Posted by: greentangle | May 21, 2017

Wolf Wars

A moment of unnatural history: watched a gull carrying a rectangular piece of red and white cardboard, maybe part of a pizza box, fly up to rooftop. It looked like airmail.

 

Finished reading a new book a couple days ago—Wolf Nation: The Life, Death, and Return of Wild American Wolves by Brenda Peterson. It’s a good look at the overall picture, a mix of history and anecdote not limited to Yellowstone as many wolf books are.

 

It includes a focus on wolf hatred and the fact that giving control of wolf populations to the states amounts to giving that control to the ranchers and hunters whose opinions control state wildlife boards despite the opposition of the majority of the public.

 

That’s really what this post is about, inspired by a visit to a Facebook page of Gardiner (MT) and Mammoth Hot Springs (YNP/WY). Someone posted there about the reward for catching the recent killer of a well-known Yellowstone (since that post, various groups have listed rewards and donations which now have the total up to almost $30,000).

 

Many of the local Gardiner residents proceeded to attack the idea of caring about the wolf and mentioned a Montana cop who’d recently been shot. This is standard practice anytime someone expresses concern over an animal issue—denigrate the concern by bringing up all the issues someone else considers more important, which is almost always some human issue.

 

Outliers like St. Francis aside, this often comes from a Christian background. Create a god, declare yourself made in its image, and give yourself dominion over all other forms of life. It’s hard to imagine a more arrogant, negative philosophy for interacting with the natural world. This is a major reason I have such a low opinion of people—because they consider themselves more important than anything else.

 

The other result of that thinking which struck me is that all those Gardiner residents think there’s some big difference between the person who shot the wolf and the person who shot the cop. I think they’re both products of the gun-happy, let’s shoot something culture of this country as a whole and of the states surrounding Yellowstone in particular—a culture which puts those states, along with other pro-gun areas such as the south and Alaska, at or near the top of the list of states in both death by gun and suicide by gun rates. The blue states are generally at the bottom.

 

During the years I lived in Yellowstone, I spent a lot of money in Gardiner and elsewhere in Montana. This event and these comments have finalized a decision which had largely already been made—I won’t be returning to Yellowstone. Not only because of the negative effects of overcrowding on the park experience, but because I don’t want to contribute another penny to the states which surround it.

 

Adding this link to a post by a local with a description of a Gardiner meeting about wolves and poaching.

http://ricklamplugh.blogspot.com/2017/05/the-poaching-of-canyon-packs-alpha.html

 

Posted by: greentangle | May 14, 2017

Seeing Red

The 45 you know and his cronies isn’t the first GOP 45th government administration trying to hide facts and eliminate discussion of climate change instead of trying to eliminate climate change.  Just the first federal government, which has traditionally been used to put a brake on the more redneck states.

As every Minnesotan knows, and this column from the Northern Wilds magazine website explains, we don’t want to become Wisconsin. Or Montana, Wyoming, Idaho, or Alaska.

In case you hadn’t heard, NPS confirmed what most of us familiar with attitudes toward wolves in the states surrounding Yellowstone assumed when we learned about The White Lady‘s death last month. She was shot. A 12 year old mother of at least 20 pups, an alpha for almost 10 years, one of the park’s most famous animals, until her murder by a human mad dog. In addition to the NPS reward, the group Wolves of the Rockies has offered an additional $5000 reward.

Posted by: greentangle | May 8, 2017

For the Pet Lovers

A few weeks ago, I read the new book The Inner Life of Cats: The Science and Secrets of Our Mysterious Feline Companions by Thomas McNamee. The title only partially reflects the book’s contents. It’s written in a conversational style with a tone that is sometimes amusing and sometimes annoying, mixing objective facts with the author’s own experiences living with cats. I thought, hey, I can do that, and planned to mix a book review with stories from my own life with the late lamented cats Hijack and Walden, but what I had in mind was beyond my current writing skill and emotional strength.

