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Canada moves to protect bats in face of disease

WILDLIFE — Concerned about bat die-off caused by white-nose syndrome, a fungus-caused disease that has decimated bat populations in the United States and Canada, the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada has asked the federal government to issue an emergency order designating three species of bats as endangered.

See details from the Edmonton Journal.
  

Cat refuses to go for jog; man ticketed

LAFAYETTE, Colo. (AP) — Police in Lafayette, Colo., have ticketed a man who is accused of tying his cat to a rock after the feline refused to go jogging.

Sgt. Fred Palmer says 19-year-old Seth Franco brought his cat on a leash to the path around Waneka Lake Park on Wednesday, but the cat was unable to keep up.

According to the Boulder Daily Camera, witnesses told police that Franco secured the cat's leash to a rock while he finished his run. A passer-by called police.

Franco was ticketed on suspicion of “domestic animal cruel treatment,” a municipal offense.

Palmer says an ordinance in the city, about 20 miles north of Denver, “prohibits that kind of tethering.”

The cat wasn't injured, so it was released to its owner.

Franco could not immediately be reached for comment.

Trail-cam mystery critter identified

WILDLIFE WATCHING — A snowshoe hare is caught in action by a trail cam set high in the Cabinet Mountains for a wolverine research project funded by the Friends of the Scotchman Peaks Wilderness.

See martens, bobcats, volunteer helpers — and even a wolverine — in the group's wolverine research Facebook photo album.

The hare in the photo above normally wouldn't be able to go eyeball to eyeball with the camera mounted up on the trunk of a tree, but winter winds drifted snow into a viewing platform.

Some readers viewed the mystery close-up photo (left) and guessed “rabbit.”  Close, but not correct.

Read on for the differences between “hares” and “rabbits.”

Mystery critter mugs on wolverine study trail cam

WILDLIFE WATCHING — Can you ID the critter, above, in this close encounter last week with one of the wolverine research project trail cams in the Cabinet Mountains?

The camera is one of about 40 installed by the Friends of the Scotchman Peaks Wilderness.

Answer coming later…

It's easier to identify the marten, left, that provided this cool action image for a trail cam posted on a bait station at high elevations in the wolverine research project.

Some of the responses on my Facebook Page regarding the mystery critter above are close, but NOBODY in that thread is correct, yet.

Hints:

The camera is in a tree up off the ground.

—The mountains have had some snow and wind.

—Bigfoot has NEVER been caught on camera.

—Some critters resemble others but have significant differences….

Answer and photo proof coming tomorrow from Friends of the Scotchman Peaks Wilderness.

Cougar’s rampage on llamas stumps wildlife experts

PREDATORS — Wildlife Services agents dispatched a 175-pound mountain lion near Helena, Mont., recently after the cat killed at least six llamas and left them uneaten.  Sport-killing behavior is rare for cougars, and officials don't have an easy answer.

Read the Helena Independent Record report

PETA admits killing 95 percent of its shelter animals

ANIMALS — People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, an out-there animal rights and anti-hunting group, acknowledged Wednesday that it euthanized 95 percent of the animals at a shelter at its Virginia headquarters last year.

PETA also indicated it would like to kill the messanger.

Read the USA Today story here.

Remember, this is the group that stormed the Westminster Dog Show last year to oppose people who own purebred dogs.

Dog rescuers went the extra mile

WINTER SPORTS — Today's story about students rescuing a snowshoer's bluetick coonhound lost in the Kettle Range for two nights offers a life lesson to all of us.

Helping other people can be remarkably easy and productive if we just make the effort to try.

Think about what we could accomplish if everyone looked for a way to contribute every day rather than leaving it to somebody else.

See post-rescue photos here.

Aldo Leopold’s 125th birthday cause for reflection on wildlife conservation

CONSERVATION — Aldo Leopold, widely recognized as the father of professional wildlife management, was born Rand Aldo Leopold in Burlington, Iowa, 125 years ago this month.

His ideas remain as relevant today as they were in his own time.

Leopold's legacy involves his idea of “a land ethic,” which he famously penned in his classic book, A Sand County Almanac.

“A land ethic,” he wrote, “changes the role of Homo sapiens from conquerer of the land community to plain member and citizen of it. It implies respect for his fellow-members, and also respect for the community as such.”

