Showing posts with label elk. Show all posts
Showing posts with label elk. Show all posts

April 13, 2019

Bird Festival, Cattle-Rustling, and Elk in Beetle-Kill Forests


Plan now for the Mountain Plover Festival.
  • You’ll get the chance to mingle with farmers and ranchers who choose to live in the local community and learn about their lifestyle.
  • Eat home-style food at every meal. Most meal are prepared by the community non-profit organizations.
  • Saturday evening includes a chuck wagon dinner with authentic Western entertainment.
  • Learn about conservation practices and history of the area.
  • Tour Private Land that would normally not be accessible.
  • Make new friends! Here's the website.
Sounds perfect if you are allergic to cities.  

• Cattle-rustling still happens in 21st-century Colorado.
But even keeping a close eye on livestock sales doesn’t prevent Colorado ranchers from experiencing their share of losses. Annual reports of missing or stolen livestock — the vast majority being cattle — average a little over 100, with losses ranging from a little over 400 to more than 650 head over the past four years. But that’s where the numbers get a little fuzzy.
• Pine beetles and the fungus they carry have killed huge amounts of lodgepole pine forest in the northern Rockies. As the dead trees drop their needles and become just standing trunks, more grass comes up between them. So that would be good for elk, right?

The evidence, however, is mixed. Some species do benefit, but not much the elk.
Looking at elk daytime use during the summer in Medicine Bow-Routt National Forest in south-central Wyoming, [University of Wyoming researcher Bryan G.] Lamont’s team expected to find mixed results. The loss of canopy would likely mean a loss in thermal cover, and more downed trees would make it difficult for the elk to move, forcing them to expend more energy. On the other hand, with new understory growth, elk would have more vegetation to forage. They expected elk might avoid the densest areas of downed trees but take advantage of the forage in other places.

Instead, elk tended to avoid beetle-killed areas overall, resulting in much less forest habitat that the elk use to keep cool during summer days. Beetle kill, researchers found, was different for the elk in important ways from wildfires or other disturbances.
 Time on the elk's side, however, as the dead trees start to fall and decay. Read the whole article here.

June 24, 2018

Futility at Camera Trap Spring

Some time when I hike to Camera Trap Spring — particularly during dry summers like this one — I take a trowel and try to dig out the spring a bit, making a little pool for the water to collect in.

And then this happens. Or a bear does the same thing. Fine, boys, enjoy your mud wallow.

July 28, 2017

Links Taller than Your Head

It's a good year for wild sunflowers.
Links. Do I have links. They sprout like sunflowers on the prairie.

How to improve your outdoor photography. 10-2-4 is not about Dr. Pepper — 2 p.m. is when you are traveling to the place that you wish to photograph after 4 p.m. And "Zoom with your feet" does not apply to buffalo.

Predatory ducks. It's Romania, so maybe they suck blood as well.

• How older elk survive to a ripe old age (for elk).  They learn the difference between bowhunters and rifle hunters.

A poacher goes down hard. If only this happened more often.

• From Colorado Outdoors: "Five Tips to Catch More Fish This Summer."

Another article on bold, aggressive urban coyotes. Denver, this time.

• High country trails don't just happen. It takes people like this.

September 29, 2016

"On the Wild Edge," Nature Writer David Petersen's New Film

An article from the Durango Herald on a film about bowhunter and nature writer David Petersen, On the Wild Edge: Hunting for a Natural Life.
The film leaves out Petersen’s work as editor for Mother Earth News and his many books including Ghost Grizzlies, The Nearby Faraway: A Personal Journey Through the Heart of the West, and A Man Made of Elk. His advocacy for Trout Unlimited and Backcountry Hunters and Anglers is also omitted. Instead, Christopher Daley, the film’s cinematographer, sound recorder and editor, focuses on Petersen’s version of ethical hunting during archery season in early fall.
But then they published another article about him that covered some of those things!  

You can order the DVD here.

July 30, 2014

The Bachelors

The re-seeding of one of the recent forest fire burns near home, combined with two wet-enough springs in a row, produced wonderful grass. Despite the lack of thermal cover, this one area is holding a little bachelor herd of as many as five (just four here) bull elk, captured in June on one of my scout cameras.

June 15, 2014

Hanging Out at the Spring

I recently checked the scout camera at Camera Trap Spring (in a forest that burned in 2012). On May 10 these bull elk had pretty well stomped the spring into more of a "wallow." You can see their antler buds as this year's antlers start to grow. By now the antlers would be much larger and "in velvet,"  being covered with a nourishing layer of skin and blood vessels.

January 08, 2013

Accused Boulder Cop was Taxidermist on the Side

Brent Curnow, one of two Boulder cops accused of poaching a bull elk in a residential neighborhood, had a taxidermy business on the side.

