Veterans and Conservation

Many states have special hunting licenses for disabled veterans. Some states have hunting areas that honor veterans in name or in deed. But Adventurers and Scientists for Conservation gives veterans and conservation a whole new twist. While it’s not news (I could have sworn that I saw it on the front page of the NY Times, but I couldn’t find the article), it is appropriate for the day.

In 2012, Adventurers and Scientists lead three grizzly bear tracking weekends in Montana for veterans and their families.

Read the Sierra Club press release here.
See the Adventurers and Scientists own write-up here, which includes video.
This documentary producer worked with National Geographic to tell the story.

(And yes, we’ve covered Adventurers and Scientists before, here. They are still available to provide adventurers for your hard-to-collect data.)

Thank you to all our veterans, whether they served recently or long ago, in war or in peace.

Mapping Bears in Florida

bear tracksThe Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission is asking citizens to report sightings of black bears or their tracks to a new mapping website. It is particularly interested in reports of females with cubs or of cubs alone, a press release states.

“Our bear range data is 11 years old, and we are excited about getting the public’s help in identifying all the places where bears now live in Florida,” said FWC bear research biologist Brian Scheick in the press release. “What we learn from the new bear sightings Web page will inform the FWC’s efforts to document bear distribution and help with future bear management decisions,” Scheick said.

The citizen science bear mapping project follows on the heels of a successful FWC effort to map fox squirrels. We covered it back in October 2011. And a more recent mink mapping effort, that we covered in July.

Read the FWC press release here.
Read an article in the Orlando Sentinel here.
Go to the FWC black bear sighting registry, here.

Bears: Attacks and Responses

Black bearA black bear attack on a 12-year-old girl in Michigan made national news last week. However, a Michigan Department of Natural Resources press release says that a bear killed by DNR personnel shortly after the attack was not the bear in the attack. The bear was not killed because of any possible connection to the attack, but because it had been wounded by being shot by a home-owner who feared for his life.

The release says that DNA analysis shows that the bear that attacked the girl was female, while the bear that was killed was male.

Read the Michigan DNR press release here.
And if you haven’t seen the bear attack coverage, you can find some of it here.

NBC Nightly News notes that it was a busy week for bear attacks.

In Idaho, in a situation that closely echos the Michigan incident, the US Fish and Wildlife Service is investigating the shooting of a grizzly bear on private property to see if the bear is the same one that attacked two biologists earlier in the month, Reuters reports.

Read the Reuters story here.
Another Reuters story contains a single paragraph about the biologists, which is the most information I could find anywhere. Read the whole story in the Willmar, Minn. West Central Tribune:

Also on Thursday, Idaho wildlife officials reported that two biologists collecting grizzly habitat data in the eastern part of the state were knocked down by a charging grizzly after they startled it. Spray was used to scare off the bear, which bit one man on the backside and the other on the hands.


Photo: This is my generic black bear photo, courtesy US Fish and Wildlife Service. This bear has neither attacked a human nor been shot, to the best of my knowledge.

Southwestern Naturalist Round-up

southwesternnaturalistcoverHere are some papers from the most recent issue of the Southwestern Naturalist that may be of interest to others outside the region, or of particular interest locally:

Fine-Scale Selection of Habitat by the Lesser Prairie-Chicken. Temperature turns out to be very important.

Consumption of Seeds of Southwestern White Pine by Black Bear. Black bears steal from squirrel caches. Go figure.

Is False Spike (a freshwater mussel) Extinct? First Account of a Very Recently Deceased Individual in Over Thirty Years. This species may still be in Texas.

Horsehair worm: New to the Fauna of Oklahoma. A second species of horsehair worm is discovered in the state.

New Distributional Records for Four Rare Species of Freshwater Mussels in Southwestern Louisiana. It’s not easy being a mussel. These are hanging on.

Grizzly News

Yellowstone grizzlyThere’s lots of news about grizzly bears out there this month.

Is the Kangal, a Turkish breed of dog, more effective in protecting livestock from grizzly bears and wolves than the breeds traditionally used in the United States, such as Great Pyrenees and Akbash? A Utah State University doctoral student is studying the issue, with funds from National Wildlife Research Center, the research arm of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Wildlife Services. Read the story in the Great Falls Tribune.

In Montana, the use of electric fences is increasing to protect livestock, bee yards and other attractants from grizzly bears. The NGO Defenders of Wildlife helps fund the fences, which have proven to effectively deter grizzly bears. Read the story in the Great Falls Tribune.

An editorial in the Caspar Star-Tribune says that Wyoming governor Matt Mead needs to have some facts to back up his wish to have grizzly bears removed from the federal list of threatened species and he needs to share those facts with the public. Read the piece in the Caspar Star-Tribune.

Scientists from Oregon State University and Washington State University have published a paper in the Journal of Animal Ecology showing that the return of wolves to the Yellowstone ecosystem has meant more berries for bears. Read the press release on EurekAlert here.