The book does have some science, but it’s also the life story of a kitten who showed up one winter night at the author’s place near Livingston, Montana (north of Yellowstone). We discover a couple of Livingston’s many unusual residents such as a cat killer and a wolf behind the counter of a copy shop.

Although the author gives some tips for reducing the amount of wildlife killed by your outside cat, he doesn’t seem very concerned about the ones who are killed, as he considered his cat’s need to be free more important. Feral cats are also discussed.

There is a lot of advice on creating the best environment for a cat and how a kitten should be raised to result in the most human friendly cat. After learning more about cats, the author feels some guilt about how he treated his cat at times, and is likely to make most cat ‘owners’ (including me) feel guilty as well.

The book includes his cat’s eventual illness and death and the numbing grief which followed. I still remember how long it took me to begin to get over my own grief when my cat companion of 19 years died. Life is not as good without a warm bundle of purr, but the time and circumstances of my life prevent me from having one so I have to get by on memories.

 

I just got back from vacation at my friend’s. Age has started taking its toll on each of us and we didn’t do the kind of hiking and traveling we once did, which can be more frustrating when I’m away from home with someone than it is when I’m alone in my usual place. I didn’t see the large animals I got used to seeing in Yellowstone, but there were deer, geese, turtles, a rabbit, squirrels, birds by the Lake, a muskrat, and feral chickens (or neighborhood free range at least). Some might call it a boring vacation, but I had someone making good meals for me, a bed and thus more and better sleep, and a fine dog to play with, all things which aren’t part of my usual life, and I know it was the best 10 days I’ll have this year. What more could one want from a vacation?

 

Posted by: greentangle | April 22, 2017

Arts and Sciences

I strolled for science this morning. I don’t like to carry signs, so I wore this shirt instead. The government thinks it’s OK to kill hibernating bears? Well,

I haven’t seen any news coverage or crowd estimates of the Duluth march but apparently there were over 10,000 people at the St. Paul march. We didn’t have that many of course but it was a large crowd–maybe over 1,000.

I’m not actually a science worshipper–I think being too rational can take a lot of the pleasure out of life. I was there to support sciences such as ecology and conservation biology, but I oppose messing with genes and have no interest in seeing all human disease cured so we can overpopulate the planet and drive species to extinction even faster.

I was in the middle of the pack–here’s some of the people in front of me

 and some of the people behind me.

There were lots of good signs.

 

 

Note the NO SCIENCE = NO BEER sign in the corner of that one. This is serious!

 

After the march I went to a restaurant for lunch and got the following in my fortune cookie. “A different world cannot be built by indifferent people.” I’m not gonna get all optimistic on ya, but jeez!

Then I stopped by Electric Fetus for Record Store Day and heard Sarah Krueger sing a couple songs. My current favorite musician Anders Osborne was on NPR this morning talking about the group he started to help sober musicians stay that way.

There were lots of dogs walking with us today.

 

I didn’t see any cuter than this pup.

 

In a few days I’ll be taking a much needed vacation from my two part time jobs, leaving Duluth for the first time since I got back from Yellowstone almost a year ago, and heading over to Marquette to see my favorite dog and his human.

Posted by: greentangle | April 20, 2017

People are Grizzly Food

http://www.hcn.org/articles/people-are-grizzly-food-and-thats-ok

Posted by: greentangle | April 14, 2017

RIP

A famous Yellowstone wolf died this week. She was the wolf I had a solo encounter with five winters ago when hiking above Mammoth Hot Springs. I considered myself very lucky to see her with no other people present and no roads in sight. One of my top YNP memories.

The NPS press release follows. Although it states the nature of the initial injuries is unknown, it also encourages anyone with information to call them. Doesn’t sound like they’re looking for a killer bison, and usual NPS policy is not to interfere with natural processes by killing a dying animal. I’m sure we’ll be hearing more.