So we get two cops shooting the elk for a vague reason when there was no direct threat to public safety, instead of calling a Colorado Parks and Wildlife officer (who are also sworn law-enforcement people too) as they should have.
Neighbors told the Camera that a police officer informed them that night that he may have to put down the elk because it was behaving aggressively and not to be alarmed if they heard a gunshot.
 The next day, however, police officials and dispatchers had no record of an elk being put down, nor had Colorado Parks and Wildlife been notified of the elk's death. Police officers are required to make a report whenever they discharge their weapons, and Parks and Wildlife is supposed to be notified when a large animal is killed.
Then they take pictures and start loading the elk into a personal vehicle. Now the district attorney is studying the case:

[Boulder DA Stan] Garnett said Deputy District Attorney Jenny McClintock -- who is his office's animal cruelty specialist -- has been assigned the case and has been assisting Parks and Wildlife with the investigation into whether charges should be pressed against the Boulder police officers involved in the killing and removal of the elk.
Any taxidermist knows that the mounted head of a big bull elk can be sold for well into four figures (and maybe I am underestimating). Someone will want it to hang in on the wall of their vacation home in Vail or whatever. Curnow's buffalopeakstaxidermy.com site has suddenly vanished from the Web.

It's a general rule when investigating such crimes: Cherchez le taxidermiste.


January 06, 2013

A Candlelight Vigil for an Elk

Boulder being Boulder, they will hold a candlelight vigil for a bull elk, shot by cops on Sunday, who liked to hang out in the Mapleton Hill neighborhood.

A friend of mine who lives there wrote on her Facebook page,
Shocking and sad news. The elk, whose photo I posted last winter when he was lounging in our garden was killed last week. Killed by an on duty police officer at night, who then had a trophy photo taken and called in a buddy off duty officer to bring his truck and take the carcass home for meat. The elk was just standing in a neighbor's garden, as usual, minding his own business. A memorial is scheduled for this evening.
The "official story" stinks: "the officer told investigators the elk appeared injured, with a limp," said the Denver Post.

So he shot him, and then he and another officer were going to take the meat home. I think the technical term for that is "destruction of evidence." 
[Neighbor Roger] Koenig said it took the three men [an off-duty sheriff's deputy showed up too] nearly an hour and a half to load the animal -- which they estimated to weigh between 700 and 800 pounds -- into the pickup truck, and even then part of its rear quarters were hanging over the open end of the bed. He said the men talked about needing a roadkill tag for the animal so it could be driven out of the area.
Colorado Parks and Wildlife has gotten involved in the case. They should have been called first thing, since this was (allegedly) a wildlife issue. Now we will see if they have the balls to prosecute officer Sam Carter and his pals or if "professional courtesy" will prevail.

They could be prosecuted under "Samson's Law":
Samson's Law, passed in 1998 after a well-known bull elk in Estes Park was killed by a poacher who was fined just a few hundred dollars, adds substantial fines for the killing of trophy animals. The killing of a bull elk with six-point antlers or larger can carry a fine of up to $10,000, on top of the other criminal penalties for violating hunting rules.
 Which ought to do serious damage to someone's law-enforcement career.

July 30, 2012

More Photographic Oddness at Camera Trap Spring

As previously mentioned, I switched scout cameras on June 15th at Camera Trap Spring, replacing the previous bear-damaged (but productive) camera with one that was (a) heavier-built and (b) of less value.

Bottom opening lacks cover.
Today, after five and a half weeks, M. and I went to check it. It is an 80 or 90-minute round-trip hike from the house, pretty aerobic, and when the temperatures were in the mid-90s F., we just did not feel like going up there.

Tapping like a blind man with my walking stick to alert the "guardian of the spring" — the rattlesnake that was there in May and June — I approached the site.

The spring was dry — no surprise. We saw no snake.

The camera was all right  . . . no, something was missing.  The grey plastic cover of the infra-red detector was gone. I found it lying in the pine duff with an indentation that looked like a claw mark. There were faint scratches on the camera body.

Obviously a bear had given it a light tap.

I brought it home. There were something like 689 images, all recorded between June 19th and July 3rd.

Bull elk in velvet checking the spring, June 29, 2012.

There was one clear animal picture — this elk — but none of the bear.

The camera had been making a picture every one to four minutes from early afternoon until early evening, every day. Made for an interesting time-lapse slide show.

I suspect that the bear knocked the IR sensor cover off early. The cover, made of flexible plastic, has mini-fresnel lenses molded into its inner side, which would, I assume, focus infra-red radiation onto the sensor.

