January 28, 2005

Forgotten pollinators

The state of North Caroline is beginning to realize that without bees, agricultural production plumments.

Other voices have been proclaiming this crisis for some time.

January 16, 2005

"The Silence of Sasquatch"

I have no personal experience of Sasquatch, or Bigfoot, although in my newspaper days I interviewed a man living two counties north of here who swore he had seen a couple of them walking in the snow near his house. He photographed the three-toed (?) tracks: they went down a road . . . and ended suddenly.
Still, I have problems imagining a hairy primate that could live year-round in the Rockies, unless it hibernated like a bear. On the other hand, one of the best Sasquatch books (set in Washington state, however), was written by a respected naturalist, Robert Michael Pyle: Where Bigfoot Walks: Crossing the Dark Divide.

It in turn inspired Joel Weishaus' digital project, "The Silence of Sasquatch: Toeing the Dark Divide," which is worth a look.

January 14, 2005

Animals translated

Temple Grandin, professor of animal science at Colorado State University (Fort Collins), is well-known for her claim that her own mild autism makes her more able to understand animal behavior than do most "normal" people. In her words, "the 'Interpreter' in the normal human brain that filters out detail, creating an unintentional blindness that animals and autistics do not suffer from."

She develops this idea in her article ,"Thinking the Way Animals Do" and now in a new book, co-written with Catherine Johnson, PhD., Animals in Translation.

January 12, 2005

Buffalo wings, 1964

An amazing food timeline starts with water and includes histories, recipes, and cookbook references.

January 11, 2005

George knows

Goddard College has created an environmental and sustainability studies resource page at its web site. Named "George," for Vermonter George Perkins Marsh, the page provides an extensive collection of print and electronic sources. They are of particular use to undergraduates and beginning graduate students.
Fear is oneness

One of the outdoor-gear catalogs that clog my mailbox recently advertised, "Get close to nature, but not too close." The product advertised was a sleeping pad.

Then there was novelist Geoffrey Household's approach. In his thriller Watcher in the Shadows (1960), the protagonist, a former British Ww 2 spy, is being stalked by an assassin in the English countryside. He thinks, "I believe that for the animal always, and for man sometimes, fear is only a vivid awareness of one's unity with nature."

It's one of few spy novels set in a realistically described outdoor setting, where wildlife plays a role in the plot.

The movie adaptation was Deadly Harvest, which moved the action to California and made it a Cold War movie.

January 05, 2005

Teaching animal tracking

Urbanites learn animal tracking in order to census animal species in the Mount Hood National Forest but also for the experience.

"Alan Dyck, forest wildlife program manager for the national forest, said the data provided by Cascadia Wild is valuable because surveys aren't routinely conducted in the million acres of forest land around Mount Hood."

December 29, 2004

Paging Dr. Watson

Wasn't that one of Sherlock Holmes' adventures, "The Giant Cockroach of Borneo"?

December 22, 2004

Climate-change blog

Real Climate is a group blog by scientists who want to share new information on climate-change research and combat ideologically motivated disinformation.

December 21, 2004

Thank the Romans for your stately elms

All the elm trees in Britain are descended from one tree brought by the Romans two thousand years ago, researchers say.
The ultimate lard-butt hunt

It's about as far from "fair chase" as you can get: shoot wildlife (non-native species) from your PC. I am not surprised that this idea arose in Texas, where shooting at animals lured by automatic grain dispensers is considered the standard way of doing things.

Columnist Kathleen Parker picked up on this story too, but uses it as an anthropocentric springboard to denounce violent video games.

December 17, 2004

Evangelical Christianity and the environment

This article raises the question whether pro-life evangelicals can overcome "a deep-rooted prejudice that associates environmentalism with paganism, pantheism and the Counterculture and New Left revolts of the 1960s-all Godzilla-sized bogeymen in the evangelical worldview. (It's worth noting here that the distrust is mutual.)"

While the director of the Evangelical Environmental Network thinks that pro-life views and environmental protection are compatible, there is also the group that associates environmental catastrophe with the awaited arrival of the Messiah. Some of them even try to quantify catastrophes, wars, and disasters in a "Rapture speedometer."

The journalist Bill Moyers, who writes frequently on issues of American culture and religion, was gloomier about the anti-environmental form of Christianity in his acceptance speech in a recent awards ceremony.

December 13, 2004

Species differentiation by interstate highway

The Denver Post covers plans to reintroduce Mexican grey wolves in southern Colorado. (Link may expire.)

The Mexican gray wolf is the smallest American wolf. Females typically weigh 50-65 pounds. Males generally weigh in at 70-75 pounds.

In the desert southwest, Mexican gray wolves prey on antelope, deer, javelina and peccary, but they'll take elk when they can get it.

At this time in Colorado, any wolves south of an arbitrary federal boundary, Interstate 70, are part of the Southwest wolf recovery program and are fully protected as an endangered species. Wolves north of I-70 are considered merely threatened.

December 07, 2004

Best Ornamental Plants for Colorado

The Denver Post offers its suggestions as to the best grasses and ornamental plants for Colorado's Front Range area. (Warning: the link may expire in early 2005.)
Coyotes inside the Beltway

It's hard to avoid lobbyist jokes when you're writing about the growing coyote population in Washington, DC.

Michelle Nijhuis, one of High Country News' syndicated writers, notes, "As someone who feels under-represented in Washington, D.C., I find this news encouraging. Also encouraging are reports that coyotes are growing fatter as they move east, since Westerners need a few more heavyweights on Capitol Hill. It's time to leap over the species barrier and recruit these tough characters for national office.