Archive for May, 2011

Mayor Sullivan Is Betting Anchorage Bears Will Behave

May 31, 2011

Rick Morgans recent bear special on PBS’s Nature called black bears that come into Anchorage, Alaska, Urban Bears. I see the problem as larger and more complex than that because right next to Anchorage is Chugach State Park and the park is home to brown bears. These bears are much larger than black bears and are much more agressive than black bears. For the last 3 years brown bears have killed humans here. The photo accompanying this article showed 4 brown bears in an Anchorage park. This poses a very different problem and I see Anchorage as a proving ground for managing the Urban Brrown Bear.
Matt
Photo by Rick Sinnott, Alaska Department of Fish and Game
A remote camera captures a quartet of bears walking on the Rover’s Run trail in Anchorage’s Bicentennial Park in July 2010. In May, a federal judge in Utah awarded $1.95 million to the family of an 11-year-old boy killed by a black bear in 2007. Meanwhile, Anchorage Mayor Dan Sullivan is still betting the city’s brown bears will behave. But how much is it worth to him? And whose money is he wagering?

In his decision, U.S. District Judge Dale Kimball found the U.S. Forest Service liable for failing to close a campsite and not warning the victim’s family of a bear attack at the same campsite earlier the same day. The judge ruled the agency would not have been at fault if they had posted signs warning of the earlier attack on a gate leading into the area and cordoned off the tent site. But someone dropped the ball. Judge Kimball found no evidence that the family had been warned, verbally or by a posted sign, and concluded the fatal attack was “foreseeable” and that “the whole area could have been closed off by simply closing the gate” blocking a 1.2-mile-long access road to the dispersed camping area.

I wonder what Judge Kimball would think of Rover’s Run. Last summer, when Mayor Sullivan had a similar opportunity to act when a biker was mauled by a brown bear on Rover’s Run, a two-mile-long trail in Far North Bicentennial Park, he refused to close the trail. He did allow his staff to post a few warning signs, however.

A year later, Sullivan is still obstinately refusing to heed the advice of local experts — including his parks department, wildlife biologists with the Alaska Department of Fish and Game, and the interagency Anchorage Bear Committee (ABC) — as well as two municipal advisory boards.

The management coordinator for Fish and Game’s Southcentral region, Gino Del Frate, recently met with municipal staff. He reiterated last year’s recommendation: close Rover’s Run from June 15 through October 10, the period when spawning salmon attract a high level of brown bear activity along Campbell Creek. The mayor refused to consider it.

The go-to trail for maulings
Anchorage has hundreds of miles of publicly maintained trails, located mostly in Chugach State Park and several large municipal parks and greenbelts. Of these, Rover’s Run has become the go-to trail for anyone wanting to be mauled by a bear. That dubious distinction used to belong to the Albert Loop Trail, in Chugach State Park near the Eagle River Nature Center, where three hikers were mauled by brown bears during a four-year period in the late 1990s. Park rangers have closed the Albert Loop Trail in late summer and early fall every year since. No one has been attacked or injured on that trail in 13 years.

.In comparison, three people — two bikers and one runner — have been mauled on Rover’s Run in the last three summers. The trail was closed by then-Mayor Mark Begich after the second person was mauled in mid-August 2008 and remained closed until mid-October, when brown bears were less likely to be attracted by salmon spawning in nearby Campbell Creek. Begich also closed Rover’s Run in 2009, from mid-June to mid-October. No bear attacks occurred on the trail during the closures despite continued use, mostly by bikers. However, after Mayor Sullivan refused to close the trail in summer 2010, a third person was mauled on June 15 at the intersection of Rover’s Run and the Gasline Trail. If Rover’s Run users had been mauled in the past three years at the same rate when the trail was closed as when it was open, at least six people would have required emergency medical attention.

Of course, the real world isn’t that simple. Some bikers and others “poach” closed trails, finding them less crowded and getting a buzz from flaunting authority, so risky behavior continues even though a trail is closed. Also, wildlife biologists shot one of the two brown bears that mauled someone on Rover’s Run in 2008, and her cubs were taken to a zoo. So she wasn’t available to attack anyone else. And the most recently injured biker was using the Gasline Trail, which wouldn’t have been closed because it does not parallel the creek for miles like Rover’s Run.