The camera started responding simply to heat reflecting off the forest floor on the hot afternoons and shot photo after photo until its 512 MB memory card was full. That's my hypothesis.

October 22, 2011

Federal Appellate Court Upholds the 2001 Roadless Rule

Doesn't enough of Wyoming look like this already? (Source: The Wilderness Society)
A federal appellate court has upheld the 2001 Roadless Rule on national forests in a case brought by the state of Wyoming.

The state tried to argue that by protecting roadless areas — which is a Good Thing for animals like elk — the Forest Service was creating "wilderness."

And "wilderness," in the legal sense, must be created by Congress, not the executive branch.

But the judges disagreed:
In a 120-page decision, the court said that full wilderness protection was far deeper than the mere banning of roads in certain places and that the Forest Service had broad jurisdiction in setting the balance of uses on the lands that it manages.

“The Forest Service did not usurp Congressional authority because the roadless rule did not establish de facto wilderness,” the court said in a decision written by Judge Jerome A. Holmes, who was nominated to the court by President George W. Bush.
This was the Tenth Circuit Court in Denver—the Ninth Circuit had reached a similar conclusion two years ago.

I am no legal scholar, but I think that as long as the different federal appellate courts agree, the Supreme Court is less likely to be interested in such a case. Qualified legal experts are welcome to enlighten me. But Wyoming could always try another appeal.

July 29, 2011

Dazed and Confused, the Bull Elk Version

I had a camera up for the past week on an old logging road-turned-game trail in the Wet Mountains. Below is the first image I downloaded—and it baffled me. What kind of apparition was it?

Then I saw the one snapped fifteen minutes later. I don't know what caused this bull elk to investigate the camera in the first place—usually they ignore it—but this one did, and he got a blinding flash in the face, it looks like. So he hung around for a while? (If it's the same elk, of course. Probably.)


There is no hunting pressure at this time of year, but maybe the hot weather has encouraged the elk to be more nocturnal. Bulls are often shyer anyway. The other photo I had at a location a mile or so away from this one showed a bull moving past at 8:30 p.m.

May 10, 2011

Where the Elk Go to Nap

On the morning of April 22, I went to place a camera at Camera Trap Spring, which I had been leaving alone since last summer's bear-versus-camera incident.

With the dry year that we have have experienced, the little spring was dry. But nearby I saw a place that looked like an elk bedding spot. It certainly was. Later that same afternoon a sleepy bull elk arrived.
A bull elk with antlers in velvet (tip barely visible) decides to lie down for a nap.
Ah, now he is comfortable.
Then his buddy decides to step in front of the camera.
Unfortunately, the second elk decided to rub against the tree to which the camera was strapped. I got several photos of his butt. His rubbing pushed the camera around so that it faced a useless direction and captured no more photos.

I retrieved the camera on April 29, even as smoke from the Sand Gulch Fire—on the edge of exploding beyond its "containment"—was blowing overhead.

Although the terrain is rough, these elk are fairly close to some homes as the crow flies. They are spending the day in a thick stand of ponderosa pine and Douglas fir.

March 15, 2011

Blog Stew: Cleaning Out the Fridge

• I am not completely comfortable with referring to wild lives as "the resource" either. I know why the professionals do it—everything has to be quantified—but it erases a sense of interaction with the nonhuman world.

• A good job for military veterans in transition—wildland firefighting.

• A nice site on prehistoric American rock art.

• The Colorado Division of Wildlife reminds hunters about their online Elk Hunting University.

November 11, 2010

Elk Country . . .

In the Wet Mountains, just before the snow began to fall.
. . . is keeping me busy right now.

Those are tooth marks on the aspen bark from winter nibbling.

May 12, 2010

Colorado's Online Elk Hunting University

Elk working 
through deep snow in the winter of 2008/9. Photo © CDOW/J. Lewandowski.

Under "Resources" on the blog roll, I am adding the Colorado Division of Wildlife's Elk Hunting University.
We call this effort Elk Hunting University (EHU) as a framework to pass along skills and knowledge to aspiring elk hunters. As we move through this course together, realize we are walking new ground that we have not walked before. We hope we can find innovative ways to teach you basic elk hunting skills, coach you to develop those skills to a higher level, and mentor you through articles and videos, responding to your questions and sharing with you the experiences of others.
Thus far, seven lessons have been posted:

  • Lesson One: Introduction to Elk Hunting 101
  • Lesson Two: Planning a Successful Elk Hunt
  • Lesson Three: Applying for a License
  • Lesson Four: Using Technology—Getting with the Times
  • Lesson Five: Pre-scouting—Using Maps and GPS
  • Lesson Six: Scouting Tips—The "Secrets to Success"
  • Lesson Seven: High Altitude Hunting
  • February 26, 2009

    Hypothetical Wolves and Suburban Coyotes (1)

    Reading the Denver Post lately has been like reading Predator Control Weekly.

