in my column. Then the fun began.

Several days after my first anti-dog fighting column appeared, I received a telephone call at the Times. It was from a male who refused to give me his name. “All you need to know,” he muttered, “is that I know what your car looks like and your license plate number and where you park it in the Times parking lot … and I want you to think about that every time you get in your car and start to turn on the key. Maybe you should stop writing about dog fighting. Get my message?”

He accurately described my car and gave me the correct license plate number. Then he hung up. Yes, I got the message. But I didn’t stop writing about dog fighting.

A week later I got a long-distance phone call … at home … from West Virginia. The voice on the other end of the line sounded like it was coming from an old-time Southern gentleman. Only this wasn’t a gentleman.

“Suh,” he said. “Ah understand you’ve been writing and casting aspersions on the fine old Southern sport of dog fighting. I just called to suggest that you cease doing this immediately, or I shall be forced to grind you up into dog food and feed you to my fighting dogs.” And he hung up.

What a curious group of people. They’re not any nicer to fellow humans than they are to their dogs.

I did finish writing my series of columns about the evils of dog fighting. You’ll be delighted to know (I hope!) that my car never went BOOM, and I never got ground up into dog food.

Keeping all of the above in mind, I’d like to remind you that dog fighting and cockfighting still thrive in some areas of California and around the United States. Wherever these “blood sports” occur, you will also find drug sales, prostitution, weapons and gambling.

There is something you can do to help put an end to this nastiness if you feel so inclined:

ASPCA URGENT ALERT

Dear Animal Advocates:
HR 137/S 261 (the Animal Fighting Prohibition Enforcement Act of 2007) has been introduced in both the U.S. House of Representatives and the Senate. The Act seeks to increase the penalties for cockfighting and dog fighting. Similar bills introduced in 2006 were never voted on, so they died when Congress recessed for the year.

The Animal Fighting Prohibition Enforcement Act would properly penalize and hopefully deter people from engaging in these brutal “blood sports.” Dogs used in dog fighting often die of blood loss, shock, dehydration, exhaustion and infection. Some trainers train their dogs to fight using smaller animals, such as cats, rabbits or smaller dogs as bait. The presence of animal fighting in communities has been known to lead to other crimes, such as illegal gambling, carrying of illegal weapons and drug sales.

What You Can Do
Please sign our web-letter, which will be sent to your senators and representative urging them to support the Animal Fighting Prohibition Enforcement Act of 2007. You may also visit our web site to read about this legislation in greater depth.
http://www.aspca.org/site/R?i=MvYyE9pYYBxOr44v3kDEFA

We deeply thank you for your help and support!

The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals
424 E. 92nd St., New York, NY 10128
Visit us on-line at www.aspca.org

Posted on Thursday, February 15th, 2007
Under: Blood sports | 1 Comment »

Bears of Alaska’s Katmai National Park are in Peril

Press release of the week (delivered with the rest of my e-mail this morning):

From Lindsay Buhles, media relations manager, National Parks Conservation Association:

McNeil River bears threatened by increased hunting opportunities within national park boundaries

Anchorage, Alaska — The National Parks Conservation Association (NPCA) has asked the State of Alaska and the Alaska Board of Game to stop the proposed expansion of brown bear hunting inside the boundaries of Katmai National Park, where bear numbers are already declining.

“This area, inside a national park, has been wisely closed to brown bear hunting for 22 years,” said Jim Stratton, NPCA’s regional director in Alaska. “We are concerned that an increased number of bears will be killed in Katmai if this portion of the park, owned by the State of Alaska, is opened later this year to hunting.”

Bear numbers in the area have decreased significantly over the past few years, violating protections set by Congress in the Alaska Lands Act of 1980 instructing the National Park Service to maintain “high concentrations” of brown bears in Katmai National Park and Preserve.

In Katmai National Preserve, where hunting is legal, Alaska state wildlife biologists have estimated that eight brown bears can be killed every calendar year without significant impact to the bear population. During the 2005/2006 hunting season, 35 brown bears were killed. In the 2003/2004 season, 34 brown bears were killed. That does not include bears that are shot in defense of life and property, poached, or taken for subsistence purposes.

“The current level of hunting is in direct conflict with the mandate from Congress to preserve this area as a premier bear-viewing site,” said Stratton. “Trophy hunters are killing two times the number of bears that can be killed to maintain legal levels of bears.”

Additional concerns about the proposed hunt pertain to the fact that the bears in this area spend the summer in close proximity to humans, becoming habituated to visitors who pay hundreds of dollars a day to watch them in their natural habitat.

“This is like shooting fish in a barrel,” Stratton added. “It’s unethical hunting.”

NPCA, the Alaska Professional Hunters Association, bear-viewing guides and others have submitted proposals requesting the Board of Game to reinstate the hunting closure on the Kamishak Special Use Area.

“We’d like to ultimately limit the number of hunters to ensure that only a limited number of bears are harvested. And that may require closing the area for a season to determine the population and agree upon a harvest level that is sustainable to maintain ‘high concentrations’,” Stratton said.

Additional information and pictures can be found here:

http://www.npca.org/media_center/fact_sheets/bears-of-katmai-national-park.html

What’s with Alaska? They’ve been shooting every wolf in sight for years from airplanes because they feel the wolves are competing with hunters for elk. Now they want to let hunters kill more brown bears, to the point where they might wipe them out, according to the NPCA.

As I’ve pointed out before, Alaska apparently doesn’t want any natural predators killing animals that paying hunters could be killing. There needs to be some serious re-thinking on this by Alaska’s legislators.

Posted on Wednesday, February 14th, 2007
Under: Bear hunting | No Comments »

Prehistoric flying reptile sightings in New Mexico?

E-mail message of the month:
“Bigfoot” sightings often come in many shapes and forms. Take the one mentioned in the e-mail below, for example.

By the way, pterosaurs, also sometimes called pterodactyls, were flying reptiles. They lived from the late Triassic to the Cretaceous Period. In case you’re interested, that was from approximately 200 to 65 million years ago. It’s highly unlikely that after being extinct for millions of years, pterosaurs would suddenly reappear in New Mexico.

But we must keep open minds about these things.

Dear Gary:
My name is Mike Smith, and I write a weekly column of unexplained and unusual New Mexico history and lore for the New Mexico Daily Lobo.

You can read past installments of the column on-line at www.mystrangenewmexico.com.

My next column is going to be about a number of intriguing alleged pterosaur sightings in southwestern New Mexico, near the town of Antelope Wells.

I have read on-line that you seem to be a guy to go to with questions about giant birds, unidentified flying creatures, and so forth. So, I’m curious, have you ever heard anything at all about any kind of living pterosaur sightings anywhere within the state of New Mexico?

If you could tell me anything about this, I would gladly provide a link to your site from mine and endorse your writings in my work.

This is a neglected modern legend worth writing about, and I would greatly appreciate any help you can give me in my research. (Mike Smith, Albuquerque, New Mexico)

Dear Mike:
The pterosaurs mentioned in your e-mail are the first I’ve heard about. I know nothing about any modern day sightings of these creatures in New Mexico or anywhere else in the world.

Can you update my knowledge by sending me the information you have about “a number of intriguing alleged pterosaur sightings in southwestern New Mexico, near the town of Antelope Wells”? (Gary)

Anyone out there in never-never land heard anything about pterosaurs that have been seen anywhere recently?

Stay tuned.

Posted on Tuesday, February 13th, 2007
Under: Bigfoot, etc. | 5 Comments »