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From Montana Birding On The Net

May 30, 2011

This is the kind of drama I like to see in Bozeman, Montana.
Matt

Black-headed and Rose-breasted Grosbeak Drama Continues at Sourdough Trail, Bzmn
Date: Sun, 29 May 2011 14:56:35 -0000

On Sat, May 28, I got a glimpse of this year’s drama between the Rose-breasted
and Black-headed Grosbeaks at the Sourdough Nature Trail. The RBGR was clearly
the aggressor. Everytime the BHGR would land on a branch, the RBGR would chase
it off to a short distance away. Then a female BHGR entered the scene and they
both chased her for a few minutes. Again, the RBGR was the aggressor. However,
when a group of runners came plowing through, she took off with the BHGR male.
The RBGR stuck around. The female BHGR was not aggressive at all. This all took
place in the vicinity of last years’ BHGRxRBGR hybrid nest. Can’t wait to see
what happens this year!

A Beautiful Place Called Baring Creek

May 28, 2011

Places like Alaska, Northern Canada, Montana and Wyoming have no shortage of beautiful places to visit.

One of those places, I have written about before is Baring Creek, on the East side of Glacier National Park near a place called, Post Card Point, near upper Saint Marys Lake.

It is full of wildflowers and it is wedged into an up and down world between Goat Mountain and Going To The Sun Mountain.

What a beatiful place but make a lot of noise as you go up the trail because both bear species reside their and if you are lucky you might see other predators in their.

Go, but be aware.

One way to be aware is to carry bear spray and I highly recommnd to do so.

The other day a friend of mine scoffed at the notion of using bear spray…In a study of spray use it was found to be 87% successful. My friend said, “why carry bear spray when you can carry a 44 magnum”…thoughts ocurred to me that a bear comes fast and moves a lot…most persons I know do not shoot accurately…let alone a 44 magnum.

In most parks this weapon cannot be be used…but bear spray can. Bear spray is not lethal…44 magnums are…87% is not 100% but nature is that way…If you see bear sighn get the hell out of their
Matt

More About Birds Around Here

May 27, 2011

I have seen some special birds at this complex.

I have seen about 300 snowgeese flying over during late Fall migration.

Merlin and Sharp shinned Hawk were winter predators at a neighbor’s feeders.

Rough legged Hawks visited this winter and so did a Bald Eagle.

Today is May 27th, 2,011 and Sandhill Cranes, 4 of them, flew over.

Some days are birdy around here.
Matt

ABA Flight Calls #45

May 27, 2011

This is true, but I like late September for birds also (peak of Fall migration around her). ABA stands for American Birding Association…quintessential Birders group…up there with Audubon if you ask me…not as heavily conservation oriented as Audubon and Cornell Ornithology Lab now.
Matt
FLIGHT CALLS

e-Bulletin of the American Birding Association #45

May 26, 2011

Is it a blessing or a curse that May only comes once a year? For many birders, it’s the single month we most live for as migrant birds pour across the landscape, buds burst into leaf and flower, and the air is sweet with both fragrance and birdsong. But all that activity can leave one exhausted, especially trying to fit in all the non-birding obligations one has to fit in somewhere. June can almost seem a relief!

Mowtown Revival in OnEarth magazine the NRDC magazine by Matthew Power

May 26, 2011

This is the 3rd story I have read about a revival in Detroit…I hope it is so because I would hate to see the end of a city that gave me so much good music as a youth. I would like to pay it (Detroit) back.
Matt
In the late-afternoon sunshine on Lakewood Street on Detroit’s East Side, Chuck Brooks is working on his castle. A stocky, bearded African American in a baseball cap and work clothes, Brooks runs a small construction company out of his house, and he and a crew are doing some renovations. He is also a preacher, attested to by the Bible verses he’s etched into the limestone and the Michigan plates on his white Cadillac parked at the curb: UPRAY4IT. Tucked into his belt are a measuring tape and a semiautomatic handgun.