Garrison Keillor recognized Leopold's birthday on NPR last week: Listen here.

A peek at animals that turn white in winter

WILDLIFE — Critters have many adaptations for handling the rigors of winter. 

Some hibernate, some constantly look for food. Some develop thick winter coats to stave off the cold while some others change color to be better predators or less vulnerable prey.

Creatures that change colors include two hares – the snowshoe hare and the white-tailed jackrabbit – and three members of the weasel family —  the least weasel, as well as the long-tailed and short-tailed weasels.

Montana and Washingtton also have the white-tailed ptarmigan, a bird that turns pure white in winter.

Bruce Auchley of Montana, Fish Wildlife and Parks has more details on the weasels and hairs.  Read on…           

Man accused of killing wife’s cat

A Spokane man pleaded not guilty Wednesday to killing his wife's cat.

Nicholas A. Romanelli, 28, was arraigned in Spokane County Superior Court on a charge of first-degree animal cruelty.

He's accused of smashing a cat against a wall repeatedly while drunk and angry he couldn't find the keys to his car to get more beer, according to court documents.

Police arrived at his home in the 4600 block of North Sullivan Road after his wife called 911. She awoke to the cat screeching loudly, she told police.

Romanelli is out of custody awaiting trial, which is scheduled for March 26. He has previous felony convictions for domestic violence tampering with a witness and harassment.

Bats, wolves prominent in Wildlife Society’s top 2011 stories list

WILDLIFE — Gov. Butch Otter cried wolf by declaring the predators a “disaster emergency” in Idaho last year, according to The Wildlife Society, the international organization of wildlife professionals.

The group's newsletter editors ranked that story No. 1 in their list of Top 10 Wildlife News Stories for 2011.

Other top stories include white-nose syndrome in bats plus stories on wolves, pronghorns and my column in The Spokesman-Review about a Wenatchee-area trail-cam that caught eight cougars in one photo. (Unfortunately, the Wildlife Society linked to a watered-down rewrite by somebody else.)

Read on to see the group's top wildlife stories.

Seasons greetings in video featuring peace, joy and the great outdoors

HAPPY HOLIDAYS from the great outdoors. This video from Idaho Fish and Game captures some of the beauty of the season.

Wolverines live up to tough reputation

WILDLIFE RESEARCH — A recent study published in the Journal of Wildlife Management confirmed that wolverines regularly patrol a vast mountain territory.

Eight years of radio-tracking 30 individual wolverines in the Rocky Mountains has provided an abundance of new data about the world's largest member of the weasel family, including that the feisty mammals survive year-round in harsh, snowy conditions 9,000 feet above see level.

See details and photos in this report from Mongabay.com.

Although immeasurably tough, the animal is nearly extinct in the lower 48 states of the U.S.

Four-year effort protects 10,000 acres in Cascades for wildlife

WILDLIFE CONSERVATION — Good things don't always come quick and easy.

Hunters and other conservationists are reminded of that this week as a deal closed to seal four years of negotiations by a partnership of conservation groups and state agencies. The project blocks up and protects about 10,000 acres of public land for big-game and other wildlife in the east and central Cascades.

The deal has foresight to secure the real estate elk and other critters need from winter to summer range.

The Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission approved the most recent purchase in November, using funding from the Washington Wildlife and Recreation Grant Program.

But the negotiations and original purchases of land were undertaken by the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation and The Nature Conservancy. The land was purchased from Plum Creek Timber Company to prevent the land from being developed or subdivided as well as to maintain public access.

The first phase of the project was completed in 2009, securing 2,675-acres.

Read on for details from a just-issued RMEF media release a day after the final phase of the deal was closed.

Bears denning for hibernation; have you checked your basement lately?

WILDLIFE — Imagine the surprise of a cable TV technician who made a service call to a New Jersey man's home and found a 550-pound bear snoozing in the dirt-floor cellar.  The bear had been living there for weeks and had brought in twigs and leaves to make a cozy nest.

The repairman said he heard a growl, and saw an enormous black bear waking up in the corner. He didn’t stick around to make friends with the animal.

“I just freaked out, threw my tools, ran out of the basement,” he told reporters.

Animal Control officers were able to tranquillize the bear and relocate him to nearby public land.

