SUNDAY, NOV. 16, 2014

Moths high in grizzly bear’s food pyramid

Big bears have a taste for small bugs in the Rockies, scientists say. More grizzly bears are congregating each summer on steep rocky slopes in search of army cutworm moths in the southeastern portion of the more than 9,210-square-mile Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem.

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THURSDAY, NOV. 6, 2014

Tracks in snow leave the story of a chickadee’s visit to a tree stump in the Blue Mountains. (Rich Landers)

Landers: Hunt provides memories to make up for empty freezer 

Yellow larch needles litter the laundry room floor where I dropped my hunting clothes Sunday night. After devoting 10 days to the pursuit of elk meat for our freezer, I’m reluctant to sweep up the mess. It’s all I have to show for the effort. I’m left to chew on little more than the memories of another rewarding but meatless nature observation season.

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SUNDAY, OCT. 19, 2014

SUNDAY, SEPT. 21, 2014

Time to start sending in writing contest entries

It’s time for high schoolers to begin thinking about fame, fortune and the great outdoors. The Spokesman-Review once again is joining the Outdoor Writers Association of America in sponsoring contests for youth outdoor writing. The 2014 S-R contest is open to high school students from the newspaper’s circulation area.

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SUNDAY, AUG. 17, 2014

Out & About: Fishers back home in Olympics 

OUTFIELD – Once locally extinct, fishers are bounding all over the Olympic Peninsula. First released into Olympic National Park in 2008 in an effort to repopulate the native carnivore, they now range from Neah Bay to Ocean Shores, from Port Townsend to Olympia, preliminary data from remote cameras and hair snags confirm.

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Landers: Huckleberry season has pickers bursting with excitement

The 2000 Idaho Legislature declared huckleberries the state fruit. But like potatoes, Washington has its share of the delicious purple berries prized for pies, pancakes, muffins, ice cream, jam, wine and just about anything else that needs a touch of tart sweetness. The huckleberry season is underway at lower elevations and the pleasure is working its way up the region’s mountainsides as the berries ripen. People and communities have taken note:

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SUNDAY, JULY 6, 2014

A deer sneaks up to a picnic table at Minam State Park in Oregon. (Associated Press)

Handouts to deer just a bad idea 

ELGIN, Ore. – Four deer suddenly appeared out of the thick evergreens bordering the campground and moseyed along the campground road. It was fun watching them browse, prance and play at the edge of the campsites at Minam State Park between La Grande and Enterprise.

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SUNDAY, JUNE 29, 2014

Volunteers Rick Moore, left, and Joel Anderson helped build the McDowell Marsh boardwalk. (Rich Landers)

Little Pend Oreille National Wildlife Refuge: Marsh trail packed with features

Teachers in Stevens County have brought hundreds of schoolkids to McDowell Lake for science field trips over the years. That’s the first clue that a special 1.3-mile trail starting from the lake’s camping area on the Little Pend Oreille National Wildlife Refuge is worth a visit. Nature lovers will find this short trail packed with features, such as a ripe wild strawberry that is supercharged with more flavor than its larger cousins. In the course of a mile, hikers can see five distinct ecological habitats, from riparian to semi-arid on a self-guided tour.

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Joel Anderson peers out of the wildlife viewing blind along the McDowell Marsh Environmental Education Trail in the Little Pend Oreille National Wildlife Refuge.  (Rich Landers / The Spokesman-Review)

Little Pend Oreille National Wildlife Refuge revamped: Homesteaders’ loss was wildlife’s gain 

The Little Pend Oreille National Wildlife Refuge southeast of Colville is celebrating its 75th anniversary this summer to acquaint more people with recent visitor-friendly improvements to a niche that’s protected mostly for wildlife. Organized activities range from bird and butterfly walks to a bicycling event. Meanwhile, the 43,000-acre refuge already attracts a quiet, steady year-round stream of visitors who have discovered the camping, hiking, fishing, hunting and educational opportunities.

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A newborn whitetail fawn curls up and remains motionless while its mother left it between feedings. (Rich Landers)

Critter watch: It’s better to leave wildlife babies alone 

A wildlife population explosion takes place around this time every year and anyone can stumble onto a baby critter virtually anywhere outside.  “Wild bird and mammal species typically produce young in the spring and early summer,” says Phil Cooper of Idaho Fish and Game. “This allows the young to have time to gain the strength and size needed to survive the challenges of winter, or the rigors and dangers of fall migration.”

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SUNDAY, MAY 18, 2014

SUNDAY, MAY 4, 2014

A male sage grouse inflates air sacks that make its chest flop as it struts on mating grounds. (Jerret Raffety / Rawlins Daily Times)

Sage grouse conservation efforts huge

Knowing that the 1993 listing of the spotted owl as a threatened species hurt the logging industry, ranchers are getting aboard efforts to head off restrictions to their livelihoods. The chicken-sized bird found in 11 Western states has been in decline over the past century because of the loss of sagebrush.

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Mike Finch of the Swanson Lakes Wildlife Area prepares to release an Oregon sage grouse into Washington sage lands near Creston. (Rich Landers)

Sage lands seeded with grouse

In a translocation program started eight years ago, 38 sage grouse captured in Oregon were released last month in Washington to boost residual populations south of Creston. The 21,000-acre Swanson Lakes Wildlife Area joins BLM land to form 53,000 contiguous acres where wildlife managers make sage and sharp-tailed grouse habitat a priority.

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Rich Landers

Rich Landers

Outdoors blog

Opening Day for Trails a good start

TRAILS -- The outdoor and indoor activities planned for the Opening Day for Trails celebration Saturday in the Spokane area connected a lot of people with outdoor groups and trails ...

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