Brooks keeps a toothpick in the corner of his mouth as he talks in sonorous cadences. “I was born and raised here, I’ve been a victim of crime here, and I’ve continued to stay here,” he says. Brooks has been stabbed twice and shot twice, carjacked and nearly killed in front of his three children. And still he refuses to leave Detroit, a city that has long been a symbol of urban failure and decay, emptied of both population and hope. Why does Brooks stay? He gestures to the other tidy houses on his block. His presence, as he sees it, moves his neighbors to believe in this city, especially in its time of need. “It motivates people,” he says. “It motivates the lady next door to cut her grass, it motivates the mailman to deliver the mail.” Brooks is a man of faith, and faith for him begins at home. He paraphrases a verse from 2 Chronicles: “I’ll hear from heaven, I’ll forgive their sins and heal their land. Well, He’s talking about Detroit.”

A few blocks away, on Waveney Avenue, the idea of answered prayers or healed land seems like a cruel jest. The concrete squares of a sidewalk have been pulverized by frost and swallowed by encroaching weeds. In a desiccated field of milkweed and aster a house has been reduced to a heap of charred lumber and shattered glass. Another is flame-gutted, its vinyl siding melted beneath a blackened window. All that remains of a long row of neighboring homes are evenly spaced middens of rubble, overgrown by thickets of buckthorn and mulberry. The only sign of recent human endeavor is the road itself, the fresh blacktop laid down by some municipal entity with the Sisyphean task of maintaining a street grid that has long outlasted its utility. The only person visible is a man struggling with a shopping cart weighed down by a fire hydrant. Even among Detroit’s ruins there is some spirit of resourcefulness: organized gangs of such “scrappers” mine buildings for anything of value, from copper pipes and wiring to the brass fittings on hydrants, dismantling the city from within, piece by piece.

This block — and thousands like it — are evolving into what has been called urban prairie, the human landscape dissolving back into nature. Pheasant, fox, and raccoon populations have surged to fill an ecological niche abandoned by people. For the first time in nearly a century, and with much fanfare in the media, beavers have returned to build their lodges in the Detroit River, an ironic nod to nature’s industriousness in an area abandoned by industry. No corner of the city has been spared, and tens of thousands of structures stand in ruin, from the simple wooden bungalows of early autoworkers to the darkened neo-Renaissance skyscrapers of downtown Detroit. The vast Packard auto plant, derelict for more than 50 years, has a floor area the size of 60 football fields. So much structural steel has been cut from it by scrappers that the fire department no longer fights blazes there, fearing collapse. Illegal dumping is epidemic, with 300 sanitation employees patrolling 1,800 miles of streets.

For the people who have remained in the city, the statistics are no less grim. Detroit is America’s poorest large city, with a third of its citizens living in poverty. The violent-crime rate is the country’s second highest. Infant mortality is more than twice the national average. More than a third of students drop out of high school. The official unemployment rate is 30 percent, but if one counts those no longer looking for work, the figure approaches 50 percent. In the Motor City, almost one-third of the population has no access to a private vehicle.

It has not always been thus: growing exponentially with the auto industry’s rise, Detroit was America’s fifth-largest city by 1950, reaching a postwar peak of 1.85 million. It has since suffered an inexorable exodus, losing 60 percent of its population, the first American city to rise above and fall below a million people. Oakland County, the overwhelmingly white suburb immediately north of Detroit’s 8 Mile Road, is among the wealthiest of its size in the country and has tripled in population since 1950. The region’s urban core has been utterly hollowed out.

NRDC: New Industries For Old
Henry Henderson

Q&A with Henry Henderson, director of NRDC’s Midwest program, based in Chicago, and the city’s first commissioner of the environment.

Is Detroit alone in suffering these seismic economic changes?
No, the same problems pop up throughout the industrial heartland, in cities like Gary, Indiana, and Youngstown, Ohio, and Chicago. These cities were the center of our manufacturing might for much of the twentieth century, and the Midwest is still the most energy-intensive part of the U.S. economy. Indiana, Illinois, Wisconsin, Ohio, and Michigan together constitute the fourth-biggest source of carbon emissions on the planet. But there are incredible synergies here between the battle to stave off the looming threat of climate change and the fight to fix our economy. Manufacturing the clean technologies that will offset our dirtiest energy sources can be a sort of “economic WD-40” to get the rust belt moving again.

Read the rest here.