Video: Squirrel a master problem solver

WILDLIFE — This video has been around for awhile, but it's worth posting again to illustrate how marvelously adaptive wildlife can be. 

Flying squirrel invades New Jersey E.R.

RAHWAY, N.J. (AP) — Firefighters were needed stat after a flying squirrel went nuts in a New Jersey hospital's emergency room.

The squirrel kept launching itself from an 8-foot-high wall-mounted lamp into a glass wall after becoming trapped in a trauma room at Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital in Rahway Tuesday night.

Fire Department spokesman Capt. Ted Padavano told The Star-Ledger of Newark (http://bit.ly/vxBiL0 ) it would climb up on a light and would jump off and glide.

A pair of firefighters threw a blanket over the squirrel and released it into a wooded area outside the hospital.

Padavano believes there may be a nest in the building because it's the second time in two weeks that a flying squirrel got in the ER.

Polar bear scientist based in Kettle Falls finalist for prize

WILDLIFE SCIENCE — A Kettle Falls-area polar bear scientist is one of 29 leading conservationists internationally who are in contention for next year’s $100,000 Indianapolis Prize.

Steven Amstrup moved to Stevens County about a year ago when he retired from the U.S. Geological Survey’s Alaska Science Center in Anchorage.

Thanks to an accommodating polar bear, he arrived with both legs.

Read the story by S-R reporter John Craig.

Bowhunters reaping rewards of late deer season

HUNTING — It ain't over 'til it's over, as the saying goes.

The whitetail rut might be winding down in some areas, but it's still a positive factor for hunters who have tagged big bucks in the past couple of days.

Bowhunters in eastern Washington's late archery season are effectively using calls and scents for bucks on the prowl.

Before climbing into his stand for the afternoon on Sunday, Joel Enevold said he freshened nearby scrapes with Tink's 69 doe-in-rut buck lure. He barely got settled in his stand at 1 p.m. before he spotted the “split brow-tine” buck he'd been seeing in the trail cam photos. The bruiser was working a scrape. The buck slowly but surely kept coming in, sniffed the air below Enevold's stand and posed for a storybook archery shot that dropped him five yards from where he was hit.

“This buck is the largest I have taken since the age of 15 and I feel very fortunate to have had the chance to harvest such a great animal,” he said.

Meantime, his brother passed up two 4x4 bucks that afternoon. “Both bucks were grunting up a storm, and one buck decided to stop 20 yards away and shred a tree for a few minutes,” Brandon Enevold said. “Bucks seem to be actively searching for does and traveling with their noses close to the ground.”

He's confident his time will come before the season expires.
  

Grizzly in zoo has reason to postpone hibernation

CRITTERSOne of the Cleveland Metroparks Zoo's four 11-month-old grizzly bear cubs enjoys a pumpkin for a snack at the Zoo in Cleveland on Tuesday.

Besides providing the animals with enrichment, the pumpkins are a preview to the treats many of the animals will receive on Thanksgiving Day.

Bighorn ram evaded hunters, poachers, but fell to car

BIG GAME — A Washington bighorn ram that had endured countless hardships, evaded predators and the occasional hunter lucky enough to draw the rare bighorn sheep hunting permit for the Vulcan Mountain area met its end in a collision with a motor vehicle last week along the Kettle River in Ferry County. 

Wildlife biologists viewing the photo above estimated the ram was 8 1/2-9 1/2 years old.

Cats outnumber inmates at Fla. prison

BELLE GLADE, Fla. (AP) — Authorities say dozens of cats that sneaked into a South Florida prison will be found new homes before the facility closes next month.

As many as 80 cats have burrowed under fences and taken up residence at the state-run prison in Belle Glade. Prisoners have been feeding the animals, even though rules prohibit that.

The 1,000-inmate prison closes Dec. 1. Officials tell The Palm Beach Post that as of Monday, there are more cats than prisoners at the facility. Just 69 inmates remain awaiting transfers.

Palm Beach County animal control officers are removing the cats so they won't starve when the prison closes. They're offering to waive adoption fees to find them new homes.

Some of the cats have been euthanized because they were feral and couldn't be adopted.

Where would you go to see a moose?

WILDLIFE WATCHING — A reader emailed me today asking where he could bring a friend from out-of-state to see a moose.