    First, the culling of elk in Rocky Mountain National Park stirred up the "Why not have wolves?" debate.

    On the pro-wolf side, one Rob Edward of WildEarth Guardians. His real issue, however, is not elk, but guns -- eee-vul demonic guns that create a force-field of chaos by their very existence.

    And guns mean hunters -- eee-vul psychopathic knuckle-dragging hunters violating the pristine precincts of Rocky Mountain National Park "under cover of darkness." (Has he been reading too many Nevada Barr novels?)

    Rather than them, let us have gentle and saintly wolves.

    On the "uh, not so fast" side, RMNP superintendent Vaughn Baker talks a lot about bureaucratic process but finally makes the key point that "there was consensus that wolves could not be contained within Rocky Mountain National Park's boundaries and would leave the park."

    Imagine if these hypothetical wolves started eating snoozing Labradoodles in Estes Park or Frazier. Then would the wolf-cultists be so happy?

    Wolves keep showing up in Colorado on their own, anyhow. (Hey, this could produce a new form of geocaching: "geo-wolfing." Just you wait and see.)

    November 08, 2008

    Smart Pills

    I have a childhood memory of going on a "nature walk" with someone (in Boy Scouts? at the old Jefferson County, Colo., camp for 6th-graders?) who told us about "smart pills."

    He held up a nearly spherical little mule-deer turd and told us that if we ate one, we would be smart -- smart enough to never do that again!

    Har har.

    That memory came back when I read this item in today's Denver Post: "Elk Droppings May Have Sickened Kids."

    In Jefferson County, too.

    October 21, 2008

    Regeneration in Yellowstone's 'Green Desert'

    Above: lodgepole pine forests filling in after the 1988 Yellowstone fires.

    My recent trip to Yellowstone came at the 20th anniversary of the big forest fires of 1988, which burned about a third of the park. The last time I had been there, recovery was just beginning. Fishing on the Lamar River, I had stepped from one winter-kill elk skeleton to the next.

    It's all different now. There are lots of elk -- and the lodgepole pine forests are all 8-20 feet high.

    In the current issue of the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation's magazine, Bugle, writer Lee Lamb reviews the factors that produced this complex of huge fires (sorry, no link yet), their effects on wildlife, and what happened since.

    Immediately after the fires, the nutritional value of annual plants exploded, but then influx of new nutrients slowed. The park's northern elk herd — really too many animals for the habitat — numbered at least 19,000 before the fire. At least half died in 1988-89. The population rebounded, although the introduction of wolves in the mid-1990s, plus hunting when the elk are outside the park, keep the northern herd's population to 8,000-10,000 animals now.

    The lodgepole pine forests are coming back, of course. Lamb speaks of more aspen groves in the park—frankly, I did not see them. In fact, I was surprised at how little aspen there was. Unlike here in the southern Rockies, where aspen springs up after a fire, lodgepole is mostly replaced by more lodgepole.

    Even-aged stands of lodgepole pine are sometimes called "the green desert," because they permit few other plants and shrubs to grow and provide little food for wildlife other than squirrels.

    Right: a tiny aspen crowded out by lodgepole.

    M. says she prefers the northern parts of the park--Hayden Valley, Lamar Valley, Mammoth Hot Springs--best, and I tend to agree. Lodgepole pine forests are fairly boring, unless they have geysers and mud pots bubbling up in them.

    October 20, 2008

    A Bulletin from Camera Trap Spring

    I planned to start deer hunting close to home this afternoon, but the weather was not cooperating.

    Before the season started, M. and I had hiked over the East Ridge and replaced the batteries in the camera that I had placed a few days earlier at a tiny seep that I call Camera Trap Spring (original, eh?). The first two-day placement had produced no images at all, but there is not much water in that little valley -- something had to show up at the spring.

    Today was cool and misty. Just when I was ready to head out for an evening sit at the spring, rain and thunder started. I decided to just hunt/hike over, fetch the camera, and come back.

    When I reached the spring, I saw that the camera's (rechargeable) batteries were dead. That could be good, I thought.

    Back home, I downloaded the pictures...


    An Abert's squirrel. Multiply this image times eight or so. It was one active squirrel.

    A pine squirrel had also been visiting the spring. There were multiple shots of it as well.

    A gray fox showed up about 9 p.m. Thursday night.

    But whoa! Look who stopped by for a drink in the wee hours of Saturday morning. Was this thirsty bull elk the reason that the water level in the seep had dropped? Sneaky guy -- he is hanging around in this patch of deep forest all the time, I bet, and coming out to feed by moonlight.