That hollowing out has been imprinted on the cityscape, but for the people of Detroit, the release of the 2010 U.S. Census figures in March was an event anticipated with deep anxiety, exacerbated by rampant speculation in the news media. Given the state of the economy, particularly the collapse of the American automotive industry, few expected good news about the city’s fortunes, but the official numbers were starker than even the most dismal prognosticators had imagined: just 713,000 people lived within the city limits. Only Katrina-wrecked New Orleans had seen such a sharp decline. Detroit’s population has fallen to a level not seen since 1910, four years before Henry Ford drew an army of workers to his Model T assembly line with the promise of five dollars for a day’s labor. With Detroit’s economy now in shambles, nobody seriously believes that those people will return, and at the current rate of exodus the population will fall an additional 40 percent by 2030.

The reasons for Detroit’s decline are complex and manifold, including the exporting of American manufacturing jobs and a long history of poisonous race relations that led to “white flight” to the suburbs. Perhaps Detroit’s collapse was built into its very DNA: the city that more than any other embraced the singular potential of the automobile, undone by its own creation. Massive freeway projects, undertaken in the name of urban renewal, were bulldozed through the heart of African American neighborhoods like Paradise Valley and Black Bottom. Tensions boiled over with race riots in 1943 and 1967. Blue-collar whites with secure union jobs could afford to unload their homes in the city at a loss, a process encouraged by a real estate industry that played up racial fears. Detroit emptied straight down its new freeways, and since 1950 it has undergone a complete demographic turnover, from 80 percent white to 80 percent black, losing a million inhabitants in the process.

The effect on the city’s physical landscape has been profound. Detroit occupies 139 square miles, and its infrastructure was built for a population, and a tax base, more than double its current size. All told, almost 20 square miles of Detroit’s land area — nearly the size of the entire city of San Francisco — has been abandoned, leaving a vast patchwork of blight spread across the cityscape. It is difficult to provide even basic services like police, fire, water, and sanitation to a population spread so thin.

“Detroit, I think, will come back,” Chuck Brooks says. How that will be done, given the physical facts of Detroit’s current situation, is the central existential question facing its citizens. The urban theory mantra of the twenty-first century is “density is destiny.” Cities are phenomenal economizers of scale, with far lower per-capita environmental impact than sprawling suburbs. The growing consensus of many community organizers, city officials, and urban planners is that to survive, Detroit must embrace its new scale and become a leaner, more efficient city. That means adopting a policy of smart growth, with dense, pedestrian-centered pockets concentrated around transit hubs and the city center. The term often used by urban planners for bringing a city down to a more manageable scale is “rightsizing,” a word — not unlike “downsizing” — that comes heavily freighted.

“I’m not a euphemistic guy — the city is shrinking,” says Jeff DeBruyn, a 40-year-old community organizer who works in the Corktown neighborhood. “Detroit is going through a huge transition. It might be politically incorrect to say ‘shrink,’ but it must.”

How Detroit will shrink and what sort of city it will become is a key policy challenge for Mayor Dave Bing, the former NBA All-Star and business executive elected in 2009 on a promise to help the city reinvent itself. He has faced a colossal task, inheriting a city with a $320 million budget deficit. Dithering was not an option.

“If we don’t do it, this whole city is going to go down,” Bing told a local radio host when he was elected. “There is just too much land and too many expenses for us to continue to manage the city as we have in the past. There are tough decisions to be made. There will be winners and losers, but in the end we’ve got to do what’s right for the city’s future.” The question of how those winners and losers would be selected stirred a deep mistrust in a city that still recalled the countless betrayals of urban renewal. For those determined to stay, it was hard not to wonder what their city would become and what role they would play in it.

In February 2010, a coalition of dozens of advocacy groups, community organizations, and government entities assembled by the Community Development Advocates of Detroit (CDAD) issued a detailed strategic framework for revitalizing the city’s neighborhoods. The plan envisions a cityscape classified according to 10 use categories, from “industry zones” and “urban homestead sectors” to “green venture zones” and “naturescapes.” The goal is a balance between economic prosperity, social equity, and environmental integrity.

Gardens Are Neat Places To Visit

May 25, 2011

Gardens are a large part of my life and here are some of the good ones I’ve been to and reccomend you go to. In Washington D.C. near where I grew up was Dunbarton Oaks…I remember many spring adventures there.