Most of us who live in this region take moose for granted.  We see them regularly, if not predictably. Seeing a moose for the first time would be a big deal for this reader and his friend.  But where to send them?

I had a moose in my yard near Hangman Creek a few weeks ago, but I haven't seen hide nor hair of the bull since.

Mike Miller of Spokane snapped a photo of this bull moose on Wednesday while dayhiking along the Little Spokane River.

Just last year, moose were chasing dogs accompanying hikers in the Dishman Hills.

I put out a few queries to Fish and Game officers. So far, they haven't come up with an area where you could regularly be likely to drive up and see a moose, although moose are being poached not far from I-90 near Cataldo.

One moose was killed in a collision with a motorist off Highway 2 just north of Spokane this week and another was killed by a vehicle two weeks ago off Highway 195 just south of town.

Moose are all around Spokane and Coeur d'Alene, and up the logging roads throughout the region. I saw one near Liberty Lake last week. Elk hunters have told me they've been seeing more moose than elk up the logging roads from Idaho's St. Joe River area to 49 Degrees north in Washington.

 But it's tricky to tell somebody where he could go out and see one tomorrow.

National Parks take heat over reducing elk numbers

WILDLIFE MANAGEMENT — An annual elk hunt in Grand Teton National Park in Wyoming and a volunteer-based “elk reduction” project in western North Dakota’s Theodore Roosevelt National Park got underway this month amid public criticism, reports the Wildlife Management Institute

The issue is developing across several national parks as elk populations continue to grow.  It mirrors similar issues seen with deer populations in the East and even the new hunt — underway in its second season — at Turnbull National Wildlife Refuge near Cheney.

Critics contend that the culling programs are counter to the National Park Service and national wildlife refuge system mission to preserve wildlife within their units. 

However, the agencies contend that damage to native habitats that occurs when ungulate populations are too high warrants the culling operations.

Grizzly fishing explosive, even without dynamite

WILDLIFE — Montana wildlife photographer Jaime Johnson captured the power of a brown bear fishing for salmon during a recent visit to Alaska.

One fish escapes, but look closely underwater to see the big one that didn't get away from the bruin.

Black bear and four cubs — count them

WILDLIFE — A rare sight to behold:

A sow black bear and her four cubs take refuge in a tree near U.S. Highway 93 just south of Whitefish, Mont., on Monday. The family of bears quickly drew a crowd as both sides of the highway were lined with parked cars and people who stopped to take photos.

Pig gone, sheriff looking for stout thief

KINGSPORT, Tenn. (AP) — Whoever has Arthur Olterman's pig is either very inventive or very strong.

Olterman called the Hawkins County Sheriff's Office to report the white pig had been taken from its pen at a neighbor's house near Kingsport — all 450 pounds of it.

A deputy's report stated property owner Mary Keys wasn't available for him to interview on Monday, according to the Kingsport Times-News.

However, deputy Lyndon Williams saw where someone had cleared a path through some brush to get access to the pig. How they got it into a vehicle is cause for conjecture.

The porker is valued at about $350. Anyone who knows where the pig is or anything about its disappearance should call the Hawkins County sheriff.

How to interpret what a crow is saying

www.fatfinch.wordpress.com

“Caw caw caw” can mean several things, including “Hey, human, please stop saying 'carmel apple.' It's 'caramel,' for Pete's sake.” 

When a grizzly steps on your face…

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WILDLIFE WATCHING — Jaime Johnson, a professional photographer from Montana, recently put a video camera on the bank of an Alaska river where brown bears were frequently walking in search of salmon. The result gets my stomp of approval.

Let’s just say the camera got a very, very close-up view of the grizzly. It’s what you would see if a grizzly were about to walk over your face.

Elk on stage at CM Russell Wildlife Refuge

WILDLIFE WATCHING — One of the best wildlife viewing stages anywhere in September and early October is the cottonwood bottom along the elk viewing area in the C.M. Russell National Wildlife Refuge60 miles north of Lewistown, Mont., (my hometown). 

Even though the elk are in the rut, they know exactly where the elk viewing area boundary is… where archery elk season hunters lurk. Yet the elk come out and put on a show of bugling and mating as if on a stage in front of cars lined up along the dusty refuge road for more than a mile.

Soon the action will disperse, and the show will be over.