Well-Known Wolf Severely Injured and Killed in Park

Date: April 14, 2017
Contact: Morgan Warthin, (307) 344-2015

MAMMOTH HOT SPRINGS, WY – On April 11, 2017, hikers discovered a severely injured wolf inside Yellowstone National Park near Gardiner, Montana.

Park staff investigated the situation and concluded the wolf was in shock and dying from the injuries. “Staff on scene agreed the animal could not be saved due to the severity of its injuries. The decision was made to kill the animal and investigate the cause of the initial trauma,” said P.J. White, Chief of the Wildlife and Aquatic Resources Branch. At this time, the nature of the initial injuries is unknown. An investigation into the cause of the injuries has begun which will include a necropsy.

Park staff identified the wolf as the white female of the Canyon Pack, one of three known white wolves in the park. This wolf lived to 12 years, twice the age of an average wolf in the park and had a broad range that extended from Hayden Valley to the Firehole River area to the northern portion of the park. For these reasons, the wolf was one of the most recognizable and sought after by visitors to view and photograph.

Anyone with information about this incident is encouraged to call the Yellowstone National Park Tip Line at 307-344-2132 or e-mail us. For more information, visit http://go.nps.gov/tipline.

The park will provide more information about the investigation when it is available.

 

 

Posted by: greentangle | April 3, 2017

Bears Repeating

I read a couple more Yellowstone books last month. Not because I’m having new thoughts of returning (if that ever happens, it will be at least two years from now after I’ve started collecting Social Security and stopped working any regular jobs), but because they’d reached the top of my to-be-read interlibrary loan books list.

Yellowstone Ranger is by Jerry Mernin, who worked 32 years in Yellowstone, retired long before I got there and died while I was working there. The book of his writing was put together after his death. He grew up in Yosemite where his father was a ranger, and first worked there as well as at Bryce and Grand Canyon before staying at Yellowstone until he was forced to retire due to age. He then became a backcountry volunteer until he was physically unable to continue.

As you’d expect from the time period involved, the book is filled with old school attitudes, suggesting a carload of hippies get haircuts and shave so they’re less likely to be considered suspects, sexist not as vulgarly as Trump but in a more chivalrous manner. In keeping with policies of the time, he shot and killed a lot of bears, though often wishing he hadn’t needed to do it. With my fear of heights and falling, his descriptions of rappelling into the canyon to retrieve bodies had my stomach flipping.

One of the most interesting parts of the book to me was his speculation about the identity of the bear which killed a Swiss camper in 1984 and was never captured or identified. He suggests that a bear captured and killed several weeks later at Fishing Bridge campground was the same bear, although this differs from the NPS conclusions about the age and size of the bear in their report about the camper’s death.

The second book was Taken by Bear in Yellowstone by Kathleen Snow, which gathers information on bear attacks in and around Yellowstone. As you might expect from the title, this is a fairly sensationalistic book. A very large percentage of the text comes directly from NPS and other agencies’ reports as well as newspaper articles and trail guides, with detailed descriptions of the attacks and the bodily damages caused by the bears. And what comes across is how completely unpredictable bears are. Playing dead and not resisting often seems to help lessen the attack–except when it doesn’t and the bear wants to eat you, or is pulling you sleeping from a tent.

The book seems like a school paper—I don’t think I’ve ever read a book which had less text actually written by the author. Which may not be a bad thing considering a bizarre paragraph in which she tried to excuse photographers who are killed after getting too close to bears by comparing them to hunters. Except that the hunters either accidentally get too close to bears or are deliberately trying to kill them, while the photographers are simply acting irresponsibly. I don’t excuse either group, but they’re not comparable.

Still, it was useful to have all the bear incidents in one book, and as someone familiar with Yellowstone, it was interesting to plot out all the locations against my memories and experiences. One of those attacks involved someone I knew when I lived in the park. But other than the completeness for this particular location, a much better book on the topic of bear attacks which includes several of the Yellowstone incidents is Mark of the Grizzly by Scott McMillion.

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