Brookgreene Gardens in Myrtle Beach are fantastic and also have great bird flight exclosure a zoo of local birds and mammals, and a small, but special exhibit, about South Carolina’s “Low Country” and a neat, interpretive, boat ride. This is definitely a high point in any trip to Myrtle Beach.

If you go to Santa Cruz California do not miss the local habitats display (several acres, near the University of California at Santa Cruz campus. The habitats displayed are very special, and if you like to birdwatch do not forget your binoculars.

These 3 gardens come to mind and played important roles in my development but I am sure there are more to see.

I have found that community gardes or habitats are a cheap way to see the better side of places you visit. So plan gardens in for your next trip to somewhere.
Matt

We Need Your Help!!!!!

May 25, 2011

This pipeline, and tar sands development is not good for birds so read this and act on this.
Matt
WeLoveBirds.org

A message to all members of WeLoveBirds.org

Dear Members,

As the co-founder of WeLoveBirds.org, NRDC informs members of WeLoveBirds.org of environmental issues specifically related to bird conservation. These issues are current and need action for the preservation of birds and their habitats. The proposed Keystone XL tar sands pipeline is one of these issues.

Each year, billions of birds follow migration routes that converge in one spot in Canada’s boreal forest: the Peace-Athabasca Delta in northeastern Alberta. These undisturbed wetlands provide a resting spot for tundra swans, snow geese and countless ducks, but they are now being threatened by plans for a trans-boundary pipeline that would carry tar sands oil from Canada to the U.S. Gulf Coast. If approved, the TransCanada Keystone XL pipeline would produce more tar sands mining and drilling in the boreal forest, creating toxic waste sites, destroying critical wildlife habitat for millions of birds and generating three times the amount of global warming as conventional fuel production. The 2,000-mile pipeline would also traverse the U.S. heartland, including the Nebraska Sandhills and the Ogallala Aquifer — the source of clean drinking water for 2 million residents.

Please tell the State Department to reject this destructive and unnecessary pipeline. Click HERE.

Be bear aware as you venture into the outdoors, By JIM BLOW, West Yellowstone News Online

May 23, 2011

I have a different view on why so many bears are being seen in areas where they have not been seen before. I do believe there are more grizzly bears in this area than there were when the grizzly was first listed under the protection of the Endangered Species Act. I believe that there may be about 4-500 grizzly bears in this area this year but even if there are 600 grizzlies in the Yellowstone Ecosystem I view that as a small population, vulnerable to the parameters of a small population.

I also get frustraited when agencies run away from their own data…I see that as definitely happening to Yellowstone grizzlies now…on whitebark pine data especially.

No matter what my viewpoint bears need to be planned for if you spend a lot of times outdoors in bear country especially at certain times of the year like spring.
Matt

Posted on May 22, 2011
by Jim Blow
When you recreate in and around forests, you can expect to see a lot of wildlife.

And in the Yellowstone and Gallatin Forest areas that definitely includes the chance of seeing a bear.

Viewing bears at a distance can be awe inspiring of the beauty of bears. But being too close to bears can turn a hiking or camping trip into an opportunity for dangerous conflict.

There are healthy populations of both grizzly and black bears living in the backcountry, both Yellowstone National Park and the Gallatin National Forest advise recreationists. So when people recreate in or along the edge of the backcountry, the chances for human-bear conflicts rise.

Several grizzly attacks that turned deadly occurred in the Yellowstone area last year along the northeast edge of Yellowstone National Park. They were rare occurrences and certainly not likely, but they do remind all recreationists of the risk they take when heading into the backcountry.

This spring, a bear mauling was reported along Deer Creek, not far from Big Sky in the Gallatin National Forest. It was a classic case of two hikers coming upon bears on a trail, but this time with an elk involved.

The hikers, who survived the encounter with a bite mark to prove it, said they came upon a young grizzly bear chasing an elk down a trail. When the young bear saw the hikers, it stood up on its rear legs.

Coming up behind it, a grizzly sow saw her cub standing up on two legs and shifted into immediate defensive mode. The sow bit the woman as she tried to climb up a tree, and then bit the man when he attempted to ward off the bear.