Alberta Environment, Alberta Parks, Parks Canada and the University of Alberta are studying grizzly bear population, density and distribution in an area of Alberta. DNA analysis has already revealed 100 grizzly bears in the region. Read the story in The Western Producer.

Shoshone National Forest officials have temporarily banned soft-sided tents at campgrounds because of more grizzly bears than usual in the area. Read a very brief article in the Minneapolis Star-Tribune.

Photo: Grizzly walking in flowers in Yellowstone by Terry Tollefsbol

Video Stardom Doesn’t Mean More Bears

dumpster bearIt may seem like there are more bears in Colorado because there seem to be more bear conflicts. Especially this week, when a video of a dumpster-pushing black bear seems to be all over the Internet.

But no, says an article in the Denver Post. The bear population in Colorado has remained steady. It’s technology and the ability to share the misdeeds of bears that has increased, the article says.

The article quotes Randy Hampton, spokesman for Colorado Parks and Wildlife, as saying that the recent spate of bear sightings in Colorado is due to a lack of seasonal crops and other reasons. Rain will allow berries to ripen, and provide wild food for bears, the article says.

The article goes on to list the various human-bear encounters that have occurred in Colorado recently.

Read the Denver Post article here.
Visit Colorado Parks and Wildlife’s Living With Bear web page here.

Photo: Not “the” dumpster bear, but a bear and a dumpster. Courtesy Colorado Parks and Wildlife.

Minnesota Withdraws Bear Researcher’s Permit

Black bearThe Minnesota Department of Natural Resources has not renewed the research permit of an Ely man because he hand-feeds the bears he studies and has not published a peer-reviewed article in the 14 years that he has held the permit, an article in the St. Paul Pioneer Press says.

The researcher hosts popular live Internet broadcasts of bear activities. He has argued that feeding bears is not harmful and is actually helpful to the relationship between humans and bears. At least one of his neighbors disagrees, the article says.

The DNR has told the man he must remove his collars from the bears by July 31.

Get all the details in the St. Paul Pioneer Press, here.
Minnesota Public Radio did a piece that was more sympathetic to the researcher, here.
See other stories here.

Photo: Not a bear from the study, or even Minnesota. Courtesy US Fish and Wildlife Service.

Did Bear Poachers Retaliate?

Black bearEarlier this month 11 defendants were sentenced as the result of a four-year undercover investigation of bear poaching in North Carolina and Georgia. The effort, known as Operation Something Bruin, involved two state and three federal agencies.

Of those defendants, only one was actually charged with poaching a black bear. Read the press release on the Operation Something Bruin website.

The Asheville (NC) Citizen-Times reports that authorities are investigating a bear that was killed, painted with the words “Whats Bruin” on its head and paws, and dumped in Buncombe County, NC. The authorities believe the phrase refers to the investigation, the paper says.

The US Fish and Wildlife Service and the US Forest Service are offering a $3,000 reward for information that leads to a conviction, the Citizen-Times reports, while the NC Wildlife Federation put up an additional $17,000.

Read the Asheville Citizen-Times article, here.
Read the Operation Something Bruin press release, here.

Photo: Just a random black bear. Courtesy of the US Fish and Wildlife Service

More Black Bears in Oklahoma

FWC black bear cubAbout 200 people watched as the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation released a young black bear. The bear had been found and tranquilized in a university campus neighborhood and was released in a wildlife area, reported Tulsa’s News On Six.

The big turnout is a sign that black bears are not that common in Oklahoma. Black bears were reintroduced to Arkansas in the 1960s, the article says, and their populations there have grown so much that they are now moving into eastern Oklahoma.

The report also mentions a black bear survey being conducted by Cooperative Wildlife Research Unit at Oklahoma State University. Twenty bears have been trapped during the three years of the study, the report says.

View or read the News On Six report here.

Photo: Bear cub, courtesy of the Florida Wildlife Commission

Time to Get Bear Aware in Colorado

Colorado Bear AwareColorado Parks and Wildlife is looking for Bear Aware volunteers in Glenwood Springs and will train them tomorrow (April 20).

According to Colorado Parks and Wildlife’s website:

Bear Aware is a network of trained Colorado Parks and Wildlife volunteers throughout the state who help their neighbors and communities prevent problems for themselves and for bears. Our Bear Aware program was founded in 1998. Today there are over 220 volunteers, statewide, dedicated to helping people coexist with bears. Bear Aware volunteers can answer questions, offer practical advice and even make house calls. They also do educational programs and staff informational booths at events.

Wildlife managers in the Roaring Fork Valley expect significant bear activity in the region again this year.

“Simple things like keeping trash and food away from bears can help,” said said District Wildlife Manger Dan Cacho, of Glenwood Springs in a press release. “But people often need to be reminded and Bear Aware teams have been effective in spreading education in other communities across Colorado.”

Read the Colorado Parks and Wildlife press release here.
Find out more about the Colorado Bear Aware program here.
Read an article about the call for volunteers in the Aspen Business Journal, here.

Image: Colorado Parks and Wildlife Bear Aware program sticker