Wildlife officials suggested that the sow didn’t do as much damage as it could have done and was simply reacting as all sows do when something or someone is perceived to be threatening or too close to their cub.

Although the risk of an encounter with a bear is low, there are no guarantees of your safety. Bears are unpredictable animals and can pose a serious danger.

To minimize your chances of a bear encounter or conflict:

— Hike in pairs at least, and in areas of high bear concentration, hiking in groups of four or more is advised.

— Don’t hike after dark.

— Be aware of your environment. Look for bear sign, tracks, and scat along the trail. Notice if the tracks are going in your direction, or the opposite direction, and if there are small cub-size tracks along with adult tracks. Fresh claw marks on trees, overturned stumps and rocks, and carcasses or buried kills are also signs that bears have been in the area. Depending on what you see, it might be wise to consider retreating or re-routing your hike.

— Make noise while you hike, especially when rounding blind corners and entering forested or thickly vegetated areas. An occasional shout can alert a bear to your presence, giving it the opportunity to go the other way. This lessens the chance of sudden encounters, which are the cause of most bear-caused human injuries in the forest. Use caution where vision is obstructed.

— Avoid carcasses. Bears often defend this source of food.

— Keep a clean camp and follow proper food storage requirements. Scented items, food, and cooking items should be kept well away from your sleeping area. Consider using dried foods and avoid items with strong odors.

Be prepared to

meet a bear

Nobody plans to come upon a bear and most people probably never will. But it’s important for everyone who recreates in the forest to be prepared for what happens when you meet a bear.

Above all, do not run, yell, or panic. Bears can run over 30 miles per hour, or 44 feet per second, faster than Olympic sprinters. Running may elicit an attack from otherwise non-aggressive bears.

If the bear is unaware of you, detour away from the bear. If the bear is aware of you and nearby, but has not acted aggressively, slowly back away.

Assess your situation. If you can leave the area unobtrusively, do so, or retreat to a safe distance and wait for the bear to move on.

Tree climbing to avoid bears is popular advice but not very practical in many circumstances. All black bears, all grizzly cubs, and some adult grizzlies can climb trees. Running to a tree may provoke an otherwise uncertain bear to chase you.

Some bears will bluff their way out of a threatening situation by charging, then veering off or stopping abruptly at the last second. Bear experts generally recommend standing still until the bear stops and then slowly backing away.

Should you surprise a bear at close range and the bear actually charges you, this is the time to use your pepper spray and/or play dead.

Drop to the ground face down, tucking your head and wrapping your arms around the back of your neck. Do not struggle. When the bear decides you are not a threat, it will most likely leave you alone. Do not move until you are sure the bear has left the area.

There continues to be much discussion over the use of pepper spray to deter a charging bear. It has been shown to be effective in many cases, however, do not let it give you a false sense of security.

The bottom line is keep bear spray handy and available, not in the bottom of your pack or the trunk of your car.

Food storage

If a wild animal consumes human food or garbage even once, the chances are high that it will associate humans with food for the rest of its life.

This creates a dangerous situation for both humans and wildlife and is why it is so vitally important that proper food storage precautions be taken.

Food storage is required on much of the Gallatin National Forest. Food storage requires that food, garbage, animal feed, animal carcasses, and any other attractants be kept unavailable to wildlife. Methods for this would include storing attractants in vehicle trunks in campgrounds, or using animal-resistant containers, or suspending food above the ground from tree branches or food poles in the backcountry.

For more information on food storage and keeping a clean camp, please contact any ranger station.

Remember to keep the “wild” in wildlife.

Wind Turbines And Birds

May 22, 2011

In this months issue of Birding, a magazine of the American Birding Association, there is an article entitled, Seeking A Bird Solution To Wind Energy; needless to say I read it and it was good.

It writes about establishing guidelines for develooping wind energy…there are good guidlines for birds and wind energy now.

The article writes about placement of wind turbines and my thinking is that therein lies the problem.

Locally they want to put wind turbines at a place called Kevin Rim. This is a known concentration area for the rare Ferugenous hawk.

Montana is a windy state full of locations for wind energy…I have to say…why Kevin Rim?…

The article in Birding was written by Gavin Shire. It provides food for thought.
Matt